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London has long been Britain’s culinary star, but according to new rankings by UK food magazine Olive, a new city has taken the foodie crown.
With points awarded based on famous foods, festivals, local initiatives, food retail shops and restaurants, Birmingham in the West Midlands beat both London and Edinburgh in Olive’s 2011 list of the UK’s foodiest towns. Britain’s second largest city earned high marks across all categories, scoring points for being home to the Creme Egg-creating Cadbury company, hosting three annual food festivals and organizing not one, but two of the country’s best farmers markets , established Moseley Farmers’ Market and up-and-comer Stirchley Community Market. Birmingham’s Balti, a curry dish invented in the 1970s, also helped drive home the win.
In Shropshire, England, the town of Ludlow took the silver medal for its role as pioneer of Britain’s slow food movement. The Local to Ludlow organization runs a twice-monthly produce market, community cookery classes and farm visits. An annual September food fest, the Ludlow Marches Food and Drink Festival, features 180 independent producers, with specialty butchers competing for the “Sausage of the Year” award.
Known as the “rural capital of food”, Melton Mowbray tied for third place with Edinburgh in the awards. The birthplace of afternoon tea, stilton cheese and pork pies, the Leicestershire town earned the highest points in claims to food fame. Edinburgh scored high for its Michelin-starred restaurants and a university-backed project that teaches food skills and promotes locally grown foods.
Lowly London came in fourth, though the city still showed strongly in food retail with heavyweights like Harrods and Fortnum & Mason, the world’s first Slow Food shop, and specialty shops like Dadu’s, a Caribbean-Asian grocery in Tooting. The city lost major points for tourist-traps like Angus Steakhouse and Garfunkel’s, and for having the world’s biggest McDonald’s in Olympic Park.
Abergavenny and Ramsbottom rounded out the list; Welsh Abergavenny for its recently Michelin-starred Walnut Tree and Black Mountains lamb, and Manchester-neighbour Ramsbottom for its wild garlic and South Indian cuisine.