Twenty tastes of Britain
The National Brewery Centre, Staffordshire
Burton upon Trent has been the capital city of British brewing ever since the unique properties of the water there were discovered to be ideal for the brewing of ales. Traditional ales such as Worthington White Shield, Worthington E, Imperial Stout and Barley Wine are still brewed there in a classic arrangement of copper mashing tuns and fermenting vessels in The National Brewery Centre, a museum and visitor’s centre. The museum sits alongside the gleaming, sprawling mass of the Molson Coors brewery. You can tour The National Brewery Centre to see how beer is made or attend one of the regular tasting events, and then order a pint of your choice in The Brewery Tap bar.
Adnams Brewery, Suffolk
An elegant seaside town in Suffolk might not be the first place you’d think of looking for a spirit distillery, but there it is in Southwold. Adnams Copper House, all glittering and brand-spanking new, was formed out of old brewing coppers, made redundant when the Adnams brewery was recently renovated. Adnams have been brewing their award-winning beers at Southwold since 1872, and have always been noted for the craftsmanship of their ales. The same care is now being brought to bear on their gins and vodkas, all of which are made, as far as possible, with locally grown raw materials. There are tours of the distillery for the over-18s and the £10 admission entitles you to a discount on bottles sold in the Adnams shop nearby.
West Whelks, Kent
Whelks are the Marmite of the shellfish world. You either love them or hate them, although it has to be said that most people belong to the second group. But for the West family of Whitstable, they (along with oysters and other shellfish) have been the stuff of business for five generations. Whitstable may be more famous for its oysters than its whelks, but there are still enough lovers of this chunky marine snail to keep the Wests at work in pretty tar-black clapperboard buildings at one end of picturesque Whitstable Harbour. Here they unload the whelks from the whelk pots, grade them, and then boil them for 20 minutes. After that, they are plucked out of their shells and are ready to eat. At weekends the West family demonstrate the fine art of unpicking a whelk and shucking an oyster at their stall on the harbourfront.
Various locations, Sussex
Nick Weston is a chap who likes to live on the wild side. It came about as a result of growing up as a self-confessed ‘feral child’ in Ashdown Forest, East Sussex. A hobby became a passion, and that passion became a profession. He was the survival expert on Channel 4’s Shipwrecked series, but now he shows other people how it's done, not just the which-berry-can-I-eat-without- poisoning-myself part, but the full range of shooting, fishing, preparing and cooking as well. Between April and October, he conducts one-day and two-day courses that cover whatever food is free, wild and in season, how to find it, deal with it and how best to serve it up. Courses finish with a meal made from the ingredients sourced that day (courses from £150).
Matthew Fort is a judge on BBC Two’s Great British Menu series. He regularly contributes food stories to the Guardian and has a blog (fortonfood.wordpress.com).