A ‘learning vacation’ to scenic Yorkshire in England is a feast for all senses

With so many Americans addicted to the hit British TV series Downton Abbey it’s no wonder we’re giving England another look when it comes to planning our vacations. So when I heard about some new foodie tours happening in Yorkshire, England’s largest county, I knew I had to check it out because there’s nothing I love more for TRAVEL THERAPY than a ‘Learning Vacation’ where I can explore a new area and learn something new at the same time. Add affordable fantastic food and drink into the mix and it’s a win-win all the way around!

I quickly found the culinary offerings in scenic Yorkshire are as diverse as this area’s landscapes. Intrigued by the growing “farm to table” movement here I set out with Sue and Adian Nelson, the founders of the new Yorkshire Food Finder tours where they take you not only to top restaurants and centuries old pubs, but out to the farms to actually meet the producers the chefs are buying their products from. You can sign up for one of their scheduled tours or have Sue and Adian create a foodie and sight-seeing experience just for you.

Highlights of my foodie adventure included the charming award-winning The Star @ Sancton Pub where chef Ben Cox, Yorkshire’s pudding champion, shared his pudding secrets with me (watch the video to find out the secrets!) and a stop at the Michelin starred Pipe and Glass Inn, dating back to the 15th century, that’s both an Inn and village pub, where Chef James Mackenzie uses local ingredients to whip up a fabulous seasonal menu.

Another Travel Therapy favorite, “The Butchers Arms”:http://thebutchersarms.com/ with Chef Tim Bilton who is making his mark by putting a new twist on some British Classics. I adored the Sticky Toffee Pudding here.

I also absolutely fell in love with Michelin Star Chef Andrew Pern’s The Star Inn, dating back to the 14th century. What charmed me the most, besides the fantastic food, was how this quirky, eclectic pub is a mix of old and new. In the front of the pub you have roaring fireplaces and you feel like you’ve stepped back several hundred years and in the back of the pub Chef Andrew has created a chic modern dining area with clever touches of whimsy. There are also some great luxury rooms here so you can stay as long as you like and trust me you’ll want to stay!

Now to the farm part!

On my Yorkshire Food Finder tours I met Justin Staal known for his sensational “smoked fish and meat products”:http://staalsmokehouse.co.uk/ and Jacquie Broadhead at Epicure’s Larder who specializes in sustainable farming, raising rare breeds like Tamworth Pigs and Shetland Cattle and making her own cheese.

Another stop at “Greedy Little Pig”:http://www.greedylittlepig.co.uk/ ( I love this name!) I met Carl Slingsby and his family and their prized pigs and learned more about Yorkshire charcuterie and how best to make certain pork products like dry cured bacon, ham and fresh sausages.

I also visited “Round Green Deer Farm”:http://www.roundgreenfarm.co.uk/ and Wentworth Castle Deer Park where Richard and Jenny Elmhirst are known for producing top venison products, including special pet treats and the Elmhirst family roots go back more than 700 years.

For amazing cheese, Cheddar, Gouda, Tomme and Brie like cheeses, I stopped at Botton Creamery where cheese maker Alastair Pearson explained the cheese making process and how Botton Village provides a home and work for adults with learning difficulties.

To satisfy my never satisfied sweet tooth I also visited Yummy Yorkshire Ice-Cream and was so excited to help Louise and Jeremy Holmes create a new ice-cream flavor. With everything homemade, using natural ingredients this ice-cream is out-of-this world with flavors like Lou’s Liquorice, Salted Caramel, Spicy Pear & Vanilla Balsamic Vinegar and all the traditional favorites. It’s no wonder I saw “Yummy Yorkshire Ice-Cream”:http://www.yummyyorkshire.co.uk/ on so many pub and restaurant menus.

Thirsty? You can’t visit Yorkshire without doing a brewery tour and I really enjoyed the one at “The Great Yorkshire Brewery”:http://www.thegreatyorkshirebrewery.co.uk/ where beer has been brewed in the village of Cropton since 1613.

For where to stay don’t miss “The Carr House Farm B&B”:http://www.carrhousefarm.co.uk/ , a 16th century stone farmhouse set in one of the most beautiful areas of Yorkshire in North York Moors Park where host Anna whips up the most marvelous country breakfasts and her husband Jack raises prized Labrador dogs you can even take for a walk if you like. Anna has also just purchased two British bicycles you can take for a ride to explore the beautiful scenery and when you’re ready to crash at night Anna’s beds are some of the most comfortable I’ve ever slept in.

I found a smart central place to stay for my Foodie Learning Vacation in Yorkshire is the quaint and historic town of York, one of the UK’s most picturesque cities with its winding cobbled stone streets and romantic feel.

While here, I stayed at the only five-star property in York, the lovely “Cedar Court Grand Hotel & Spa”:http://www.cedarcourtgrand.co.uk/ and had a beautiful suite on the fifth floor that I never wanted to leave.

The bar at the hotel is a chic fun place to celebrate a day of Foodie success with one of their creative cocktails. The hotel’s signature, the Grand Gin Fizz, was one of my favorites. You can have a wonderful breakfast at the hotel and another favorite foodie find in York is Mannion & Co, just a short walk from the hotel, where Chef Andrew Burton dishes up some delicious daily specials you don’t want to miss.

Several things I found that really impressed me about my Yorkshire experience is how genuine and friendly the people are and the great value you get for your food, drinks and lodging. Whether you are a Foodie, a Foodie want-to-be, or just someone who likes to explore new places and have great food, you’ll want to put Yorkshire on your “to-do” list as a TRAVEL THERAPY trip not to miss!

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