Friday, July 23, 2010

Bibury, Swans and Cotswold Dumplings


Arlington Row, 14th c.
When I was researching where to go on my road trip in England, I fell truly madly deeply in love with images from the medieval village of Bibury. I read that William Morris (famous decorative artist of the 19th century and prime mover in the Arts and Crafts movement) had said that the village was the most beautiful in England and worked to preserve its beauty.
Bibury

Bless him. He encouraged others in his Arts & Crafts circle to relocate to the Cotswolds and in so doing probably saved many villages from the ravages of progress and commerce.
Bibury
Bibury is no “Ye Olde” copy. It is the real deal. Built on a Roman village, its church has existed since 750AD and it thrived as a horseracing center and wool market in the 17th century.
We arrived early Sunday night and it appeared most of the foreign interlopers had cleared out of town. It was still. The light shone all golden, reflected by the warm yellow Cotswold stone into the sweet air. I have to admit, I was too in love with this little town to take all the pictures I should have. The 14th century Arlington Row (formerly a monastery’s wool store) is everything you think of when you imagine an ancient English village. Best of all there is nearly nothing to remind you of the world outside. No advertising, no garish signs… just inns and restaurants and tiny shops with subtle signage.
Swans glided languorously in the clear waters of the River Coln. Idyllic. Transporting. Watching them, I remembered reading years ago about the curious swan laws in Britain and the wonderfully drawn Swan Rolls (thank you, World of Interiors !). I looked it up to refresh my memory when I got back. Nearly all swans belong to the Monarch. Through some quirk of law, only the Queen and Charlotte Townsend, daughter of the deceased 9th viscount of Galway (one of the richest people in England), are allowed to own swans, the rest are licensed from the crown. Swan licenses are granted and regulated by the 1482 Act for Swans and enforced by the Monarch’s Swan Master. There is an incredible document called the Broadland Swan Roll from the late 15th century that lists swans with brands on their beaks to distinguish them. There are 5 of them, each measuring 4 ½” by 13’. I had seen it years ago and had a heck of a time digging it up but… eureka it was found. Although there are others, this is the most famous. I wondered if this black beauty was listed somewhere.
We were thirsty after a trip from Oxford (my first driving in the UK for many a year was a tad stressful). Beside the swan’s river was a 17th c. coaching inn, aptly named The Swan Hotel where we dropped by for some local cider.
We stayed at the magnificent 1633 manor, Bibury Court, a Jacobean mansion built by Thomas Sackville where the 6 acre grounds were lovely and dotted with local sheep (little lawnmowers as an English friend once described them), and the rooms superb (hello 4 posters and fine sheets) as was the divine breakfast. After dorm rooms at Oxford, Bibury Court was really luxurious and the perfect place to land on the first night of a journey. Although I had read about a few other lovely places in Bibery, when we drove through the enormous gates and down an elegant drive that turned to reveal the great house, we decided to look no farther. It was perfect!!
What should I share with you??? Trying to come up with traditional Cotswold cuisine was not so easy. There is the famous Plowman’s lunch of cheese, bread, butter and pickles… but that is best done there with the real local Ingredients. I had an amazing English breakfast of eggs, black pudding, sausage and bacon with tomatoes and mushrooms in Chipping Campden but that isn’t really a dish either. There are the puddings (the famous Pudding Club is in the Cotswolds), of course, but after Eton Mess, I thought something savory. After a little digging I came up with Cotswold Dumplings. Fried little cheese balls, they are often plopped on stews or served with a vegetable puree... tomato or such. The recipe is courtesy of Celtnet.
I know, I know, you’re going to be like me and say ‘ugh suet, gross’. No No NO!!!
I was so wrong. This grass-fed stuff is sweet and good. The dumplings are like airy donuts with a crunchy exterior, and remember, it was beef fat that made McDonald's fries so great!
I dipped them in quince jam but applesauce would also be great. Dr. Lostpast thought that they were best dunked in ketchup… and they were great that way. Bottom line… addictively delicious.
Cotswold Dumpling
½ cup *self-raising flour (140g) (*for substitution ½ c flour, ¾ t baking powder, pinch salt)
2 tablespoons grated *suet (60g) (vegetarians can use grated frozen butter)
1 tablespoon grated cheese (30 g) (I used Neal’s Yard Cheddar from a small English producer) I think it would be great with double the cheese.
Enough water to mix
Breadcrumbs from 3 slices of bread, toasted with salt and pepper and thyme to taste
fat for frying
salt and pepper to taste
Add the flour, suet and cheese to a bowl. Mix together then season with the salt and black pepper. Add enough water to form a slightly sticky dough. These are usually made into just over 2 tbsp sized balls - six or eight rounds. I made them into 10 tablespoon size balls, rolled them in water then in the breadcrumbs and repeated it. Fry in oil at 350º till puffed and golden.
*I got my suet from Grazin Angus Acres. Grass-fed makes all the difference in suet, it smells sweetly!



Stop over to my post on Cherry Pie at Blog Critics It made FOODBUZZ top 9 yesterday!!!


Although I would love to take the credit, the first 3 pictures are what made me want to go to Bibury, they were not taken by me but by wonderful photographers!!!

40 comments:

Stella said...

Hey Deana, only the Monarch can own swans? That's so weird, but kind of charming in an oppressive way (smile). Oh, and I've never seen a black swan-what a beautiful creature.
That village is wonderful too. So amazing that it's still there in that form. And I love the lack of marketing material all about-that's so nice, isn't it?
p.s.-Congratulations on The Top 9-that's fun!
p.s.s.-Dumplings are good.

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said...

What a beautiful town! And how lovely someone thought to preserve it before any developers could get at it :) And well done Deana finding this recipe! They do look fantastic and agrree suet is great in cooking! Probably not to eat by itself but great in baked goods!

Lazaro Cooks! said...

What lovely photos. You truly had an amazing trip. Those are some good looking dumplings.

Be well

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

This is one time where the scenery and not the food having the starring role. Not that the Cotswold Dumplings don't look delicious but my goodness, the village of Bibury is gorgeous! How lucky you were to see it in person.

Linda said...

Deana traveling with you would be so wonderful!
Thanks for taking us with you!
Love the dumplings and congrats on the pie which looks absolutely fabulous!
L~xo

From the Kitchen said...

I don't know when I've enjoyed a posting more. The village is just so very lovely. And, thank you so much for the William Morris input. We live in a 1921 Arts and Crafts bungalow that has been beautifully preserved. The Cotswold dumplings look and sound delicious!

Enjoy your sojourn!

Best,
Bonnie

Heavenly Housewife said...

I never heard of Bibery before, sounds like a wonderful place to go with Mr P for a weekend :).
THe dumplings look beautiful. They look like the type of thing that once I got started eating, I wouldn't be able to stop. Crunchy goodness :D
Have a wonderful weekend ahead.
*kisses* HH

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Dearest Deana, I so love coming here to soak in the beauty of your adventures of a land that is pure fairytale......I just enjoy the Cotswolds, a place like no other. THE SWANS!!! Oh it reminds me of a zany, funny and crazy movie, HOT FUZZ...they are in a beautiful town called WElls, and there is this scene with a swan.......

THOSE DUMPLINGS LOOK GOOD! Thank you for your sweet visit today!

Have a lovely weekend, and BON APETIT! Anita

Becky said...

Gorgeous pictures of England and dumplings! Makes me want to hop the next plane to the UK!

Pam said...

Oh I am so envious!! Those pictures are fantastic.

foodies at home said...

Amazing photos and an amazing looking recipe! My husband is a cheese manic and I think these would be right up his alley!

Debs said...

Great post. Although I'm from the UK, I've never been to Bibury. Looks amazing, the sort of place of would have lived when in UK.

I love the dumplings too. Anything with cheddar is right up my street.

PS Congratulations on your now famous pie LOL

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Wonderful pictures. I love the Cotswolds, we live quite close in the UK and often cycle through. Diane

Barbara said...

Charming, Deana! The Cotswolds are indeed lovely and your photos do it justice. I am so enjoying hearing about your trip.

I love the information about swans...I didn't know any of that. And the swan roll is an amazing document! (The black swan is lovely!)

And those dumplings! Delicious.

citronetvanille said...

What a beautiful village! I can see how those donuts can be addictive, they look that way with their golden and crunchy crust.

Mary said...

This was a post I hopped would not end. I enjoyed every moment in the village and your dumplings are to die for. I hope this day treats you well. Blessings...Mary

Ana Powell said...

Lovely post.
Your work is full of good taste, well done ♥

Anna Johnston said...

I've stumbled across your blog and loved your wonderful Cotswold adventures, amazing pictures and those Cotswold Dumplings sound the business!

Chef Dennis said...

what great pictures you have shared with us!! and I do remember McDonalds fries....they were the best! I love Neal's Yard Cheddar too, our wegmans carry one....double cheese always sounds good to me!

Fresh Local and Best said...

How lucky you are to have seen that black swan, which is quite rare.

The pictures of Bibury look amazing! I love the cobblestone houses and the rustic scenery.

Cotswold dumplings look fab, and I imagine just scrumptious with quince jam.

Angie's Recipes said...

These fried dumplings look gorgeous! Great party food. Never saw one black swan in my life....

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I was lucky enough to tour the Cotswolds several years ago. If I'd had a choice, I would have stayed forever. Those beautiful little villages were right out of Agatha Christie. Hmmm - cheese dumplings! Another reason I should have stayed ...

Jacqueline said...

Thanks for stopping by so that I could get to know you and come visit your impressive blog. Your photography is absolutely gorgeous and breathtaking. I got to visit the Cotswolds a few years back but not Bilbury. This is just magical and the lighting you took the photos in is surreal. Love the recipe. If you ever come across a good clotted cream recipe let me know. We have tried the jarred variety and it does not measure up. Thanks for bringing back delightful memories. I am your newest follower!

Chow and Chatter said...

wow we were just in Bilbury a few weeks again with my Grandparents small world. I rented a cottage in Bourton on the Water for a week near by my mum and dad came and my grandparents and played with Jasmine was magical thanks for refreshing my memories

Love Rebecca

PG said...

So good to hear you enjoyed the Cotswolds - we live here (there?) and love it too; Bibury is indeed a gorgeous village and your lovely blog post has shown me aspects of it I didn't know. Come back soon!

Tanantha @ I Just Love My Apron said...

Dumplings caught my attention! Those donut balls look so good and they can be addicting!
Seemed like you had a great and fun trip!

2 Stews said...

That is the most idyllic town I've ever seen. I've never heard of Cotswold dumplings. My family on my father's side comes from the Cotswolds so I am sure I'd love them along with a dark ale ;-)

Thanks!

Medieval Muse said...

What an enchanting place! Must have felt like you were dreaming the entire time.

Faith said...

Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous! Looking at them I almost feel transported to a different time and a more peaceful place. The dumplings sound delicious too...perfectly light and airy inside and crispy outside.

Nirmala said...

What beautiful pictures and yummy dumplings. They kind of look like donut holes. Yummy. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

El said...

What a beautiful village. The dumplings look sensational too.

Joanne said...

All of your photos of Bibury are just gorgeous. The houses are so austere!

I love the sound of those little fried balls of heaven. Beef fat or not...I couldn't resist.

LaDivaCucina said...

Fried cheese? What's not to love?! The photos of the village are absolutely charming, I would think i was in a fairy tale by being there. I love places/buildings that are so old. I always wonder what stories the walls would tell? Great post, darling!

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

Congrats on making to Top 9 with the cherry pie, Deana! And I believe every word you said about this Costwold Dumplings ... they look amazing, atho I will be going with the vegetarian version! You know, I went to the UK for my honeymoon many years ago, and reading your recent posts sure brought back a lot of memories. You have an eye for beauty. I love the photos you are sharing with us. :)

The Cooking Photographer said...

Everything is so beautiful! What a wonderful experience. I really need to make a trip to the UK someday.

Congrats on the top 9! That is awesome!!!!

Laura

Stella said...

Hey Deana, I just read your B.C. article. I almost mentioned this there, but thought I'd avoid such shame being posted on such a very public forum. I know a lot of people can probably claim this, since King Henry VIII was such a major playboy. But I am one of his great (say this word many times again) grand daughters. It's unfortunate but true.
I don't normally tell anyone this, but I thought you might actually find such a thing interesting (smile).
Nice article by the way. Wish I could get some decent cherries here...

tasteofbeirut said...

Deana

Congratulations on your cherry pie article and success!
Love these English picts; we decided to head on over there with my daughter in a few months; these suet things look so dainty and crunchy and delicious!

Fimère said...

elles sont sublimes tes photos!!!!elles me font rêver et me donne envie de m'évader un peu
merci pour ce beau partage
bonne soirée

Ellie (Almost Bourdain) said...

Beautiful photos and gorgeous dumplings!

Kim said...

Thank you for sharing such beautiful pictures of Bibury. What an amazingly beautiful and charming place.