Cumbria has a fascinating food heritage thanks largely to its people, its landscape and a little-known facet, its coast. In particular, the ports of Whitehaven and Maryport, which brought the world to the Lake District.
As the trade in herbs and spices become more and more prevalent, and these once luxury items became more readily available the old counties of Cumberland and Westmorland developed an array of unique foods. Delicacies including the likes of Westmorland Pepper Bread, Westmorland Apple Tansy, Grasmere Gingerbread, spiced Cumberland Sausage and Cumberland Rum Nicky, all of which feature various imported spices, sugar, molasses or rum and some cases all of them!
Man has been played a significant part in shaping the 13 valleys of the Lake District, its coasts, and mountainous uplands for over 10,000 years. As you might expect this dramatically rugged landscape has inevitably dictated the very nature of farming.
The rich coastal plains of the Solway are perfect for dairy cattle, the rugged high fells ideal for the iconic hardy Herdwick sheep breed and act as a haven to an abundance of game in the form of partridge, venison, and rabbit.
The windswept Irish sea coast yields an abundance of seasonal fish and seafood, with sea bass, crab, langoustine, lobster and brown shrimp available from the Solway to the north and vast expanses of Morecambe Bay to the south, whilst the coastal shores reveal a riot of forageable herbs and flowers.
The wooded river valleys offer up trout and salmon, pheasant and deer, the lakes provide pike and charr, and the ancient woods and hedgerows provide an abundance of mushrooms, nuts, berries and herbs.
This rich larder shaped over thousands of years by nature and the hand of man provides the team at the heart of the Old Stamp House with all manner of inspiration for their Michelin starred food. A fact reflected in the seasonal menus they serve, with each dish paying homage to the region’s rich food heritage, its people, and its deep-seated cultural heritage.