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Chipping Campden: the chocolate-box village that aims for your sweet tooth

August 21, 2010

I originally planned to open with the following: “Last weekend I went to the Cotswolds.” On re-reading, I decided it was the most horrendously middle class statement I’ve ever made. But the fact still stands – I did indeed go to the Cotswolds last weekend – so I’ve tried to bury it in an equally ridiculous barrage of self mockery.

And with that out the way, I’ll move on.

Thanks to friends in high places, we were able to blag a free weekend at one of Landmark Trust’s heritage site in Chipping Camden – a quintessential chocolate-box village. Our first stop was Badgers Hall tea room for scones freshly baked in an aga (it couldn’t get more middle class) and served with jam and cream. Being British, I’ve obviously eaten scones before. But this was in a different league – even a cream tea in Cornwall would have a hard time competing.

Unsurprisingly, the Cotswolds isn’t cheap. Its reputation as a celebrity hideaway has made room for expensive restaurants, but the food itself is of a very high quality and several places have earned themselves AA rosettes and impressive positions in the Good Food Guide.

We went to The Kings Hotel restaurant at 9pm (the only slot left when we went to book in the afternoon). It had an air of fine dining, with attentive waiters and a menu of carefully composed dishes. The scallops to start were delicious, and after our lunchtime excess we all opted for the same main: vegetable terrine with pesto and roast potato dumplings.

The highlight, though, was the pudding – a crisp blueberry tart with sweet apple sorbet. Despite being almost uncomfortably full by this point, I had no problems polishing off every last crumb.

There’s something about this very traditional English village that leans itself to world class cake-making. Treacle tarts, syrup sponges, lemon drizzle, ginger loaf cake – it all looked, smelt and tasted delicious. There’s a famous Pudding Club at the Three Ways House Hotel just up the road, which prides itself on keeping traditional British puds alive. We didn’t visit this time round, but judging from the quality of cakes in the area, it’s definitely something I’d plan for in the future.

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