A Foodie Day Out In York With Tours In A Dish

I may have spent the past year eating my way around the world, but now that I’m back in England I’m determined to see more of the country and find the best foodie spots close to home. York is one of my favourite English cities, so when I was invited to experience a new guided York food and drink tour, I hopped straight on the train with my M&S picnic to see what it was all about.

You all know how much I missed a proper brew when I was living in Dubai!

Our food and drink tour of York

Tours in a Dish was created by Camille, a French-Canadian Archeology student at University of York. She ties her extensive knowledge of York’s past in with her visible passion for the tradition of taking tea as she shows her guests around. During our tour around York’s best foodie spots, Camille took us through the history of tea taking, from Asia to Britain with a halt in the Middle-East.

Afternoon tea tour York

Cheese and tea at Love Cheese

We met at York Art Gallery and headed straight across the road to the cosy back room of Love Cheese, a specialist cheese shop and cafe. We were beginning with – wait for it – a cheese and tea pairing! A little different from the usual wine and cheese tasting, but surprisingly fun. Camille and Love Cheese‘s Harry explained that the tannins in tea cut through the fat in cheese and make for the perfect pairing.

Afternoon tea tour York

Afternoon tea tour York

We started with a delicious Hebden’s white tea from Nepal, which was paired with a clean, citrusy sheep’s milk cheese called Wigmore, and finished our tasting with an aged Pu-ehr, whose earthy flavours were complemented by a nutty Comte cheese. My favourite pairings came in the middle: the green tea and Ribblesdale goats cheese and the Oolong matched with herb-coated Fleur du Maquis were both surprising yet delicious.

Love Cheese is certainly a gem in York!

Love Cheese shop in York, England

Love Cheese shop in York, England

I could easily have munched my way through what was left of the cheese board but I knew we had a full afternoon of eating ahead. We waved goodbye to Harry and walked over to the next cafe.

The best scones in York

Our Afternoon Tea tour continued with a walk through Diagon Alley – sorry, I mean The Shambles, to The Flax and Twine, where we were sampling a traditional Cream Tea.

The Shambles, York on a food tour of the city

I’d probably have walked past this tiny antique shop without a second thought, so it was great to have Camille’s local insight lead us there. Up the creaking stairs of the listed building, we found a sunny coffee shop with uneven wooden floors and some of the tastiest scones in York, still warm from the oven and laden with clotted cream and jam.

Best scones in the Shambles, York

Our scones and tea were served on elegant mismatched china. I’d have been disappointed if they weren’t!

Best scones in the Shambles, York

Best scones in the Shambles, York

Jam or cream first? It’s the age old question, but I’m a jam-first kinda gal.

Best scones in the Shambles, York

After indulging we had some time to rummage through the vintage finds on the floors below.

Best scones in the Shambles, York

Best scones in the Shambles, York

Modern day: loose leaf tea is big business

Next, we stopped at Whittard, where the friendly staff gave us some specialty teas to taste.

Wittards York

A stop in the Middle East

Our penultimate stop on the food and drink tour was in York’s new food market, where Camille introduced us to the staff at Los Moros. It’s an Algerian food stall serving all kinds of wonderful things I’d never come across before. Looks like I need to add Algeria to my travel bucket list!

York food tour: food market

We sampled two kinds of Algerian biscuits, my favourite being the one soaked in orange blossom with almonds, before continuing towards York train station.

Afternoon Tea at The Principal’s Garden Room

Our final brew of the day was served in an elegant setting: The Garden Room of The Principal Hotel. After stomping around the city for a few hours it was lovely to sit back in a regal armchair and be served Afternoon Tea. Our table by the window meant we had gorgeous views of the city all the way to the Minster.

We came on the right day, because Bake Off Creme de le Creme winner and master chocolatier Mark Tilling happened to be in the hotel’s kitchen and he served us our Afternoon Tea!

Mark Tilling at The Principal Hotel York

York food tour: food market

What really set Afternoon Tea at The Principal apart from others I’ve experienced was the first course: a surprising sweet potato and chorizo soup with sherry vinegar veloute which I’ll be trying to replicate at home, smoked mackerel mousse with apple and lime puree served on crisp breads and Yorkshire rarebit with sweet chutney.

Afternoon tea tour of York: The Principal Hotel

I made up my mind to pop in to The Principal for a cocktail next time I’m in York.

Next came the traditional cake stand, laden with finger sandwiches (Yorkshire ham and pickle and egg mayonnaise), mini scones and crowned with a tempting cake selection. Along with The Principal’s usual offering, Mr Tilling had created a raspberry and chocolate mousse that was every bit as delicious as you’d expect from the creme de le creme.

Food and drink tour of York with Tours in a Dish

Food and drink tour of York with Tours in a Dish

Food and drink tour of York with Tours in a Dish

Food and drink tour of York with Tours in a Dish

There was really no need for that eleven o clock train picnic, was there?

While we munched our way through the Afternoon Tea, Camille gave us something to remind us of our day; cute gift bags full of tea samples. It was a lovely token, but the real souvenir is the online document all tour participants receive. It’s packed with information about tea and about York, in case you want to delve further in to the topics.

Why you should try a food and drink tour in York

York is the perfect city for a walking food tour because it’s wonderfully compact. Tours in a Dish covers a lot of ground in four hours, but it’s completely manageable for anyone who has no trouble walking.

In a place like York, where tea shops are ten to the dozen and it’s too easy to miss some of the hidden gems, Tours in a Dish offers tourists and locals alike a chance to discover the real treasures and even get to know the people and initiatives behind them.

I hadn’t expected to learn so much about tea during our tour, but I came away with some great titbits of information to share with people. For example, did you know that tea replaced beer at breakfast during Queen Anne’s reign? Us Brits, eh?

Aside from how interesting and fun the tour was, I think it’s incredible how well Camille has done to research and organise Tours in a Dish. I wish her all the best and hope to see the tours thrive.

If you’re visiting York soon, contact Camille at Tours in a Dish: info@toursinadish.com / 07961028971

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All photographs were taken on my Olympus Pen E-PL7.

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16 Comments

  1. newgirlintoon
    April 11, 2017 / 8:06 am

    I’ve always wanted to do a walking food tour but they always seem to be in London – so happy you’ve found this one closer to home!

    I never know where to go for tea and cake when I’m in York cos whenever you ask for recommendations everyone just says “Betty’s”. The little place above the antique shop looks so cute!

  2. April 22, 2017 / 3:09 pm

    I go to York all the time and I can’t believe I didn’t know about The Principal! I’ll be trying it next time…

  3. April 22, 2017 / 3:53 pm

    I love York! I went a couple of years ago and the Christmas market was on and it was fabulous. This tour is just my thing. Would really enjoy doing this in York when I’m there next

    • Dannielle Lily
      April 22, 2017 / 5:20 pm

      I love going there at Christmas too!

  4. April 22, 2017 / 4:33 pm

    I used to live in York so love to see some of the new things going on. I never would have thought to pair tea with cheese. What a fun day!

    • Dannielle Lily
      April 22, 2017 / 5:20 pm

      Me neither but it totally worked!

  5. April 22, 2017 / 4:38 pm

    I’d really love to go to York one day, and of course, an afternoon tea is always a must! #blogpostsaturday

  6. April 22, 2017 / 4:46 pm

    Food tours are such an interesting way to get an idea of local culture, and also stumble onto some cool streets you may not have seen otherwise. This particular tour you did looked delicious!

    • Dannielle Lily
      April 22, 2017 / 5:19 pm

      I totally agree! Have you ever been to York?

  7. April 22, 2017 / 7:41 pm

    It’s been a while since I have eaten my way through England. My first thought was mom cooking traditional dishes of oxtail soup or boiled tongue. I shuddered at the memories. After seeing you pictures, especially the cheeses, breads and quaint York streets, I remembered how good English cooking can be. Now I am totally craving a meat pie.

    • Dannielle Lily
      April 22, 2017 / 8:29 pm

      Wow, the traditional dishes you had in mind are pretty old school, I don’t think I’ve had oxtail soup in years. British cooking definitely gets better 🙂

  8. April 23, 2017 / 11:55 am

    Thanks for the heads up on Tours in a Dish – I wouldn’t have thought of York as a foodie destination, however this tour sounds really great! The scones remind me of afternoon tea at my grandmothers house … yum!

  9. Bilyana | OwlOverTheWorld
    April 23, 2017 / 12:08 pm

    I love food tours! Such an awesome way to experience a new place. Everything looks very delicious and all of the places looks very lovely also.

  10. April 23, 2017 / 4:12 pm

    I’ve been reading a lot about York lately. Seems like I’ll have to make my way there!

  11. April 25, 2017 / 2:43 am

    Those scones looked divine. Now I want one with some jelly and a good cup of tea.

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