Oxford University: A Foodie Syllabus
English food is generally nothing to write home about. However, when I recently found myself across the Atlantic in the British Isles, my time spent there was far from a gastronomic failure. After eating a variety of different food items in London, from Spanish tapas to Cornish ice cream, I took a bus to Oxford for a couple days to visit a cousin studying there for her Masters degree, and where eating would turn out to be our utmost priority.
Being in Oxford really takes the American understanding of “college town” to another level. Oxford University is the oldest university in the English-speaking world, and eating student fare around thirteenth-century buildings is inspiring at the very least.
Here are some highlights from my snack-packed 36 hours on the town:
England has tea and scones to happily claim as its own, a delicious sampling of which can be enjoyed at the Vaults & Garden Cafe, with outdoor seating that faces the Radcliffe Camera. It’s served with jam and the tongue-tantalizing, artery-clogging substance that is clotted cream. Embrace it; love it; know that it may be your end one day.
Next— Kebles College’s Dining Hall, where the location rather than the meal is worth noting, brought a whole new meaning to the dining experience. Its most recent claim to fame was that it was NOT chosen to be filmed for the Harry Potter movies (Christ Church College’s dining hall was the winner in that department). Food was magically brought in by the Hall’s waiting staff. And yes: we all wore black robes.
Tea the next morning was accompanied by delicious chocolate pancakes at Combibos, a coffee shop located in Gloucester Green Square.
For lunch, I sampled the other British celebrity couple aside from tea and scones: fish and chips from The Turf Tavern, a university hot spot.
We made our final stop at Maison Blanc a landmark Oxford patisserie before I got back onto the bus to London. Unfortunately the store was low in stock on that particular day, and the chocolate mousse pastry I purchased didn’t survive the bus ride in a respectable manner. I was forced to consume it without claiming a photo ID. Suffice it to say, it provided a sweet ending to my bus trip.
Before I headed back to New York, I witnessed firsthand the British establishment of afternoon tea, featuring more glorious clotted-cream-accompanied scones, as well as sandwiches and pastries.
Of course the tea, served in china, played no small part in this presentation of delicacies. As the food kept coming, I pushed aside the worry of not having room for a potential supper, or perhaps for even more tea.