What is Sussex best known for?
Having lived in Sussex for 10 years now I know it depends on who you ask – and whether or not you are from East or West Sussex.
Most people from outside the county wouldn’t really think there was a difference, but just like North and South Yorkshire, there really is!
Sussex is probably best known for being the county where Brighton sits, for Goodwood racecourse and for generally getting lots of sun (an average of 5.5 hours a day if the experts are to be believed) but as always there’s more than meets the eye.
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When it comes to food and drink Sussex has quite a few hidden and not-so-hidden gems, as well as some great culinary history. In this collaborative post here’s a quick look at a few food and drink highlights.
5 delicious things you may not know about Sussex
Historically Sussex is very well known for puddings. This covers both meat and sweet puddings. In fact, it was once said that ‘to venture into the county was to risk being turned into a pudding yourself’. One that has recently had its 15 minutes of fame thanks to the celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal is the mighty Sussex Pond Pudding. Essentially a suet pudding with a lemon baked in the middle, it certainly isn’t a light option but the lemon caramelises and turns into a sweet marmalade-style filling that is, by all accounts, rather amazing! Sussex is also well known for Sussex Bacon Pudding, a simple but wholesome and filling dish is made from a large flat layer of suet pudding rolled up with bacon, onion and herbs then steamed and served sliced.
Sussex wines have been winning awards globally for a long time now. It’s not just still wine either – Sussex is producing some of the world’s best sparkling wine that is, for all intents and purposes, champagne, although they’re not allowed to call it that. It is made in exactly the same way and the soils and growing conditions in East Sussex closely mirror those of the Champagne region. Producers like the Highweald wine estate are leading the charge. Wine isn’t new to the county though; it has been made in the Sussex for an estimated 2,000 years.
It just so happens that Sussex is rather famous for making beer too and there are various claims that ale was being brewed in the county since before the Norman conquest. Monks in Hallend used to make it because the drinking water was too dirty to drink. The Normans introduced cider which did take hold but in the 11th century but evidence suggests ale was always, and still is, a more popular drink in Sussex. The oldest independent brewery in Sussex is Harvey’s and they have been making beer since 1790. Lewes, the home of Harvey’s, was always considered a rebellious town and still very much adheres to the Sussex saying ‘We Wunt Be Druv’ meaning ‘we won’t be told what to do’. This was often related to the church trying to implement rules in the county.
4. Churdle pie
No, it’s not another pudding: a churdle is a type of pie. Very much along the lines of what people think of as a traditional pie but it is made from a single sheet of pastry. This is placed down with topping added on top. The sheet is then pulled up at the edges and scrunched up before being baked. The origins of this wonderful pie are hazy, some say 17th Century West Sussex but the tales vary. They are certainly tasty and can be traditionally filled with cooked liver and bacon but also apples or mushrooms. Modern versions can include anything from cheese and vegan meat options.
5. Brighton Blue cheese
One can’t write about Sussex food and drink without including Brighton Blue, a mellow and creamy blue cheese. Not as strong as stilton or other blues, it’s perfect for those who find traditional blue cheese a little too much. But where it really makes the mouth water is the texture. It is very creamy and goes perfectly with a lovely glass of port or red wine. It is only made by the Highweald Dairy and is one culinary gem to watch!
This is a collaborative post.