Five East Midlands Delicacies to Add to Your Christmas Hamper

This Christmas, why not give Aunt Bessie and her frozen favourites a break and try some traditional dishes that originate in the East Midlands?

From the King of English Cheeses to classic British bakes, we’ve shortlisted five foods that are worth picking up in person and adding to your hamper this festive season.​

Stilton – The King of English Cheeses

If you’d like to add a special cheese to your table this Christmas, make it Stilton. It’s the nation’s favourite blue cheese, with more than 1 million cylinders produced each year and exported to over 40 countries around the world. But a batch of this proudly pongy cheese can’t be made just anywhere – only six dairies, spread across Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire, are licensed to make Stilton.

The Cheese Shop, a family-run delicatessen in the heart of Nottingham City Centre, is a great place to find top quality Stilton. It’s sourced locally from Colston Bassett Dairy and Cropwell Bishop Creameries.

In Leicester, there’s Christopher James Deli, a traditional deli on Queens Road, which alongside Stilton and 100 other cheeses, offers cured meats, preserves, handmade chocolates, Italian pastas and truffle oils – all ideal choices for a hearty Christmas spread (especially their Stilton-topped pork pies).

Or, if you’re in Derby for a festive shop, look for the bright yellow sign of Milk & Honey Deli in the historic Cathedral Quarter. Here you’ll find 800 cheese varieties and knowledgeable staff who will be happy to advise you on perfect flavour pairings to complement your meal.

The Cheese Shop, Nottingham | Google Maps
Christopher James Deli, Leicester | Google Maps
Milk & Honey Deli, Derby | Google Maps

Book train tickets to Nottingham, Leicester, or Derby

Bakewell Tart – A Classic British Bake

Mr Kipling’s Cherry Bakewell is an acceptable accompaniment to a cup of tea if you’re in a rush, but for the real deal, you should take a pudding-themed pilgrimage to where this classic treat started: the town of Bakewell in the Peak District National Park.

According to legend, the famous pudding was created by mistake in the mid-19th century when a local cook spread the egg mixture on top of a layer of jam instead of stirring it into the pastry.

As well as enjoying the town of Bakewell’s stone buildings, medieval five-arched stone bridge and quaint courtyards, you can sample its famous culinary creation at The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop (which has sold the tart since 1860) and The Bakewell Tart Shop & Coffee House, which stocks five varieties and will even personalise a pudding with a message of your choice.

The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop, Bakewell | Google Maps
The Bakewell Tart Shop & Coffee House | Google Maps

Book train tickets to Matlock or Chesterfield – both stations have frequent bus services to Bakewell.

Melton Mowbray pork pie, Leicestershire

You’ve probably left a mince pie out for Santa on Christmas Eve, but how about enjoying a pork pie for breakfast the next morning? This unusual tradition is thought to have started in the East Midlands and lots of people in Leicestershire still tuck into a pork pie on December 25th to keep the custom alive.

For the ultimate festive pork pie, skip the supermarket and instead head to Melton Mowbray, a quintessentially English market town known for its eponymous pork pie and general passion for food and drink.

The Melton Mowbray pork pie has a distinctive hand-formed crust and contains uncured meat that’s chopped rather than minced. Unlike other pies, which have straight sides due to being baked in moulds, the Melton Mowbray pie’s sides bow outwards, giving it a charming handmade appearance.

For an authentic, award-winning Melton Mowbray pork pie, visit Dickinson & Morris, who have been baking in the same shop in the town centre for over 160 years. It’s the third stop on the Melton Heritage Trail, which guides you through 1,000 years of the town’s history.

For the perfect accompaniment to a Melton Mowbray pork pie, check out the next item on our list.

Dickinson & Morris, Melton Mowbray | Google Maps

Book train tickets to Leicester station, which is a 15-minute train journey from Melton Mowbray.

Mushy peas with mint sauce, Nottingham

Mushy peas aren’t everyone’s cup of ...peas, but they’re much loved in Nottinghamshire, especially when accompanied with lashings of mint sauce. You’ll traditionally find this dish at Nottingham’s annual Goose Fair, where locals take the preparation of the delicacy very seriously (a few years ago, a Facebook campaign rallied against ‘shop-bought mint sauce out of a squirty bottle’ and demanded the return of the traditional bowl and ladle).

You can find a permanent stall, aptly named The Mushy Pea Stall, in Nottingham’s Victoria Market, which is dedicated to this curious green treat. It’s not a fancy affair but promises a nostalgic trip down memory lane for anyone who enjoyed this dish when they were young.

Victoria Market, Nottingham | Google Maps

Book train tickets to Nottingham

Lincolnshire sausages, Lincoln

Every supermarket stocks Lincolnshire sausages, but only a handful of butchers can claim they’ve made these bangers the traditional way for nearly 200 years.

Curtis of Lincoln is a family business that cares about local provenance and the quality of its ingredients. Whether you’re after some sausages for a barbeque, toad-in-the-hole or bangers and mash, Curtis’ recipe, which has been handed down through the generations, is a perfect choice. They also offer two varieties of traditional, luxury Lincolnshire plum bread.

Curtis of Lincoln has several shops in Lincoln, including one that’s a 10-minute walk from Lincoln Cathedral.

Curtis of Lincoln | Google Maps

Book train tickets to Lincoln