Birmingham has been named the UK’s foodiest town, according to contemporary food magazine olive, with London coming fifth. The food lover’s title scored UK towns on their culinary credentials and Britain’s second largest city pipped Ludlow, Melton Mowbray, Edinburgh and the nation’s capital to the top spot.
Alongside the invention of the balti, olive cites the trio of Michelin-starred restaurants, a food heritage including Typhoo, Bird’s Custard and HP Sauce, social foodie enterprises and food events including the Good Food Show, Europe’s largest food festival, in terms of visitor numbers. According to the judges: “Outsiders may persist in refusing to spend leisurely weekends there, but Britain’s second city is underestimated.”
In second place came Ludlow with the judges commending its September food festivals, real ales, slow food movement and independent food shops. The judges said: “Gastronomy has become the most distinguishing feature of this Shropshire town. The last food festival saw the town’s population triple.”
In third place came Melton Mowbray, the home of the pork pie and stilton cheese, tying with “cosmopolitan” Edinburgh; London surprisingly came in fifth. Despite being praised for its “world-beating restaurants and scene-changing trends” London lost marks for “making tourists think Angus Steakhouse and Garfunkels represent the pinnacle of UK culinary achievement”.
Abergavenny came sixth, punching above its weight for its “friendly welcome” and “excellent food”. with Ramsbottom seventh. An expert panel of food writers from the award-winning title judged each town on the criteria laid out below.
olive also invited reader views on “foodie hellholes” with Middlesbrough receiving a special mention for its “notorious parmo, a chicken escalope in breadcrumbs, deep-fried, covered in béchamel and cheap grated cheese, run through a pizza oven and served with chips”. Glasgow for “deep-frying pizzas and pies” and Blackpool with one reader commenting “Nothing is allowed in unless it’s stuffed full of additives”.