A county for taste: cycling around Rutland, England’s secret foodie heartland


Sarah Baxter

The smallest county holds astonishing culinary variety: from prize-winning pubs and pastries to an England bowler’s grill school – plus a lovely bit of squirrel

‘You can get a good meal for two out of one grey squirrel,” chef James Goss told me as we sat in his pub after the evening rush. “I prepped 20 today; that’ll be 40 portions.” He might make squirrel sausages. Maybe confit leg. Or squirrel linguine. But somehow, they’d be on the menu – nothing is wasted at the Kings Arms in Wing. “Vermin should be eaten,” he said. “If it gets shot, it gets bloody used.”

That’s how Goss feels about food. When he took over this 17th-century Rutland village pub in 2004 he threw out the microwaves and frozen nuggets and scoured the local area for top-quality producers and good, cheap, unwanted ingredients with which he could get creative; he even built his own smokehouse so as not to waste a glut of Rutland Water trout. I’d just enjoyed some of his delicate smoked trout paté, followed by muntjac chump – another pest species he’d rendered tender and delicious.

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