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To celebrate British Food Fortnight, we’re giving you a taster of the amazing home produce that you can enjoy on board, shining a spotlight on Celtic ports of call with tempting regional specialities to try and getting a flavour of the new Head of Britannia’s Cookery Club, Nino Giovanni Mac Mahon.

Grilled trout with corn and lemon

We champion fresh, locally-sourced British food on board

To celebrate British Food Fortnight, we take stock of some of the fantastic home-grown products that you can enjoy on board our fleet of ships. P&O Cruises Culinary Development Manager Haydn Davis explains why he is so pleased to promote the best of British food on board and highlights a few of his favourite products to try.


‘At P&O Cruises we take great pride in the food we serve and the quality of produce that we source. We have a fantastic array of dishes to choose from in the UK and we always try to source local ingredients and showcase them in an array of menus. Simply put, we love food – and particularly great British food.


'Regionally sourced British food is something that we champion as much as possible. It really resonates with our guests and, as a great British brand, we think it’s a natural choice to support British producers. Many guests are surprised at the variety of the produce we source – when they see local regional products on the menu, the response is always positive. Guests are interested in the provenance of the food they are eating and are keen to try new dishes when they know the story behind it.


‘We take a huge amount of time and effort to source these ingredients. Our chefs have the best products to work with, which provides consistency and quality across the fleet. We only work with reputable suppliers and they are fully audited by our quality assurance team to ensure best practice farming methods and supplies from sustainable sources. One of the factors we have to consider is obtaining any given product in sufficiently large quantities to be stocked on all our ships. It’s no mean feat sourcing and stocking a cruise ship to offer guests the quality and diversity of dishes that will delight and surprise them.


I’m particularly interested in the provenance of food and the following are just three of the exciting British products with an interesting story to tell.’


Onley Grounds Farm beef fillet and sirloin

‘The herd of Holstein Friesian bull calves is reared on the Baker family’s cattle and arable farm in the village of Onley, Northamptonshire. The cattle are reared to the highest levels of welfare: they’re free to roam in both cover and open air and are fed on unique diet of locally grown grain that is mixed with Weetabix and molasses. This great feed formula adds to the flavour of the meat. The herd beds down on locally made straw and they are also kept in their own social groups to reduce stress. This results in beef of the highest quality. From farm to fork, we have total confidence in the way the animals are reared and fed. We know this is why the quality of the beef and sirloin is outstanding.’


Chalk Stream fresh-water rainbow trout 

‘We buy this award-winning product in both smoked and fresh form from Chalk Stream trout farm in Hampshire. Chalk streams provide a unique environment – the alkaline water is rich in minerals and beautifully clear. There are 210 chalk streams in the world and 160 of those are in England. These trout swim in spring-fed water from the rivers Itchen and Test and the constant water flow, excellent light and vegetation provide a haven for the fish. It is this unique habitat that gives the trout such a distinctive taste and superb lean quality.’


Lyburn Farm Old Winchester extra-mature cheese  

‘This hard, Dutch-matured-style artisan cheese is one of the stars of our cheeseboard range. Made by the Smales family of Lyburn Farm in the New Forest near Salisbury, it is made with milk from the 170-strong pedigree dairy that has been bred and tended by four generations of the family. Their meticulous breeding records can be traced back 60 years. The farm business is headed up by Judy and Phil, the herdsman and skilled cheesemaker who oversees the cheese-making process. It takes 18 months from creating the curd to full maturation of the award-winning Old Winchester. It’s worth the wait.’

Find out more about the dining options on board.

Sheep grazing on Orkney, Scotland

Sheep grazing on Orkney, Scotland

Celtic flavours

Take a tasting tour of Ireland and Scotland when you hop ashore on a British Isles cruise. On top of epic scenery, intriguing traditions and quirky local culture, our varied weather means we have an equally diverse array of local food and drink specialities to try. 

Irish offerings

We start our tour in Belfast with a good helping of barmbrack. This delicious fruit bread (traditionally served at Halloween, but so good it’s become a daily staple) goes beautifully with a cup of Barry’s Tea, the world-famous Irish brew. Stop at any one of a number of traditional cafés in Belfast to try this when you step ashore on our Belfast City Walking Tour. While you’re roving, make sure you try other traditional baked goods, such as potato farls and soda bread.


Surrounded by the ocean, Ireland boasts fantastic seafood – and is famous for its wonderful shellfish. The plump oysters found in Cork and along the south coast are so integral to Ireland’s food heritage that oyster festivals abound across the island in September. One of the favourite festival challenges is how many oysters you can eat in three minutes at The World Oyster Opening Championships in Galway on Saturday 24 September. The current Guinness World Record holder (at 235 oysters in three minutes) is Colin Shirlow of County Down, a title he has held since 2005. We don’t advise that you take Colin on. However, take time to sample these delicacies served fresh with lemon juice, salt and pepper and an optional dash of Tabasco.


Dublin’s Dublin Bay prawns (described by food presenter, writer and seafood expert Rick Stein as ‘the best in the world’) are never hard to find in Ireland’s capital city. The large langoustine (otherwise known as Norwegian lobster or scampi), can grown up to 25cm long and can live for up to 10 years. Simplicity is best when it comes to preparing them: sautéed in a bit of butter with garlic and a squeeze of fresh lemon.


After feasting on fresh seafood, you may want to imbibe a local tipple or two. On a Dublin City Tour and Guinness shore excursion you can also enjoy a pint of the black stuff in the Guinness Storehouse’s Gravity Bar, where you will also experience some of the best views of the city. For details of this and other excursions on cruises to Dublin


Highland & Island hospitality

To sample Scottish-island delicacies, the Orkney’s Local Delicacies shore excursion is a great introduction. Local produce, such as freshly caught crab claws, traditional Orkney herring and Orkney Cheddar, are tasty starters. The islands’ famous cheese takes its distinctive flavour from the milk of cows who graze on the pure and lush pasture of these wild islands and barley bi-products from the local whisky industry. This microclimate, courtesy of the Gulf Stream, also offers prime conditions for the islands’ herd of water buffalo. Try buffalo cheese, too, while ashore.


The unique microclimate of the 70 or so islands that make up the Orkney archipelago also means that the meat from cattle and sheep raised on Orkney is highly prized and is a British product that enjoys protected European status. Try North Ronaldsay lamb – this hardy and ancient breed feeds exclusively on seaweed, giving the hogget or mutton a distinctive flavour. Other local foodie treats make great gifts. Stock up on the rich and creamy local Orkney fudge and traditional Orkney oatcakes. 


Scottish whisky needs no introduction and at Kirkwall on Orkney’s mainland, you can learn about one of Scotland’s finest at the country’s most northerly distillery.  Since 1798, Highland Park Distillery has been crafting award-winning single malts. Today, the same traditional methods are used and it is one of a handful of distilleries that uses a malting floor. Each batch of malt is steeped in mineral-rich water from the Crantit spring before being transferred to the malting floor to germinate. Here, it is turned by hand before being placed in the kilns where the aromatic peating process begins. The single malt’s distinctive sweet and aromatic flavour is completed by a delicate aging process in Spanish oak casks seasoned with sherry. 


As they say in Gaelic, Slàinte!


Find out more about our British Isles cruises 

New Head of The Cookery Club on Britannia, chef Nino Giovanni Mac Mahon



Six things you need to know about Britannia’s new Head of The Cookery Club, chef Nino Giovanni Mac Mahon


Q: You’re new to working on a cruise ship, what appealed to you about this role?

A: I knew this job would be perfect for me as soon as I heard about it – it combines my two great passions: travelling and teaching people to cook.


Q: Were you worried about spending so much time at sea?

A: Not at all! In fact, the idea really appeals to me, because it means I’ll get to sample so many different types of cuisine from around the world.


Q: What’s your favourite type of cuisine?

A: That’s a really difficult question. I’m passionate about all things food-related, but my love of cooking began in my mother’s kitchen. My Italian heritage meant that I grew up cooking pizza, pasta, pesto and homemade breads on a weekly basis. I was lucky enough to live out my dream recently when I moved to Tuscany and had a kitchen garden. I spent two years there, making wine and olive oil with my cousins and friends – it was bliss.


Q: Does this influence your cooking style?

A: My Italian heritage is important, but I find cooking inspiration in everything around me. When I’m not in the kitchen, I like to wander along the hedgerows looking for things to cook – I use wild fruits to make jams and chutneys, and I like to smoke any fish I catch when I go angling.


Q: What can your students expect to learn from you?

A: I’ve been a Hospitality and Tourism lecturer for the past 15 years and I love what I do. I always want to pass on my enthusiasm, knowledge and passion for all things food-related to my students, whether they’re in a college or the middle of the ocean.


Q: What do you like to do in your time off?

A: The first thing I do when I get home from work is hug my beautiful wife and children. Then we all sit down for a big Italian family meal at our dining table and catch up. That’s what it’s all about.


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