Blood pudding and Bloody Marys form the perfect British Open recipe


Years ago when I worked in New York, there was a bar on 59th Street, just off First Avenue, called the British Open. That sparked an inspired suggestion by my pal Evan: We would watch the final round of the British Open at the British Open, and we’d order the traditional English breakfast – eggs, blood pudding, beans, the whole works.

Our first Open at the British Open was 1999, when we watched Jean Van de Velde’s meltdown through a Bloody Mary-infused haze, which made it all the more bizarre. We returned two years later for David Duval’s breakthrough at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

With the British Open just days away, I wanted to know how to create a traditional British breakfast as I watch the coverage in the wee hours this week. I searched for a U.S. golf resort that serves the meal, to no avail. It seems that half the golf resorts in the country will trot out a faux Scot to huff and puff on a dreadful set of bagpipes as a paean to the Old Country, but few, if any, know how to serve an honest-to-God British breakfast.

So it’s left to ex-pats such as Rebecca Roland to defend the culinary honor of Queen and country. Roland, a Nottingham native, owns The Friar Tuck, a café in Clermont, Fla., west of Orlando, and promotes the “proper full English breakfast.”

When I asked her the secret of the meal, she surprised me.

“It’s got to be the bacon,” Roland said. Brits, she said, refer to the American version as “streaky bacon” because it’s so fatty. “Ours has got more meat to it,” she said.

There are other, more subtle differences. The British sausage she serves looks like American links, but it’s not as spicy and is flavored with sage and onion. She also imports British white bread, which has less sugar than American bread.

The real litmus test for most Americans are those dark, circular patties on the plate: black pudding, also known as blood pudding or blood sausage. It’s a mishmash of pork blood, fat and oatmeal. It’s the British answer to Brussel sprouts: Some people love black pudding, others won’t touch it.

I’m not going to tell you I crave blood pudding like an invitation to Cypress Point, but I didn’t leave any on my plate at Friar Tuck. I actually find the grilled tomato to be the greater oddity – the garnish that we pick at, but never finish.

Roland considers black pudding “essential” to the meal and offers a nudge to the faint of heart.

“Americans will ask if it’s blood sausage, and just because they hear those words, they don’t even want to try it,” she said. “I encourage them to try it first. I won’t tell them what it is if they don’t know.”

There’s more room for experimentation with another essential component of the British breakfast: the Bloody Mary, which, some say, takes its name from Mary 1, Queen of England and Ireland in the 16th century.

(There’s still some debate over the source of the name.)

Fallen Oak Bloody Mary
Fallen Oak Bloody Mary

Bruce Cartwright, beverage director at Fallen Oak Golf Course in Saucier, Miss., compares the cocktail to “a Bonzai tree. You visualize the perfect Bloody Mary and just go crazy with it.” Cartwright’s opinion carries some weight given that Fallen Oak is almost as well known for its Bloody Mary as its course, which is ranked No. 1 in the state.

He recommends infusing your favorite vodka before mixing. At Fallen Oak, that includes a surfeit of seasonings – sliced Roma tomatoes, red onions, garlic cloves, peppercorns, oregano, thyme, basil and crushed red pepper – but Cartwright encourages people to experiment with some of their favorite flavors.

The same goes for the garnish and the spices along the rim of the glass. “The staple celery stalk is no more,” Cartwright said. He said you can “make meals out of Bloody Marys” with garnishes such as bacon and pickled corn, though Fallen Oak uses spicy pickled green beans and olives.

Fallen Oak splashes a “Dixie Dust” combination of nearly a dozen seasonings along the rim of the glass to spice up the drink. But like a pitch out of the fescue to a tucked pin, you just have to visualize the best option for your drink.

“It’s all imagination now,” Cartwright said. “A well-crafted Bloody Mary is one that suits your own specific tastes.” Gwk

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