Dinner at Downton: Naples' British purveyors offer what the TV characters would dine on

Sophie McShera as Daisy, left, and Lesley Nicol as Mrs. Patmore in a scene from 'Downton Abbey' season 3. With so many British culinary resources in Naples, it's easy to prepare something Downton's owners, the Crawleys, would enjoy.

Photo by Gary Moyes/MASTERPIECE, Carnival Films

Sophie McShera as Daisy, left, and Lesley Nicol as Mrs. Patmore in a scene from "Downton Abbey" season 3. With so many British culinary resources in Naples, it's easy to prepare something Downton's owners, the Crawleys, would enjoy.

The popularity of the imported British hit series "Downton Abbey" to PBS network has reached fever pitch in America. Writer Julian Fellowes weaves his tales of the Crawley family and their servants at Downton Abbey, the fictitious English estate based on the mighty Highclere Castle. The show is currently in its third season, set in 1920.It's a sumptuous environment, right down to the cuisine.

Sonja Tilley, of Tea with Me at Audrey's in Naples, makes scones for her afternoon tea service.

Sonja Tilley, of Tea with Me at Audrey's in Naples, makes scones for her afternoon tea service.

Neapolitans might not have the luxury of a Highclere Castle, a la Downton Abbey, in which to indulge a meal, but with so many British culinary resources in Naples, it's easy to prepare something Downton's owners, the Crawleys, and the redoubtable Mr. Carson, their majordomo, would enjoy.

From breakfast to afternoon tea to high tea to a decadent dinner, with a few tips from local Brits and purveyors of British goodies, home cooks can recreate a flavorful staff meal, go out for tea, and live like the Lords and Ladies of Downton Abbey.

British native Sonja Tilley plays out the afternoon tea experience portrayed on the show often at her Naples tearoom, Tea with Me at Audrey's. Her traditional afternoon tea includes clotted cream, imported from England, and jam with her homemade scones, finger sandwiches and other savory dishes with a variety of teas.

If you go

Tea with Me at Audrey’s

Where:104 10th St. N., Naples

Information:239-403-8322, www.Audreys-Attic.com

British Market of Naples

Where: Galleria Shoppes at Vanderbilt, 2355 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Suite 131, North Naples

Information:239-596-2748, www.britishmarketnaples.com

Naples Food Tours

Information: Elaine Osbond, 239-200-7992 or www.NaplesFoodTours.com

The English Pub

Where: 5047 U.S. 41 E., Naples

Information:239-775-3727, www.naplesenglishpub.com

Brambles Tea Room

Where: 340 Fifth Ave. S., Naples

Information: 239-262-7894, www.bramblestearooms.com

Ritz-Carlton Resort, North Naples

When: Afternoon tea: Saturday and Sunday only, 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: 280 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples

Information: 239-598-3300, www.RitzCarlton.com

Unlike the genteel and refreshing afternoon tea on the TV show, she said high tea is not a dainty affair.

"It divides the day from night and is hearty enough to make dinner unnecessary, so a Downton Abbey-inspired high tea should take place around 6 p.m." Tilley said. "Foods can range from smoked ham, egg and bacon pie, a wedge of cheese, tomatoes and watercress with bread and butter, and pots of jam, jugged kippers, a plate of sandwiches and a heavy-dried fruitcake slice."

The appearance of the tea table is also important to get the Downton Abbey effect.

"Picture a large table; spread out a white cloth with a heavy brown iron stove teapot pouring strong tea," said Tilley, who suggests eating kippers — the juicy herring — with a chunk of crusty farmhouse bread.

Longtime Naples resident and owner of Naples Food Tours, Elaine Osbond, who is from England, said in the great stately homes, the meals were elaborate.

"The meals were planned by the lady of the house in conjunction with her cook, but the grande dame never, of course, did any of the actual cooking," Osbond said. "Breakfast would be multi-course — porridge, oatmeal served with brown sugar and cream, eggs, kippers, kidneys, mushrooms, bacon, a dish called Kedgeree which is made with smoked haddock, rice, hard-boiled eggs and cream; toast, marmalade, coffee, tea and such."

Lunch would typically be a three-course meal, and about 4 p.m., afternoon tea would be served.

Meat pies come in a variety of flavors at British Market in Naples.

Meat pies come in a variety of flavors at British Market in Naples.

"Then dinner would be around 8 p.m., and if there were guests, full evening dress would be worn as seen in the Downton Abbey program," Osbond said. "This would be an elaborate multi-course meal with a menu that might include savory soup, roast turkey or roast pork with specialty potatoes, two vegetable side dishes, citrus ice, rolls and butter, jams, jellies and sweet pickles."

Although British Market proprietor and chef Don Messina isn't British, he went to cooking school in London at Le Cordon Bleu and lived there, launching him into a love affair with British cuisine.

"When planning a Downton Abbey dinner, you can pick an episode and go with that theme," said Messina, who makes his clotted cream in house to go with the scones he bakes daily. "But I'd make a meal from the help's point of view, because that seems like it would be more fun."

Pasties are what miners used to take to work with them to eat by hand. Messina also makes those in house, including Cornish pasties; chicken tikka; potato, cheese and onion pasties; Scottish meat pies; pork pies; and steak pies paired with other ingredients such as Guinness or kidney or mushroom or bleu cheese.

There is a lot of history in British cooking akin with historic ingredients. For example, ample shelf space is devoted at the British Market to Colman's mustard, a staple British ingredient that dates to 1814 when Jeremiah Colman took over a mustard manufacturing business in England. It's used in everything from prime rib to cocktails.

In 1866, Queen Victoria appointed Colman's mustard to Her Majesty the Queen Manufacturers of Food and Households, basically making it the crown jewel of mustards and making it known as "The Queen's Mustard." It's still one of only three mustard mills in the world that use the blend of white and brown mustard seeds grown by local farmers around Norwich, England.

In addition to the Queen's Mustard, you can also find a prince's biscuits. Messina sells Prince William's favorite biscuits, called McVities, which were in the prince's wedding cake. It even sells mushy peas.

Savory pasties made by Chef Don Messina at British Market in Naples. KELLY MERRITT

Savory pasties made by Chef Don Messina at British Market in Naples. KELLY MERRITT

"Mushy peas are dried marrowfat peas, and to make them from dried beans, you have to actually soak them overnight, cook and mash them, or you can buy them canned, which we sell," he said. "In England, you can get them at a chip shop — it's like a taco stand, but over there it's fish and chips." Possibly the most decadent savory dish served at Downton Abbey is roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, Messina said.

Here are some recipes from local British dining spots and stores:

COLMAN'S ENGLISH PRIME RIB

Serves 2 to 4

Ingredients

2 rib-tied prime beef rib roast (from small end, about 4½-pound trimmed)

1½ tablespoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1½ tablespoons Colman's dry mustard powder

Directions

1 Preheat grill to high and set up for indirect cooking.

2 Place beef fat side up and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Stir together flour and dry mustard and pat onto top and sides of roast to form a thick coating.

3 Roast beef 20 minutes. Reduce grill temperature and roast until thermometer inserted into center of meat registers 115 degrees F.

4 Transfer beef to a cutting board and let stand, uncovered, 25 minutes. Meat eventually will reach 125 degrees F.

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Prince's William's favorite biscuits are also available at The British Market. KELLY MERRITT

Prince's William's favorite biscuits are also available at The British Market. KELLY MERRITT

CADBURY CHOCOLATE BISCUIT CAKE

Ingredients

½ teaspoon butter, for greasing pan

8 ounces McVities rich tea biscuits

½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

½ cup granulated sugar

4 ounces Cadbury Bournville chocolate

1 egg, beaten

8 ounces Cadbury Bournville chocolate, for icing

1 ounce Cadbury white chocolate buttons, for decoration

Directions

1 Lightly grease a small (such as 6-by-2½-inch) cake ring with butter, and place on a parchment-lined tray. Break each of the biscuits into almond-sized pieces by hand and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until the mixture is a light lemon color.

2 Melt the Bournville chocolate in a double boiler. Add the butter and sugar mixture to the chocolate, stirring constantly. Add the egg and continue stirring. Fold in the biscuit pieces until they are all coated with the chocolate mixture.

3 Spoon the chocolate biscuit mixture into the prepared cake ring. Try to fill all of the gaps on the bottom of the ring, because this will be the top when it is unmolded. Chill the cake in the refrigerator for at least three hours.

4 Remove the cake from the refrigerator, and let it stand while you melt the dark chocolate for icing. Slide the ring off the cake and turn the cake upside down onto a cooling rack.

5 Pour melted dark chocolate over the cake, and smooth the top and sides using a butter knife or offset spatula. Allow the chocolate icing to set at room temperature. Carefully run a knife around the bottom of the cake where it has stuck to the cooling rack, and transfer the cake to a cake dish.

6 Melt the white chocolate buttons and drizzle on top of the cake in a decorative pattern.

— Courtesy of Chef Don Messina, British Market Naples

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'The Queen's Mustard' is Colman's Mustard which dates back to 1814 and is sold at British Market in Naples. KELLY MERRITT

"The Queen's Mustard" is Colman's Mustard which dates back to 1814 and is sold at British Market in Naples. KELLY MERRITT

COLMAN'S CLASSIC MEATLOAF

Ingredients

2 pounds ground beef

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, plus one teaspoon

1½ teaspoons Colman's Dry Mustard

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 cup dry, seasoned bread crumbs

¾ cup beef broth

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup ketchup

Directions

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2 In a large bowl, combine beef, eggs, onion, 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, Colman's Dry Mustard, and bread crumbs. Mix well until all ingredients are incorporated.

3 Add beef broth and mix again.

4 Oil the inside of the loaf pan and add meat mixture.

5 In a small bowl, mix ketchup and 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce. Spread on top of meatloaf.

6 Bake for 45-55 minutes.

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Kelly Merritt
Herring, also known as kippers, makes for a delightful Downton Abbey dish, sold at British Market in Naples with its own knob of butter.

Kelly Merritt Herring, also known as kippers, makes for a delightful Downton Abbey dish, sold at British Market in Naples with its own knob of butter.

JUGGED KIPPERS

Ingredients

herrings

butter

Directions

1 Remove the head of the herrings, fold sides of fish together and pack vertically in a tall, warmed jug.

2 Pour in boiling water to cover.

3 Place lid or plate over the top of the jug and leave in a warm place for 6 minutes.

4 Drain and dry and serve in a hot dish with a knob of butter to melt over each fish.

— Courtesy of Sonja Tilley, Tea with Me at Audrey's

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BEEF BOURGUIGNON

Serves 4

Ingredients

3½ tablespoons olive oil

3 pounds lean eye of round, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 carrot, sliced

1 onion, sliced

8 cups mushrooms, fresh and quartered (about 1 pound)

Salt and pepper

3 cups red wine, full-bodied cabernet

2½-3½cups brown beef stock

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 cloves mashed garlic

½ teaspoon thyme

1 crumbled bay leaf

18-24 white stewing onions, small

3½ tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon flour

Herb bouquet garni (4 parsley sprigs, ½ bay leaf, 1/4 teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)

Directions

1 Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Heat olive oil in a saute pan until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time.

2 Sauté carrots and sliced onion in the same pan for 10 minutes and add to the meat.

3 Deglaze the pan with red wine, scraping up the bits of browned beef from the bottom of the pan. Pour the contents into the casserole dish on top of the meat.

4 Add 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered.

5 Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs. Salt to taste. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.

6 Set into a 325-degree F oven. Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for three to four hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily which should take 3 hours.

7 While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.

Preparing the onions

1 Drop onions in boiling water for 20 seconds and quickly remove. This will allow you to easily peel the skins.

2 Heat 1½ tablespoons butter with 1½ tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet.

3 Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly.

4 Add ½ cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet.

5 Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.

Preparing mushrooms

1 Heat oil and small amount of butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms.

2 Toss and shake pan for four to five minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat.

Finishing

1 When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole dish into a sieve set over a saucepan, and then return the beef back to the dish.

2 Simmer the sauce, skimming the fat off the sauce in saucepan or if you have time, cool and the fat will coagulate.

3 To thicken the sauce, make paste of 1 tablespoon of flour with 1 tablespoon of softened butter. Take the saucepan off the stove and whisk in the paste.

4 Put the saucepan back on the stove and bring to the boil. Taste and adjust flavors, adding pepper at this point.

5 Reduce the heat, add the onions and mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes to combine flavors.

6 Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer two to three minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times.

7 Serve right away but we always find the stew tastes best the next day.

8 Arrange stew on a platter surrounded with cooked potatoes, and decorated with chopped herbs.

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