Somehow J.K. Rowling manages to make me salivate at the mention of steak and kidney pie, Yorkshire pudding, pumpkin pasties, and even cockroach clusters, so my expectations were high.
Here’s a review of what you can tantalize your taste buds within the wizarding world, should you hop on your hippogriff and make the trip (plus thoughts on how accurately it lives up to the books).
The Leaky Cauldron
“This is it — the Leaky Cauldron. It’s a famous place.” — Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Both the Leaky Cauldron and The Three Broomsticks boast a menu filled with classic English pub food: bangers and mash, cottage pie, fish and chips, and toad in the hole (sausages in Yorkshire pudding batter).
Of course, both host a variety of drinks:
And they have those little plastic renditions of their food displayed in windows. How can you not love that?
A ploughman’s lunch is a classic English cold meal with bread, cheese, Scotch eggs, pickles, etc.
Most dishes come with a side salad or vegetables (potatoes, peas, broccoli, etc.)
The Three Broomsticks
Shoutout to The Three Broomsticks for supplying my makeshift Thanksgiving feast. The food is all tasty, my only gripe being that the cornish pasties were disappointingly miniature.
Oh, but where’s the steak and kidney pie!?
Turkey leg of barbaric proportions and my prescribed tryptophan fix for the day.
The chicken and ribs platter is spot on, as far as theme park foods go.
Sad, small pasties with only salad for a friend.
The Hog’s Head
At Hogsmeade’s local bar, you can get all the drinks seen on the above beverage menu.
Harry drank deeply. It was the most delicious thing he’d ever tasted and seemed to heat every bit of him from the inside. —– Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Available throughout Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley (The Leaky Cauldron, Three Broomsticks, and Hog’s Head), Butterbeer comes in both a hot and cold version. Both are achingly sweet, but if you’re into that, they’re awesome. The hot has a rich, smooth texture akin to hot chocolate and tastes like caramel; the cold is carbonated and is like a mix of cream soda and a root beer float with a little more bite. Both are topped with a salty/sweet butterscotch froth which is the best part and will rot your teeth.
Fun Fact: On taste-testing various Butterbeer prototypes, Rowling took one sip of the to-be-winner and declared, “Yes, Chef. That’s it.”
“What did you expect? …Pumpkin juice!?” – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Well, um… Yes, actually. But apparently the primary ingredient is apple juice, and then pumpkin puree. I didn’t try it, but supposedly it’s like spiced apple cider; perhaps an eighth way to pimp your cider?
And it comes in bottles as cute as the Skele-Gro jug.
Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour
“…he could sit in the bright sunshine outside Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor, finishing all his essays with occasional help from Florean Fortescue himself, who, apart from knowing a great deal about medieval witch burnings, gave Harry free sundaes every half an hour.” — Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Be prepared to break open the Gringotts vault, because prices everywhere here are hiked. As far as spending goes, though, I give a huge endorsement to Fortescue’s — WORTH IT. A cup or cone of hard-packed ice cream allows you two flavors, but be warned, they don’t allow taste-testing, and Butterbeer flavor only comes in soft-serve.
Notable mentions: Apple Crumble’s chunks of crust and apple make it taste legit like pie a la mode; Sticky Toffee Pudding is caramel-y and packed with bready cookie bites, and Clotted Cream has a tangy citrus punch.
Apple Crumble / Sticky Toffee Pudding Cone #1, because yes, there were multiple (unfortunately not free or every half hour). Check this recipe out if you’re now craving your own apple pie ice cream.
Weasley Wizard Wheezes Products
Throwback to middle school when we all really needed Skiving Snackboxes to be an actual thing.
The joke shop offers up Puking Pastilles (“double-ended, colour-coded chews,” originally orange and purple), Nosebleed Nougat (in this case a chocolate-pistachio bark), Fainting Fancies (test them out on some first-years), and Fever Fudge (beware of pus-filled boils as a side-effect),
In addition to the complete Skiving Snackbox, you can also purchase U-No-Poo, “the constipation sensation that’s gripping the nation!” — Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) This may possibly be just a jar of green M&Ms…but who knows, maybe they’ll reverse the nasty effects of those sugar-free gummy bears going around.
“Just then, Neville caused a slight diversion by turning into a large canary.” – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Canary creams, anyone?
“There were shelves upon shelves of the most succulent-looking sweets imaginable.” – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Prices are a tad exorbitant here, even by theme park standards. But it felt wrong to leave without a chocolate frog ($10 though!?)
They are a solid ⅓ pound of milk chocolate — that’s one hefty frog.
A good number of sweets heralding straight from the Harry Potter canon adorn the shelves: peppermint chocolate toads, Fizzing Whizbees (chocolate + Pop Rocks), fudge flies, jelly slugs, pink coconut ice, taffy, sugar quills, Chocoballs filled with strawberry mousse, exploding bonbons, Pepper Imps, Chocolate Cauldrons (though the Firewhiskey center is replaced with green marshmallow, and they’re far too big to fit in a box gifted from Romilda Vane), and of course, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavored Beans.
Items like Mice Pops and Tooth Splintering Strong Mints take the place of authentic Ice Mice and Toothflossing Stringmints, while chocolate wands replace licorice wands (drat).
All the above come in their own separate pricey packages. You can also fill up bags and pay by weight, but it’s with exceptionally ordinary muggle candy and the selection isn’t as large as other stores throughout Universal Studios.
Honeydukes also has a selection of baked goods and specialty items: pumpkin cakes, cauldron cakes, no-melt ice cream, caramel apples, pasties, and fudge on fudge on fudge. Six hunks of fudge go for $16, which is a steal here (or make your own); they only missed the mark in not calling it treacle fudge.
“Anything off the cart, dears?” – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Maybe some day we’ll see Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum, Acid Pops, Slughorn’s favorite crystallized pineapple, or Cockroach Clusters.
And that’s how, even forgoing the traditional Thanksgiving food fest, I above and beyond fulfilled my calorie quota of the holiday. And it was bloody brilliant.