The Old Stamp House Restaurant in the bustling town of Ambleside is located in a building where Wordsworth had an office when he worked as a stamp distributor. Here, in its small, spare, cool subterranean rooms, I encountered food that tasted quintessentially English (even when classical French techniques were applied) and was exactingly regional, making use of ingredients farmed and grown right in the district and, in the case of seafood, just beyond its borders off the Cumbrian coast. The menu proclaimed its ethos: "Food Inspired by Cumbria," it said, "Heritage, People, Landscape." It's a family undertaking, the Old Stamp House. Ryan Blackburn was in the kitchen, his brother Craig, in the front of house. My lunch began with what I expected to be a homely morsel of black pudding—here, it glistened like a chocolate bonbon and was accompanied by a small, dense pool of reduced port. It was the finest black pudding I'd ever tasted: earthy, not too dry, not too moist, subtly but persuasively spiced. The lobster caught near Ravenglass (perhaps my favorite of all regional place names, the stuff of myth, or at least a Led Zeppelin song), was meltingly delicate, invigorated by zucchini and basil and sweet heirloom tomatoes. Braised pork cheek with queenies (tiny bay scallops) and purées of both artichoke and chestnut were elemental—as if earth and sea, fire and briny air, could be tasted in each bite—bordering on audacious.