Did somebody say food? An exploration of some of the top European food destinations.
French cuisine is rated as one of the world’s finest. So Paris is a foregone conclusion on any list of top food cities. French gastronomy is so revered that UNESCO has named it to the list of world intangible cultural heritage. Experience that heritage with classics such as coq au vin or boeuf bourgignon.
Elegant fare by any of the city’s celebrated chefs is a bucket-list experience. Those include Joël Robuchon, Pierre Gagnaire and Alain Ducasse.
But the culinary joys of Paris aren’t sampled at restaurants alone. Shop for food as the locals do. Visit a market with stalls specializing in everything from cheese to spices. Visit individual specialty stores for baked goods, meat and more. Have an impromptu picnic with the wares you’ve gathered: maybe a baguette, cheese and pate. Or eat a croque monsieur from a street cart.
Up-and-coming trend: Young chefs who do it all at tiny bistros. They’re reinterpreting local ingredients with modern combinations. Expect dishes such as langoustines in artichoke broth or house-made ricotta cheese in olive oil with apricot marmalade.
For years, visitors to Barcelona enjoyed classic Spanish dishes such as paella, ham croquettes, fried calamari, and garlic shrimp.
While they still delight in those standbys, they’re also seeking out the city’s modern contributions to global cuisine.
Up-and-coming trend: modern cuisine that’s still breaking new ground. Maybe it’s nose-to-tail eating with new twists. Or MediterrAsian food, where Eastern techniques meet Western products including Barcelona’s fresh fish and seafood. Or unconventional combinations, like oysters in gin and tonic. Or novel approaches to local ingredients, such as caviar with smoked sturgeon and poached quail’s egg.
If your image of London’s finest cuisine revolves around shepherd’s pie or chicken tikka masala, it’s time to explore all its foodie wonders.
One of the city’s hottest trends is the arrival of international cuisines you wouldn’t typically associate with England. Latin American and Korean are two examples of the new wave of culinary traditions Londoners are welcoming with open arms. Virtually every cuisine on earth can be found somewhere in the city. And international traditions are fusing with British ingredients, as evidenced by venison kofte and chicken and chorizo pâté.
A Danish open-faced smorrebrod sandwich is a must when venturing to Copenhagen. Interesting combinations tempt visitors: maybe shrimp with dill, lemon and crème fraiche? Or roast beef with horseradish and crispy fried onions?
The other beloved national food can be found at food wagons around the city: Danish-style hot dogs. They’re long and red, and topped with a choice of sauces, raw onion, thinly sliced pickles and crunchy fried onions. Danes consume an estimated 100 million each year of them (or 18 per person).
Bologna’s contributions to world cuisine are many. There, you’ll enjoy familiar (and delicious!) signature ingredients such as prosciutto, parmigiano reggiano and balsamic vinegar.
Of course, Bologna is also about pasta. Tagliatelle, similar to fettuccine, is characteristic of the city. What better to go on top of it but that slow-cooked meat, vegetable, tomato and red-wine sauce: bolognese? The meat sauce is also used in lasagna, which some locals claim was created in the city.
Another local pasta favorite is tortellini, particularly the cheese variety in broth. For those craving more unusual dishes, tortelli de zucca is filled with pumpkin and crumbled almond cookies. Capellettacci also has a sweet element: it’s filled with chocolate-flavored chestnuts and served with olive oil and pepper.
Bolognese sauce isn’t the city’s only well-known namesake food. In Bologna, they call a spiced pork cold cut mortadella. Elsewhere in the world it’s better known as bologna.
Must-eat specialty: Bologna’s shining star of desserts is gelato. It’s so popular there’s even a museum and university there dedicated to it. You’ll find typical flavors such as pistachio, coffee and hazelnut. Or try something out of the ordinary, such as pine nut, ginger or ricotta.
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