A real foodie's guide to Europe
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This summer I embarked on an epic journey across Europe, and was determined to try as many delicacies as I could physically fit in my stomach.
Here's my round-up of what I think you should eat where to make the absolute most of your trip!
Venice, Italy - pasties and ice cream
Italy is by far the pretty place on this list of European cities, and I strongly advise you to put it on your bucket list. Surrounded by accessible islands such as Burano and Murano, which sound more like a comedy duo than an island of colourful houses and glass making, Venice’s canals are the perfect backdrop for a good old ice cream.
Although it’s tempting to eat at a canal side restaurant, my best food choice in Venice has to be the Magnum shop just up and across the bridge from the train station, which serves personalised ice creams. Starting with the frozen vanilla ice cream, you’re given the choice of white, milk or dark chocolate to smother it in. Then, you choose toppings from marshmallows to brownie bits and finish it off with another dribbling of the chocolate of your desires.
If you’re feeling adventurous, they also do this strange spinach pasty, which I promise you tastes better than it sounds.
Barcelona, Spain - tapas and hot chocolate
Barcelona is easily one of my favourite places to visit in Europe. It reminds me of a hot Liverpool with its bustling city life and beautiful docks, featuring huge yachts that you can only dream of one day owning.
Tapas tapas tapas. Tapas is literally everywhere and although it’s easy to fall into the trap of eating on Las Ramblas with the pretty lights and warming atmosphere - but if you take yourself off down a side street there are plenty of cosy squares and streets filled with authentic Spanish cuisine.
If it’s something sweet you’re after, there are plenty of chocolate cafes with quaint desserts. I have to say though, I was surprised when I ordered a hot chocolate and was delivered literally that - a small cup of melted chocolate and no milk in sight. I gave it a go, lifted the cup to my mouth and waited patiently as it slowly crawled down the side of my glass like thick tar. Not for me, but whatever floats your yacht.
Paris, France - snails and frogs legs
The city of love, snails and frogs legs. Paris is also home to some of the best street entertainment I’ve ever seen; go sit on the steps of Jardins du Trocadéro with the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop and people watch.
You’re in France, you need to try snails. I ordered 12 garlic snails and, after figuring out how to use the snail holding and pulling out contraption, I was pleasantly surprised. The less you think about the small creatures sliding across your garden path and more about the delicious tastes filling your mouth, the better.
Unlike the plentiful snails, frogs legs were just out of my budget, with most places charging over €20; try as I might, I just couldn’t justify it, though I’m told they taste a little like a fishy chicken wing.
Rome, Italy - pizza and pasta
Rome was hot. Very hot. Also, beautiful and full of mouth-watering traditional Italian dishes.
Of all the places I visited, I left Italy with the fullest stomach. Not only are their pizzas delicious, they also know a thing or two about portion sizes. I don’t think I ever managed to finish a full dish - win. But don’t fall into the trap of going solely for their pizza, as tempting as that may be. Try a pizza folded in half, or, as it’s more commonly known, a calzone. And the pasta.
Krakow, Poland - vodka and sheep’s cheese
Despite visiting in the summer, I still half expected to see a rustic snowy village upon arrival. I didn’t, of course - it was hot. But it still retained the charm I had hoped for.
The main square hosts a market which offers traditional Polish nibbles including sausage, chocolate covered fruit and sheep’s cheese. I am a cheese lover, as you will see when you get to Amsterdam. However, despite my best efforts, sheep’s cheese left a bit of a sour milk taste in my mouth.
So, fortunately, I had to wash it down with Poland’s best known drink - vodka. With flavours from cherry to vanilla and for less than the price of a coke in most pubs, Polish vodka lives up to its reputation.
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Brussels & Bruges, Belgium - mayo, waffles and chocolate
My favourite thing about visiting Brussels has to be the copious amounts of chips and mayo. Now, I know there is some controversy about swapping out the ketchup in place of the mayonnaise, but for me, there’s no comparison.
My second favourite thing about visiting Brussels is the waffles. Even if, like me, waffles are way down the list of ‘things I would choose to eat on a normal day’, you can not and should not deny yourself the pleasure of tucking into a freshly made waffle, drowning in melting nutella.
Everyone should visit Bruges - “it’s a fairytale f***ing town, isn’t it?” - and when you do, make sure you visit one of the many Belgian chocolate shops. I spent nearly an hour choosing which chocolates should go in my very reasonably priced chocolate box.
Budapest, Hungary - lángos
The city of two halves. Buda and Pest is separated by my favourite European bridge, Liberty Bridge, or as I fondly named it, ‘the big green one’. To set you up for a long day at Budapest’s thermal baths, try a lángos.
Bear with me whilst I attempt to explain what it is. It looks a little like a cross between a giant yorkshire pudding and pizza garlic bread, but tastes more so like a savoury doughnut. Traditionally it is topped with sour cream and cheese, but you can top it with pretty much anything either sweet or savoury and is sometimes served rolled up as opposed to flat.
Berlin, Germany - all of the wursts
Berlin has masses of culture and an answer to Liverpool’s lambananas in the form of multicoloured bears.
It’s also famous for its sausages. From my research, I established that there were two sausages I needed to try - knackwursts and currywursts. Cooked fresh and served in a baguette style bun, the knackwurst, I have to say, was delicious. The currywurst, on the other hand, was definitely an acquired taste. Despite the strong aroma of curry, the sausage itself was masked by a great deal of spice, which was actually rather pleasant on a cold evening.
Amsterdam, Netherlands - cheese and brownies
The perfect weekend getaway, whatever the weather, Amsterdam is best known for its relaxed atmosphere, canals and brownies. Depending on which coffee shop you enter into will depend on the type of brownie you may be served. If you’re not one for trying something new, steer clear from the infamous 'bulldog' brownies.
But the real reason anyone goes to Amsterdam is, of course, for the cheese. Walk down the main strip from the train station and you will stumble across the holy grail. The Old Amsterdam cheese shop. Of course, I’m not suggesting you buy a £7 slab of cheese to take home, unless like me this was your plan before even stepping off the train - what I am suggesting is that you take full advantage of the variety of cheese & chutney samples spread across the shop.
Last tip: take a right before the Old Amsterdam shop and head to the innovatively named Burger Bar for the best burger you have ever tasted.