So you’re headed to Europe? You must know that besides its art, history and incredible architecture — the continent is a great place to satisfy your inner foodie! It’s also a great place to imbibe, and not just the kind of liquid that can make you extra giddy. Ensure you don’t miss out on all the best places to satisfy your taste buds by using this guide.
The Best Beer
Austria: Innsbruck is where I had my first taste of Shandy which is beer mixed with carbonated lemonade. When I want something light but delicious there isn’t anything else I crave more. It’s the ideal beer for those summertime tours of the continent. Also try Helles, which is a light lager, and Hefeweizen when you find yourself in Austria.
London: England has many different types of cider and a good pub in London will give you options. It’s the perfect beer for summer afternoons, leisurely lunches and the first few rounds of a long night. Try Biddenden’s, Theobolds, Strongbow and Blackthorn. Magners is also commonly found. Just in case you can’t get all the way up to Dublin, the right London pub can also pour a mean Guinness.
Brussels: Belgian beer is a thing of beauty. There are so many different types but my favorite is the fruity Lambic which can be found most commonly in the Pajottenland region of Belgium. Unlike conventional ales and lagers, which are fermented by carefully cultivated strains of brewer’s yeasts, lambic beer is produced by spontaneous fermentation. Those infused with flavors such as framboise, pêche or aardbei are usually bottled with secondary fermentation. Also try a traditional Lambic which is cloudy, non-carbonated and bracingly sour but so delicious.
The Best Coffee
Bologna: This Italian city isn’t large by comparison to well known urban centers like Rome and Milan but it has what might be the best coffee shop in Italy. Not far from the student and university area is Kamit Espress. They make a cappuccino so delicious, so perfectly milky it doesn’t need added sugar. Just remember, don’t visit in the afternoon and ask for anything but an espresso — even here, that’s just not de rigueur in Italy.
London and Edinburgh: When people began to immigrate to Europe from Australia and New Zealand they brought their mad coffee making skills with them and nowhere in Europe is that currently more on demand than in London and Edinburgh. When you’re in Scotland don’t miss Urban Angel on Hanover Street in the New Town of Edinburgh. In London, don’t miss Prufrock, Notes Music & Coffee, Nude and Kaffeine. Ask to try a Flat White. It’s the perfected love child of a latte and a cappuccino.
The Best Gelato
Rome: It’s not easy to find but if you can beg directions from a local and if you have the stamina for a true adventure, then Gelateria del Teatro will reward you with the most creamy, inventive and delicately sweet gelato you’ve ever had. Flavors change often and depend entirely on what is local and available but there isn’t a flavor this authentic gelateria makes that will disappoint even the most discerning or picky eater. It’s just that good.
Florence: Vivoli is a coffee shop, cafe and gelateria serving up all of the classic Italian flavors of gelato and then some. It’s not too difficult to find though it isn’t on a main thoroughfare by the Duomo or Piazzo Vecchio. Instead, it happily sits amongst local cafes, churches and villas away from the most trafficked areas on Via Isole delle Stinche. Again, as like in Rome, it’s more than worth the effort to find!
The Best Pasta
Bologna: In the United States, Spaghetti Bolognese has become a typical dish found on most Italian restaurant menus. I quickly discovered during my visit to Emilia-Romagna that it’s not Italian at all. In fact, the dish we’ve made so popular actually owes its roots to the far superior: Tagliatelle Bolognese. Every good chef in this region of Italy learned how to make it from his mama who probably learned how to make it from her nona who learned how to make it from, well, you get the point! Make sure you search out this Italian pasta dish with its slow simmered tomato and meat sauce so that you can finally understand what truly excellent red meat sauce is. It’s not like anything you’ve had anywhere else, it’s far better!
Rome: There are three types of pasta dishes that this oldest of Italian cities does better than anyone else, so when you find yourself in Rome make sure you try Buccatini all’Amatriciana, Spaghetti a Cacio e Pepe and Spaghetti alla Carbonara. The first is made with tomatoes, guanciale, pecorino romano cheese and chili, Cacio e Pepe is a simple dish combining pasta with pecorino romano cheese and pepper while the latter is made with eggs, cheese, bacon, black pepper and garlic.
The Best Pastries and Bread
Paris: Italians may begin their mornings with pastries but I’ve always found their versions to be more dry than necessary. The first time I visited France, I sparked a love affair with bread and pastry so great it is a frequent subject of my dreams. When I am in Paris now, I search out the best pastries and what I have found is that Eric Kayser might make the best croissants in the City of Light. Particularly when consumed fresh from the oven, out of the paper bag it’s served in. Also of note is the patisserie Ladurée for macarons. For classic breads such as the Pain des Amis or for the best pistachio-chocolate escargot, you will need to head to Du Pain et Des Idées in the 10th.
The Best Meat
Barcelona: The cured meats of Spain’s Costa Brava and Catalonia are well imitated and often found elsewhere around the world. However, to sample the real thing you must find yourself in Barcelona or the smaller towns and cities further east. Few people do dry, cured meats as well as the people in this area of Spain — except perhaps the aforementioned Italians. Even then, there’s really something special about the chorizo, butifarra and the magnificent jamón ibérico. The Spanish charcuterie board is a true thing of culinary beauty! And since you’re in Barcelona, don’t skip Tapas; whether seafood, sandwiches or olives this is one of the things Barcelona does best.