FOOD LOVERS GUIDE TO EUROPE #2

Hey, fellow food lovers. Here is the second part of my ‘Food Lovers Guide to Europe’ series, part of a collaboration with a number of travel bloggers, sharing their favourite local culinary delights from the 51 counties that make up Europe.

PORTUGAL

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Pastel de Nata, also called Pasteis de Nata, is an utterly delectable creation that I seriously couldn’t stop stuffing in my mouth when I was in Portugal. It is an egg custard tart, dusted with cinnamon and powdered sugar, with a light, buttery, flaky crust.  The original was created in 1837 by Pasteis de Belem following an ancient tradition from the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos. Belem is a part of Lisbon and nowadays there is always a line of people waiting to try the original secret recipe created here! I enjoyed it with some Portuguese green wine.  I dare you to have only one! – Cherene from Wandering Redhead / Facebook

SWITZERLAND

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When visitors think of Switzerland, not only do Alps and St Bernards come to mind, but also their famously indulgent chocolate and cheese. So not one to miss out on traditional fare,  I happily enjoyed many a cheese fondue.

A classic Swiss recipe from the 1930’s, cheese fondue, consisting of various cheeses, is melted in a pot over a heated lamp, and served with bread and crudités for dipping. Ideally, it is a meal on its own and pairs beautifully with wine. Locals insist that cheese fondue should be served with white wine, even though visitors tend to prefer reds. Legend states that if a man is eating fondue and drops his bread/vegetable in the pot, he must buy the table’s drinks. If this slip of the fork comes from a woman, she must kiss her neighbours. Hmmm…not sure which one is the worse penalty! – Janine from Fill My Passport / Instagram

MOLDOVA

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Top right, large sliced yellowish pastry

I absolutely love the traditional Moldovan dish of plăcintă. Also found in Romania, this dish is serious comfort food! Plăcintă is essentially a pie, made of flaky pastry wrapped around a soft cheese filling. Sometimes thin, sometimes fat and fluffy, sometimes with other savoury or sweet fillings, it is perfect for a lazy afternoon around the fire and great for soaking up the wonderful Moldovan wine. – Jill from Reading the Book / Facebook

IRELAND

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I’m a frequent visitor to Ireland, and the food is something I always look forward to. Ireland has some wonderful, hearty food, and I could talk for days about soda bread, potato farls, tender salmon from the Atlantic coast, and so many others.

But one thing I really love is champ. Champ is a dish which originated in the farmhouses of the poor, but has gained in popularity in recent years, and is a staple amongst the side dishes on any self-respecting north Irish menu. A more flavoursome version of colcannon, another Irish dish more commonly found in the south, the base of champ is mashed potato, mixed with butter, milk and a healthy dose of scallions (spring onions). It is especially popular in Northern Ireland, and is a (marginally) healthier alternative to fries with a good Irish steak, battered fish or salmon fillet. Give it try next time you’re in the Emerald Isle! – Jill from Reading the Book / Pinterest

FRANCE

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I lived in the south of France for a year back in my student days, and have enjoyed many summers in Provence. One dish that the region is famous for, and which I absolutely love, is bouillabaisse. A fish stew with a tomato base and plenty of garlic, it can be made with different varieties of white fish or with the addition of prawns, shellfish or anything you fancy: the main thing is that there should be a good mixture of different types of seafood in there! As well as the garlic and tomato, it is often flavoured with fennel, saffron and other local herbs and spices. Originating in the port city of Marseille where it was traditionally made from whatever was left of the fishermen’s catch at the end of the day, the fame of bouillabaisse has since spread worldwide. However, it’s still best enjoyed with crusty French bread, a glass of local wine and a view of the Mediterranean! – Jill from Reading the Book / Twitter

UNITED KINGDOM

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As a native Brit who’s currently living abroad and therefore constantly craving those home-cooked comforts of her native land, this was a difficult pick, and as a northern girl I was genuinely toying with choosing a pork pie for a while. In the end though I have to admit that it is in fact the humble Yorkshire pudding which is my absolute favourite British dish; fluffy, dense and crispy edged savoury treats, Yorkshire puddings are the glue which hold together every good Sunday roast, and can best be described as savoury pancakes that you cook in the oven until they take on their trademark bowl shape. The trick to great Yorkshire puds? Super hot oil! – Lauren from Northern Lauren / Instagram 

POLAND

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When I am away from my home country and start dreaming of some delicious Polish comfort food… pierogi come to mind first! Pierogi are stuffed dumplings, bigger that e.g. Italian ravioli, served boiled, fried or baked in the oven. They may be prepared both in the savory or sweet way. The most popular ones are these with minced meat or cabbage and wild mushrooms inside, fried in the pan – they are also traditional Polish Christmas Eve dish. Sometimes pierogi are served alone as a main course, sometimes you may find them inside of your beetroot soup… Many Poles love so-called Russian pierogi, with potatoes and cottage cheese inside, sprinkled with some bacon. But pierogi are also a perfect dessert – you should try especially these ones with strawberries and vanilla sauce, cherries and cottage cheese (taste like cheesecake!) or blueberries with sour cream. Honestly, there are so many various stuffings that in Poland there are even restaurants specialized in pierogi solely. Nowadays, they try to keep up with culinary trends from all over the world, so you will find there pierogi stuffed with eg. salmon or spinach and feta (not very traditional ingredients in Poland).

So, how to make them? I think every Polish mom has her secret recipe! A basic dough is pretty easy to prepare – some flour, water, a pinch of salt… that’s it! But remember – it’s what’s inside which make them so special 🙂 – Magda from Follow the View / Facebook

NORWAY

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 Traditional Norwegian food is quite heavy as we used to be a farming country. Potato is an important part of the cuisine together with either fish or meat.

I studied abroad one semester, and when my mother asked me what I wanted for dinner when I arrived back home, I instantly replied “kjøttkaker“. Kjøttkaker is a very traditional Norwegian meal, often compared to the Swedish meat balls. Directly translated kjøttkaker means meat cakes. They are larger and more fluffy in the texture than the Swedish meat balls.

Every family recipe is different, but in general kjøttkaker is served with boiled potatoes, gravy, stirred cranberries and some kind of greens. – Linn from Travel Linn / Instagram

LITHUANIA

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If you travel to Lithuania, you will be surprised at the variety of local dishes you have never heard of, nor seen anywhere else. If you try just one Lithuanian specialty, it has to be Cepelinai (pronounced like ‘zeppelinai’), aka the national dish of Lithuania. Cepelinai are kind of big potato dumplings, with either meat or cottage cheese filling. Traditionally they are served with bacon or pork rinds sauce, but if you have never tried this before, I suggest you go for a safer version with sour cream. If the choice is difficult, you can always ask for a plate with two different kinds of cepelinai (meat and cheese) with a different sauce each. – Jurga from Full Suitcase / Facebook

GERMANY

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Grüne Soße (green Sauce) is specific to the Frankfurt area and is a cold sauce made from seven different herbs that grow in the region. It is traditionally served with bolied eggs and potatoes but is also popular with schnitzel. It is best washed down with a glass of apple wine, also a Frankfurt specialty. – Rohan from Travels of a Bookpacker / Facebook

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to check out Part 1 of series.

What are your favourite European dishes? Have you tried any of these?

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