Seven countries in 12 days mean more mind-blowing sights, game-changing experiences and brand new friends from around the world than you can shake a stick at, but that’s not the only thing you’ll be getting out of this incredible tour. For foodies who love to taste and try, Europe is a gastronome’s paradise there are different culinary heritages happening just over every border and mountain pass, from France to Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and beyond. To help your taste buds make the most of their travels, here are a tour leader’s tips for each stop of your Europe Escape. See you on the road, fellow foodies!
Bistrot Victoires, 6 Rue de la Vrillière (nearest metro: Opéra). The ratio of locals to tourists at this gorgeous little no-frills bistro in the vicinity of the Louvre should be testament enough to its fair prices and reputation for honest, authentic French cuisine. Try Confit du canard (Duck Confit), Entrecôte of beef (“Entrecôte” is the french word for ‘cut of beef’) or the best Crème Brulee. You can savour great flavours at no more than 20 euros per head. Winning.
Rue Daguerre (nearest metro: Denfert-Rochereau). The ultimate, authentic foodie street to shop for lunch, just like the Parisians do. Grab impossibly stinky yet delicious cheese from the fromagerie (cheese room), freshly baked baguettes from the boulangerie (bakery), unctuous cured meats from the charcuterie (shop selling cold meats) and a bottle of vino rouge (red wine). Take a trip to the steps of the Sacre-Couer to eat with the entire city laid out beneath your feet… now, that’s living.
La Médina du Marais, 77 rue des Gravilliers (nearest metro: Arts et Métiers). In the impossibly hip area of Marais, you’ll find this homely family restaurant serving a cuisine just as authentically local as steak tartare or escargot. Due to Paris’ large North African population, there are a wealth of places to devour heaped bowls of tagine (North African Berber dish) and steaming cups of mint tea… this just happens to be one of the best!
The Alpenrose, Kirchgasse 72B (village of Wilderswil). With the restaurant located in our Swiss tour hotel (Alpenrose Hotel & Gardens), even if you don’t happen to be staying here during your tour, it’s definitely one that’s worth hopping on the train from Interlaken to visit. Here, you can enjoy beautiful veal bratwurst, potato rosti and the finest Swiss cheese fondue in the area. Prices are good, and the setting within this alpine chalet with views of the Jungfrau mountain range is just pure magic.
Bollywood, top of the Jungfraujoch. Now, this next tip is going to sound a bit out there, but stick with me. For some of the finest Indian food in all of Switzerland, you need only take three trains and ascend to a height of nearly 3,500 metres to enjoy a buffet of spice and the most astounding views. While it’s not going to be the cheapest lunch of your trip, you can bet your bottom dollar it’ll be one of the most memorable.
Try a Panino con Lampredotto at Mercato Centrale. A trip to Florence would not be complete without a taste of Lampredotto, but a word of warning: this is not one for the weak of stomach. Oodles of tender tripe (cow’s stomach), with oozing juices topped with salsa verde (green parsley sauce) are lovingly embraced by a pillowy bread roll. Cheap and cheerful, this truly is the food of the working man or woman.
Osteria de’ Peccatori, Piazza San Firenze 14r Florence is filled to the brim with an array of gorgeous eateries, but if the fate of the free world depended on having to pick one, it would be Osteria de’ Peccatori for me. Huge slabs of charcoaled Bistecca (steak) to share, gorgeous calzones (folded pizza), an impressive wine list and an unforgettable dish of Tagliatelle Alla Norcina (sausage and truffle noodles) are just a taste of what to expect. Meet you there?
Trattoria der Pallaro, Largo del Pallaro 15 (near the Pantheon). With a slogan like, ‘you’ll eat what we want to feed you’, der Pallaro is not one for the fussy eaters. However, if you like the sound of a home cooked dish cooked by a proper Italian Nonna at a set price of 25 euros for five courses and a carafe of wine… you could be in for a memorable treat. Previous dishes have included proper egg-based carbonara and roasted artichoke hearts.
Checchino dal 1887, Via di monte Testaccio 30 (nearest metro- Piramide). 19th Century home to Rome’s slaughterhouses, Testaccio is the go-to place these days for a cuisine called Quinto Quarto, and my, is it ‘offal-y’ good. Sweetbreads, hearts, tongues, intestines, liver… nothing goes to waste in this part of the eternal city. Though there is a fantastic selection of places to try this cuisine, my vote goes to Checchino, because they not only excel at what they do, but have also kindly provided a vegetarian menu for those not quite ready to consume a cow’s cranium.
Il Gelato di Claudio Torcè, seven different locations Rome-wide. It would, of course, be totally remiss of us to talk about food in Italy and not touch on gelato. Two rules for you: if a) it’s piled up in its cooler tray, and b) it’s luridly coloured, then it’s not the real deal – avoid, avoid, avoid the artificial ingredients and thickeners. For all-natural flavours, head to the gelaterias of Claudio Torcè… pineapple gelato? Sure! Lemon gelato? You bet. Blue cheese gelato? If you insist!?
Go on a Chichetti Crawl, any bàcari hidden throughout the cobbled streets. The Venetians don’t go on bar crawls, they go on Chichetti crawls through little hole in the wall eateries where they’ll enjoy a little glass of wine and a couple of bite-sized dishes (akin to tapas) before moving to the next place. Chichetti food is generally made of whatever is fresh from the market that day. It could be anything from a cod-paté on toast to francobollo or cured meats to veg tortillas.
Trattoria Antiche Carampane, San Polo 1911 Of course, Venice is mostly famous for its seafood, and you’ll see why. The fish market near the Rialto is buzzing, and the restaurants along the Grand Canal are cranking out wonderful seafood dishes. But if you want to get a little more off the beaten path, I highly recommend Antiche Carampane. This family-run business (since the 80s) offer a stellar line in mixed seafood and seabass dishes that won’t break the bank. Good work!
Haxnbauer, Sparkassenstraße 6. Now, of course, you’re going to be enjoying a proper Bavarian beer hall dinner with your tour leader in Munich. BUT, if you think you can handle meat, meat and more meat, then you have to try spit-roasted pork knuckle with potato dumplings. It’s simple yet decadent, and you can’t get much more Bavarian. Long live the Schweinshaxe (German roasted ham hock)!
Café St. Goar, St Goar. Deep in the heart of Germany’s Rhine Valley, there is a café/bakery serving some of the finest Black Forest Gateaux you are ever likely to try. It probably helps that the dish was created in the nearby Black Forest, and the bakers have easy access to the kirschwasser (clear, colorless fruit brandy) that’s needed to make this little slice of heaven (or should I say, stuck von himmel?).
Clara Maria, Bovenkerkerweg 106. Come for the clog making and baby cows, stay for the insanely delicious cheese. This family-run farm on the outskirts of Amsterdam not only feels like a home away from home; it also makes some of the best darn gouda anywhere in the area. Truffle, taco, Italian herbs, garlic… they’re all delicious, but take it from me, give the Farmer’s Flame a go – not only is it insanely more-ish but it’s also got an incredibly cute backstory… * swoon *
Sampurna, Singel 498. Thanks to the Dutch colonies in Indonesia, a type of off-shoot cuisine called ‘Rijsttafel’ really heats up the culinary offerings of ‘the Venice of the North’. My top pick would be Sampurna, a vibey little eatery, full of locals and serving more satay ‘n’ spice than you can imagine. Try the 2-person Batara tasting menu for a full experience of what this little diamond has to offer.
Grab a hot box of not-so-french fries. Let’s get one thing straight – there is nothing French about French fries. These glorious chips of crisped potato made their way to our grateful palates courtesy of the Belgians, and they don’t intend to let us forget it. Whether grabbing some doused in mayonnaise from one of the food vans in the main market square, paired with a huge bowl of garlic and cream soaked mussels at Mosselkelder on Huidevettersplain 5 or covered in a rich, umami local rabbit stew; when in Bruges, this is a must-try.
Oyya, Noordzandstraat 1. It goes without saying that the other dish that the Belgians are world-renowned for is their decadent waffle. This is not a ‘sit-down-and-eat’ kind of dish, it’s a ‘grab-one-absolutely-covered-with-chocolate -and-whipped-cream-and-go-about-your-business’ dish. You’ll find delicious waffles all over this gorgeous medieval city but, in my humble opinion, Oyya just happens to be the best.
As a tour leader for Expat Explore, Shabby is one of the experts on all the destinations travelled to on the Europe Escape Tour. She is a true foodie at heart and knows just where to find special restaurants and food markets around Europe! Connect with her on Instagram (@shabbyeatworld).