Hello, hello! 🙂
Let me start off by being honest and open with you: I love food. From classic, home-cooked meals back in the States to brand-new dishes that I haven’t tried before domestically and overseas, I want ’em all. 😛
That said, my past year in Europe was not only busy with a ton of traveling, but also with trying a huge amount of different foods from all of the different countries! From the incredible, salty bacalhau (cod fish) from Portugal to the hearty beef goulash in the Czech Republic, I pretty much conquered Europe…with my taste buds!
From my culinary travel experiences, I have decided to share with you the best things that I ate while abroad (with mouth-watering photos to boot, of course!).
*just a heads up that this particular post will cover only the dishes that I had tried outside of France, considering that I lived there and tried just as many different, *regional* plates as those in Spain, Italy, Hungary, etc that it requires an entire post dedicated only to French cuisine! Heck, I even need to split this into two posts, just because there’s way too many to list! Consider this Part One of my European eats…look out for Part Two later!*
Without further ado, here they are! 🙂
1. Belgian waffles (Belgium- duh!). These aren’t just your normal, run-of-the-mill waffles. No, these are thick, heavy sugary explosions in your mouth on first bite. Also known as Liège waffles (the namesake from which is the eponymous Belgian city), these hefty desserts (or snack) are pure goodness, either delicious on their own or with tons of toppings on them. You can even find them sold plain and packaged in French shops, which I buy, of course. I just love the small, crystallized chunks of sugar on them- so freakin’ good!
2. Beef goulash with bread dumplings (Prague, Czech Republic). This is a kind of dish that, after finishing, sticks to your ribs. A hearty, meaty stew for those long, cold winters in Central Europe never sounded so good until now (I visited Prague in October, just when it was starting to get cold!). You know it’s a good goulash when the meat chunks are tender, the sauce is thick, and it comes alongside with bread or potato dumplings to mop up those stew remains towards the end of the meal. Pair it with a Pilsner beer, and you’re good to go!
3. Paella (Barcelona, Spain). Now, paella isn’t actually a Barcelonian thing, but rather originated from Valencia- to get “true, authentic paella,” you’ll have to go there. However, I didn’t have the time to visit Valencia, and so Barcelona was my best bet (don’t eat the paella in Madrid; it’s known to be nasty). I got delicious, albeit overly salty, seafood paella by La Barceloneta, paired with a solid glass of vermouth to wash it down. Nothing beats it like some good food by the beach!
4. Dutch fries (Amsterdam, the Netherlands). Pretty much the same as Belgian fries (of which I also had a ton while in Belgium), these friets are the ultimate comfort snack, dinner, guilty pleasure all rolled into one. While Belgian fries are delicious in their own right, the ones I had in Amsterdam took it to the next level of awesome-sauce, *erm* awesome-ness. The curry-onion fries that I got at the top-rated Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx (literally, a hole-in-a-wall shack) were heavenly: beautifully-spiced and crisped to a T. Seriously, I’d go back for them!
5. Chocolate con churros (Madrid, Spain). You don’t know real hot chocolate until you’ve tried the Spanish version’s. It is both a delight and a joke: imagine drinking thick, hot, gooey ganache that sticks (yes, sticks!) to the cup in which it is poured. And the churros, oh my God…they are nothing like the humongous, bready creatures back home in the United States (although those are good, too): crispy and plain, Spanish churros are perfect for dunking into your hot chocolate for that ultimate afternoon snack. Wise words: “Treat yo’self!” 😉
6. Bacalhau (Lisbon, Portugal). I love fish, and so I was especially excited to try Portugal’s specialties when visiting. I was told that bacalhau (cod) can be prepared over 100 or 200 different ways, resulting in all sorts of dish variations- how versatile! The one I got here is bacalhau with potatoes: simple, but did the trick for dinner. Came as a entire fish, which was incredible. It was on the salty side, but the meat was so tender and moist that the saltiness wasn’t a problem; in fact, it added to the dish’s flavor. Good eats!
7. Schnitzel (Munich, Germany). You most likely have heard of this *actually Austrian* dish, especially with the Viennese wiener schnitzel. I don’t recall ever trying it before visiting Germany and Austria, but what I can tell you is that I had been missing out my entire life…on this wonderfully-fried, crispy, tender piece of heaven! Especially love that it comes in large portions; you know that you’re getting your money’s worth if the size is huge! Add some sauerkraut and potatoes on the side, and you are good to go. 🙂
8. Trofie al pesto (Cinque Terre, Italy). Specific to the Liguria region in Italy, trofie al pesto is basically a pasta dish made from trofie pasta and freshly-made pesto. On closer inspection, the trofie’s shape resembles that of green beans, especially when coated with the green pesto! However, don’t let looks fool you: it is delicious. The pesto is so fresh that you can actually taste the aromatics of the basil and olive oil used to make it- insane! Plus, it’s pasta; how can you go wrong with that?
Liked the photos? Enjoyed the list? There’s more to come! Until then, bon appetit! 😛
— The Finicky Cynic
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