Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Europe on a plate

Eating out is one of the pleasures of going on holiday, but for some gastronomic tourists the food is the deciding factor for which destinations to visit writes Karen Creed

1. Turin
It is unlikely that anyone who visits Turin will be returning home on an empty stomach. The taste and variety of local dishes make a good case for the city being Italy’s food capital. So what’s on the menu? Visit famous café Molusanno for a nibble on delicious tramezzini (sandwiches), washed down by piping hot chocolate at Café Baratti & Milano. Turin’s other desirable edibles include fritto misto, a mouth-watering concoction of fried seafood that features fish, squid, crab and cuttlefish. Desserts are similarly lavish, with unique white truffles, pralines and gianduiotti chocolates being the very definition of guilty pleasures. Best of all, you could go on a café crawl to compare drinks as Turin is home to four of Italy’s eighteen best cafés, as chosen by Italy’s gastronomic bible, Il Gambero Rosso. Turin’s tradition does not extend solely to food and cafes with impressive wines also, such as the Malvasia and the Barolo. Before visiting Turin it is worth reading Eating in Italy by Faith.H. Willinger.

2. Marrakesh
Moroccans proudly assert that their cooks produce one of the four great cuisines of the world (the others being Chinese, French and Indian). From lamb tagine to minced lamb, Marrakesh in particular is a meat lover’s heaven. The food stalls in Djemaa El Fna offer the best taste of street food from some of the world’s biggest and most colourful al fresco kitchens. You can sample every Moroccan staple here - tajines and couscous, kebabs and spicy sausage. Beyond the square, in the narrow streets of the medina, there are places where traditional and tasting menus excel in elegant settings. Dine on chicken tagine on El Baraka’s terrace with a view of the Atlas Mountains or else consider l’Abyssin with a Mediterranean-influenced menu. Before leaving Marrakesh one may be brave enough to try the street food lover’s Holy Grail, the luscious meat scraped from a whole sheep’s head and served with crusty Moroccan bread. For more information visit

3. Budapest
With more than one thousand eateries in Budapest, how do you choose? The restaurants in Hungary stretch way beyond the stereotypical expectations of goulash. Apetito in the Castle Buda district is one of the most charming restaurants in the city with an eclectic menu including smoked mackerel with tomato ice-cream and pear and shrimp soup. Modern venues like Karma flank the vibrant Franz Liszt Square where goose liver and spicy pork are regular features. Hungary is not exactly the right country for vegetarians, but local salads are always fresh, and slices of barbecued sheep cheese are often offered. If you have a sweet tooth, do not forget to stop by at the First Strudel House in Budapest, where you can enjoy a good lunch, after which comes nothing less than a delicious roll. You can choose a strudel with cord, apples, cherries, plums, cabbage and of course poppy. For more information on food in Budapest consider, The Food Lover’s Guide to Budapest by Carolyn Banfalvi.

4. Lyon
Most French regions have their culinary delights and Lyon is no exception. One can hardly speak of this French city without mentioning the celebrated Paul Bocuse restaurant. Although it is not centrally located it is well worth the trek as the food is exquisite. For a delicious lunch alfresco, try frites from the stands in the park, or make a picnic with cheese from Mère Richard, bread from Jacquier Pascal, charcuterie from Reynon or Jean Plasse and chocolates from Bernachon. A gastronomical tour of Lyon would not be complete without the famous bouchons like La Mère Cottivet, where you can have a plate of meat from 10am onwards, or a saint-marcellin cheese with a glass of Beaujolais. Lyon happily benefits from a nearby vineyard, which provides a welcome addition to every course ordered in a restaurant. Côtes du Rhône and Beaujolais wines are a permanent feature of the Lyon restaurant table. For information on Lyon eateries visit

5. San Sebastian
Food is taken very seriously in this Basque city, as a stroll through La Brecha market or a bite to eat at one of many Tapas bars proves. San Sebastian has more Michelin stars per capita than any other city but even the most ordinary establishments serve food and drink of a high standard. Tapas bars are the ideal lunchtime hangout for price, atmosphere and most importantly taste with some of the best bites being octopus, sizzling kidneys, lamb brochette, potato omelettes and slices of glistening ham. Both cod with pil-pil and the baked crab are traditional dishes of San Sebastian while the two most popular tipples are apple cider and Txakoli, a dry white wine. To bring home a taste of San Sebastian you can purchase a dazzling array of deli items and wines at Solbes. Finally for a Michelin treat consider the stunning Akelarre, perched on cliffs looking out onto La Concha Bay. It is renowned for New Basque Cuisine and the house speciality of milk fed lamb cooked two ways. For food recommendations in San Sebastian visit guides/San_Sebastian

No comments:

Post a Comment