A Taste of Europe
What makes a holiday a real feast for the senses? Fabulous food - if you ask us - is pretty close to the top of the list. The fragrant aroma of Provençal herbs, the smoky hit of chorizo in a beachside paella, or the harbour-fresh zing of simply barbequed sea bass. So, tell us, is your mouth watering yet? Here are eight of our favourite foodie destinations. Let’s raise a glass of crisp Sauvignon to them all!
High tea in the low country
The Netherlands is a landscape of arable farmland, grazed by cattle producing rich, buttery milk – so expect plenty of dairy produce and creamy pastry treats. Lovely doughy pastries and cakes filled with luscious apples and orchard fruits, pancakes filled with just about anything, and cheese, cheese, cheese! Beers, brewed in many towns across the region, range from strong bitters to lighter lagers. Or if you’re feeling sophisticated, why not try an authentic Advocaat – a luxuriously velvety, creamy liqueur made with eggs, sugar and brandy?
Where to stay: HL011 Koningshof
A melting pot fusion of flavour
Perpignan is the last major town in Languedoc before you reach the Spanish border, and it enjoys a very lively mix of cultures. The town has a definite Catalan influence in its cuisine. You’ll find a wide selection of fresh fish and seafood along the shores, cooked simply with a salad (with anchovies) or with a Catalan sauce. Meat is often cured, such as the ubiquitous chorizo. Regional specialities rely heavily on olive oil, garlic and aromatic Provencal herbs. The area’s relationship with Catalonia and its Moorish heritage also mean that North African cuisine is also well represented.
Where to stay: WM034 La Chapelle
Street food for everyone
El Born is one of the city’s most exciting places for a gastronomic wander. It’s tucked between Via Laietana and Barceloneta. Try the food section of the Encants Market– and sample a delicious bocadillos en route, a sandwich made with a type of Spanish baguette. Fresh, tasty and cheap. Jamon, chicken, cheese – and don’t forget your sauce – they’re all yummy! The Patatas Bravas sides are really tasty too! Long sweet treats made with choux pastry, Churros are deep fried and covered in sugar often served with thick chocolate to dunk into.
Where to Stay: CD015 Vilanova Park
Magical markets galore
Food markets are a feature of daily life in the handsome Breton town of Quimper. The freshest produce is available in the stunning covered market hall ‘Halles Saint-François’ every day, a large outdoor market takes place on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and on Friday afternoons the Kerfeunteun quarter hosts an organic market. Concarneau’s Monday market is definitely one for the seafood lovers. Head here to grab some freshly caught fish, and crack open an oyster or two, while in Carnac every Thursday in July and August, the local tourist board organises a night market.
Where to stay: BS018 Des Menhirs
Rustic cooking at its best
Rocamadour cheese is a nutty, velvety goat’s cheese - great on a sandwich, and a real highlight of the Dordogne. Pick it up at any of the region’s terrific markets. Try Sarlat’s for starters. In restaurants you won’t have to look hard to find Confit de canard, duck legs, slow cooked and then fried and served with potatoes cooked in duck fat. Rich, indulgent and probably not on Slimming World’s approved list.The Dordogne’s highly sought-after truffles are called ‘Black Diamonds’ for a reason: they’re eye-wateringly expensive. But shaved into scrambled eggs, salads, scallops or cream sauces goes a little long way.
Where to stay: DR019 St. Avit Loisirs
Humble ingredients made sublime
Tuscan cuisine covers the whole spectrum of flavours and ingredients – from the farmland and vineyards to the west, to the coast in the east. Try wonderful ravioli made by hand using ancient recipes from the area. Creamy ricotta cheese is the champion filling served with a sage butter sauce. A food trip to Tuscany wouldn’t be complete without a stop to savour Chianti, perhaps in either of Tuscany’s most famous foodie cities: Florence or Siena. At the coast, salt cod is popular, but look out for hearty Tuscan fish stew if you want to experience a true regional classic.
Where to stay: IN017 Norcenni Girasole Club
A taste of the mountains
Traditional Alpine fare is tasty, robust and simple, with delicious mountain berries and fruits baked in pastries and desserts. The wonderful melting cheeses such as raclette and reblochon (traditionally melted in large blocks by an open fire) are creamy and comforting and perfect in a fondue. The origins of the ‘cuisine’ stem from the necessity for mountain folk throughout the centuries to store and preserve foods during the winter, so you’ll find lots of cured hams and sausages (diots) on many menus, along with the rich dairy produce. Gasthof hostelries all serve fine regional wines and earthy beers!
Where to stay: SW013 Junfrau Campsite
Cheese and wine heaven
The white chicken of Bresse and the beef of Charolais are local specialities. Croûte au Morbier - a slice of home baked bread soaked in the local white wine, then baked together with a slice of Morbier Cheese – is a local delicacy, as is veal escalope baked with ham, mushrooms and the local Bleu de Gex cheese. You can’t visit Jura without enjoying some Comté, an unpasturised cow’s milk cheese that is so synonymous with the region. Wine buffs will be spoiled by Côtes du Jura and Crémant du Jura wines.
Where to stay: JU012 Domaine de Chalain