Here at Tep we absolutely love to explore the world and want to ensure our customers get the best insights whilst they are on holiday. We’re really excited to introduce a series of blog posts about all things travel. In this first post we’ll highlight some of the most tantalising and iconic savoury dishes from a few of Europe’s finest destinations with some helpful tips on recipes, drink pairings and restaurant recommendations.
If there is one thing you’re guaranteed of on your culinary tour of Europe, its diversity. There is such an amazing array of dishes scattered across the world’s second smallest continent that we couldn’t possibly include all of them. So we’ve put together a pick of our favourites that we feel are a must try on your Euro tour-de-tastebuds – happy eating!
1. Paella Valenciana, Spain
This visually enticing and commonly mispronounced Spanish dish hails from the town of Valencia and is over 1,000 years old. The dish, pronounced ‘pie-a-ya’, with its trademark saffron colour, is cooked over hours in a giant shallow pan with rice, vegetables, an aromatic stock and will commonly include rabbit and snails (Paella Valenciana) or seafood. It’s a tempting dish that is great to share with a large group of friends, check out Saveur’s take on a Valencia-style paella here and enjoy with a glass of crisp dry white wine – we recommend Paco and Lola’s 2012 Albarino.
2. Moussaka, Greece
One of Greece’s best known dishes, which is also extremely popular in Turkey and the Balkans, is a delicious combination of thinly sliced aubergine (eggplant), seasoned ground lamb and a creamy béchamel sauce. If you fancy bringing a tiny square of Greek goodness into your life, try your hands at the Atlantic’s recipe by Aglaia Kremezi. If you happen to find yourself in Athens then make sure you try the real deal at this local hidden gem.
3. Goulash, Hungary
Also spelt gulyás, this hearty stew or soup traditionally consists of tender beef, paprika powder, tomatoes and green peppers. Whilst Goulash sounds like the name of a missing member of the Adams family, it is actually derived from the Hungarian word for herdsmen, who were the original inventors of the dish. Unlike the herdsmen, who probably only had access to goats milk, we suggest you pair your stew with a rich medium-bodied red wine. For the full Goulash experience head to the Budapest Bisztro close to the city’s centre (near metro station Kossuth Lajos tér).
4. Pizza Napoletana Margherita, Italy
The original Don of Pizza’s, which has become the global symbol of Italian cuisine, can still be found in Naples where it was first handcrafted over a wood fire. There are now certified original Neapolitan Pizzerias that produce their pizzas to strict guidelines. Anyone can make a pizza but in order for it to qualify as authentic it must be wood-fired with hand rolled 00’ dough, tomato sauce made from the fruits grown in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, mozzarella di bufala, fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil (Italians take their pizza seriously). There are way too many places to recommend in Naples so here is a handy guide to a selection of the best.
5. Moules-Frites (Mussels and French Fries), Belgium
This quintessential bistro dish is consumed by the tonne in Belgium. It’s a simple but mouth-watering local speciality which consists of mussels simmered in white wine, heaps of butter, shallots and fresh parsley with a generous helping of the Belgian staple – fries. To keep things truly stereotypical, enjoy with a bottle of Belgium’s finest beer, Hoegaarden. If you can’t wait to get your hands on this dish, here’s simple recipe by the Food Republic you can try at home.
6. Pot au Feu (Pot on Fire), France
The French have an enviable repertoire of classics but Pot au feu has been described as “the most celebrated dish in France” and “soul food for socialists”. Like many modern favourites, this beef stew began as a basic peasants meal in 17th Century France and was made from scraps of leftover meat and winter veggies. The contemporary version includes a variation of beef, beef marrow, ox-tail, pork and chicken, which is slow-cooked in a pot for hours with vegetables, herbs and mustard. We recommend tucking into your Pot au Feu with a glass of hearty red, like Chateau Puy Blanquet, Saint-Emilion.
7. Haring or ‘Hollandse Nieuwe’ (Raw Herring), Netherlands
It’s perhaps one of the more unusual sights you will come across in Holland; locals holding a ‘raw’ fish by its tail and dangling into their mouths. Yet this traditional dish has been around for over six centuries and is a must try if you are visiting. The herring is prepared by cleaning the fish and conserving it with salt over night, it is then served with onions and gherkins. If this sounds a little intimidating, you could always try the gentler version, ‘broodje haring’ which is the same tasty fish served in a sandwich. You can try both here, at a typical Dutch stall just outside Amsterdam Centraal station. For more great tips on what to do in Amsterdam take a look at Lela London’s post.
8. ‘Köttbullar’ (Swedish Meatballs), Sweden
Another European classic that features in many countries is the meatball. The authentic Swedish recipe contains both pork and beef and is very quick and easy to make yourself. The ease of this dish, coupled with its sheer versatility has made it a firm family favourite all over Europe – thank you Ikea. We recommend eating your meatballs with a thick gravy, try the Londoner’s version here, or simply with a generous helping of lingonberry sauce and a Swedish dark-roasted stout.
9. Wiener Schnitzel (Viennese Schnitzel), Austria
One of our favourite things to try in Austria is the schnitzel that has been around since at least 1861 but become popularised by the musical The Sound of Music…”schnitzel with noodles”. This dish is made of a thin succulent veal cutlet which is lightly coated in breadcrumbs and pan fried, it goes perfectly with an ice-cold Austrian wheat beer, like Edelweiss. Check out the Figmuller restaurant in Vienna for the real deal.
10. Fish and Chips, England
You can’t leave England without getting your paws on a very British battered fish and chips lovingly wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper. The dish, which is claimed by both London and Lancashire, has been around for over 150 years. The fish is usually freshly caught cod, plaice or haddock and is served with a generous helping of chips (think fat French fries) doused in vinegar and salt and served with a dollop of mushy peas. You can find quality Fish and Chip shops all over England, but we recommend award winning, Whitby Fish and Chips. Alternatively you could try making Chef Josh Eggleton’s traditional version yourself.
11. Caldo Verde, Portugal
This extremely popular and heart-warming Portuguese broth comes from the Minho province in the country’s northern region. The basic traditional ingredients include kale, potatoes, olive oil and salt, although usually a meat such as linguica sausage is added for that extra flavour. Caldo Verde is the perfect remedy for a cold winter’s day and is straightforward enough to make yourself – we love this recipe.
12. Cheese Fondue, Switzerland
The fondue revolution began in the 18th Century as a way to use up aged cheeses and breads during the winter, when families had limited access to fresh produce. This Swiss staple is made by melting cheeses with wine, garlic and herbs and is served with dipping bread – it’s quite literally cheesy gooey heaven in a pot. For the authentic recipe you will need to invest in some good cheese (Gruyere, Appenzeller and Emmentaler) and kirsch a Swiss Liquor. If you want to dip your bread whilst gazing at the Alps, try one of the Wall Street Journal’s top fondue restaurants here.
We hope you enjoy tasting these delicious treats from Europe, there are a whole host of dishes that could easily have made our top 12, so do let us know if we’ve missed your favourites in the comments below. If you are visiting Europe and want some helpful tips to avoid getting overcharged for using Wi-Fi check out our last blog post here. Next week we shall be continuing the European theme and will be exploring the top ten places to visit.