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Europe is definitely a continent made for foodies. There is so much to eat and so little time, right? And after traveling for 11 months across Europe we certainly ate our fill!. So we decided to put together our top 13 dishes you HAVE to try while in Europe to curb your foodie needs. Most of these foods are country or even city specific though, so get your passports out and let’s head to Europe!
Ok so you may know by now that the hot dog is famous in Iceland. It HAS to be their national dish! And while we were in Iceland, Alex made it his mission to have as many hot dogs as possible. We have to say the Icelandic version of a hot dog, fried onions, sweet mustard and remoulade definitely gives the American hot dog a run for its money. And when you are road tripping around the country nothing is more satisfying than a hot dog 😉
If you spend time in Reykjavik you will most likely hear about Bæjarins Beztu as they are reputed to be the best hot dogs in the city and they certainly live up to the hype. While we tried other hot dogs in the city this one had everything we were looking for; there was a bite to the dog, the bun was soft and soaked up all the juice and toppings and the fried onions were crispy perfection. You can’t go to Reykjavik and not grab a dog here. Although this….
Was our most picturesque hot dog. Can’t go wrong with a waterfall background!
Seriously; you can’t spend time in Amsterdam without getting some fries. I don’t care what you call them: fries, chips, freedom fries, whatever; the ones we tried in Amsterdam at Manneken Pis were just ridiculously delicious. They were cheap, freshly fried and perfectly salted, not to mention the wide array of sauces available as well. I’m still a typical American though and can’t eat fries without ketchup… Sue me.
And these fries definitely hit the spot after a visit to the brewery, Brouwerij ‘t IJ.
Bangers and Mash
Bangers and mash is a traditional pub meal in England and while people often get thrown off by the name, it is definitely worth ordering once or twice or three times… Mainly, because bangers and mash is simply mashed potatoes and sausage. This is a super delicious and hearty meal which pairs with beer in the best way possible. So next time you are in foggy London town or just need to warm up while in England, grab a plate of bangers and mash and an ale to accompany it!
And then take a satisfying nap afterwards.
I think I love these beauties more than any other dessert and there is nothing more perfect than a stop at a pâtissier in Paris and staring at their pastel perfection. And then of course buying an obscene amount of them and eating them all in rapid succession. Not that i’ve ever done such a thing….
But honestly, these desserts are just perfection and I think they are the perfect treat to pick up and munch on after a day of exploring the city or to accompany your picnic in one of Paris’ parks. And my personal favorite are from Damyel which is located in Le Marais, in case you were wondering 😉
Pan con Tomate
Pan con Tomate or Pa amb Tomaquet in Catalan is the perfect summation of Catalan cuisine. It is simple, innovative and uses fresh ingredients. This dish is ridiculously simple in its creation but the flavor can not be surpassed. You simply take grilled crusty bread and rub a tomato on it. This imparts the seeds and juice of the tomato into the bread and it’s the perfect accompaniment to vermouth, as an appetizer, a small tapa, anything really. Occasionally people will also rub garlic on the bread as well but this is just an extra touch.
Order it every chance you get while in Barcelona, please. You won’t regret it.
Skampi Na Buzaru
This is probably my favorite dish from the entire time we spent in Croatia including all the truffles we ate in Istria. Skampi Na Buzara is a dish of whole shrimp cooked with tomato and bread. I first had this when we went to Croatia back in 2012 for a music festival and fell in love. When we returned to the music festival last summer I knew I had to have this briny, tomatoey, garlicky dish again. This dish is incredibly simple and allows the ingredients to just come together and meld in the oven to create something magical. The bad news is that it is available by weight and I can never resist ordering a kilo…. You can find this dish all along the coast of Croatia and it is a perfect dish for those warm summer days when you don’t want a super heavy meal and you can have this view…
You can find variations of Shopska Salad throughout Eastern Europe but nowhere was it quite as ubiquitous than in Macedonia or at least when we visited, although it is technically a Bulgarian dish. (We skipped the traditional for the most part in Sofia though to explore their emerging culinary revolution) Every restaurant we went to in Skopje served a Shopska Salad and we were not upset by this. Shopska Salad is a combination of tomatoes, cucumber onions and bell pepper. It is then topped with a cheese called sirene which is a briny white cheese similar to feta. In fact for the longest time we thought it was feta cheese…
You can’t go to Greece without eating a gyro; it would be sacrilege. Even if you aren’t a lamb fan you can always go for a chicken souvlaki gyro or a veggie one. There are options for everybody and they are a must eat in Greece. You can find gyros everywhere too from the big cities of Athens and Thessaloniki to the small little towns. Basically every town will have at least one place where you can get gyros.
So what makes a gyro so special? Well take the world’s most delicious bread item, the pita, add red onions, meat that has been simmering and crisping up as it rotates on a vertical broiler, and top with tzatziki aka the sauce from the gods made with Greek yogurt, cucumber, lemon juice and dill and french fries and you have the perfect meal to go. Gyros are also super cheap so if you are visiting Greece on a budget I would highly suggest eating these all the time!
Oh amatriciana, how did I live before I knew you existed? Ignorance is truly bliss but knowledge is enlightenment, right? Well I was certainly enlightened when I was finally able to try amatriciana in Rome. Amatriciana is a typical romano dish that is comprised of bucatini pasta (basically thick spaghetti with a hole through the middle) and a rich tomato sauce with just a hint of red pepper flake and guanciale. The guanciale is what truly separates this pasta dish apart from others. This isn’t your basic tomato sauce because of it; so what is it?
Guanciale is pork cheek, delicious, delicious pork cheek. The pork cheek is rubbed in salt and spices and then left to cure giving it a depth of flavor that even pancetta can’t match. Also guanciale has a higher fat ratio so as it is cooked into the sauce the fat melts and creates this amazingly rich and velvety tomato sauce. I am seriously drooling over the thought of this pasta. Go to Rome and eat it now! And eat it at Osteria da Fortunata near Campo dei Fiori if you can 🙂
I am not sure that any dish has drawn Alex in so quickly just by smell than the Bifanas in Lisbon. We were wandering through downtown Lisbon, I was distracted by all the colorful tiles and then next thing I know a local is beckoning to Alex and showing him the Bifanas in the window of a small shop. One smell and I knew Alex was already hooked and we would be eating Bifanas with beer for breakfast.
Bifanas are pork sandwiches but they are more than that. The pork is simmered for hours in a fragrant bath of spices and wine and then when they are finally ready they are served on a soft white roll and more of the delicious juice is poured over it. That is it. It is so simple but undeniably delicious. Wash it down with a small beer and you have had the perfect Lisbon snack (or meal if you are Alex and have several…)
Most people have heard of gazpacho and head to Spain in the summer to indulge in this cold tomato soup but in Sevilla they are going one step further. They have Salmoreno and Salmoreno is gazpacho but so much more. Salmoreno is a cold soup that is made from a base of tomatoes just like gazpacho but they add bread to theirs. BREAD! And then they serve this magnificent creamy cold soup with more bread! Carb lovers, this is your gazpacho! Plus this cold soup is hearty enough to eat it during the winter, although winter is Sevilla is like summer in London, but still.
I know you are thinking to yourself, “Ashley, you already included Greece why do they get a second listing?” Well, the answer my friends is because Dakos is my FAVORITE salad, Greek food, tomato recipe, etc…. EVER. And I am writing the article and choose what goes into it. And Cretans consider themselves Cretans before Greeks and they have a different cuisine. So there.
Anyways…. Back to Dakos. Dakos is a very traditional Cretan dish made from stale barley husks, tomatoes, garlic and feta cheese. It was born out of necessity and has become an iconic dish of the island. You can find this dish almost everywhere on Crete and you can occasionally find it on the mainland as well including at one of our favorite restaurants in Thessaloniki. While seemingly a simple dish, Dakos takes STALE BREAD and makes it into one of the most delectable dishes in Greece. This salad is perfect for those warm summer nights when you want something light but something with enough body to counteract all that raki you are drinking. Not that I would know anything about that…. But give Dakos a chance and head out to my favorite European island to try it!
Oh Haggis, I had to include this iconic Scottish dish if not for Scotland but for Alex as well. While I sometimes have a hard time getting over the whole “cooked in a sheep’s stomach” thing and the fact that it generally contains sheep’s liver and heart, Alex has no problem and he devoured Haggis any chance he got while we were in Scotland. You can’t really go to Scotland without trying it. For years Alex would try to get our Scottish friends to bring him Haggis whenever they went home but to no avail. So our very first morning in Edinburgh we went off on a hunt for Haggis.
If you are not a huge fan of Haggis or are understandably hesitant about eating it, I would suggest heading to Oink in Edinburgh for a pulled pork sandwich and getting the Haggis as a spread. I think Alex would have eaten this every day if we had not tried it on our last day!
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to dishes to eat in Europe but these are certainly our top 13 dishes right now! Although all this talk about food does have us and our stomachs thinking about booking flights back…. There is still so much to discover and eat!
What are your favorite dishes in Europe? Anything we missed out on? Let us know in the comments!
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