Europe best places to eat traditional foods: 10 iconic dishes

Great restaurants and food experiences are as much a part of a trip to Europe as its fashion, art, grand scenery and ever-present street cats.

Take a ride on the famous ferris wheel at Vienna's Prater amusement park as if you are Orson Welles in The Third Man, sure. But then go and eat schnitzel and drink beer for the true Viennese experience.

A day spent walking along the Seine and around the Eiffel Tower is made complete by sliding into a booth and attacking a towering platter of France's finest, freshly-cracked shellfish.

And after tip-toeing through Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam, it's only right to celebrate life over a cinnamon-scented Dutch apple cake in the sunshine by the side of a canal.

For me, these dishes are the real sights and scenes of Europe, because they tell you exactly where you are, connecting you to the city, the country and its people. Plus, you get fed.

AMSTERDAM

DISH

Appeltaart

WHY

Who knows why Dutch apple tart is so irresistible? A bucketload of apples is squeezed into crusty, almost biscuity cake, scented with traditional speculaas spices of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger, and topped with latticed pastry, in a combination that dates back to the middle ages. Join the queue for "koffie met appeltaart'"at modest market café Winkel 43 in Jordaan to see what the fuss is about.

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WHERE

Winkel 43, Shop 43, Noordemarkt, Amsterdam

PARIS

satmay19eurofood 2/ Paris ??fruits?de?mer?platter ?in a classic brasserie such as La Coupole www.lacoupole-paris.com

Photo: Alamy

DISH

Plateau de fruits de mer

WHERE

La Coupole, 102 Boulevard de Montparnasse, Paris, 14. See lacoupole-paris.com

WHY

It's all about les ecaillers, the professional oyster shuckers who preside over the display of shellfish and crustaceans at every great Parisian brasserie. When you put your order in, they get to work. And when the magnificent platter piled high with lobster, crab, oysters, mussels, whelks, cockles, prawns and shrimp arrives at your table, you get to work, cracking, sucking, slurping and sipping. To order the Royal Coupole platter (€129 for two, about $205) at the legendary 91-year-old, art-deco brasserie La Coupole is to touch the very soul of Paris – with a crab pick.

LONDON

satmay19eurofood 3/ London ? roast beef and all the trimmings at Hawksmoor ( and for trad, Simpsons on the Strand) www.thehawksmoor.com www.rules.co.uk

DISH

Roast beef with all the trimmings

WHERE

Simpson's in the Strand, 100 Strand, London. See simpsonsinthestrand.co.uk

WHY

Simpson's began life as a coffee house and chess club in 1828. Its members used to get so engrossed in their matches that the management would load roast beef onto silver trolleys and feed them as they played. Now, it's the 28-day dry-aged roast rib of Scottish beef that gets all the attention, carved at the table and served in fine rosy-pink slices along with Yorkshire pudding, gravy, horseradish and the finest, crustiest, most golden beef fat potatoes in all of Britain.

BARCELONA

HFWNXP Black rice with shrimp, calamari, mussels and scallops on the plate closeup. Horizontal view from above satmay19eurofood 4/ Barcelona ? arroz negro ? black rice with cuttlefish at Carles Abellan?s La Barra in Barceloneta www.carlesabellan.com

Photo: Alamy

DISH

Arroz negro

WHERE

La Barra de Carles Arbellan, Calle Passeig Joan Borbo, 19, Barcelona. See carlesabellan.com

WHY

Tinted black with squid ink and studded rather austerely with cuttlefish, arroz negro is treated with respect throughout Barcelona and all along the coast to Valencia. Carles Abellan, former head chef to the mercurial Ferran Adria at El Bulli, does a very classy signature arroz spiked with cuttlefish and spicy sobrasada sausage at his warmly elegant La Barra, near the old fishing port in Barceloneta. Each nutty grain of rice is distinct from its brother, the sweetness and sea-saltiness coming in oceanic waves of flavour.

ROME

satmay19eurofood 1/ Rome ? suppli ? round rice balls with cheese inside?new hipster places have recently opened up as well such as Supplizio, near Vatican, founded by Arcangelo Dandini of Arcangelo. www.supplizioroma.it

DISH

Suppli

WHERE

Supplizio, Via dei Banchi Vecchi, 43. See supplizioroma.it

WHY

Suppli are Rome's favourite street snack – golden balls of rice (similar to Sicily's arancini) stuffed with a little meat and mozzarella, crumbed and fried. Break one in half with your fingers and the cheese forms looping, glooping strings. It took acclaimed chef Arcangelo Dandini to restore suppli to its former glory at his "slow fast-food" Supplizio, where your first choice should be the most traditional, stuffed with chicken giblets, sausage and pecorino.

BRUSSELS

JDTEM7 Moules Frites satmay19eurofood 6/ Brussels ? moules frites at Aux Armes Bruxelles www.auxarmesdebruxelles.com ( or Chez Vincent for the murals)

Photo: Alamy

DISH

Moules frites

WHERE

Aux Armes de Bruxelles, 13 Rue Des Bouchers, Brussels. See auxarmesdebruxelles.com

WHY

It's as Belgian as Tin Tin, Jacques Brel and Breughel: the clack-clack of steaming hot mussels being picked from the pot in which they were steamed. Best eaten in season (September to February), the mussels are harvested from the cold North Sea off Zeeland and served by the kilogram in celery-scented broth with side platters of golden frites. The touristy Rue Des Bouchers is lined with restaurant spruikers, but ignore them all, in favour of the venerable 97-year-old Aux Armes de Bruxelles.

ISTANBUL

KD89P9 Lamb shish kebab served with grilled peppers, shallots, fresh cherry tomatoes and cucumber on a white marble board photographed from top view. satmay19eurofood

Photo: Alamy

DISH

Kebab

WHERE

Zubeyir Ocakbasi, Bekar Sokak 28, Beyoglu, Istanbul. See zubeyirocakbasi.com.tr

WHY

Lamb kebab – heaven on a stick – is said to have originated in medieval times when Turkish soldiers cooked meat on their swords over open fires in the field. At the family-run Zubeyir ocakbasi near Taksim Square, the minced lamb and liver "kebaps" come hot and sizzling from the magnificent copper-hooded mangal charcoal grill.

LISBON

HTCNMX Pasteis de Nata at Pasteis de Belem satmay19eurofood Pasteis de nata 8/ Pasteis de nata in Lisbon at Pasteis de Belem www.pasteisdebelem.pt

Photo: Alamy

DISH

Portuguese custard tart

WHERE

Pasteis de belem, Rua de Belem, 84, Belem, Lisbon. See pasteisdebelem.pt

WHY

Take the number 15 tram from Praca de Figuera six kilometres west to the waterside suburb of Belem, where the secret recipe of the monks of the Jeronimos monastery survives to this day. Here, the world's favourite custard tart can be enjoyed as it should be – crusty, creamy, caramelised and warm from the oven, dusted with cinnamon and sugar, and taken with a strong black bica (coffee) by its side.

COPENHAGEN

DK8DMR Small danish smorrebrod of herring fish served as part of the Ammanns Lunch, Aamanns Restaurant, Copenhagen, Denmark. satmay19eurofood 9/ Smorrebrod at Copenhagen at Rene Redzepi?s favourite Restaurant Schoennemann www.restaurantschoennemann.dk

Photo: Alamy

DISH

Smorrebrod

WHERE

Restaurant Schonnemann, Hauser Plads 16, Copenhagen. See restaurantschonnemann.dk

WHY

In spite of Copenhagen's reputation as the home of modern, inventive New Nordic cuisine, it is still a very conservative city whose citizens like things done slowly, properly and with integrity. Especially their smorrebrod. Hence you will need to book ahead to get into this gorgeous little basement lunch spot, which has been baking ryebread, curing herring and salting beef for its own exquisite open-faced sandwiches since 1877. Pro tip: eat with knife and fork, not hands.

VIENNA

satmay19eurofood Vienna ? veal schnitzel at Skopik & Lohn - (or Landtmann)

DISH

Wiener schnitzel

WHERE

Skopik und Lohn, Leopoldsgasse 17, 1020, Vienna. See skopikundlohn.at

WHY

Think wiener schnitzel and you think Vienna, if only because the name translates as Viennese cutlet. This simple, boneless fillet of veal, pounded until it's as thin and as big as a dinner plate, is crumbed and pan-fried until crisp and golden. Have it at the elegant Skopik and Lohn, where it's served with cucumber and potato salads, a buzzy New York vibe, and dramatic ceiling artwork by Austrian artist, Otto Zitko.

See also: The world's 10 most stunning restaurant locations

See also: The 50 dishes every traveller needs to try once

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