Exquisite eats and delicious treats: places to embrace food culture in Europe

Half of the enjoyment of travelling is in eating. Trying expertly-cooked dishes and savouring new flavours that are destined to become firm favourites. Beyond our amazing hotels with gourmet experiences to savour, we’ve put together some sensational places to dive into food culture in Europe. Which ones will make it onto your holiday menu?

1. Cork, Ireland

Ireland is all about comfort food paired with delicious drinks, and Cork is a wonderful place to savour both. Visitors here should begin their trip with an outing to Harley’s StrEAT food market. Each weekend, you can discover a selection of colourful stalls from which to enjoy finely-crafted treats and tipples from independent sellers. The vendors change frequently here, too, making each visit feel like a fresh experience.

Those wanting a taste of how the locals live should factor in Cork Coffee Roasters to their Irish itinerary, as well. This cosy little haunt is a hallmark feature of the city, and has the perfect view to boot – overlooking the famous Shandon Bells.

Thrilling your tastebuds doesn’t end at your hotel, either. The Metropole Hotel Cork serves up one of the best afternoon teas in the area, blending traditional homemade sandwiches with a wide assortment of pastries and delectable desserts: many of which include an innovative twist. Celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, the hotel has also created a menu of well-loved cocktails for you to try before heading out to experience the Victorian Quarter, where the property is based – one of the best food neighbourhoods in Cork. With a mix of bars, restaurants, markets, light bites and more all within walking distance from your hotel room, your plate will never be empty.

2. Campestri, Italy

When talking about food culture in Europe, you simply have to mention Italy… and, specifically, the amazing fare found throughout Tuscany. The province is home to some beauteous bites including mouthwatering Bistecca alla Fiorentina(Florentine beef steak) and Schiacciata al Uva (‘smashed’ bread with grapes). Get your fill of local staples with a visit to Il Caldetino, which boasts an outside eating area that gazes out across the glorious green hills of the region – the perfect place to dine during dusk. Of course, a trip to the city of Florence should feature in your plans, too, where sightseeing with a freshly-baked crostini in hand is par for the course.

What’s more, it’s only a fifty-minute drive from Villa Campestri, the ideal place for foodies to make their temporary home while abroad. Food is all part of the experience at this enchanting property. Pick fresh fruit from their grounds, go hunting for treasured truffles, take part in an olive oil tasting seminar or learn about the secrets of Tuscan cooking directly from their kitchen. Whether you’re planning to stay put in Tuscany or take a larger road trip across the country, this food-focused property simply must feature in your gourmet getaway.

3. Dalen, Norway

If you like hearty stews, pickled fare and cheese, you’ll love the food in Norway… especially if you’re a fish lover! The history of the country is full of fishing, a heritage that several of the country’s most renowned dishes still reflect today.

To dive into Norway’s storied past and sample its most popular flavours at the same time, venture down to Telemark’s VTM-Eidsborg, a museum consisting of more than 30 buildings, including Norway’s oldest pagan wooden structure which dates back to 1167. There, you’ll find the Museumskafé Eidsborg – a lovely spot where you can fuel up on scrumptious Norwegian dishes to give you a boost during your busy bout of sightseeing.

Another simple but unmissable food to try while you’re in this part of the world are Norwegian waffles. Served with a hefty dollop of cream and jam, anyone with a sweet tooth will find it impossible not to love them! Grab this fluffy fodder at Kafé Grimdalen over the summer, situated in another of the country’s best spots for tourism, the Grimdalstunet: where the famous sculptor Anne Grimdalen was raised.

Regarding where to stay, the dragon-style Dalen Hotel needs to be seen to be believed. Take your fill of the property’s gallery, salons, spa, terrace, gardens and more before settling down in a chair at Bandak Restaurant. Run by the Michelin-star chef, Mikael Öster, you know you and your stomach are in safe hands, here. You  couldn’t ask for a finer place from which to enjoy Norway’s many gourmet gems, or experience some of the best food culture in Europe.

4. Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg is the capital of France’s Alsace region, and as such, its cuisine stems from both French and German inspirations. Fill your break to the brim with kougelhopf, a Brioche-like bread stuffed with dried fruit and almonds, and tarte flambée, otherwise known as Alsatian pizza – a deliciously flavourful flatbread.

If you’re anything like us, rich espressos and delicate pastries will also be a daily feature of your French holiday… and you couldn’t find a better place to pick them up than the charming L’Atelier 116. This bakery specialises in fulfilling every one of your pastry-based fantasies. Load up on choquettes, croissants, eclairs, macaroons, and more before heading into the historic city… we couldn’t think of a better way to start the day.

In terms of where to end the day, locals and tourists alike wax lyrical about the fine dining experience on offer at Les Plaisirs Gourmands – voted the number one restaurant in the city on TripAdvisor. This luxury locale balances healthy, fresh ingredients with unique flavours to make sure each morsel that passes your mouth is more memorable than the last. It’s a must-visit.

While Hotel Le Bouclier d’Or doesn’t have a restaurant of its own, its lounge bar, ‘Le Meyerhof’, is a lovely place to while away a more chilled afternoon in Strasbourg. Fill your glass with sparkling champagne and sample homemade cakes and savoury canapés with your loved ones or a good book. The property is also wonderfully placed in La Petite-France, an area of the city known for its half-timbered homes and Alsatian eateries. Divine.

5. Sils-Maria, Switzerland

Cheese fondue. Swiss chocolate. Raclette. No, we’re not just listing our favourite things – these dishes are actually all staples of the Swiss diet, and the kind of fare you can expect to find everywhere, here – a country that arguably boasts the heartiest food culture in Europe. Influenced by French, German and Italian cuisine, as well as Switzerland’s roots in farming, its exciting and varied food scene is bound to please every palate.

St. Moritz is a brilliant place to get started on your search for scrumptiousness (especially if you also like skiing). Treat yourself to an elegant evening at Dal Mulin, where traditional and international meals are served up in style. There are several venues in town where you can enjoy some traditional ‘après-ski’, as well, and savour some drinks and nibbles after an afternoon on the slopes. The trendy Balthazar is a popular spot for aperitifs and cuisine that will quickly warm you up.

At Hotel Waldhaus Sils, there are even more options for food lovers. It’s hard not to drool over the à la carte menu at Restaurant Arvenstube, where local products are whipped up into swoon-worthy meals. Pile up your plate, sit back, and enjoy the alpine atmosphere and world-class service. You’ll enjoy every bite.


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