A fellow Tour Director recently posted on Facebook that there was little better in life than enjoying an almond granita whilst in Sicily, something which is quite hard to argue with. This led me to asking other Tour Directors which foods they always want their groups to try while travelling in Europe. So, put these on the bucket list for 2013.
Scotch Egg – A seemingly inauspicious start – this is the delicacy of choice for the British motorway traveler. A boiled egg encased by sausage meat with herbs and breadcrumbs added and, finally, deep fried. This is something which can be tried anywhere but, truly, is best eaten just after breakfast at a motorway service station for the full British cuisine effect.
Croque Monsieur – A staple feature of any cafe menu in France. The Monsieur is a toasted sandwich with ham in the middle and melted cheese on top (usually Gruyere). The adventurous can try the Croque Madame which has a fried or poached egg on top. According to French TD Gwenael A., the ideal way to enjoy this is with a bottle of Orangina.
Cranaic (seaweed] – Prem S., a Tour Director from Ireland, suggests this local specialty, sold in bags in fishmongers in Galway. “It comes with the shells scattered amongst it and, occasionally, a small live marine creature scurrying around in it. Full of iodine, I used to eat this stuff by the bagful when I was growing up. Goes well with a pack of cheese and onion taytos and a cup of strong tea… Yum”!
Pork fat and haggis bap – from Oink of Edinburgh – The idea of the hog roast is common to those from the US, so try it Scottish style, with a bit of haggis included – head there as a gourmet reprieve from the deep fried mars bars. There is a whole pig in the window – when it’s gone they close. Delish!
Taoas – Spain is a phenomenal place for trying food, a small tapa is a great way to see if you like something. You can ask your Tour Director to help arrange a tapas night in Madrid, you won’t regret it. Pulpo a feira is found in the north-west of Spain and this is a suggestion from Tour Director Alex G. This Galician style octopus is traditionally served with bread and potatoes and makes for an ideal tapa at any time of day. Daniel L. insists you try Jamon Serrano (and he is absolutely right, it’s incredible). Finally, if you are travelling between Madrid and Cordoba then you should be able to stop and try Pisto or migas.
Via Julia Karam
Escargot – The obvious choice. Easy to hunt and suitably tasty with lashings of garlic butter. Snails is often a possibility when touring in France, certain restaurants will allow groups the option of ordering them (at a small additional cost). It is often surprising just how many people want to try this very local delicacy.
Sausage and more – Stuart H. is the man for any guided tour of London or Rome but he knows his stuff about central Europe too. Germany is the place for great sausage and the currywurst is a popular choice, the chopped sausage is covered in a curry flavored sauce. In Munich head to the viktualienmarkt and try the local favorite, white sausage (weisswurst), which is best served with sweet mustard.
Newsagents in Britain – Matt B. will happily cram a whole group into one of these places as part of a walking tour. As he says, “these fine centers of epicurean delicacies sell many delights, but specifically; Pickled Onion Monster Munch, Prawn Cocktail Seabrooks, Ham & Pickle Brannigans, Balsamic Vinegar & Caramelized Onion Walkers Sensations.” Want to know what he is talking about? Get yourself to Olympic England and find out.
Regional Guide: London – Few Tour Directors know London as well as James P. – here’s his twenty second guide to some of the best ethnic food areas. Best Polish restaurants/deli in London are in Ealing or Hackney. I would also recommend Tubby Issacs fish stall for a cultural and culinary treat such as winkles, cockles etc. The 24 hour Bagel shop on Brick Lane in east London is the place for salt beef bagels and the best cheesecake in the world (according to Mariah Carey, even though her and her entourage were sent to the back of the queue). Borough Market, near London Bridge, is the place for Cornish oysters (smaller and sweeter than French, even though Irish oysters are the best in the world).
Regional Guide: Eastern Europe – I was lucky enough to run almost parallel on tour earlier this year with Kamila V., a Tour Director originally from Prague, as she was a superb source of local info. Her suggestions are pork with sauerkraut and dumplings, Schnitzel in Vienna, Hungarian goulash, Polish pirogi (dumplings) and pickled camembert (in Prague). Most of these might sound familiar but eating them in their native country is something else. Anya W. is another Tour Director who advises trying “himmel und aerd” in Cologne – a mixture of mashed potatoes with apples and served with black pudding.
That seems to be it…..of course, I forgot Italy. Way too much to mention there, so it gets its own space next week.
Do you have any foods to add to this week’s list?
(Editor’s note: Add Paul on Google+If you have a question about for EF Tour Director Paul Mattesini, or an idea for a blog post topic, you can email Paul here, and he will answer readers’ questions in future blog posts.)
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