Wine and dine in Europe
July 31, 2020
Wine and dine, the best thing you can do to learn about the culture of a country you are visiting.
To continue my previously posted story about exploring Europe, I’ll try to show you all the delicious food you can taste in Europe.
Surely, you all have heard about Pizza, French wine, or Belgian waffles, but have you ever tried Pot-au-feu? Don’t know what it is? Don’t worry. I didn’t know either.
If you are traveling to a place you never been to before, what’s the best way to get to know the culture and the people? Well, through food!
For every country in Europe, I’ll list a few things that you shouldn’t miss while visiting. Some of these finger-licking dishes are already well known. But for a lot of them, I’ve never even heard before. Almost every traditional dish has a little story behind it, and these stories happen to be the best way to learn all about the country you’re visiting.
So, for all the foodies out there, join me on my “Eating your way through the Europe” tour. You won’t regret it!
WARNING: you may immediately want to book a trip to one of these locations. But I’m not responsible if your vacation will be canceled due to COVID-19, and you have to stay home alone with your thoughts about this food.
Probably the most famous food in Albania is byrek. All kinds of stuffing, like cheese and spinach, are layered in a tasty filo pastry and baked until the crust is crispy. There are a lot of versions of this tasty pie, but my favorite one is with meat.
What else to try?
- Tavë Kosi – the most beloved dishes by locals made with lamb, rice, and yogurt sauce
- Baklava – although baklava comes from Turkey, Albanian version is made with pistachio and definitely worth trying
- Raki – grape brandy and Albania’s national drink
Meat lovers, this one is for you!
Without a doubt, Andorra’s national dish is Escudella. Escudella is mostly served in the cold wintery months. It’s a stew made of pasta and all kinds of meat such as chicken, veal, meatballs, sausages, and pork.
Also on your menu:
- Cargols – snails (actually, I’m little scared to try that)
- Crema Andorrana – similar to French crème brûlée, but instead of the burnt sugar, Crema Adorrana has whipped cream on the top
Something you have to try in Armenia is khorovats. Khorovats actually means barbecue, but it’s not just a barbecue. Armenian barbecue is made with lamb, pork, beef, or chicken, and the key ingredients are a combination of species.
You should also try:
- Lavash – similar to Mexican tortilla, happens to be the most common ingredient in Armenian cuisine
- Dolma – made with grape or cabbage leaves wrapped around rice, minced meat, and species, and cooked with olive oil
- Cognac – the most popular national drink in Armenia
I think that the Austrian national dish doesn’t need much introduction. I’m sure you all have heard about Wiener Schnitzel. In fact, this dish is so important part of Austrian culture that there is a law about it. Winer Schnitzels must be made of veal, and if you make it with any other kind of meat, it’s not a Winer Schnitzel.
Don’t forget to order:
- Tafelspity – boiled beef
- Apfelstrudel – apple strudel
- Almdudler – the national drink of Austria based on mountain herbs (Surprise, surprise! It’s a non-alcoholic 😉)
There are 40 different recipes of Azerbaijan’s most beloved dish Plov. So, there is no excuse for not trying it! Azeris make their Plov with saffron-flavored rice cooked with fresh herbs, fried meat, and vegetable.
Make sure to try:
- Dolma – but a little bit different from the one made in Armenia
- Qutab – a type of pancake stuffed with cheese, meat or spinach
- Sherbet – boiled water, lemon, and sugar (doesn’t sound like something special, but there must be a reason why sherbet is their favorite drink)
The most common dish in Belarus cuisine, and of course, the most popular is Draniki. These potato pancakes are mostly made of grated potatoes and onions. But there are a lot of versions, and some of them include bacon, meat, cheese, or mushrooms.
On your plate should also be:
- Kholodnik – cold beets soup
- Nalistnik – “pancakes” designed for wrapping cottage cheese filling
- Krambambula – Kram… what? It’s not so easy to read, but it’s delicious for drinking
You are staying near the sea, and you wonder what to eat? There is only one answer for you – Moules-frites! Mussels with fries is a typical Belgian dish, and make sure not to order French fries in Belgium. You may catch some unfriendly looks.
- Carbonnade à la flamande – literally translated ‘stew meat’
- Waffles – they need no introduction
- Jenever – traditional and national spirit of Belgium for over 500 years
8. Bosnia and Herzegovina
If you never heard about ćevapčići, you probably haven’t visited any Balkan country. Minced meat shaped like small sausages, grilled and served in somun or lepinja (pita bread) with onions and ajvar (a condiment made from red bell peppers and oil). I’m telling you guys, it’s heaven on earth!
Don’t forget to leave some room for:
- Burek – delights like Albanian byrek
- Uštipci – small balls of fried dough with all kinds of filling
- Turkish Coffee – Turkish Coffee in Bosnia and Herzegovina?! Yeah, and it’s more than coffee, it’s the way of life
Pastry lover? Banitsa is a perfect choice for you! That is a traditional Bulgarian pastry stuffed with cheese, spinach, mushrooms or onions, and perfectly cooked on the inside and crispy on the outside.
You can’t afford to miss:
- Shopska Salata – traditional Bulgarian salad with cucumbers, onions, peppers, tomatoes, parsley, and grated cheese
- Tarator – cold soup made with yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, dill, sunflower oil, and water or ice
- Garash Cake – it’s a cake, that’s enough for me 😊
It’s difficult for me to choose just a few dishes here. But my first choice is janjetina na ražnju (lamb on the spit). I can’t even describe how delicious it is! You just have to try it…
You may gain a few pounds, but it’s worth it:
- Peka – it can be lamb, veal, or octopus with potatoes, made in an open fireplace, and hot coals are placed over the metal lid that covers the dish
- Zagorski štrukli – dough filled with cheese, can be cooked or baked, sweet or salty
- Šljivovica – probably the only thing tourist can say right 😉
Halloumi – grilled cheese like none you’ve tried so far and national proud of Cyprus. This god-given grilled cheese is even protected, and only Cyprus has the right to produce it.
Still working on your summer body, forget it:
- Koupepia – it seems to me like another version of Dolma (somebody corrects me if I’m wrong)
- Loukoumades – deep-fried dough balls soaked in honey
- Zivania – a perfect way for ending your dinner with or you can rub it on your body to relieve muscle pain (I think it relieves muscle pain if you drink it too)
12. Czech Republic
If you want to try something traditional, you have to order Vepřo knedlo zelo. It’s roasted pork, bread dumplings, and stewed cabbage. Do I have to add something else to this meal? I think it’s pretty clear.
Cheat day in the Czech Republic:
- Palačinky – pancakes similar to French crepes only better
- Trdelník – pastry rolled in cinnamon sugar and spread with delicious fillings
- Becherovka – herbal liqueur, little to bitter for me, but you have to try it
I have no idea how you should pronounce this meal, but it sounds delicious, Stegt flæsk med persillesovs og kartoffler. It’s crispy pork with parsley sauce and potatoes, and it’s considered as the national dish of Denmark. They’ve even voted about it! (Somebody is really serious when it comes to food 😉)
I’m at number 13 of 49. I think you should say goodbye to your diet:
- Rugbrød – traditional bread made of rye flour, cracked rye kernels, and seeds.
- Smørrebrød – Danish sandwiches
- Mead – Vikings used to drink that
In a mood for a blood sausage? Verivorst is an Estonian national dish, and the sausage consists of blood, onions, barley, allspice, and marjoram. It doesn’t sound like my first choice, but we should give it a try. Don’t you think?
All right! We are working on our winter body:
- Kohuke – it looks like Kinder Penguin, so it has to be good
- Kiluvõileib – sprat sandwich
- Vastlakukkel – wheat bun stuffed with whipped cream
Another interesting name for the dish is Finland’s wide beloved Karjalanpiirakka or Karelian pie. The rye crust is filled with rice porridge (you can also find it with potatoes or carrots filling) and topped with chopped hard-boiled eggs and butter. Delicious!
I wonder why I’m so hungry all the time
- Leipäjuusto – also know as cheese bread (I looove cheese)
- Mustikkapiirakka – you wouldn’t believe it, but this is actually a blueberry pie
- Korvapuusti – cinnamon rolls
I’ve already mentioned French crepes, and I think that croissants are just as famous. But have you ever heard about Pot-au-feu? It means ‘pot on fire,’ and that pretty much explains the dish. Probably one of the most celebrated meals in French, and until now, I never heard about it.
I’m pretty sure that nobody thinks about weight while visiting France
- Cuisses de Grenouilles – frog’s legs (I hope it tastes like chicken)
- Chocolate soufflé – it’s chocolate, it’s delicous!
- Crème brûlée – vanilla dessert with caramelized sugar on the top
More cheese, please! Khachapuri is one of the most famous meals in Georgia. Although I never try it, I already think I like it. Pastry with melted cheese, eggs, and butter on the top, what’s not to like?
I just have the urge to visit Georgia
- Khinkali – dumplings filled with meat and spices
- Shkmeruli – crispy chicken in a creamy milk and garlic sauce
- Churchkhela – it’s not a sausage, it’s some kind of candy (I think)
If you’ve been to Germany and you haven’t tried Wurst, it’s like you never been there! There are approximately 1500 variations of this delicious sin, but probably the most famous one is Bratwurst.
- Sauebraten – pot roast marinated in wine, vinegar, herbs, and spices
- Brezel – pastry sprinkled with salt
- Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte – cherry cake (one of my favorite cakes)
I almost forgot about beer! Don’t let that happen to you too.
Not so easy to decide what my first choice would be, but let’s start with Gyros. It’s meat, vegetables, yogurt, tsatsiki, and fries served in pita bread. You may notice some similarities with Turkish Döner Kebab, and that’s probably because it actually originated from Turkey. But Greeks made their delicious version of it.
You have to try:
- Mussaka – layered dish made of eggplant, minced meat, and Béchamel sauce
- Souvlaki – marinated meat on a skewer
- Ouzo – anise-flavored aperitif (symbol of Greek culture)
You can say that you already tried goulash. But, if you haven’t tried Hungarian Gulyás, then you haven’t tried the right one. Gulyás is something between a stew and soup, with beef, paprika, carrot, potato, and spices.
While in Hungary, you should also try:
- Lagnos – deep-fried flatbread with sour cream and grated cheese
- Halászlé – fisherman’s soup prepared with mixed river fish and hot paprika
- Somlói Galuska – cake layered with chocolate cream, walnut kernel, rum, and whipped cream
I really didn’t expect this one. Svið or sheep’s head is traditional Icelandic food. It’s probably something you won’t find in every restaurant, but I find it quite interesting. I think that I will never have enough courage to try it.
Other, not so wired meals you should try:
- Kjötsupa – traditional lamb soup
- Plokkfiskur – fish stew with potatoes
- Skyr – yogurt and cottage cheese
I have a wired urge to say Irish whiskey 😊 I don’t know why, but that’s the first thought that comes to my mind when I think of Ireland.
But kidding aside, they have amazing food to offer:
- Irish Stew – made with mutton, onions, carrots, celery, and potatoes
- Cured Salmon – needs no explanation
- Dexter Beef – this type of beef is native to Ireland, and has a sweet and nutty taste
Well, I think that’s obvious. Pizza or Pasta! I would even say you are not allowed to leave Italy without trying those two gems.
Must-try in Italy:
- Arancini – stuffed rice balls
- Prosciutto – dry-cured ham
- Gelato – ice-cream
If you are anywhere in Latvia on a hot summer day, all you need is Aukstā zupa. A refreshing cold soup made of beets, cucumbers, kefir, hard-boiled eggs, and dill.
Ready for an unforgettable journey?
- Karbonāde – pork cutlet wrapped in flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs
- Pīrādziņi – pastries filled with onions, minced meat, bacon, cabbage, or cheese
- Kliņģeris – a cake shaped like a large pretzel
Liechtenstein cuisine is simple. So, there is no wonder that their national meal, Käsknöpfle, is made of flour, water, eggs, salt, and pepper and served with cheese, fried onion, and apple puree.
Want to try something else?
- Ribel – cornmeal cooked in boiling water and milk, and then roasted with butter
- Hafalaab – soup with wheat or cornmeal dumplings
- Torkarebl – something between porridge and dumpling
The national dish of Lithuania is potato dumplings called Cepelinai. They are usually stuffed with boiled or raw potatoes, but they can also be made with pork stuffing. They are serving them with sour cream and bacon or with fried potatoes. A lot of potatoes, don’t you think?
But don’t worry, there are a lot more than just potatoes
- Šaltibarščiai – another cold beetroot soup
- Tinginys – literally translated as ‘lazy boy,’ sounds like something that even I could prepare (doesn’t include cooking 😊)
- Varškės apkepas – fried curd cheesecake
A popular dish from Luxembourg is Huesenziwwi. Marinated hare cooked with wine and onions in a thick sauce made from hare blood. I never tried hare in my life. I think that’s because I had a bunny as a little kid, and I just can’t imagine eating hare. But maybe some of you out there don’t have that problem.
I think I’ll look for something else instead:
- Gromperekichelcher – crispy fried potato cakes
- Judd mat Gaardebounen – smoked salted pork with broad beans
- Quetschentaart – plum tart
I’ve heard about Tavče Gravče a lot of times. I just didn’t know that it’s the national dish of Macedonia. It’s pot-baked beans usually combined with sausages or ribs and fresh paprika. Traditionally it’s on a menu every Friday.
On other days in the week you can try:
- Musaka – here made with potato instead of eggplant
- Pastrmajlija – something like pizza, but oval-shaped and topped with pork and fried egg
- Tulumba – deep-fried batter soaked in syrup
A long history is associated with Malta’s national dish stuffat tal-fenek. But I don’t want to talk about history now. It’s a rabbit stew (not again ☹). It consists of two courses, a bowl of spaghetti tossed in a rabbit ragu, and cooked rabbit meat.
One more time, I’ll check the menu for something else:
- Timpana – pasta and pastry, calorie bomb
- Gagħaq tal-għasel – ring pastry filled with marmalade, sugar, lemon, oranges, spices, cinnamon, vanilla and syrup
- Kannoli – deep-fried pastry tubes filled with sweetened ricotta
The best-known meal in Moldova is, without a doubt, Mămăligă cu brânză și smântână. Unlike its name, this meal is actually very simple. Polenta served with cheese and sour cream.
You must try:
- Plăcinte – Moldavian pie (a lot of variations)
- Sarmale – stuffed cabbage rolls
- Cușma lui Guguță – crepes cake
The national food of Monaco is Barbagiuan. It’s a cheesy, crunchy fritter stuffed with ricotta cheese and Swiss chard. But of course, there is a lot of other combinations you can try in Monaco.
Find on the menu:
- Bouillabaisse – fish stew
- Porchetta – pig roast
- Galapian – cantaloupe, cherry, and almond tart
Njeguski Steak is something every meat lover should try. Veal or pork steak filled with Njegusi prosciutto and cheese. And when it’s served with kaymak cheese, you will think you are in heaven.
- Čorba – thick soup made of meat or fish
- Ispod Saca – version of Croatian Peka
- Buzara – shellfish, prawns, and shrimps cooked in a red or white sauce
I bet you all have seen a ton of photos from Amsterdam in which people are holding Stroopwafel. If you type Amsterdam on Instagram, it’s probably every other picture. It’s a waffle sliced horizontally and then glued back together with stroop (sticky syrup).
- Poffertjes – tiny pancake puffs served with butter and powdered sugar
- Bitterballen – deeply fried savory meatballs
- Oliebollen – deep-fried balls of dough
If you order Kjøttkaker in Norway, you may think that it means Swedish meatballs. But even though they have some similarities, they are usually larger and shaped as meat cakes.
- Fårikål – mutton and cabbage stew
- Lefse – flatbread that looks like a tortilla
- Kransekake – number of concentric cake rings shaped into a large cone
Another dumpling on my list! But this time Polish Pierogi. They can be filled with a variety of fillings. But some of the most popular fillings are meat, sauerkraut, and mushrooms, fruit, sweet cottage cheese or boiled potatoes with fried onions.
- Bigos – sauerkraut, various types of meat and sausages, mushrooms, onions, prunes, and spices
- Placki ziemniaczane – potato pancakes
- Kolaczki – cookies with fruit or cheese filling
They say Francesinhasa is a sandwich that cures a hangover. So, you get why it is on my list. It’s better to be prepared 😊. There are two thick slices of bread with meat, melted cheese, and spicy tomato sauce between them.
Don’t leave Portugal if you haven’t tried:
- Caldo Verde – dark green cabbage soup
- Bacalhau – codfish
- Pastel de Nata – egg tart
Sarmel is Romania’s national dish. These stuffed cabbage rolls originate from Turkey, but Romanians claim that theirs are the best ones you can try. So, let’s try them!
Don’t miss to try:
- Mici – grilled minced meat rolls
- Jumari – smoked salty pig fat
- Papanasi – fried cheese doughnuts served with sweet and sour cream, and blueberry jam
What’s the first thing on your mind when someone says Russia? I think the story here is similar to the one from Ireland. Well, at least with me. Vodka!
- Borscht – red beetroot soup
- Oliver Salad – also known as Russian salad
- Medovik – honey cake
39. San Marino
I love that San Marino’s national dish is actually a cake, Torta Tre Monti! And when I’ve read that it’s made with Nutella or traditionally a hazelnut cream, I loved it even more. Wafers, Nutella, and chocolate icing. Do you need anything else?
- Fagioli con le cotiche – bean and bacon soup
- Nidi di rondine – baked pasta with smoked ham, beef, cheese, and tomato sauce
- Piada – special kind of thin bread
Like in any other Balkan country, in Serbia, you can also pamper your palate with delicious meat meals and rakija. Something you should definitely try is Karađorđeva šnicla. It’s pork or beef meat filled with kaymak, dipped into eggs and bread crumbs, and fried. Oh, such a lovely memory!
But you should also try:
- Prebranac – bean soup
- Punjena paprika – stuffed pepper
- Gibanica – cheese pie
Bryndzové halušky is another meal that I can not pronounce. But it’s the one you must try in Slovakia. Potato dumplings served with traditional sheep cheese and smoked bacon and sausages on the top.
What else to eat?
- Vychodniarsky Rezen – chicken schnitzel, green beans, ham, cheese, and potato wedges
- Kapustnica – cabbage soup
- Žeml’ovka – a sweet pudding made from apples, eggs and white bread soaked in warm milk and sugar
The most famous Slovenian food is probably Kranjska kobasica or Carniolan sausage. And it’s even protected. Can’t blame them, it’s delicious!
Do you have a sweet tooth?
- Potica – dough filled with various fillings
- Kremna rezina – cake with three different layers, dough, egg cream and whipping cream
- Prekmurska gibanica – a pastry made of apple, walnut, cottage cheese, and seed fillings
Oh, I really love this one, tortilla de patatas. Simple and delicious, just the way I like it. Potatoes, eggs, and onion are all you need!
- Paella – can be made of seafood or meat and rice
- Croquetas – deep-fried balls stuffed with Béchamel-like sauce and meat, cheese or vegetables
- Sangria – red wine and chopped fruit
You all have heard about Swedish meatballs, so without further delay, let’s try something else.
- Kanelbulle – cinnamon buns
- Jansson’s frestelse – creamy potato and anchovy casserole
- Raggmunk – potato pancakes fried in butter and served with fried pork or lingonberries
Ultimate comfort food you have to try in Switzerland is cheese fondue. I have a feeling I mention cheese a lot, what do you think? Never mind, cheese is the best!
- Raclette – this type of cheese is usually served with boiled potatoes
- Älplermagronen – pasta with potatoes, cheese, fried onions, and garlic
- Swiss chocolate – it’s not cheese, but it’s chocolate
First here is Döner. Ok, we all have tried it at least once in our lives, but I have to mention it.
The list can here go on and on and on…
- Baklava – you have to try it here
- Pide – Turkish pizza
- Raki – made of twice-distilled grapes and aniseed
Borsch, hot beetroot soup, is the national dish of Ukraine. Surprised? Neither am I. I’m actually surprised how I never tried beetroot soup, and it’s so famous in half of Europe.
Waiter, I would like to order:
- Paska – sweet and fragrant Easter bread
- Varenyky – dumplings filled with a variety of ingredients, sweet or slaty
- Nalysnyky – pancakes filled with a variety of ingredients, and also sweet or salty
48. United Kingdom
I’m dreaming about delicious English Breakfast. Bacon, sausages, eggs, baked beans, toast, mushrooms, tomatoes, hash browns, and black puddings, and you are ready for anything.
- Fish and chips
- Bangers and mash – sausages and mashed potato
- Roast Beef – use leftovers for roast beef sandwiches!
49. Vatican City
Well, even do Vatican City is a state, the food here is Italian, so I don’t have any national dish for you. But, as it turns out, you can find some amazing spaghetti all carbonara.