I have to warn you though...you may not want to read this one if you're a) hungry, or b) need to head to the grocery store.
There's some serious food talk here...yummo!
If you’re just now joining us, we’ve been chatting about how anyone (that means You) can travel to Europe, and on a frugal mama’s budget! We’ve covered the general info and then dove into the details of travel and lodging.
This week we’re taking a peek at where to eat while in Europe.
Mama Mia…this subject always makes me hungry.
When in Rome, do as the Romans. In other words, while in Europe, eat like a European! Europeans are natural foodies (well, most of them are…) and they truly enjoy food.
My last trip to Paris was an all girls trip (actually it was an all mommies trip!) and believe it or not, my favorite part of the trip was our nightly evening meal. We spent hours over our meal with lots of wine and dessert included. We talked and talked and talked, with no interruptions. It was bliss.
So be ready to relax a little over meal time – Europeans cherish food and good conversation and you should too!
Here is how our food is typically mapped out within a day. Remember that this is the frugal mama way to tour, to get the best bang for your Euro budget!
Breakfast: we grab a wonderful cup of coffee and a pastry from the local bakery (there are @ 3 bakeries on every corner) and we’re on our way!
Lunch: if we are in more remote area, we stop that morning at a local market and grab some bread, tasty cheese, fruit, and water (or wine!) and pack it with us for the day. If we’re in a more metro area, we eat off the streets! (no, not literally…). We find the most delectable paninis, crepes and such, made right there in little street stands - they are wonderful and cheap!
Dinner: We only have about two actual nice sit-down dinners a week. Most nights we will stop at a walk-up restaurant or grocery and purchase fresh baked chicken and scrumptious salads…oh, and of course wine and dessert!
Eating this way will save you a ton of money, you will enjoy a great variety of foods, and you will actually be eating like a real European!
Here are some notes about Food by Country, based on our experiences:
KaseKuchen. In Germany this is their version of cheesecake (I’ll get to that later…), but in Switzerland, this is an amazing thin-crusted cheese pie. It’s a nice combo of emmental, gruyère, and appenzell cheeses and it literally melts in your mouth. Here’s a recipe that I found that looks pretty close to the real deal.
Poulet Curry Sandwich. This is just a basic curried chicken salad served on some tasty bread. Most bakeries carry this and it’s a perfect grab for lunch!
Laugen bretzel. These are basic pretzels that have been split and made into a little sandwich. I literally eat my weight in these – I can’t stop. These are found in local bakeries.
Bircher Muesli. This is a must-have for breakfast. I’m not a big muesli girl, but this is a major exception. A mix of muesli, yogurt, fresh honey, juice, heavy cream and fresh fruit. Most tea rooms and hotels serve this. You will also see it in little yogurt cups at the grocery, but that’s not the real deal.
Last on the list for Switzerland (and most important) is a visit to the Sprüngli store. They make the most killer macaroons. I’ve tried them everywhere I can find them and nothing compares to the Sprüngli version. Tons of sugar, but not too sweet and they melt as soon as you bite into them. Besides sending your taste buds through the roof, look how cute they are!
The best advice for Italy, is to stay away from Italian restaurants that advertise a lot or those that are in the heart of touristy areas – go to those found in side streets that don’t have many tourists eating there – eat with the locals!
Gelato: all I can say about this is eat as much as you can possibly stuff down! I realize that there are gelato shops in the States now, but there’s nothing like a scoop of pure Italian gelato- and for only 1 euro per scoop!
The fresh fish on the menu is always tasty and if you order a steak, it will actually be a side of beef – they believe in big portions!
For coffee, order a Latte Macchiato (tiny bit of espresso with lots of foamy milk) – it’s the perfect pick-me-up.
For olive fans, there are Turkish olive bars all over the place. I accidently spent a whopping $22 on olives the first time I stopped by one (my husband was not amused). But trust me, it’s olive heaven.
The pastries are not as good as they look – they don’t use much sugar in them, so their flavor is very floury. Their cheesecakes look divine, but the looks are deceiving . Try one if you like, but your best bet will be a pastry that includes some good ol' German chocolate.
For breakfast, milchreis is amazing. It’s a version of rice pudding that is both filling and sweet.
A note about pizza – in both Germany and Switzerland, pepperoni is actually banana peppers. If you want our version of pepperoni on your pie, you have to order your pizza “mit salami”.
If you’re in a more metro area (Paris!), a quick bite can be found at Brioche Dorée. This is a little in and out café that has something for everyone, and you’ll see them all over the city. Prices are very reasonable and the food is always fresh and tasty. This is a no-frills eating experience, but if you’re looking to get back to the shopping district in a flash, this is where you’ll want to eat!
My personal favorite food in France is the Croque Monsieur or Croque Madame. Let’s just say it’s the gourmet version of a grilled cheese.
The Croque Monsieur is the simple version,
and the Croque Madame includes a fried egg on top.
My husband was the brave one to first order the Madame version and we ended up fighting over his sandwich. True story. It was worth the fight.
The Croque Monsieur/Madame is amazing for either lunch or dinner, and you can find this little foodie in both walk up cafes and nice restaurants as well.
So our trip down Euro-foodie lane was more extensive than I had planned, but it was deliciously worth it. Be sure to take a peek here next week - it's all about the frugal way to shop Europe. You won't want to miss this one!
Now that I’ve been through all these favorites, it looks like I’m heading to the store to stock up on some Euro cheeses. Mmmmmm…..I can’t get enough. Now if I could just find some Turkish olives as well…