Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Heading to Europe for a great food adventure and learning experience!

Heading to Europe for a great food adventure and learning experience!

Jul 1st, 2014, 04:38 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 48
Heading to Europe for a great food adventure and learning experience!

Hello Everyone!
In about 5 weeks time, I will be heading out from California, US, to the great Europe!
I am going to be spending 3 months in the EU continent and 1 month in the UK region (Ireland & England mostly).
My plan is to eat and learn all I can about pastries and bring back what I've learned for my catering business.

I know there are certain regions in Europe that a woman just shouldn't go alone.
Also parts of the continent that are just not good after a certain time of year. I think Spain is best to be avoided after September ? Right now there really is no limitations as to which countries I will go, but I do have a few countries on the list that I will HAVE to go.
France, Italy, Ireland, England, Spain (If the timing permits), Germany, Amsterdam and if possible, Switzerland and Greece. All these places within 4 months, seems like a bit stretch.

I am very much welcome to any suggestions you may have and also places to avoid for a fellow female traveler, traveling alone. I already also have some places marked down on my list to go but won't bore you with the specific details. Taking this month to really buckle down and prepare for the trip, this project. Any and all responses are welcomed! Thank you!
TheObessiveBaker is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 05:03 AM
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 2,672
In four monoths you can see all of the places you have listed but you won't be able to learn all you cal about pastries and baking in all of those places.

I am baffled by your characterrization of Spain after September. I can think of no reason why you couldn't go there in the fall or winter. In fact, the south of Spain is best in Oct and Nov.

If your focus is pastry and baking, choose the countries that are known for those things. What about Austria?
mamcalice is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 05:17 AM
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 7,763
I know there are certain regions in Europe that a woman just shouldn't go alone.

Sure but those are places that aren't really pertinent to your trip.

Also, I agree with mamcalice's comment:

If your focus is pastry and baking, choose the countries that are known for those things. What about Austria?

I will also second the opinion that just because you're eating pastries does not mean you are learning about them. I hope you signed up for pastry classes or have arranged to work in bakeries as an assistant or something.

Germany and Austria can have much to teach you about pastries but unless you speak excellent German (or meet with someone with excellent English) and have access to the same flours they use (hint: you probably will not), your trip will be hindered.
sparkchaser is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 05:24 AM
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,220
Keep in mind the Schengen Agrrement, where you can only spend 90 days combined in those countries which does not include the UK.

I am a bread cuckoo and the pastries and bread in Belgium are world class. And although the food in Spain had leaped in the last 20 years they are still lacking in bread and pastries.

The Portuguese make excellent bread.

I found the food in Amsterdam dreadfully wanting. We ate a place highly recommended by a Dutch food critic and would not make it our neighborhood.

Of course the French excel at both bread and pastries.

Italian pastries are world renown while the bread is good but limited.

We have only in Dublin once for a week and the food has improved but we have not seen anything to emulate.
IMDonehere is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 05:36 AM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 4,471
<> It is a pity that you have not included Denmark and Sweden in your itinerary. Danish pastries are incredible and nothing like the ones you get outside Denmark, they have their origins in Vienna.
Swedish pastries/cakes too: Kanelbulle, Princess cake, napoleon cakes, kladdkaka, semlor etc.
Here is a place in Copenhagen where they make their own cakes/pastries and is very famous. Marzipan in Denmark is amazing too.
Odin is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 05:38 AM
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 7,763
Aye. Spanish bread and pastries are nothing to write home about.

Germany has a mind boggling amount of breads but the best bread I have had in Europe so far was some dark brown bread from Ukraine. I would go back just to get some more.
sparkchaser is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 05:42 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,154
Unless you want your time in Ireland to be comprised only of the six counties of Northern Ireland, it really isn't a good idea to refer to Ireland as part of "the UK region". As offensive - and indicative of wilful political ignorance - as describing New York and Canada as "the USA region"

Though Americans find this hard to believe, the standard term in English (an official language of the Irish Republic) for the (geographic, but not political) entity of which England and Ireland form parts is "the British Isles"

I can't conceive of anywhere in the areas you've outlined where "a woman just shouldn't go alone"

It's clearly a preoccupation you've acquired, though. Perhaps you could share your experience of such places in your own country.
flanneruk is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 05:48 AM
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,220
Hey, I live in the USA region.
IMDonehere is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 05:49 AM
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 7,763
I used to live in the USA region.
sparkchaser is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 05:51 AM
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 7,763
Ireland is so not the UK. Northern Ireland is. Ireland, not at all.
sparkchaser is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 05:52 AM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 4,471
Denmark also has fantastic bread, especially rye bread. Many bakeries specialise in organic bread.

Gilleleje Havns Bageri.
Odin is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 06:26 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 11,810
There are few, if any, regions in Europe where I wouldn't go alone, and I am an older woman. In general, Europe is as safe as the US, and often safer.

September in Spain is still pretty warm, but it's considerably cooler than July or August. I prefer going there in October, when it's cooled off everywhere. I've been there in January and late March to April.

I suggest that you get a guidebook or two and do some reading. One of the guides that covers several cities might be best for you.
Pegontheroad is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 07:01 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,879
You are leaving in a few weeks -- in the middle of summer -- and haven't made any plans?

You'd best get on it ASAP. Internal flights and even sone trains will be booked up and finding places to stay for the first maybe 6 weeks of your trip may be difficult so you need to firm up your itinerary and get to booking thins ASAP.

I have no idea what you mean >>I know there are certain regions in Europe that a woman just shouldn't go alone. << where have you read/heard this and what areas do you mean?

Sure, there are neighborhoods that women (or men for that matter) might not want to venture. But countries/regions (?) - who the heck have you been listening to?
janisj is online now  
Jul 1st, 2014, 07:04 AM
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 6,534
I don't think you will be "boring" people with the details of what you've planned by sharing them. You'll be saving them the trouble of typing up things irrelevant to the trip you have already half-planned. I think you can ignore the comments here suggesting that the people you encounter in Europe will be as hypersensitive and critical as they are. Also, I am curious as to why you think there are places in Europe a woman shouldn't go. There are many where women do not enjoy the same autonomy that women do in the US, but there are some where women have more. But all across Europe, I cannot think of a country that isn't safer for women (and men) than the US.

Very generally speaking, Italy has very few outstanding baked sweets (I am actually hard pressed to think of any with the possible exception of the baba au rhum of Naples, or that region's sfogliatelle). As for baked savories, obviously there is pizza, and I would add the focaccia of Liguria, the breadsticks (grissini) of Piemonte, and some of the high-rise wood oven baked breads of Puglia and other parts of the south. But that's about it. There are many lovable Italian sweet desserts that are not baked -- chocolates, tiramisu, egg custards, fried cannoli, gelati, et cet. But typical pastries are not common in because Italy generally does not use butter or cream, nor does it have precision ovens, or a lot of capacity for refrigerating pastry creations, not does the populace have a huge appetite for flour-based foods other than pasta and various types of pizza. The most typical Italian dessert is fresh fruit, and the most commonly eaten pastry is a crappy, dry, oversweet breakfast bun whose only purpose is to wake you up with a sugar jolt and offset the acid in morning coffee. it is almost a throwaway food.

I agree with others that what's missing from your list appears to be some of the greatest pastry making centers of Europe -- the cities of Austria, Hungary, etc -- although if you are a caterer, I am wondering if you are interested in elaborate pastry production anyway, or are looking for baked foods or desserts that lend themselves to feeding a big party. Depending on what kind of ovens you are using, Italy might have a few tricks up it sleeve for that, but you need to where to find what you are looking for (i.e., you must go to Sicily to learn to make cannoli, you must go to Torino to learn to make breadsticks, you must go to Naples or Rome to learn pizzamaking).

Of course, if you would just like to see Italy, almost anywhere you go has one or two good bakers who turn out delicious local sweets. Some of the better cities to target for elevated creations are Naples, Torino, Milan, Trieste and Palermo.
sandralist is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 07:23 AM
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,220
Italians don't bake?

Ricotta cheesecake
Ba ba Rhum

And a thousand variety of cookies.

Of course Zeppole is fried, I mean the pastry
IMDonehere is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 10:38 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Agree that Spain is not a great place to go for bread and pastries.

Agree that you need to hit:

Italy (but not bread)
Denmark has excellent breads and nice pastries (they refer to US Danish as "Vienna bread")
Ireland has nice soda bread and brown bread (not pastries to write home about that I saw)
Not sure about the UK unless you need to learn to make scones

And the places will go are very likely much safer than where you live (no packs of noodleheads running around with guns), women are safe (don't know why you think not) and can't comprehend why you think Spain is bad in the fall.

And if you are going this summer you are way behind on identifying and signing up for classes, etc.
nytraveler is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 11:14 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,060
England: Bakewell tart, Yorkshire curt tart, Banoffee pie, Manchester tart, Liverpool tart, custard tart, treacle tart, lardy cake, Eccles cakes. I'm sure people can think of loads more. High tea is common in Scotland and I'm sure that our Scottish contributors can come up with lots of tooth-rotting goodies
Josser is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 11:16 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,060
That's curd tart not curt.
Josser is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 11:27 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,060
I forgot raised pork pies and Cornish pasties.
For Scotland, I like black bun and empire biscuits. My favourite Scottish pastry thing is Selkirk bannock.
Josser is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 11:31 AM
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,220
Just because it is round, does not make it a bagel. Same thing with English pastries, just because they are called pastries, that does not mean you have to eat them.

I did find a scone or two in Scotland I liked.
IMDonehere is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:07 AM.