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Which European Country has the best food selections (other than Italy)....

Which European Country has the best food selections (other than Italy)....

Old Dec 27th, 2012, 12:12 PM
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Which European Country has the best food selections (other than Italy)....

World travelers,

I need your opinion on which European country has the best food to offer. When I say selection it should be like a lot of food to choose from like for Italy : pizza, bologna, risotto, etc. I love to food and its one of my criteria on choosing a country to visit. Coz a satisfied tourist has a satisfied stomach!!!

Cheers!
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Old Dec 27th, 2012, 12:30 PM
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Tops is Spain, and the Basque country in particular, with Galicia and Madrid are better than Catalonia and Andalucia in my experience.

My second favorite food destination is Belgium, with both outstanding street food (waffles, "french" fries, chocolates, etc) and outstanding restaurant meals and beer beyond all comparison.

A particularly fun food destination is Portugal, because everything is so cheap. Lisbon is miles ahead of Porto, I think.

I prefer Greece to Germany and Germanic foods, but probably more in summer for Greece, when you can eat lots of fresh salads, than at other times of year.

Basically, I'm an olive oil person, so I prefer the olive oil countries -- with Belgium being the big exception because I so love their use of cream. I've had an extremely hard time in Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland finding native dishes I liked to eat (except cheese!)
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Old Dec 27th, 2012, 12:33 PM
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Let me add that food (and wine) in Portugal is delicious not just because it is cheap but because of freshness, great olive oil, simplicity of preparation, and local integrity. Coffee is good in Portugal, too, as are breads and pastries (superseding Italy).
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Old Dec 27th, 2012, 12:55 PM
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I agree about Spain - some food there is terrific, but most of it is pretty good, and the wine is excellent too.

Greek food, OTOH can be quite variable, though non-touristy spots can be good.

I can't speak about Portugal as sadly I've never been there.
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Old Dec 27th, 2012, 01:09 PM
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Either Spain or France depending on your preferences. I love Greek food but, as noted, it is extremely variable.
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Old Dec 27th, 2012, 01:11 PM
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Belgium is really good ... even in regional areas, little restaurants that you wouldn't imagine have good food, do. The Belgians draw an immense part of their identity from food, much in the same way the Italians do. I can't compare with Greece and Portugal (although I have eaten both cuisines outside of those countries). If you like huge portions of food, the Germanic countries should be on your list, and the Scandinavian countries for seafood. I also really liked the food in Finland, even though my trip there was really a long time ago now. Yum!

Lavandula
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Old Dec 27th, 2012, 01:23 PM
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Spain, Portugal and France would be my top three choices for cuisine, with the País Vasco, Pays Basque, Navarra, Galicia, Ribera del Duero, Alto Douro, Alentejo and Vinhos Verdes offering some of the best selections of both food and wine.
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Old Dec 27th, 2012, 02:08 PM
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IMHO Belgium has THE best food in europe. I have never been dissatisfied with anything I have been served there - in 6 separate visits encompassing different parts of the country. And this includes from quite upscale places to very casuale cafes. The food is just great!

Sorry, it's better than food in Italy - which is dragged down by a bunch of places in Venice and tourist traps in many cities - the places with the menus in 14 languages and pictures of the food. Now, we have had many excellent meals in Italy and I love many different types of Italian food - but you can get stuck with really bad stuff in some places.

Sorry - I'm not in love with Spanish food - just too many olives and olive oil. I have had many excellent meals there - but also some - at fairly expensive and well-reviewed places - that was mediocre at best. And twice have had to send things back that were just awful. And although my time in Portugal was limited - I would rate the food about the same.

France has - usually - very nice food - but not in the same class as Belgium.

As for freshness of food and local produce/resources - that is true of any decent restaurant in europe - and in the US too. (Although we have a very large number of bad restaurants - starting with almost all chains, but sadly, local places as well. We just don't demand that food be excellent.)
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Old Dec 27th, 2012, 02:12 PM
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Belgium, hands down, followed by France, then Turkey.
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Old Dec 27th, 2012, 02:23 PM
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Spain and Belgium.
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Old Dec 27th, 2012, 02:44 PM
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StCirq mentioned Turkey which has one of the more underappreciated cuisines.

Spain and the best food is in San Sebastian/Donostia. Spain still has some ways to go on preparing beef, making bread, and increasing the selection of desserts but for an overall selection there is nothing like one of the tascas in San Sebastian with an overwheling choice.
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Old Dec 27th, 2012, 03:15 PM
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"Spain still has some ways to go on preparing beef, making bread, and increasing the selection of desserts"! Really? I guess it all depends on where you've been in Spain.

In the País Vasco and the rest of Green Spain, you'll find great seafood, shellfish, veal, oxen, lamb, pork, partridge and a little rabbit, but very little beef and almost no chicken. But yes, bread can sometimes be a problem. They need to bring in a few more Portuguese to teach them how to make bread. And one can only each some many deserts...
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Old Dec 27th, 2012, 03:50 PM
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Serrano and Manchego - nuff said.
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Old Dec 27th, 2012, 08:12 PM
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<i> Which European Country has the best food selections (other than Italy)....
Posted by: wandering_gal on Dec 27, 12 at 4:12pm</i>

That's like asking which is the best wine. It all depends on your taste buds.

I can hardly disagree with any of the above comments, especially Belgium. But you have to remember that Belgium is basically two different countries, Wallonia and Vlanders. Then you have Brussels which is what most commentators are probably speaking of. If you like mussels you will love Brussels, and I do I do.

But my druthers for an eating holiday would be eastern France, mainly Burgundy but encompassing the region from Strasbourg to Dijon to Lyon to Geneva. I would plan an autumn trip, rent a car, and drive around trying lunch and diner in every road side auberge that I could find. The foods and wines are outstanding, the prices are reasonable, and I would be the first American that many of them have seen since the war. Been there and done that a few times and it was wonderful.

I disagree with the point on Portuguese coffee. It is tasteless. Italian espresso is the real article.

Food in Finland, and all of Scandinavia, is something I can live without, except for the herring!

Beef throughout Europe is a general disappointment. It is tough and has little of the flavor enhancing fat that American beef has. Eat the local fish, fowl, and wild meats. I chose autumn because that is the best time for venison and rabbit.

If you live on burgers, fries, pizza, and Chinese take-out ignore all of my comments.
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Old Dec 27th, 2012, 09:42 PM
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So its between Belgium and Spain... but overall which food prices in these two countries is more reasonable?

how about on sea foods? Spain perhaps?

Now im leaning towards Belgium because of Belgian chocolate.

Im really in to traditional food. I dont like versions, so which of these countries has more original cuisine that you can only experience in that country?

tnx for all your comments.
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Old Dec 28th, 2012, 01:16 AM
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Spanish cheese, wine, and cured ham products are all unique and all world class. And if you want traditional and unique, what beats tapas?

The Basque region cuisine is in a class of it's own but my tastes don't really trend toward the level of preparation that draws the oohs and ahhhs.

Prepare a simple food in a time honoured traditional way and put it on a plate and you have me. Spain does that better than any place.
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Old Dec 28th, 2012, 06:30 AM
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for reasonably priced, traditionally prepared seafood, i think that spain would have the edge. You can eat as many or as few tapas as you like to make a full meal, [we've often done that] or have a menu del dia which can often be extremely good value.

as for tradition, seafood and value combined, there was a "mason del pulpo" in Granada that served only octopus dishes, and had always done only that, at very reasonable prices.
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Old Dec 28th, 2012, 07:10 AM
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i suppose that we shouldn't let the thread go by without a mention of moules frittes though. and we did have a most lovely lunch in Brussels.
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Old Dec 28th, 2012, 07:19 AM
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i feel so hungry now... omg. i will try all of these stuff thanks y'all.
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Old Dec 28th, 2012, 08:13 AM
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wandering_gal,

Belgium tends to be fiercely traditional in its cooking. As for Spain, it really depends on where you go. Barcelona has practically made its "food reputation" by being cutting edge and "molecular." Interestingly, one of the strongest food "traditions" of northern Spain is a very competitive attitude among chefs to create fabulous new dishes -- and it really is a tradition of long-standing.

It is really worth your time to get over to a message board like Chowhound if you want to understand regional cooking in Spain. For instance, octopus is a regional specialty of Galicia and its fantastic coastline. Of course you can find octopus in a mega-tourist destination like Granada (the Alhambra), but if you are really planning a chunk of your trip around authentic, traditional food, you don't want a tourist experience of it. (I was really taken aback when someone above claimed Italian cuisine isn't fantastic because they ate in restaurants in Venice and can tell you that isn't true. Yikes!)

So try to get some grounding in what the regional cuisines of Spain are.

Chocolate in Belgium is almost a psychedelic drug it is so amazing. Beer is a revelation -- surely the very best in Europe. Belgium also produces unique flavored gins called genever that make a trip to Antwerp worth it in itself. (They are also available in Ghent). And of course memorable waffles. You can find blogs on Belgian cooking that go beyond moules & frites (although I am a huge fan) and where to eat this food.

It is true that I think you can get more control of a food budget in Spain, because eating tapas and pintxos and other small plates is a great way to sample a huge amount of Spanish food and tradition for a small investment. (Don't overlook Madrid as a great place to perform this experiment as well). However, with the right guidance and information, you can eat extremely well in Belgium for a fraction of what you will pay in Madrid or Paris -- especially if you are looking to eat well in restaurants and enjoy seafoods.

But dig into the food blogs and food-oriented message boards.
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