Europe

The Meal of a Lifetime: Helsinki’s OLO

Helsinki, Finland – Occasionally, I stumble onto a restaurant so extraordinary, a meal so transcendent, it changes the way I think about food. It happened to me recently in Finland. I took myself to dinner at Olo, a one Michelin-starred restaurant in the heart of Helsinki for their multi-course tasting menu called The Journey, billed as a “gastronomic journey filled …

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Chasing the Northern Lights to Nellim, Finland

When I ask the other guests at the Wilderness Hotel how in the world they ended up here, the answer is always the same: “We wanted to go as far north as we could.” That (and the mysterious “Aurora Bubble”) is also my reason for journeying to Nellim, Finland, population 150 – Lapland’s final frontier. Tonight we are aurora chasers, …

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A London Food Adventure at Borough Market (PHOTOS)

LONDON, UK – Borough Market is the perfect place to eat and explore London’s local cuisine. Located in Southwark, the market is one of the city’s oldest. Wholesale and retail vendors sell an array of British and imported foods, from fruits and vegetables to foie gras. Besides the opportunity to snatch up farm-to-table favorites like organic cheese, fresh eggs and …

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Gastro-Eats: A Savory Weekend in London

The resurgence of classic British cuisine isn’t a new thing. The popularity of the “gastropub”– traditional pub serving high quality, gastronomic food – surged through the mid-1990s into the 2000s, inspiring the nose-to-tail movement and shedding diners’ inhibitions around the world. Today, there are hundreds of gastropubs in London, serving edgy, farm-to-table versions of old school classics like blood pudding, …

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Raclette: A Swiss Love Story

Oh Raclette, let me count the ways…and the days… The first time I ate raclette was in Mrs. Bishop’s second grade classroom, in Devon, Pennsylvania – as far away from the Swiss Alps as a seven-year old could get. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was a life-changing food moment, a taste memory that remains as sharp as 20-year …

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A Polish Food Adventure in Warsaw

Pierogi and zurek. These two dishes are my Warsaw foodie modi operandi, my Polish culinary obsessions. This is my third visit to Warsaw, Poland. I’m in the Eastern European capital for three short days and I’ve already mentally scribed my ideal menu plan. Lunch and dinner will revolve around either zurek, pierogi, or both. Zurek, a.k.a. The Best! Soup! Ever!, …

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A Taste of Turkish Berlin

I always arrive in Berlin, Germany with a craving for kebab. The city — boasting one of the world’s largest Turkish populations outside of Turkey — is known for its unique version of döner. I set out to explore two neighborhoods, Neukölln and Kreuzberg, both known for their Turkish communities, cheap multicultural cuisine and lately, gentrification – an influx of students, hipsters, …

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Mtskheta, Georgia – Where UNESCO Meets the World’s Best Beans

MTSKHETA, Georgia, located 20 kilometers north of Tbilisi, might be as famous among locals for its velvety, red beans as for its stunning UNESCO World Heritage monuments. One of Georgia’s oldest cities, and the former capital of the Kingdom of Iberia (from 300 BCE), Mtskheta is home to the country’s holiest sites, including Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and Jvari Monastery (pictured below). …

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Exploring the Streets and Eats of Split, Croatia

SPLIT, CROATIA — I step off the high-speed Snav ferry from Ancona, Italy, after a four hour smooth-as-glass Adriatic crossing. The coastal city of Split shimmers in the hot summer air like a white marble mirage, seeming to rise from the sea itself. Much of the city’s center is bound within the ancient walls of Diocletian’s Palace, built by the …

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A Foodie Haven at Berlin’s Best Flea Market

Berlin’s Mauerpark springs to life every Sunday with one of the city’s biggest, trendiest flea markets. Flohmarkt am Mauerpark sprawls for more than one kilometer alongside the park on Bernauer Straße. Packed crowds of locals, tourists and hipsters pour through the market, sifting through vintage wares, hoping to score a one-of-a-kind memento. Anyone can sell anything; stall space can be reserved …

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Maxelâ: Rome’s Hot New Meat Restaurant

Rome’s newest restaurant is hot; sizzling, in fact – like fresh-ground hamburger hitting a grease-coated grill. This choose-your-own meatventure breaks from the traditional Roman culinary mold, appealing to a hip, carnivorous crowd. Maxelâ Ristorante Macelleria is a brand new meat-lovers paradise, a butcher shop-themed eatery helmed by Piero Fazi — a charismatic mad scientist of meat. Share This:

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Gelateria del Teatro – The Best Gelato in Rome

ROME, ITALY – On Via dei Coronari, a picturesque cobblestone street near Piazza Navona, a large, painted wooden ice cream cone marks the way to Rome’s best gelato. Though Rome’s most famous gelaterias like Giolitti, Grom and San Crispino can be identified by long, winding queues 25 tourists deep, it is Gelateria del Teatro that has me coming back for …

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Restaurant El Club Allard in Madrid, Spain

A Photo Journey through one of Madrid’s Most Imaginative Michelin-Starred Meals El Club Allard is rising through the international culinary ranks after receiving a two-star Michelin rating in 2011. This restaurant is helmed by illusionary genius Diego Guerrero, one of the most innovative chefs in contemporary cuisine. Eliminating the concept of menu choices, diners are only given three options: an …

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San Sebastian Pintxos Crawl: A Basque Culinary Adventure

SAN SEBASTIAN, a small seaside city in northern Spain’s Basque Country, is currently the world’s most exciting culinary destination, with more Michelin stars per capita (currently 16) than anywhere else. San Sebastian is also famous for its outstanding pintxos – pronounced “pinchos” – Basque-style tapas. These small, savory canapés are presented in a myriad of colors, forms and flavor combinations, …

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A Taste of Belfast, Northern Ireland

In Belfast: Eat, Drink and Experience the Titanic Belfast, Northern Ireland is quickly becoming 2012’s hottest travel destination. This week, Belfast celebrates one of its greatest claims to fame – building the Titanic – by opening the Titanic Belfast® experience March 31st. Now is the perfect time to visit and be charmed by the city’s warm atmosphere and friendly vibe. …

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Discovering Smørrebrød: Sandwich Bliss in Copenhagen

In Copenhagen, smørrebrød isn’t just an open-faced sandwich. This popular, traditional food is an integral part of Denmark’s culinary history. The word smørrebrød comes from the Danish for “bread and butter.” The sandwiches are prepared with an infinite variety of ingredients on a dark buttered rye called rugbrød. Locally-inspired toppings run the gamut from pickled herring to savory roast pork. Smørrebrød is served …

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Glasgow, Scotland: Adventures in Haggis

“But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed, The trembling earth resounds his tread, Clap in his wallie nieve a blade, He’ll make it whissle; An legs an arms, an heads will sned, Like taps o thrissle.” -Robert Burns, Address to a Haggis If haggis had a theme song, it would be “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.” The mention of Scotland’s beloved …

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In the UK: English Breakfast Three Ways

3 Ways England Does Breakfast, From Traditional to Unconventional I love a traditional English Breakfast. There’s something extraordinary about the flavor combination of baked beans, buttery mushrooms and bacon. Add a runny, fried egg to the mix and I can’t resist. Sausage, tomato, potatoes and toast round out one of my favorite international morning meals. Share This:

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Eating (and Skiing) Italy’s Dolomites

Ski season was finally in full swing. My Tuscan neighbors invited me to join them on their annual trip to the Dolomites and I jumped at the opportunity. Our destination: Passo San Pellegrino, a name made famous worldwide as a source of the iconic bottled water. Though I’m a lover of limonata, I knew very little about our alpine escape. …

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In Sicily: Traditional Food Cooked in Mamma’s Kitchen

Italian hospitality is a foodie’s dream. There’s no greater privilege when traveling abroad than being invited into someone’s home to share a meal. Over the summer, I had the opportunity to spend a sun-kissed week in Sicily’s Capo d’Orlando, in the seaside home of my friend Fabiola’s parents. After taking the overnight train from Rome (and surrendering to a 7:00AM …

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Sicily’s Granita Culture: Dessert for Breakfast

Sicilians eat ice cream for breakfast. Okay, okay, not exactly. The quintessential Sicilian kick-starter is slushier than gelato, served in a glass and called “granita” but it’s still sweet and cold enough to cause early morning brain-freeze. Often topped with a solid layer of whipped cream, granita is served with a large, freshly baked brioche. In Sicily, the breakfast ritual …

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Chernobyl: Inside the Exclusion Zone

We pull up to the gates of the “Zone of Alienation,” a 30-kilometer exclusion zone surrounding the site of the devastating nuclear disaster of Chernobyl power plant. Even though they opened the zone to tourists for the first time in 2011, they closed it again in the beginning of June. We are the only group of tourists who are allowed …

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Exploring the Local Flavor: Two Ukrainian Restaurants in Odessa

Perched on the edge of the Black Sea, Ukraine’s third largest city exudes a vibrant, resort-town atmosphere. Odessa is famous for its sandy beaches and European-style architecture. Summertime is clearly the best time to visit to soak up the holiday vibe. Often referred to as the “Pearl of the Black Sea,” the city’s boulevards and parks are filled with street-side …

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Where to Eat the Best Local Food in Kiev, Ukraine

Visiting Kiev, Ukraine is like being immersed in a real-life fairy tale. As I explore, I marvel at the city’s famous, towering gold-domed cathedrals. I stare at a sculpted menagerie of frogs, mermaids and other beasts decorating the bizarre “House with Chimeras.” I cover my head and descend by candlelight into the holy Orthodox crypts of the Lavra monastery. I …

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Ukraine’s Beloved Borscht: A Vision in Red

Borscht is a Beautiful Thing This brilliantly hued, hearty beetroot soup is the culinary staple of Ukraine. Every local establishment serves it and everyone eats it, at every meal. It’s the first food in Kiev I learned to properly pronounce, “Borscht Ukrainsky!” though smetana, or “sour cream” wasn’t far behind. In Ukraine, borscht is universal, though its preparation is deeply personal, reflecting …

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Cheap Eats in Ukraine: Delicious Cafeteria Style Dining

Ukraine is an Eastern European food mecca, a country brimming with distinct flavors: rich broths, hearty meat dishes and a whole lot of vodka. But when you want to rub shoulders with the locals for a traditional meal that won’t break the bank, there’s one dining option that offers infinite possibilities: cafeteria-style eateries. These are Ukraine’s answer to fast food, …

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Traditional Bosnian Flavors in Sarajevo

A Foodie’s 48 Hours in Sarajevo The first thing I notice about Sarajevo is not its beauty or charm, but the intoxicating, hunger-inducing smell of sizzling grilled meat permeating the air. I arrive in the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina (with impecable timing) for lunch. My bags are quickly tossed into the hostel, a group of well-kept spare rooms in …

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Turkish Delight: Where Locals Eat in Istanbul

If there’s one thing I love most about Turkish food, it’s meze: small plates of hot and cold appetizers. Imagine garlicky dips, meat-filled pastries and endless combinations of fresh vegetables. Out of the traditional meze, I live for the combination of beyaz peynir (white cheese), green melon and raki. Raki is Turkey’s national drink, an anise-flavored liquor so popular that on a …

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The Best Turkish Breakfast in Istanbul: A Reason to Get Out of Bed

If you’re wondering where to eat breakfast in Istanbul, a terrific (some even say “the best”) traditional Turkish breakfast can be found at Çakmak Kahvaltı Salonu “Çakmak breakfast saloon.” Tucked into the buzzing streets of Istanbul’s Beşiktaş neighborhood, this tiny restaurant is continuously packed with a stream of satisfied customers. Apparently everyone comes here for weekend breakfast, including one local couple we …

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Eating in El Hierro, Canary Island Paradise

El Hierro is the smallest of Spain’s Canary Islands, but it is undoubtedly one of the most impressive and dramatic, with over 800 distinct volcanos (including 500 open cones, visible in nearly every direction). Between the black lava ground and the blue sea, the tiny island’s cone-scape rises to a dizzying elevation of 5000 feet. Hang gliders take note: this …

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Eating at an Indonesian Rice Table in Amsterdam

While traveling, I make it a point to sample the regional cuisine. But what if the local specialty isn’t exactly local? History. Colonization. Immigration. These are factors that directly impact a culinary culture. In London, I’m on the lookout for spectacular Indian food. In Germany I’ll grab a Turkish kebab, and recently on a trip to Amsterdam, I dined at …

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Harvesting Olives in Tuscany, A Local Experience

Autumn in Tuscany  This is the time of year when the scorching summer heat fades to warm; when school is back in session and tourists head home. Grapes are plucked from their vines and transformed into glass jugs of young, fizzy vino nuovo. This is the time for black truffles, white truffles, and porcini mushrooms. This is the season for …

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In Moscow, Georgian Food on my Mind

Georgian food might just take this year’s lead as my favorite international cuisine. I first experienced a taste of Georgia at Manhattan’s most authentic Moscovian restaurant, Mari Vanna. The American outpost of Moscow’s hot dining destination, Mari Vanna offers high-end Russian fare to smartly dressed expats in a vintage tearoom-meets-underground lounge. My Russian friend, Sage, brought me to Mari Vanna …

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Cheap Eats in Moscow at Mu-Mu Restaurant

Pounding the pavement in Moscow can work up an appetite. I called up Artur, a friend of a friend, in town from St. Petersburg. He agreed to meet me at Old Arbat, Moscow’s most famous pedestrian street, once a cultural center of the city. Historically, the street was once home to Pushkin, the father of Russian literature, and dotted with …

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Southern Tuscany’s Soul Food at Latte di Luna

A Small Restaurant in Pienza Makes Suckling Pig a Religious Experience   Located in the stunning hills of Val d’Orcia, between Montepulciano and Montalcino, Pienza is a charming Renaissance village that produces some of the best pecorino cheese in the country. Pienza also serves up Southern Tuscany’s best crispy-skinned suckling pig at family-run trattoria, Latte di Luna. The restaurant specializes …

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What to See and Eat in Florence, Italy

Florence has become a city close to my heart (and stomach) after spending a year abroad there in the mid-90s. It’s one of world’s magical cities, brimming with Renaissance masterpieces and stunning architecture. This is a place where old and new come together, charm meets style, and nothing on earth can compare to a view of the Ponte Vecchio at …

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FEBO Automat: Late Night Fast Food Fix in Amsterdam

The city of Amsterdam is pure genius when it comes to round-the-clock snack attacks. In recent foodie history, the Dutch brought the veggie falafel snack chain Maoz to New York City (THANK YOU!) However, my latest obsession is FEBO, the Dutch chain version of the Automat. Serving up croquettes, burgers and assorted good-but-not-good-for-you delectables, FEBO has been in business (and …

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South African Food and World Cup Fever in Amsterdam

I caught World Cup Fever this summer. After Italy fizzled out of the competition much (much!) earlier than anticipated, I swallowed my disappointment and looked for a new team to support. By the time finals were announced, there were only three places on Earth I wanted to be: South Africa, Spain, or the Netherlands. Luckily, I already booked a round …

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The Wildest Hill Town Festival in Tuscany

This is not a scene from “Animal House.” It’s supper time in Montisi, a tiny, walled hill town on the outskirts of Siena. Each year, the town’s four contrade, or neighborhoods compete in a medieval-style joust on the Sunday closest to the 5th of August (the Feast of Madonna della Neve, Montisi’s patron saint). What you see here are revelers at …

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The Best Pasta All’Amatriciana in Rome

Sugo All’Amatriciana is one of my all-time favorite pasta sauces. A classic Roman staple, the sauce is prepared with a fresh tomato base, guanciale (pig-cheek bacon) and white wine. Sometimes the sauce contains onions or spicy peperoncino; however the most “traditional” style of preparation is up for debate.  Share This:

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Barbecue Season in Italy

For my entire life, summertime has been synonymous with barbecue season. Warm, balmy evenings evoke childhood memories of my father standing over a smoking grill, and family meals moved out to the terrace. I’ve always loved a good barbecue. Even in this blog, my travels took me to Houston for a few hours, where I made time for some Southern-style …

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Working and Eating at a Wine Festival in Italy

Throughout the summer in Italy, there’s a constant stream of sagre, festivals showcasing local food, drink and music. Each village celebrates their own specialty, often accompanied by historical reenactments, massive group dinners, and enthusiastic drinking. When visiting Italy during the summer months or harvest season, be sure to check for nearby sagre. Whether celebrating the latest vintage or a giant …

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What a Foodie Eats at Home in Tuscany

Home is where the heart is, and the way to this woman’s heart is through her stomach. I’m proud to say that in my recent travels through Italy, I’ve picked up some culinary skills of my own. Sometimes there’s nothing better when traveling abroad than staying home for a day, getting creative in the kitchen, and kicking back for some …

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Making Pici Pasta by Hand in Tuscany

Pici is a local specialty. Unless you travel to Siena or its surrounding provinces, you probably won’t stumble across this dish. The thick, hand-rolled, spaghetti-like pasta appears on every single menu in the area. Some popular dishes are: pici al’aglione (with a garlicky tomato sauce) and pici al cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper). Honestly, pici is hit or miss for …

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Great Local Restaurants in Rome, Italy

After deciding to give Rome a chance, my first goal was to find some delicious, authentic Roman cuisine. One of the many reasons I had trouble loving the city was that I could never find a decent meal. So many restaurants in the city’s center are built solely on the tourism industry, serving up sub-par cuisine at jacked-up prices. Years …

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How I Finally Fell in Love with Rome

I never cared much for Rome, as far as cities go. My earliest childhood memory of Italy is from Rome, during the summer of 1984. I was eight. I recall my grandfather chasing, at top speed, after two small boys who had just successfully snatched his wallet (the old newspaper-over-hands trick). The kids took off running as fast as their …

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5 Delicious Meals in Italy

These days, Italy is a popular destination. A mention of the Mediterranean jewel graces April covers of every single major travel magazine. As my passport collects dust for the next ten days, I want to add some of my own thoughts on Italy and some of its finest cuisine. I could go on forever, detailing countless, incredible Italian meals I’ve …

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A Tuscan Pig Slaughter: Taking Part in a Local Tradition

Exploring Local Culinary Traditions on a Farm in Tuscany The practice of prosciutto-making in Italy is passed down from generation to generation. In rural Tuscany, farmers still make the own prosciutto and salami at home. A pig-slaughter is a celebrated mid-winter tradition. My farmer neighbors in southern Tuscany invited me to participate in the annual feasting and meat-curing. From the …

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