FooDiva checks into Euro foodie zone
There’s not much I miss from my past life in Europe, but one thing’s for sure, café society when the sun’s shining is hard to beat. So if you’re heading to Continental Europe this summer, read on. Calling on Dusseldorf, Cologne, Maastricht, Brussels and Knokke in six days, here’s FooDiva’s take on their local foodie scene. What should you eat, and where?
Tarte flambée Alscacienne – sounds very exotic, but imagine a pizza with the skinniest, crispiest possible crust – makes stone baked look thick and stodgy. Topped with local German white cheese, spring onions and a sprinkling of speck ham. Unlike traditional pizza, incredibly light and moorish. There’s plenty of other savoury toppings, plus sweet versions too.
The beauty of Europe in spring is devouring seasonal produce. Asparagus was ingrained in every town’s menu we happened upon; white and green, as soup, in salads with poached egg – quail included and al dente with lashings of hollandaise. Can’t get enough of it.
You can’t leave Germany without munching on a traditional pretzel (brezel in German) – baked from dough, traditionally hard on the outside and utterly soft inside and fashioned into a knot-like shape. Just make sure it’s freshly baked. FooDiva says stick to the original, dotted with course sea salt.
EU-critics aside, Brussels certainly has FooDiva’s stamp as the culinary capital of Europe – with its high concentration of restaurants, both established venues and new openings constantly springing up, you could lunch and dine in different eateries all year round. Cheese, charcuterie et vin make for a great night out – or in the case of Belgians even a lunchtime treat. And don’t forget to pop into a fromagerie to stock up your suitcase, all be it a little bit smelly. You can’t leave Belgium without slithers of chocolate; the capital plays host to its very own chocolate district with far too many chocolatiers dotting the square. FooDiva’s fave is Pierre Marcolini for sugar-free Venezuelan dark chocolate tablets (yes that does exist!), as well as chocolate dipped orangettes and clementine segments. A magnificent macaroon selection also awaits.
Last but not least you gotta savour a pot or two of moules et frites – otherwise known as mussels and fries. Knokke, a picture-perfect seaside town just an hour’s drive from Brussels, features a string of beachside eateries serving this menu staple.
Here’s what you need to bookmark;
Breuers. Relaxed breakfast and lunch spot in the media district with outdoor seating.
Hafenbar. Eaterie perfect for tête à tête dinners.
Lido. Literally a floating ‘lido’ cube on the river with terraced seating. Lunch and dinner.
Cologne (otherwise known as Koln)
Le Meridien Dom’s Sir Peter Ustinov’s Bar overlooks the statuesque Gothic cathedral. Great for original Bellinis (with fresh peach purée of course) and people watching.
Poisson. We may be Germany, but am sure you’ve guessed its cuisine specialises in French seafood, plus one of the largest and most affordable champagne menus I have seen outside France.
Nxt Door. Not a typo, but a funky purple-themed bar-come-restaurant.
Tea Zone. A tea-lovers emporium dishing out French Theodor leaf tea to buy or drink in. Plus great selection of homeware and fashion accessories.
Lilicup. Not strictly Belgian, but a cup cake café – well that is FooDiva’s weakness after all.
Bozar. Michelin-star French chef David Martin’s new art-deco brasserie in the Palais des Beaux-Arts. Very 1930’s style. Try the steak tartare.
Winery. Rustic wine bar with excellent cheese and charcuterie selection.
Yu Me. Stunning converted villa divided into an Asian Fusion lounge Yu, and a chic brasserie Me.
Direct flights to Dusseldorf and Brussels are served by Emirates and Etihad respectively – with excellent road and train connections to the other cities. So if you fancy a foodie city break this summer, you know where to head. Just pray the good weather lasts. And for those craving a taste of all things London, FooDiva will be back with a capital review.