Europe for Foodies with Cameron Hewitt | Rick Steves Travel Talks
Hi. There thank you very much for, coming and thank you very much for watching my name is Cameron Hewitt and I love to incorporate food, in my travels, around Europe, and let me explain to you why by, way of a story I'm gonna go for a walk with you through one of my favorite hill towns in Tuscany a town, called Montepulciano. This is an adorable little hill town where you are on, the main square and walk, with me downhill just a couple of blocks on a cobbled lane and suddenly, you come across a perfect, little trattoria and you step inside it's one of these places where the second you walk, inside you know this is a really special place right people. Are having a great meal and then in the back up a few steps you see the owner Giulio, and he's hacking, giant, chunks, of beef that. He's serving out to people as they order you, take a table, and Giulio comes to your table and he says what do you want and you say we want the steak ok, Giulio goes to his cleaver, and he hacks off a big chunk of steak and then, he puts it on a piece of paper and he brings it to your table this is this ok and you, say yeah you bet it's ok sure. So. Giulio just appears up into the kitchen for a few minutes and then they bring out some of the most delicious pastas, that you've ever had and just. When you think you can't possibly eat any more Giulio comes back with this fantastic, chunk, of steak. He. Doesn't ask you how, you want it done Giulio, knows how it's done okay this is Chianina beef top-quality Tuscan, beef that was sourced, just a few miles away how, it's done is a little bit of coarse salt seven, minutes on one side seven, minutes on the other side if you don't like it rare you can go to the place down the street right, you. Look at this steak and you think there is no way after having all that pasta I can also eat this enormous, steak and yet somehow you manage. You. Can understand, why I think food is one of the great joys of travel. My, name is Cameron Hewitt, I've been working with Rick Steves since the year 2000, I wear a lot of hats around, the office and I also get to travel about three months a year most, of the time when I'm in Europe I'm researching our guidebooks I'm the co-author of a few of our guidebooks and a contributor, to several others I've done guidebook work in probably, 30 or 40 different countries and no, matter where I go I'm just captivated. And fascinated. By how Europe. Involves. Food in their culture it's it's something that's fun it's something that hedonistic, but it's also more than that it can tell you a lot about interesting. Places and. I want to talk for one thing about this word foodie the title of this class is Europe for foodies it's, taking me a while to kind of embrace this word foodies, foodies, is kind of a I think a little bit of a silly word it sounds kind of pretentious but, I've decided I'm gonna kind of grab this word with gusto and really make it my own being. A foodie is simply somebody who prioritizes food. In your life and especially food in your travels if somebody who sees the value in food it's, somebody who, doesn't, just eat, to live you, live to eat and, that's the way that I live my life and that's the way that I travel this.
Talk Is a little bit about what that means in practice in Europe I want to talk about why, phoom at Food Matters I want to talk about what you should eat in Europe and where you should eat those things and I, want to talk about how you can incorporate food. Into your travels now, I've talked already a little bit about sort of the sensory. Experience, of having great food in Europe the hedonism, of delicious, food but I think what's, really interesting to me what's really exciting to me there are opportunities. To use food to stimulate, your brain as well so. I'm gonna challenge you to, always look at food through, the lens of culture what can the food tell you about the culture and vice versa and, you'll see all of my examples throughout this talk you'll notice that sort of a running a running, current there's delicious food but there's always a story behind the delicious food for example let's let's start off with a word association, game finish. This sentence Swiss, Swiss. Cheese right, this is a country that is 100%, associated. With a very specific food. Product, Swiss cheese everybody. In the world knows what Swiss, cheese's is these giant, wheels of mountain cheese with, big bubbles inside and. The Swiss people are very proud of the fact that people know them for their cheese there's. A whole culture around Swiss cheese, making and raising. Cows and if, you go to Switzerland you'll find that the government actually subsidizes. Cheese making every. Spring a bunch of cow hands and cheese makers parade. Their cows from the low pastures, up into the high mountains and they cap out all summer long at the scalps of the Alps and they, live in little huts and they, hang the ceremonial, cowbells, from the eaves and the, cow hands have to get up every morning at five o'clock in the morning rain or shine doesn't matter how you are those cows have to be milked and every single day they have to make the cheese in the afternoon and after, about a hundred days of that when the weather starts to change the, cows come back from, the high mountains down into the pastures, and you never know what it's gonna happen but I've actually been in Switzerland unfortunately. A couple of times in late September, where suddenly you're in a little village and you hear this clanging chorus of cowbells coming down the street and that's the sign that the cows are coming back down to pasture and you look up and it's, this proud celebration. Of Swiss culture it's something that's really inspiring, and not to put too much of a fine point on to it but of course this is an example of how food and culture are so very, much intertwined all of this Swiss cheese also makes up some of the greatest Swiss, culinary, treats, cheese, fondue raclette. Even, Swiss chocolate if you had a Swiss Association word, game the other word you might have thought of is chocolate of course Swiss, chocolate is distinguished, by being very, milky, creamy chocolate, from those same cows let. Me give you another example of, the way that culture. And cuisine are very much tied together as they are with landscape, as they are with climate it all is part of the same piece let's, talk about Spain, one thing that Spain is famous for if you've ever been to Spain in the summer you know it has a blazing, hot climate, this is not a place where you want to be out at midday in the hot Sun in fact, people organize their entire lives around being, out of the hot Summer Sun in the middle of the day then. What happens in the evening, as the. Sun sinks low and it's finally cool enough to go out and wander, around people, get out into the streets and they wander up and down these pedestrian, streets it's, this beautiful Spanish custom called the Paseo with, you might have heard of and, it's it's a celebration of life it's a social event people, bump into their neighbors their relatives their friends now, this obviously is, an important part of Spanish culture and Spanish custom but it ties directly into Spanish cuisine and cooking and food what, when we think of food is the thing that you think of in Spain, tapas. Right tapas culture small plates well that ties perfectly, into this lifestyle. That they've created around this blazing, hot climate, when. Spaniards are out walking they don't the last thing they want to do is to go into a restaurant and sit, at a table for an hour and a half and have a full meal they've been crammed, in their apartments all day long trying to avoid the heat no they want to be able to wander into a bar pick, up a few little dishes wander.
Up, The street to another bar bump into some other friends then go to the next bar and get a few other dishes that why Spain is famous for its tapas culture these are just examples of the way that you can think, about food beyond just food but also as as culinary education. And, cultural. Education, and there's, also fun little customs with all of these food customs. As well for. Example in Spain when you're finished with your garbage at the tapas bar you just literally drop it on the floor that's considered. Sanitary, because. The last thing you want to do with a dirty napkin is put it on the counter while the food is right this seems kind of rude, to us but, it actually makes a lot of sense in the Spanish way of looking at things I took, a cooking class once in Tuscany with a wonderful chef named Marta and she taught me how to make the most delicious Italian. Tomato. Sauce that I've ever made and she, stressed to me how important, it was how simple, this sauce was it, has five ingredients, tomatoes. Olive, oil garlic. Salt, and a little bit of red pepper flakes for a little bit of spice that's, all it takes and it's delicious it makes everything that you put on it absolutely, delicious now, in, contrast to that let's look at France I took a great cooking class once in France in Burgundy which is a very food focused region of France and it was the exact opposite, it was all about complexity. It was almost like how many different ingredients can we put on this plate how, complicated a technique can we use to make this work, French, chefs are, not just slamming, a bunch of beautiful produce on a plate you saying there's your dish they take pride in being technicians. They take pride in their technique, and being, innovators, and coming up with creative and interesting, ways to present food they use the word composed compose, a a lot in French dishes are composed, our, chefs, think of themselves almost more as artists, than they do as culinary, technicians. The. Other thing that's interesting about France is when you're really that technically, adept and when, you have chefs that like to rise to a challenge the. French have a knack for turning inedible, things into really delicious foods I think. About escargot, which is maybe the most kind of stereotypical French, food it's literally snails, that are simmered in butter and garlic somebody. Had to have the idea you know you see those snails crawling around over there I wonder what we could do to make those delicious. And. This applies to a lot of very, famous French dishes Coco, van is, rooster. In a red wine sauce nobody, eats a rooster rooster is a very tough game II meet chefs. In France figured, out a way to make it absolutely delicious, beef bourguignon, is a very similar concept, duck. Feet this is a duck that's been preserved in its own fat and put in a can as long as you need it to be put in a can and then, you open it up and you cook it in that same fat and it's really absolutely delicious, this is a really impressive feat of engineering, for French people Italians.
Would Say why are you making it so complicated just put delicious things on a plate and people will enjoy it so, I'm just challenging you when you travel to think about kind, of the larger themes and the cuisines of the places that you're going to I want to talk a little bit about European. Foodie, concepts, what's really interesting to me is a lot of the things that are trendy and today's American, foodie world are coming, directly from European, culture and in a lot of cases they're very very old aspects. Of European culture they're nothing new to Europeans, and today, they're very trendy here's an example, Europeans. Embraced this concept, called terroir, it comes from the French word a latte oh the land and it basically means that the qualities, of food the qualities of certain. Ingredients, are deeply, rooted in the very specific, place, where it's grown so, if you go to burgundy the vineyards of Burgundy in France and you look at these vineyards somebody. Who's a purist, in France would say the wine that has grown on the Left slopes in this picture will have subtly. But importantly. Different qualities, than the wine on the right slope of this same valley they. Really believe that food has rooted that specifically. To the place where it's grown this. Sounds kind of familiar to current American foodies, we, use terms like locally, sourced farm-to-table. European. Foodies talk really in a trendy way these days about zero kilometer, it's the idea that the best food is food that's produced within, less than a kilometer of the place where it's eating I went, to a farm in Tuscany once and they were very proud to serve me a zero, kilometer, meal where, I had prosciutto, and pecorino, cheese and, wine and olive oil and every bit of what was on the table, was produced within less than a kilometre of that place what's. Interesting to me about some of these concepts, that are so trendy these days is they're, sort of accidentally. Foodie places all over Europe some of the most rustic, and remote corners of Europe do these things sort of as a sense. Of necessity, not necessarily, because, they're trying to be trendy or foodie I went. To a very remote corner of Romania, where, I visited a very very humble goat farm and you, see these guys punching, down a couple of times a day they have to they, have to milk their flock of goats and then, they walk across the field to a little shed where, I watched them literally hand for, she's right before my eyes and then, we pulled up some chairs at a table and had.
Some Of the cheese that they had just made and I thought jeez it doesn't get more farm-to-table, than that right there's, the farm and there's the table. And. My, point is that all the things that I think American foodies American chefs sort of strive for something that is very much integral, to the European food DNA this is just something that they do naturally and in some cases purely. Out of necessity another. Thing very important, to Europeans, is it's important to eat with the seasons if you, go to a place that produces, a lot of truffles, for example northern Croatia and you, try to get white truffles, outside, of the season some, places will sell them to you but they're gonna be preserved, and any prot truffle for a purist will say if you want to get white truffles you have to go starting in late September, and you can only get them through November that's, when they're fresh that's when they're straight out of the ground and if you don't get them at the right time you're, gonna get something that's been preserved and won't have the same flavor this, is very important to Europeans, who care about food you don't want to go to Paris in the summer looking for French onion soup because, French onion soup is a winter dish for, Parisians this. Is a big, bonus in, terms of finding and discovering some great foods that you wouldn't have otherwise tried, I was in custody once, in November, and I noticed that the spindly, branches. Of all of these trees around the Tuscan countryside, were, heavy with big fat ripe persimmons, and then. I went to a restaurant where they served me an amazing dessert of pureed. Persimmons. With chestnut, mousse all. Ingredients, that were very much in Stephen a season at that moment and it was a sense, of this, was not necessarily a dessert that I crave all the time but it was the perfect dessert for that place and for that time Italians. Brag if you, show me a menu by. A good chef I can tell you not, only what, part of Italy that menu is from but what season it's from because. Italians and a lot of Europeans really focus on seasonality, of food in fact in Italy it's illegal, to. Have frozen ingredients in your food unless you say on the menu this this dish has frozen ingredients that's how carefully, they take this sort of thing. Another. Thing I want to encourage you to do is learn, about local specialties. But go beyond the cliches, not just the basic local specialties, become a connoisseur, in the local specialties, if you go to Spain you, might know already that one of the classic, dishes of Spain I would say it's sort of the staple of the Spanish, is, jamon which, is an air cured ham it's a little bit like Italian, prosciutto if. I go to the supermarket in the United States to, the dairy the deli case they might have one kind of prosciutto if, you go to Spain there is a whole rainbow of prosciutto there are so many different kinds of prosciutto, or jamon as they call it in fact, a Spaniard will say well there's come on but if you want the really best come on it has to be hamona, Iberico de biota, this, is the jamon made from black footed pigs who. Graze and free-range, eating only acorns. In the area between Madrid and Portugal and this, common one is completely different from any other come on you're going to have and it's worth paying double for that. Sounds a little crazy to us but become, a connoisseur, of the places of the foods in the places that you go it's really important and a great way to, connect. With those cultures.
Look. At pastas, in Italy of course when we think of Italy we think of pasta, have. You ever been to one of those restaurants where you walk in and there's a menu and it says you can choose any of the noodles from this half of the menu and any, of the sauces from this half of the menu and we'll throw them together and make it for you is. This familiar to you you did not go to that restaurant in Italy Italians. Would never do this. Italians, have hundreds. Of different kinds of noodles and each. One is specifically. Engineered to, highlight, the, sauce or the other ingredients, that go with it and it's really fun to kind of geek out on this a little bit get to know now, why is it that they do spaghetti, always with clams it's, because an Italian chef knows that the spaghetti, is the perfect noodle for conveying the flavors of the clam and the sauce of the clams I'd love to go to the Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera and there's. Two things that you'll have there one is pesto, this absolutely. Delicious paste that's, made of pine nuts and garlic and. They always serve it with a very special, kind of noodle called throphy a white. Raffia, is special as it's designed to be a really thick chewy little twist it's got a little spin to it and it's designed to kind of pick up all of that pesto on its way from the plate to your mouth Italians. Would think it was crazy to eat pesto with anything other than Trofeo especially, Italians in this part of the country there's, a whole world, of great pastas, in Italy that go beyond spaghetti and meatballs and it can be really fun to learn about these and to understand, why. They exist in that place and what the pasta is designed to accomplish. There's, a whole similar world of cheeses in France for example if you want to become a cheese aficionado, Frances the place and it's the same idea there I also, would encourage you not just to look at sort of big national or regional specialties. But really drill down to very specific, local specialties, this, is a deep fried artichoke, which, is very specifically, the dish not of the city of Rome but, of the Jewish ghetto in the city of Rome and. That's how specific, Europeans, get with their specialties, it's, right down to a neighborhood sometimes, and it's fun to discover what that is and I think, the only place I've ever had this was in the Jewish ghetto in Rome and it was the perfect place to have it for that reason if, you're walking along the beach in Portugal, you, see all of the fishermen's boats all pulled up onto. The beach and nearby, you start, to smell it before you see it but there are a bunch of racks of. Little fish the days cats that are all sort of crucified, and laid out to dry in the Sun and. This is a good reminder that Portugal, has a very strong tradition for, sardines, and, other kinds of preserved fish this, is say going into my next topic which is be, adventurous, it's easy to get excited about pasta, it's easy to get excited about cheese maybe might, be a little harder to get excited, about sardines, but I make a point to be a cultural chameleon, if I'm in Portugal I am gonna become an aficionado, of sardines, even if I would never eat them back home and I'm really gonna enjoy that that's part of my trip part of my experience, be. Willing to try anything even, if it's mysterious, or strange I have an ethic I'm willing to try anything once. If I don't like it that's fine I might discover that I love it if not that's ok too for, example I was driving through the mountains of Slovenia, with a Slovenian, friend of mine and he, pulled over the car and he said this farmhouse I think has quiche low Michael I want to make sure you get to try this it's so important to me so, we went into the farmhouse and we sat down to the table and they brought me a dish of quiche, to Emeco which is basically, looks sort of like a yoghurt with the yellow film on top so. I thought jeez I trust my friend I'll give it a try I took my spoon and I kind of broke through the film on top and discovered. Kind of a creamy yogurt below, and I lifted it to my mouth and I got a taste of kind of a really, tart yogurt with sort of a barnyard aftertaste, and only. Then did my friend say I asked you Shula Mecca what's the best the translation, is soured milk. This, is a tradition, where they put unpasteurized. Yogurt, basically, in the barn for a few days to let it pick up the flavors of the farm I'm, not saying I get a craving for soured, milk every time I'm in Slovenia but, it was a great memory even if you don't enjoy the food you're creating a great memory if, you're in Scotland, try the haggis, give it a try. Here's. A challenge if you're in Florence and you want a quick bite you could just go to a pizza window there's millions of those around Florence or, you could eat what the Florentines eat you could have a tripe sandwich, there, are several little kiosks, all around Florence including, one at the Mercado in the Oval which is a beautiful historic Market Hall right in the center of town and.
It's, A little bit hard to get your head around the fact that you're eating tripe but once you get past it they dip it in a delicious sauce and its really fantastic and if that's not good enough for you you can think, michelangelo, ate this same tripe sandwich, and I'm. Not joking his workshop was right around the corner five hundred years ago he came to probably right about here and ordered basically the same thing that I just had my. Point don't be afraid to try scary, or unusual, foods, the. Other thing I wanted to talk about in terms of Europe is in addition, to all of these sort of foodie concepts, historically, that have come from Europe a lot of the most cutting-edge, trends, in recent, culinary thinking. Have come from Europe as well and if you really are into food it's fun to get to know where, some of these things come from that are becoming very popular even now with American chefs for, example deconstructivism. Was. Basically, started, by a cut. Along shift in the region around Barcelona, named, fed an idea he. Had a very famous restaurant called El Bulli and, he figured out ways to basically, use science, to bring out a whole new level, of sophistication to. Food sometimes. This is called molecular, gastronomy. Or modernist. Cooking those are kind of related fields the best example, that, ran on odd Vidia came up with is the liquid, olive, I went to one of his restaurants in Barcelona, recently, and they, brought this to you and it really looks like an olive you think oh it's just an olive when, you bite into it what you discover is it's a thin gelatinous, layer surrounding, an extremely. Powerful essence, of olive that he's distilled from actual olives, and this is sort of the thinking behind deconstructivism. It's taking the component, parts of food apart. Doing. Different things with them becoming. A little bit experimental, and scientific, with how you deal with them and coming, up with a food that sort of resembles the original food but is a completely different experience at. A similar restaurant, also by Ferran, Audrey I had, this delicious cheesecake which was shaped like a little wheel of cheese but, you could actually take that cookie and dip it right down into the middle of that and when you tasted it it tasted like a great cheesecake this, is a really fun thing that started in that part of Spain and spread quickly over Europe and now is very popular, of course stateside, among big-name chefs another. School of thinking that started in Europe that's become popular in a lot of other places is New, Nordic this, was invented, by Rene Redzepi who, has a very famous restaurant in Copenhagen, called Noma and basically. It's, not being afraid of modern, technique some of the things I just talked about but, also being really careful to route your food very, much in the place where, it originates. He wants to kind of evoke traditional. Foods even if the presentation, looks very modern and in the case of Rene Redzepi he does a lot of his. Ingredient. Sourcing simply by foraging he'll go out to the beaches around Copenhagen. And most, of what you see on the plate is something that he was able to source right there in the city of Copenhagen, this, is something again that's catching on stateside, as well, now. Talking about all of these big-name chefs you might think jeez this sounds way out of my budget but one of the things I really want to emphasize is, that foodie.
Doesn't, Have to mean expensive. I am, somebody who really, appreciates being on a budget I'm a really thrifty person and some, of my favorite food experiences, in Europe have, come with, a very small price tag for, example this street corner in Naples Naples of course is the birthplace of pizza and it's. This grubby little corner. Of the city and there's traffic pushing, by you and it's actually hard to get to it but you might see right here there's a little window where. They're selling pizza and if you go up to that window you can get the, most delicious, pizza, that you've ever had for. $5 in, the birthplace of pizza in the place where it came from one. Day I went there and the line was too long for the pizza and I thought well I just need to grab a quick bite so, I ordered an ad on Chino for less. Than a dollar and this, is basically a deep-fried, ball of rice and mozzarella. Cheese and ragu, and peas and they dip it in the deep fryer it's. One of the most delicious things I ever had and it cost me less, than a dollar so. Don't think that you can't be a foodie if you're on a tight budget in, fact it's kind of a fun challenge and I'll have some more ideas about that later, on one, of my favorite restaurants in Poland a country that I've been to a lot is a little no-name hole, in the wall you have to literally walk past a big glitzy pizzeria, down an alley to find it. You step inside and I've had the best polish fruit I've had anywhere in this little out-of-the-way restaurant for. Less than five dollars for the complete meal so just because you are on a tight budget doesn't, mean you, can't be a foodie let's. Talk about some practical skills for how to find great restaurants, when you're in Europe there's, a few things that you want to look for and I would say it is really worth going to a little effort, to find a good restaurant I see, every meal in Europe as an opportunity, to have a great dining experience, now that's a really high bar and sometimes, I'm willing to lower my bar and settle for just some basic food because. I need a functional, meal on the go but I sort, of consider it a fun scavenger hunt every meal should have a memory, attached to it and, you know what it doesn't take a lot of effort to make sure that you find a great memorable, restaurant, like this one if, you don't put any effort into it you'll wind up at a place that's it's just okay.
Here. Are a few tips I would have for finding great restaurants, in Europe one of them is get away from the main tourist zones especially the, restaurant row a lot of popular cities in Europe have one Street where all of the restaurants are located in. Brussels, they have the Rue du Boucher which, is lined with lots. Of interchangeable, restaurants, and there's a salesperson. Out front each one trying to get you in to, have a table, every. Place serves identical, buckets of mussels and beer and so forth if. You want just a few steps off the main drag you're gonna find something a little more interesting in Dubrovnik, in Croatia a city I go to a lot they have a restaurant row that's very similar to the one in Brussels people, waiting out front trying to lure you in with flashy menus, in Croatia. And Dubrovnik you can walk along this restaurant, row on the right or, you can climb the staircase on the left and literally. Less, than a five-minute walk away you, can find a beautiful secluded, little, corner restaurant. Or cafe with, half the prices, twice, as good food much friendlier people this, sounds, almost so obvious it isn't worth saying but it really strikes me after. Spending years and years looking for good restaurants for our guidebooks it's. So easy to find a good restaurant that's very, close to a very bad restaurant one. Of my tips for finding good restaurants, in. Addition to just going off to the little back corners, figure, out what the trendy neighborhood is in that city so in the city of Athens for example all the tourists are concentrated, in the neighborhood called the plaka this is the kind of old of Athens at the base of the Acropolis and there are some good restaurants in the plaka but they tend to be very expensive and quite touristy, literally. Across the street from the plaka a five-minute walk away is a neighborhood, called CD now, CD was kind of a rundown deserted. Slum as recently, as 10 or 15 years ago but, now CD, is coming back to life, it's the.
Government Has undertaken policies, to make it very attractive for hotels and restaurants to open up their CD. Is the neighbourhood in Athens for all of the young Athenians, go to eat so, if you go to CD you're gonna find a really, interesting array, more creative array of choices than in the plaka often. Much cheaper better, quality food friendlier, surface and it'll, feel like a more local experience, every. City in europe has a trendy, foodie, hipster, neighborhood and i make it a challenge when i'm going to a new city i'm gonna look around a little bit and figure out what that neighborhood is because I think that's where I'm gonna find some good restaurants. Another. Tip for finding a good restaurant generally. A good, sign is if a place is small kind, of family-run, mom-and-pop, restaurants, we love mom-and-pop, restaurants, and our guidebooks they, often they're a pretty traditional but their offer they offer great quality, they. Offer a real, loving care, and interest. In the food that they're cooking this is one of our favorite restaurants in Croatia we take our Croatia tours here in fact Alma. Does all of the cooking over, an open fire, and her, husband Anton. Does, the front of house management, and sort of waits tables they. Have a bare-bones staff it's really just the two of them and a couple of helpers that keeps their costs, low which, means that my costs are low and it means that the people making the food have been doing this for years and they really care about it they have a passion for it they're not just somebody who's got a minimum-wage job that they're coming and going from, another. Thing to look for that's a mark of a good restaurant is. A menu that is short, handwritten. And in one language now, why is that important, shorthand, written in one language it's, short because, the restaurant, tour wants, to do a few things and do them very well I am, very suspicious, of a very long menu if a menu is more than two pages long I assume it's a terrible restaurant now that seems harsh but think, about it how many frozen, ingredients do you have to have to have a 10 page long menu short. Is a virtue handwritten. Because it's based on what is in season it's based on what's fresh it's based on what they found in the market today and it's, in one language because it's catering, to local people it's not catering to one time tour so we're just passing through it's catering to people who they want to develop into a return clientele, those. Are the three, magic. Features of a great restaurant, a menu that is short handwritten, and in, one language. Now. All of that said, I really. Prioritize, the quality of the food and the quality of the experience in my restaurant hunting but, I am at times willing to compromise to, have a beautiful, setting so don't let that don't. Rule that out if, you want the best food all the time sometimes you're gonna have to settle for places, they're a little less memorable, if, you're really, interested in a great experience in a beautiful setting it can be worth paying a little too much this. Is the city of Dubrovnik, in Croatia I spend a lot of time there and every. Morning for breakfast you're gonna find me at these tables. Right here on the main drag where. They have decent. Coffee and mediocre, ham, and eggs, I'm. Not here for the food but this is my favorite place to start my day and Dubrovnik and I'm willing to sacrifice on, quality and pay a bit more because I get to watch the city waking up I get to see the delivery people coming through on their little carts before, all the tourists arrive you see the first of the cruise ship passengers, walking in at the gate at the far end of town I'm, willing to train a little bit on quality, and price, if I can have a memorable setting in a memorable location here's.
A Good tip for that by the way you don't necessarily have to have your whole meal it's a big investment maybe to have your whole meal in a place with a beautiful setting so, I think a good strategy is to have drinks. Overpriced. Drinks but really memorable drinks, before, or after dinner in a really beautiful setting and then you can find something a little less of more affordable a little, less touristy maybe for, your actual meal in Prague, for example there's a beautiful hotel right, on the main square and it has this gorgeous terrace, with views overlooking the, old town square in Florence. There's. A hotel that I really like that has a top floor cafe. And you can go here right. After work and for about 18 euros, you can buy a cocktail, that's, a lot for a cocktail but. It's a cocktail with this gorgeous view looking, out over the Ponte Vecchio and the hills of Florence and the Arno River and by, the way that cocktail comes with a little mini buffet of snacks so if you're discreet about it you can almost assemble, a light dinner and. A, cocktail and beautiful views for 18 euros, like. I said you don't have to be spending a lot of money to be a foodie there are ways to get around that and these days rooftop, bars are popular all over Europe mood past for example one of my favorite cities in Hungary has. A gorgeous. Rooftop. Bar culture with great views and it's where all the young urbanites go to hang out after work before they go find an affordable dinner somewhere I, want. To emphasize if you really want to get great restaurants, it's really worth doing your homework there, are lots of pubs in Britain that's, sort of pretty forgettable pub, grub but. You know what if you do a little bit of homework and you think, carefully about it and. And do some research you're gonna find a gastro pub this is a pub that serves a little bit higher quality food it puts more emphasis on its food and less emphasis on its beer maybe or, equal measures, do, your homework and you're gonna find a better meal how, do you do your homework well obviously is a guidebook author I think guidebooks are a great place to start and, I spend a lot of my time working on our Rick Steves guidebook specifically. Looking for great, restaurants, that fit all of these descriptions, that I've just that, I've just been laying out for you here that. Said different people have different philosophies, about food I think the key thing isn't to use the Rick Steves guidebook it's to find a guidebook that matches your culinary philosophy that. Seems to have the kind of restaurants that you like to go to and once, you find that it can be a great tool for finding the right restaurants, for your trip you. Know crowd sourcing sites are very popular these days TripAdvisor. Is very powerful in. Terms of the world of tourism I don't. Want to necessarily throw, TripAdvisor, under the bus but I have a lot of skepticism about these, crowd-sourced, sites I use them for hotels, I think they can be very helpful for that maybe, for sightseeing, experiences, or tours for, restaurants, maybe not so much let me give you some examples of why I'm a little bit skeptical about TripAdvisor, for Restaurant hunting, Budapest. Hungary I just mentioned is one of my favourite cities anywhere and I think Hungarian, cuisine is fantastic, actually I think after a French and Italian personally, I think in garyun is the next best cuisine in Europe I think it's tragically. Underrated, and I know for a fact that, there are lots of fantastic restaurants, in Budapest the number one rated restaurant in Budapest, on TripAdvisor is a French restaurant not, a Hungarian, restaurant and, the, reason for that is simply that the people who are leaving reviews on TripAdvisor are tourists, so their interests. In their preferences. Skewed to a touristy end of the spectrum, let, me give you an example from the city I live in Seattle I love. Going out to restaurants here in Seattle and.
Recently. I was just curious, in your hometown I was curious so I went to TripAdvisor, and I said what are the top ten restaurants in Seattle, and I looked at this list and I said you know I can't remember the last time I went, to any of these and you know what else they have in common the. Top five restaurants are all right at Pike Place Market right. The most touristy, part of Seattle and all. Ten of them are, within about a mile of downtown. If they're within, about a mile of where the of, where the cruise ships come in I'm. Not saying don't use crowdsourcing, sites I'm saying use a crowdsourcing, site that agrees with your philosophy for example I use Yelp for me that tends to be reviews that are left by local, people rather, than by tourists, and when I look at the Yelp top ten I see a lot of restaurants that I like to frequent so, I trust the the results I get from Yelp a little bit better the, other thing that I wanted to point out about Yelp is it's not as active in a, lot of parts of Europe you might find it in some big European cities but it's not as universally. Well. Represented, in all of Europe however, different countries have their own kind of crowdsourcing review, sites and if you do a little research you might find that for example there's a French version of Yelp that does a really good job with French restaurants, so there's an Italian version of Yelp other. Places that I look for, good. Restaurant recommendations, when I'm trying to find restaurants, for example to add to my guidebook, a. Lot, of the newspapers have really good food and travel writing I think the New York Times has, really excellent food writing they, have a wonderful series called 36, hours in a city where, they give, you kind of a rundown of different kind of restaurants, and bars and cafes, and activities, that you might do if you work there for a weekend I really, enjoy that The Guardian which is a london-based newspaper, has really excellent food writing.
As Well and travel writing if I'm going to a city and I want to find some new restaurants for my guidebook I'll actually check these sources myself, the. Other thing I would recommend is looking for local food blogs it's, one thing to have an international journalist, come and check things out but it's another thing for somebody who really cares about food in their own community, to tell you about that food so, I would just search the name of the place you're going and food blog so you might search Rome food blog and you might come up with Katy parlous, food blog she's an American expat, who lives in Rome and does. Really excellent, food writing in Rome and has some great recommendations I also. Have a lot of information on my blog by the way if you want to go to Rick Steves comm and look, for camera and blog you just search for that a lot of the topics I'm talking about today are covered in my blog as well, another. Great place to find, restaurant. Recommendations, is to ask your friends of course these days every, time someone goes to a meal they're gonna take a picture on their phone they're, gonna post it to Instagram or Facebook and, I'm, kind of joking but actually this is a good tip you could send out a you. Could make a post on Facebook saying hey I'm going to Barcelona does, anyone been there do you have any tips for good restaurants, and you'll be surprised how many people, are going to come back with their personal favorites if. You want to go a little more high end restaurant. Hunting can become very fun and very interesting and you can look at really top-end resources. For example the the, classic, michelin, system a restaurant, that is michelin-starred, is almost guaranteed to be a very high quality the. San Pellegrino world's. 50 best restaurants list, is another resource that I've really enjoyed over the years finding, out kind of not just which restaurants, are really good but what is the cutting edge of cuisine these days in Europe a lot of these famous chefs that I mentioned earlier really made their name with with these sorts of lists and there's. A lot of great food TV out there now as well netflix has an outstanding documentary. Series called, the chef's table and each episode is a profile of another chef all around the world and I found some really interesting chefs that way speaking. Of these high-end restaurant, meals I want to talk a little bit about about this idea obviously. It's very expensive to go to a michelin-rated, restaurant and, for. Years I kind of debated is it worth it even as a foodie someone who cares about food to spend that kind of money on a meal I've, actually made a point to try a couple of these over the last few years and, I have to say what you have to realize when you're going to a really top-end world rated restaurant it's not just about the food although the food is amazing they, tried to create a whole experience for you so I went to a great restaurant in the Basque Country in northern Spain called, Ezzor Mandi I think at the time it was the thirteenth top rated restaurant in the world and, I thought is this gonna be worth basically the $200 a person that we were gonna spend for, a really nice lunch here that, sounds a little bit crazy but we walked in the door and the first course of a muz bouche was this beautiful little picnic picnic basket in their in their atrium which had a lot of beautiful plants and then, they took us into their greenhouse and we had another amused bouche and we, saw some of the plants that they actually used to get herbs for their cooking and then.
They Walked us into the kitchen and we got to see the chef at work and all of his sous chefs scurrying around and making these dishes happen, we, sat down at our table and we chose which menu we wanted and I have to say food was really remarkable, and it gave me a whole new appreciation, for. Some of the trends, and some of the really current thinking in terms of cooking and food in Europe so. I would say obviously if you're on a tight budget you might not want to invest that much in the meal but, if you think about it $200 a person that's the cost of maybe a really, fun. Date or for example in a lot of cities you hire a guide for the day for $200. $200. For a meal for a very memorable meal maybe it's worth it for some people let's, talk a little bit about the practical, side of eating in Europe here are some tips for how Europeans. Do things a little bit differently than we do sort of the practicalities, of European food. Experience, the, first thing that a lot of Americans get a little confused by is the, word menu you. May know that in a lot of countries in Europe if you go into a restaurant and you ask for a menu they're not going to give you the list of what you can order they're gonna assume you want the fixed priced meal because in most countries in Europe that's what a menu refers, to if, you, want the bill of fare if you want to list of what you can order that's usually somewhere it's similar to cart so its Licata, in Spain. It's Licata in France it's spy's ikata in German so, don't walk into a restaurant be confused if you ask for a menu and they're not quite sure what to make of it speaking. Of those menus however these, fixed price meals those can be a great way to get a nice survey of the local cuisine and often, a good restaurant will have several levels of their menu so you can get a basic menu for one price but if you want to get a little bit more interesting, and have a little higher quality ingredients you. Can actually go up a little bit in quality. The. Other thing to be aware of in different European countries as that the way that Europeans. Organize their meals can be different the way that they lay out the order of courses can be different so as an example let me talk about an.
Italian Meal a traditional. Big Italian, meal actually involves four different courses you. Have the antipasti. Or the appetizers, that would be something like you. Know marinated, vegetables, then. You have the poppy me okay, the Primo piatto the first course that's usually a pasta or a soup then, you have the Secunda or. They say quando that's, a main course usually meat or fish and the, final court is dessert, this. Sounds like a pretty rigid structure but honestly most Italians, don't eat every course you look at this and say jeez do I have to order all four courses not necessarily, I had, a friend who told me an Italian friend I said how, many courses is it polite to I don't want to feel like I'm cheeping out and they, said well really as long as you order two courses per person that's fine and sharing is usually okay so if I'm in an Italian restaurant with my wife we, might order two pastas, in the main course in the dessert so that's two courses per person for courses total and that's just fine by. The way Italian. Chefs are fanatic. About your digestion and, this is something else that's a little, different than the way we think about food but, European chefs really especially in Italy really lose sleep over your digestion and making sure that there's a proper order there's, a proper, progression, for the different courses of food here's an example, very. Traditionally, if you order a big meal including, a salad the salad is going to come after the pasta at a traditional restaurant at a touristy restaurant they know you're an American so they'll probably bring it out at the beginning or they'll ask you but, if you go to a very traditional restaurant, they assume you want the pasta first then, the salad because it creates a nice little buffer in your stomach between. The pasta and the meat that you're about to eat I once. Went to a very traditional restaurant, in Florence and I ordered a salad, and a pasta and the, pasta, came and I thought well I guess they forgot about the salad and then after, the pasta here comes the salad and I didn't have another course coming but that was just the order that they did things in. So. Be aware it's not because they're being stubborn it's not because they're trying to confuse you it's, simply that they believe that's the proper way to ingest, food there is a proper order to these things there's, a proper, water to drink with different kinds of food you don't want mineral water for every food or you don't want bubbles for every food just.
Be Aware of that and in general European chefs, frown on substitutions. This is I think a big cultural difference with, the United States I. Think in a lot of cases, Americans, go to a restaurant and we assume the customer is always right I know what food I want I know how I want it Europeans. Go to a restaurant and say no I'm putting myself in the hands of an expert the chef knows the right way to make the food so, if you go to an American restaurant and say can I have the side from this meal with, the Maine from this meal they'll say sure I'll ask the chef I'm sure it's fine Europeans. They might actually kick you out for asking that question, the, chef's designed, everything together for, a reason that's the way it's supposed to be so, just sort of it requires an attitude adjustment sometimes, to understand, where they're coming from I mentioned. Earlier about sharing courses, in an Italian restaurant and you, know Rick, Steeves personally, and all of us here we're big fans of sharing, courses family-style. Sharing, food is a great way to get lots of different samples of different dishes there, are cultures where it works really well for example in Greece, and Turkey they have a Mazetti, kind of way. Of eating where the, assumption. Is that you're gonna go and order a bunch of little dishes and everyone's going to share but, even in countries where that's a little less common usually. They're very forgiving, of Americans, who say you know can we order a couple of dishes and split them and Italy. If you know a magic. Word that might actually give you two different pastas, on one plate the magic word is this bis and a, lot of restaurants will let you order pasta beefs meaning, I want half a plate of this pasta and half a plate of this pasta and they understand, that you want to mix. And match and try some different things, don't. Be intimidated by, European. Menus, honestly. Some of the better places have menus that are only in one language which can be intimidating but, often time the server speaks a little English and they're happy to help you kind of sort through your choices it's. Worth investing, in a menu, decoder we, have a series of Rick Steves guidebooks, for several different languages and the biggest part of our phrase book is the. Menu decoder we actually, literally did the research for this where I went over to Europe and I walked from restaurant to restaurant for, several days and I wrote down everything I saw on menus to make sure that we had all the words that are actually appearing on European menus that. Can really help avoid. Some of the confusion, that you might have there's also a lot of great online translating. Apps I have the Google Translate, app which works great it's. A little less focused, on menu, decoding but it can certainly help you figure out what the basic ingredients, are my, last tip though about menu, decoding, and languages, of the language barrier when it comes to eating is. Don't. Let yourself be intimidated, just because you don't know every single thing that's in that dish usually, my goal is to figure out kind of what the main ingredient, is there's, maybe one or two things that I want to kind of get a sense is this a fish is it a meat, what's. Sort of am i roughly expecting, but, at a certain point you should take a leap of faith I would say don't go to restaurants expecting, to understand, every aspect of every dish I'm. Going to talk a little bit about service. In European restaurants, and if you've been to Europe you know that the way that Europeans, expect, to be served in restaurants is a little different than it is here for, one thing a European, service is very, relaxed.
It's Slow to an American standard and the reason for that is again it's a philosophical, adjustment, when Europeans go to a restaurant, dinner, for a lot of people is the evenings entertainment, they're not trying to get a quick meal in before they go to the movies or go out dancing, they're there to really enjoy that restaurant, and so, actually rush, service, is rude service to Europeans so if you're ever in a restaurant and you have to basically. Stand up and wave your hand to get your waiter to come over to you you, might think boy this guy's ignoring me I don't understand why well then understand, the understanding, why is that for, Europeans it would be rude if you kept coming over to you because you might feel rushed and. As you probably know if you've been to Europe you will never get the bill until you ask for the bill and I, have to say this is really hard for Americans because you're done you're ready to go you've got places to be and now you have to flag down the person to bring you your bill but, honestly after I've been in Europe for a few weeks and I come home and I'm at an American restaurant and I'm, finishing the last bite of my food and I see the bill land on the table I'm a little bit offended right are you trying to get rid of me and, that's. How Europeans, think about this so just be relaxed, be ready to spend a little extra time at restaurants, and, don't think that slow service is bad service, the. Other thing I want to talk about is tipping, Europeans. In general are less generous, tippers than Americans are and it's really okay I know that I'm not going to convince you all to start tipping ten percent but. I'm here to tell you Europeans, usually, tip ten percent or less it really is the case I think in America we have this. Understanding that. People usually get a minimum wage or lower for their base salary and most of their salary comes from tips and European. Cultures, it's a little bit different tipping, is considered. Really optional the, person that's waiting on you actually, receives a very healthy salary and the tip is really just a bonus, most.
Europeans, Would round up the bill five, or ten percent it's, really just a convenience, so that the server doesn't have to fish around for loose change that's, kind of philosophically, what tipping is you know honestly a lot of countries, a lot of Europeans don't, tip at all I know that's hard for Americans, I usually tip, somewhere between five and ten percent I sort of figure out what would 10 percent be and then I maybe round it down a little bit to the nearest round number and that's plenty it's, just a very different philosophy than it is here I've. Already mentioned that you. Don't have to be rich to be a foodie being foodie doesn't have to be expensive so I want to talk a little bit about some of your cheap, eating options when, you're traveling around Europe and. The most basic cheap, beats you can get in Europe are Street food and if, you're on a budget just become a connoisseur, street-food that's a great way to get through Europe and have some really truly local dishes at, a very low price for example if you're in the Netherlands you can have herring if. You're in Germany you can try a whole world of sausages now when we think about German sausages, we just think there's bratwurst and then there's bratwurst. But. For Germans they know there is a whole world of different. Regional varieties of sausages, so if you go to nuremberg, in germany, you'll see that it's these little skinny, spicy, sausages, that they serve lined up three to a bun that's a very typical Nurnberger, sausage if you, go to berlin you'll see that they slather, their bratwurst, with a delicious, sort, of curry ketchup sauce, it's called curry Wurst so. Again become an aficionado, of the local specialties, where you go even if it's just street, food if, you want to go to the Netherlands or Belgium you're, gonna want to try some french fries or as they call them Flemish fries not, only do the fries taste a little different they bragged that they actually fry them twice so they have a little bit more bite to them, but if you go to a little, Belgian. Fries shop they have a whole interesting variety of sauces. That you can put on top so. You can ask for, some help from the clerk and find a really nice sauce that goes well with your fries when. I'm in Great Britain my favorite thing to grab, on the go when I'm at a train station and I just need a lunch on the train is, a Cornish, pasty, these, are this beautiful savory, pastry from, Cornwall which, is at the southwestern, tip of England this, was actually invented for tin, miners in Cornwall, this is where you can start thinking about the history of these foods that you see everywhere why. Would this be for the tin miners well they worked all day down in the in the in the dark mines of Cornwall. And their hands would be filthy with, soot, and tin.
Deposits, That would be really dangerous if they were to eat them and that's, why a pasty, has a really thick outer crust and this allowed the miners to grab onto the crust and to eat the filling on the inside and when, they were finished they could just drop their, crust into the mineshaft for, the Tommyknockers the, little mystical beings who live down in the mine shafts to you, I. Love learning about the histories of these little foods and every, train station in England. It seems like you're gonna find a place, to grab a Cornish, pasty before you get on the train if. You really want to find a world of really interesting, street. Food options look, for like a street food market, a lot of especially, big cities, that have a, you're. Gonna find a place where a lot of interesting, vendors all set up shop this is my favorite market in London it's called the Rope box market it's buried under a railroad trestle, on. The south bank of the River Thames and I, went here once with my wife I think it's probably the best lunch I've ever had in London we just wandered from stall to stall you could have a little, bit of Scottish salmon and, then. There was a stand that was serving, up grilled cheese with English, cheddar cheese of course all. Different, variety, of scotch eggs with interesting, creative fillings. Brownies, these are all kind of foods that you'll see everywhere in Britain but it was fun to go to a street food market where, they were being done in a very elevated very foodie forward kind of way and in, fact a lot of cities, in Europe are increasingly. Have a food truck culture like we have in a lot of American cities and, of course this can change from year to year it's, a parking lot one year and it's got five or six really interesting food trucks the next year so be sure to ask around if you're going to some of these cities are there any food trucks where can I go check out the local scene. Another. Good way to eat affordably, is to, eat what you might call ethnic food or international, food or immigrant food for, example doner, kebab is is what this is and all, over Europe from Spain to France to Germany to Italy to Norway. This, is what local. People go if they want to just grab kind of a quick nourishing, flavorful, meal on the go and. Very cheap it's sort of like going to a taco truck if you're in the United States what's. Interesting about immigrant. Food or international. Food is, that like, the United States a lot of countries sort of have a large immigrant population, that have really influenced, their cuisine in the United States if we want to break from American, food we might go for a Mexican restaurant in Britain, there's a lot of Indian restaurants, because India and Bangladesh were, former colonies. Overseas, from the United Kingdom and. So you find that there's a lot of great Indian, food in Britain this, applies to a lot of countries in Germany. People eat Turkish food that's kind of their immigrant cuisine and even, in Russia which has a very kind of old-fashioned. Kind, of a starchy, less flavorful, cuisine when. People want a break from their traditional cuisine, they go to a Georgian, restaurant, this is from one of the former associate socialist, republics, of the Soviet Union in the Caucasus where they have warmer climates they, have more flavorful, ingredients they, have lots of herbs so. When a Russian is ready for a break from their tradition phoo they'll go to a Georgian restaurant and they'll get these dumplings that, you dip in a delicious plum sauce, they. Have a dish called kuch bootie which is sort of a cheesy fry bread that, you can get I really think Georgian. Food is the great undiscovered, cuisine, mark. My words it's like it's like poke a for example 5. Years from now there's gonna be Georgian food ever in the United States it's really delicious.
So Always look for these kind of if you want to break from the the local traditional, cuisine be sure to look at the local immigrant cuisine as well another. Good tip, for budget eating is to check out Europe's Market halls there's lots of great traditional, market halls like the Great Market Hall here in Budapest, some. Of them are very famous in Spain in, Barcelona they've, got the book idea which, is right on the rhombus the main drag of Barcelona, there's. An interesting trend recently in Europe where, Old Market halls are being renovated and, upgraded, and being. Given a more contemporary foodie, focus for, example there's the ma Colin in Oslo, which was a traditional old brick building that's, now been turned into basically, a food court of top-end foodie, restaurants. With beautiful, outdoor seating and this, is a trend I've seen all over Europe in London they have the Borough Market where. You can go and get delicious, fresh breads and cheeses in. Florence. There's Central, Market Hall they recently kept, the traditional. Fruit and produce in meat and fish vendors downstairs, but the upstairs attic which was always abandoned, they've converted into a top-end. Tuscan, food showcase, and they've, invited top-end. Tuscan chefs to come and open food stands here one. Of my favorites is in Lisbon the Lodi. Betta markets, which, again half of it is still a very traditional old-school, food, hall of Portuguese classics, the other half has been converted. Into a contemporary food court with some really top-end chefs by the way this is a great opportunity sometimes, to. Try affordably, the food of really big-name chefs so, here in Lisbon if you went to the restaurants, of some of the chefs who have little food stands here you'd, be paying a pretty penny but, they intentionally design a menu that's more affordable and more accessible for, the food hall so make sure you check out if there are any of these contemporary, food halls in your travels in some. Cultures. The. Market is part, of their local culture it's, part of their everyday life all over France communities, have a designated, market, days your du marché where, all of the different vendors come and they set up shop right in the city centre my. Favorite Market Day in France is in Sarla, in the, Dordogne region and every, Saturday and Wednesday they close down the town centre and it's just filled with all sorts of vendors, serving. All sorts of things this is where people stock up on sausages, and big, wheels of mountain cheese. And. Bushels, of spices, and olives. And this is also a social, ritual this isn't just about shopping for food this, is about connecting, with your neighbors it's about connecting with your friends it's about forming a relationship over, the years with the producer that you know is your favorite producer for buying this or that and one, of my favorite aspects of the French, market. Day culture once. It's all finished and they're, closing up shop the second that all the stalls start to close up all of the outdoor cafes, just fill up all the people who came out to shop go and grab a table with the people th