Amazing museums, fascinating architectural wonders and beautiful beaches are all of course great reasons to travel, but for many of us, the best part of getting away is the chance to tuck into some fine local food. From delicious snacks like creamy melted camembert or Irish soda bread, to lavish desserts such as syrup-soaked French crepes or freshly toasted waffles (piled high with lashings of chocolate and fruit, naturally), you just can’t beat Europe’s selection of decadent treats. It goes without saying that these moreish snacks are at their best and most authentic when enjoyed right at the source, so we’ve carefully selected some of our favourite European delicacies and where you can find them.
Deliciously creamy camembert has become one of the world’s favourite soft cheeses. The tasty French fromage was first created in 1791 by Marie Harel in a humble commune in rural Normandy. Positioned between Rouen and Caen, the tiny village of Camembert is surrounded by green pastures and abundant orchards.
If you want to make the pilgrimage to this slice of French cheese history, you can even swing by the Maison du Camembert. This museum and restored 19th-century farm was created by Président, one of the region’s largest cheese producers.
Irish Soda Bread
With its unique flavour and traditional heritage, this beloved bread is a simple but brilliant culinary creation from Ireland. Because the land couldn’t produce hard wheat, 19th century locals were forced to substitute traditional yeast for baking soda.
Despite these humble origins, the bread quickly proved popular – not least because it tastes so good. Simple ingredients of flour, buttermilk, baking soda and salt result in a crunchy, full-flavoured loaf that goes perfectly with jam, smoked salmon, bacon rashers or as part of an Ulster Fry – the northern Irish equivalent of an English breakfast. You can taste freshly baked soda bread at artisan bakeries and cafés in the region of County Londonderry and across the Northern Ireland.
The mere thought of Belgian waffles can instantly get the mouth-watering, and visitors travel from far and wide to feast upon them. Like many world dishes, there are regional differences depending on where you go, so while both Bruges and Brussels varieties are each superb, it’s Liège that is the true birthplace of waffles.
Legend tells us that this special treat was created by a local chef for the Prince-Bishop of Liège in the 18th century, and the brioche-based dough laced with pearl sugar fills this traditional dessert with pockets of crunchy sweetness. Pay a visit to this medieval city to discover a wide range of museums, a majestic palace and peaceful cruises along the Meuse River.
Few of us can resist a freshly made crêpe. Topped with sweet fruits, syrup or cheese; the only limit with this fried treat is your imagination. France’s take on the pancake was first made in Brittany, due to the abundance of buckwheat in the northwest of the country. Traditionally, the batter is spread into a flat cake, flipped with a spatula and served with a refreshing glass of cider.
You can try an authentic Breton crêpe – or a savoury variety, known as a galette – in the region’s beautiful capital, Rennes. With the beautiful Parlement building, Roman walls and cobbled streets, it’s a charming place to wander around while burning off the calories from your crêpe indulgence.
Has this inspired you to embark on a foodie escape? Check out our adventure page for more info.