Recently in Europe category

Il Gelato Centogusti

chocolate gelati

I’m very fortunate to have a gelato guide in Milan, because it’s a rather spread out city. And like many Italian cities, I’ve found some of the best gelaterias are located farther away from the city center. (Younger, less-established gelato makers can’t often afford to be in the expensive areas.) Unlike other Italian cities, Milan isn’t really a place that caters to tourists – which isn’t a bad thing. It’s just that unless you have someone taking you around, sharing the best addresses, you won’t likely stumble upon great places like Il Gelato Centogusti.

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Globus

green olives

Yes, Switzerland has a reputation for neutrality, but the food in Switzerland is often an international mix. There are some wonderful local specialties but a good number of other dishes are influenced by its neighbors; namely Germany, Italy, and France. So it seems only fitting that the most wonderful department store in the country is named Globus, because its name seem to incorporate a philosophy of not just looking within the borders of Switzerland, but outside of them as well, in search of all things good to eat. And that certainly seems true of the grand food hall in the branch of their store in Lausanne.

shrimp and dillswiss bread
raspberry jam tartswiss egg

Many department stores in cities around the world have entire floors dedicated to foodstuffs and are good places to make a whirlwind food tour, which I did with my tour group recently. But even on my own, I usually make it a point to hit one when I travel, such as the KaDeWe in Berlin, Marks & Spencer in London, or the Grand Épicerie in Paris. But whereas KaDeWe is super orderly and La Grand Épicerie can feel like a train station at rush hour, the food halls of Globus have an air of calm and comfort. And yes, even when you’re in the presence of – *gulp* – my tentacled nemesis: octopus made into sausage.

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The Best Brownie in London

Paul A. Young Brownie

If you skip over the fact that I made three trips in the past thirty days, and have two more coming up in the next two weeks, I don’t really travel all that much. (And it’s funny because some people like to try to point out inconsistencies about things I write about, which is amusing because I take even greater pains to point them out myself.) Before I moved to Europe, I was always quite surprised when I thought Europeans spent all their free time and weekends heading to other countries, visiting new cities, and immersing themselves in foreign cultures, when quite a few of them stay at home in lieu of hitting the road.

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Nopi, in London

scone and doughnut

I was a big fan of Ottolenghi even before I stepped into one of their restaurants. When I got a copy of Yotam Ottolenghi’s first book, I was blown away by the photographs of gorgeous dishes, heaped with generous amounts of fresh chopped herbs, irregularly cut vegetables often seared and caramelized, and roasted, juicy meats accented with citrus or unexpected spices, usually with a Middle Eastern bent. The bold, big flavors came bounding through the pages and appealed to me as both a diner and a cook.

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Arriving in New York on the Queen Mary 2

QM2 deckchairs
portsidePimm's cup fruit

It’s been a couple of days since our ship landed (as opposed to my ship coming in) and arriving in New York City by ocean liner is a rather extraordinary experience. Even more astounding is that I actually was able to wake up at 4am to catch the underside of the Verrazano Bridge as we glided below it, then slowing crept up on the softly glowing statue of liberty and all of Manhattan as it was waking up.

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Inside the Kitchen of the Queen Mary 2

croissants

The phrase “runs a tight ship” isn’t applicable anywhere more than in the kitchens of an ocean liner. When you’ve got over two thousand guests to feed, plus a staff of around a thousand or so, a “tight ship” is essential. But also having the right temperament to deal with various needs that might arise is important, especially when you’re dealing with a multicultural staff, special events, nearly a dozen kitchens, and – well, you name it, it’s likely the kitchen staff on the Queen Mary 2 has seen it.

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Aboard the Queen Mary 2

scone, jam, butter

I woke up this morning to the most spectacular sunrise I’ve ever seen. I would have loved to have shared it with you, but it was something like 4 in the morning and I could only stare at it through the curtains. My camera was likely somewhere, but I wasn’t all that keen on dealing with anything electronic at that hour. I just wanted to look at it.

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Crossing the Atlantic

Atlantic ocean

Whenever people ask me “How often do you get back to the states?” they always seem to be taken aback when I say “Never.” It’s not that I’m turning my back on my home country, it’s just that the idea of sitting in a dismal gray airport (with abysmal food choices), waiting in lengthy lines, going through the frenzy of stripping down for security, getting my privates x-rayed ( – yikes!), then sitting in a cramped seat unable to move for thirteen hours, isn’t my idea of fun.

QM2

So when the folks at the Queen Mary 2 offered me a trip to compensate for canceling a culinary journey I was to make last year due to the irksome volcano, I jumped at the chance. (Although considering it’s a multi-story boat – I should probably use a different word than “jump.”) Instead of arriving somewhere all crumpled and jet-lagged, I’m looking forward to sleeping horizontally, in an actual bed, and arriving in America as a normal person. Whatever that is.

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