Food & Drink

Europe’s favourite winter warmers

When it comes to winter food, Europeans don’t do things by halves. Whet your appetite with some of Europe’s best winter dishes.

When it’s cold outside, there’s nothing better than a plate of hot food to warm you up. No matter where you are in Europe, you’re sure to find a local dish, more often than not with a hearty portion of butter or cheese involved, to warm the cockles.


Where’s it from? Savoie, France
Drive from Calais: Chambéry, the capital, is 866km / 7h 46m

A delicious, indulgent tartiflette is just the thing after a day on the slopes!
A delicious, indulgent tartiflette is just the thing after a day on the slopes!

Originating from the Savoie region of the French Alps, Tartiflette is the perfect antidote to a day spent out in the cold walking up hills, or skiing down them. The main ingredient is sliced potatoes, which are combined with bacon lardons, sliced onion, garlic, butter, cream, and the star of the dish, copious amounts of reblochon cheese.

As far as traditional dishes go, tartiflette is relatively modern, being developed in the 1980s in order to promote sales of reblochon cheese. It was inspired by the much older dish, péla, also from the Savoie region and very similarly made, but without the addition of cheese.


Where’s it from? Alsace, France
Drive from Calais: Strasbourg, the capital, is 621km / 5h 43m

This Alsatian specialty dish is guaranteed winter warmer.
This Alsatian specialty dish is guaranteed winter warmer.

Inspired by a traditional Jewish dish called Cholent or Hamin, the Alsatian dish Baeckeoffe is a typical French winter stew. It’s made with sliced potatoes and onions, beef, mutton and pork, marinated in Alsatian white wine and juniper berries, and then slowly cooked in the oven. You may also find carrots, leeks, thyme, parsley and garlic added for additional colour and flavour.

Translated from the local dialect, the name Baeckeoffe means ‘baker’s oven’, and traditionally, that’s where this dish was cooked. In the local villages, people would take their casserole pots filled with meat, potatoes and vegetables to the local baker in the morning after all the bread for the day had been cooked. The baker would cover the pots with a bread dough lid and slowly cook them in the still-warm oven, and they’d then be collected later in the day for the families’ dinner.


Where’s it from? Valais, Switzerland
Drive from Calais: Sion, the capital, is 847km / 8h 12m

elicious melted raclette cheese is scraped on top of new potatoes
Delicious melted raclette cheese is scraped on top of new potatoes.

Raclette is the name of both the cheese and the dish it is used in. It originally comes from Switzerland in the Valais region, but its popularity has spread into France and it can also often be found at Christmas markets in the UK. The dish is made by melting half-wheels of raclette cheese under specially designed grills, which are then scraped (which is where it gets its name – the French for ‘scrape’ is ‘racler’) on top of piles of new potatoes, served with cornichons, little pickled onions, and charcuterie.

It may only be in recent years that the dish has really risen in popularity, but it can actually be dated back to the 13th century. It is mentioned in medieval writings from convents in German area of Switzerland, and was commonly eaten by peasants, as it was low in cost, but high in nutritional value. Perfect for keeping out the cold!


Where’s it from? Luxembourg
Drive from Calais: Luxembourg City, the capital, is 411km / 4h 5m

The name ‘gromperekichelcher’ is certainly a bit of a mouthful, but it’s worth practicing your pronunciation if you’re planning a trip to Luxembourg this winter. The smell of these delicious potato fritters fills the air at winter markets throughout the little country, and it’s well worth joining the queue to find out what the fuss is all about.

Gromperekichelcher is predominantly made with grated potatoes, mixed with finely sliced onions or shallots and parsley. Eggs and flour are then used to bind the potato mixture together before they’re shaped into patties and fried off. They’re quite similar to Switzerland’s famous potato röstis, which are another popular winter dish across Europe.


Where’s it from? Belgium or the Netherlands
Drive from Calais: Hasselt in Belgium, famous for their Speculoos, is 280km / 3h

Speculoos are the ultimate festively spiced biscuits
Speculoos are the ultimate festively spiced biscuits.

There is definitely a recurring theme across Europe when it comes to winter dishes, which seems to be the humble potato. But if you fancy something a little different that will sate your sweet tooth, then take a trip to Belgium, home to the delicious festive biscuit speculoos. They’re also equally popular in the Netherlands, where they are spelled speculaas, and there is much debate over where they actually come from.

Whichever variety you choose to enjoy, they’re largely made the same way with a mixture of festive spices including nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and anise. The town of Hasselt in Belgium, however, is famed for its special local version created by Antonie Deplée in 1870, which is a kind of almond ‘bread’.

Has all this talk of food made you hungry to explore Europe and its best dishes? Book your tickets with us early to take advantage of the best fares.