Food & Drink

Iconic Food Treasure Hunt

A guide to some of the most iconic dishes in Europe, and the best places for you to try them during your next holiday.

We think one of the best things about travelling is trying out a nation's signature dishes. Why not follow our treasure hunt, and see if you can eat each item on our list during your next holiday? You're bound to recognise these delicious classics, but you might discover a new dish or two, as well. See how many of these different foods you can try on your next trip with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle.

Croissant - France

There is nothing more delicious than a fresh croissant. A flaky, melt-in-the-mouth pastry that is chewy in the middle, with a fresh buttery taste. Enjoy it with a cup of coffee (or tea, if you prefer) and let the simplicity of this pastry speak for itself. For the best croissant, you'll need to find a traditional French bakery, like Les Pains d'Alexis, at 18 Rue Flatters in Paris. Here you'll find the perfect, buttery hand-made croissant.

A fun idea if you're really keen on this delicacy is to find a place that will show you how croissants are made. The pastry is similar to a puff pastry, and it's rolled out and folded into butter repeatedly, which is what gives the croissant its crispy layers. The pastry is cut into triangles, and then rolled into the signature crescent shape before being baked on a high heat, so that the outside stays crispy, whilst the inside remains chewy.

Cassoulet - Southern France

As you head to the south of France, one dish that mustn't be missed is the delicious cassoulet. This is one of the most famous dishes in France's south, and it's a rich, hearty meal that the whole family can enjoy. The dish is served in a cassole, a kind of ceramic pot, and it contains meat and/or sausages (usually pork) and white beans. It has a similar consistency to a thick stew, and the flavours are strong and warming.

The dish is said to have originated in the province of Languedoc, in the town of Castelnaudary, but equally famous for the dish is the city of Toulouse. Le Colombier, at 14 Rue Bayard in Toulouse, uses sausage and duck confit from a recipe that spans hundreds of years, so it's bound to be delicious!

Cassoulet is a hearty, delicious meal ideal for dinner
Cassoulet is a hearty, delicious meal ideal for dinner

Paella - Spain

Originating on Spain's east coast, this rice-based dish has become one of the nation's most famous foods. Originally from Valencia, paella can contain any number of ingredients, from seafood like prawns and mussels, to meats like chicken and chorizo. Paella is often cooked during festivals and street parties, so if you're lucky you might come across a large skillet outdoors, and the locals might even let you take a plate!

The traditional saffron paella is best tried in Valencia, but Barcelona is a little closer to home and serves up some great alternatives. Elche, in Barcelona, boasts some of the best paella in town. Their rice dishes have been praised by regular visitors from Valencia, so you know they're up to scratch.

Paella can come in many different varieties
Paella can come in many different varieties

Spaghetti Bolognese - Italy

Odds are you've probably cooked this dish at least once in your life. Pasta, a tomato and meat sauce and perhaps some Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to top it off. However, the traditional dish that can be traced back to Bologna, in Italy, is actually called Tagliatelle al ragù. The tomato-heavy sauces that you're used to in the UK are discarded here, with the traditional recipe focusing on good quality beef and thick, fresh tagliatelle pasta.

You'll find the dish throughout Bologna, but for some of the best and most reasonably priced head to Osteria dell' Orsa, on Via Mentana in Bologna. This restaurant has a laid-back atmosphere and attracts many locals.

Tagliatelle al ragù is a delicious and traditional meal from Bologna
Tagliatelle al ragù is a delicious and traditional meal from Bologna

Rösti - Switzerland

Swiss cuisine is a veritable treat, and when dining here you'll get to sample a dish that has been adjusted and tweaked by countless other countries - the rösti. Originally eaten by farmers at breakfast, the rösti is such a simple dish to make, that you might think it would be easy to perfect. It's not until you taste the expertly crafted röstis of Switzerland, however, that you realise that all other attempts at this dish are imposters on the scene.

One restaurant that is renowned for serving up authentic Swiss cuisine is Taube, in the city of Lucerne. Potatoes are shredded and then fried in fat, served with ham, cheese (often gruyere) and an egg on top. A simply delicious dish!

Swiss rösti is often served topped with an egg
Swiss rösti is often served topped with an egg

Currywurst - Germany

You needn't look far for good quality wurst (sausage) in Germany. Every butcher and deli in town will serve up a host of different sausage varieties, and one recipe that has come from the country's love of wurst is the delicious currywurst. Pork sausage is steamed then fried, and sometimes cut up into thick slices, before being served with curry ketchup.

Sometimes you'll find the sausage served alone, with a sprinkling of curry powder, but more often than not it's served with fries or bread. Berlin even has its own currywurst museum! If you want currywurst with a difference, look outside of Berlin to the Ruhr area of Germany, where the dish is served up with a more authentic, homemade sauce. Check out Dönninghaus, in the city of Bochum, for a delicious version of this dish.

Currywurst is a simple but hearty German dish
Currywurst is a simple but hearty German dish

Mussels and Chips - Belgium

You may know Belgium for having great chocolate, sweet waffles, and beer. One dish that is a tasty treat when visiting this country is Mosselen-Friet (mussels and chips). Eaten across Belgium, the mussels are often served in a white wine and cream sauce, tomatoes and garlic, or sometimes a beer sauce. The Dutch way of eating them is by using a mussel shell as tweezers, to draw out the delicious tender meat.

Chips should be thin and crispy, and are perfect to dip into the white wine sauce. In Brussels, you'll find many places claiming to do the best mussels, but a lot of them are expensive tourist traps. One restaurant that specialises in this sea-born delicacy is Restaurant Vincent. The marinière sauce here is the best, and this dish is a pleasant luxury to finish off your trip.

Mussels and chips are delicious and fun to eat
Mussels and chips are delicious and fun to eat

Getting there and around

A culinary treasure hunt around Europe is a fantastic way for the whole family to try new foods, and you'll be met with beautiful scenery along the way.

With Eurotunnel Le Shuttle you can get from Folkestone to Calais in just 35 minutes, so pack your bags and take this list with you on your next holiday.

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