The Best European Comfort Foods

From stews to fine cheeses, Europe has some of the finest comfort food around. Here are some of our favourites.

Raclette poured over potatoes is a common dish in the Swiss mountainside © Alex Toulemonde

When it comes to cooking, I’m always looking for new recipes to cook for my family, and I’m lucky because they’re not picky eaters! When it comes to comfort food, we all love tasting dishes from my home country, France, and across the rest of Europe. With this in mind, I’ve created my dream itinerary of dishes and their respective countries for you to try, whether you’re taking the road trip of a lifetime or simply want to discover something new.

Tartiflette – Les Gets, France

The first country on my list is, naturally, France. Instead of looking at my home in northern France, I thought I’d highlight one of my favourite places further south, Les Gets, which is particularly lovely in the colder months. The commune of Les Gets is nestled in the Haute-Savoie department, and is a great place to start your journey of Europe’s best comfort foods, as it’s close to the Swiss border.

What better dish to try here, than the deliciously-rich tartiflette? It’s one of the most popular dishes from this region, and it’s one of my favourites to make at home. Made using potatoes, reblochon cheese, onions and lardons, tartiflette is actually quite a modern dish, based on an older (but less cheesy) French dish called péla. There are plenty of restaurants in Les Gets where you can enjoy tartiflette, and it’s a great meal to enjoy before hitting the slopes of Courchevel or Les Trois Vallées!

 Enjoy Tartiflette when exploring the markets in France.
Enjoy Tartiflette when exploring the markets in France. © Annie Mole

Raclette – Saint-Maurice, Switzerland

Once you’ve travelled the short distance over the border from Les Gets into Switzerland, you’ll arrive in the scenic town of Saint-Maurice. Located in the Portes-du-Soleil/Chablais region, Saint-Maurice is regarded as one of western Switzerland’s cultural hubs. I love visiting the stunning historic Abbey, and love taking a brisk hike along the Rhône river.

Another cheese-based dish, which is common in the mountain ranges of Europe, is Raclette. A large wheel of firm cheese, Raclette is usually cut in half and then melted, before being enjoyed with a range of different accompaniments like potatoes, pickles, tomatoes, ham and cured meat. Traditionally enjoyed in front of an open fire, Raclette is the ultimate comfort food for me, and it’s great for sharing with family and friends.

 Raclette roasting in front of an open fire!
Raclette roasting in front of an open fire! © Rhavia

Gnocchi – Bellagio, Italy

It’s difficult to imagine a more picturesque setting than that of Bellagio, in northern Italy. Situated on the banks of Lake Como, this waterfront town is one of my favourite places to visit in Italy, and the Lombardy region in general is famous for its fantastic food and some of the best wine that the country has to offer. Popular with visitors all year round, Bellagio always looks its best, and during the winter months the festive feeling here is contagious.

Northern Italy is famous for several dishes, such as the deliciously sweet cake, panetonne, but by far my favourite dish here is gnocchi. Wonderfully soft, thick dumplings made from dough, gnocchi has become an Italian staple since its creation in Roman times. Just north of Bellagio’s centre, you’ll find the Ristorante La Punta, which is known for serving up mouth-watering gnocchi, with a gorgonzola cream sauce. It’s divine, and definitely one of my favourite comfort food dishes!

 Delicious gorgonzola gnocchi.
Delicious gorgonzola gnocchi. © slgckgc

Wiener Schnitzel and Kasnocken – Zell am See, Austria

The last comfort food on my list just has to be a combination of two of my favourite meals from Austria. Wiener Schnitzel, a thin slice of veal meat, covered in breadcrumbs and pan fried, is often associated with the country’s capital, Vienna. Most commonly served with salad and chips, it’s the perfect simple comfort food. For the ultimate indulgent dish, however, I like to combine Wiener Schnitzel with a Salzburg favourite – Kasnocken.

The perfect accompaniment to the crispy, meaty schnitzel, Kasnocken is essentially a luxury macaroni cheese. Using Austrian spätzle, cheese, and caramelised onion, Kasnocken is rich and creamy, and works great as a side dish. When travelling from Italy into western Austria, I recommend visiting the stunning town of Zell am See, in Austria’s Salzburg region. Surrounded by mountains and lakes, Zell am See is great for skiing, and boasts a picturesque church, St. Hippolyte’s.

Hungry after all this talk of food?

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