I’d been dying to go to Europe for so long now. I had imagined it as somewhat of a foodie’s Mecca, a place of culinary magic. And while it was great in many ways, I wasn’t awed in the way I had expected to be.
The reality was a little like seeing a new movie, with a big name cast everyone had been raving about for weeks, only to walk out feeling a little underwhelmed and wondering what all of the fuss was about.
There are a few dishes I am still fantasising about, and which I will definitely be trying to replicate in the felicious kitchen but I also experienced things which were decidedly ordinary and not too dissimilar to what you would find in any low cost “No Names” Italian style restaurant at your local pub.
Much like the few good scenes you saw in the trailer of the aforementioned movie, there were some things I tried which were absolute standouts and which I am still thinking about.
The rose & raspberry religieuse (a type of fancy French cream puff) in Paris is one of those. Rose is one of my favourite flavours. I am so obsessed with it that earlier this year I went so far as to buy a large tub of commercial flavour compound because it would give a better flavour to the rose ganache in my macarons, and purchasing 1kg of this for $55 from a French importer was the only way I could get my hands on it. I digress a little but you can imagine how excited I was to find something decadently rosey while waiting for my flight to Barcelona. It was the one thing I had wanted to try in Paris that I hadn’t found wandering around so thank you Lauderee, Orly.
Goats cheese. If rose is my #1 sweet treat, goats cheese is my savoury. I will often stop at whatever dish I find on a menu purely because it has goats cheese in it. I LOVE goats cheese, and Europe just does it better than us. In 3 days in London I went to Pizza Express twice to have the goats cheese pizza I’d been thinking about for 6 years, pretty much since I’d had it the first time on my first trip to the UK.
The first 4 days of my week in Barcelona were spent right in the heart of the gothic district and on my first night there I discovered a very cool little tapas bar called Tosca. If I’m honest I chose it the first time because of its 3.5 euro cocktails as much as for its menu! All that changed when I had the goats cheese salad on day #2, and then went back twice more before the 4 days were up. It was divine. My instagram pic in which I described it as “having died and gone to goat’s cheese heaven” was even regrammed by Instagrams De Barcelona (a very proud moment). I think the only thing I had more of during my time in Spain were the numerous jugs of pretty awesome sangria! It wasn’t as good, or as strong, as the traditional Kendall Christmas sangria but it came pretty close*
The absolute food highlight from the first half of my trip though has to be the cooking class I took in Spain. After a little trouble finding the address, and feeling very confused when I seemed to be the only person there, I was VERY excited when I realised it was to be a class of one with just me, the chef and a translator. But that kind of deserves a whole other post.
Thanks for reading!
*My sister told me to say that. It is kind of true though.