Last year I was blessed with the opportunity to study abroad for the year at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Living in a new country on my own for the year involved its fair share of ups and downs, but I would not trade my experience for anything.
Being a major foodie in Europe definitely has its perks, and I can tell you for sure I did not skimp on any opportunity to try all the delicious foods each place had to offer. Here are a few of my favorite dishes from every country I visited.
Obviously this was the first place I "visited’" abroad since I lived in St Andrews all year. Scottish food is definitely not my favorite, but the Scots do have a few standout dishes such as haggis, black pudding, scones, porridge, and smoked salmon, to name a few.
My absolute favorite meal in Scotland was the granola with fruit and yogurt at the The Cottage Kitchen in St Andrews. I consider myself quite the granola connoisseur and theirs was hands-down the best I’ve ever tested. Baked in-house everyday with a combination of nuts and dried fruit included in the mix and then topped with Greek yogurt and homemade fruit compote, this dish is truly happiness in a bowl.
Two words: chocolate fondue. The food in Switzerland was absolutely spectacular. My friends and I sampled lots of yummy dishes including a plethora of pastries, cheese fondue, and Swiss chocolate, but my favorite was the dark chocolate fondue from Au Petit Chalet in Geneva.
The fondue was sweet yet slightly bitter, absolutely decadent, and very creamy. It was paired with diced bananas, strawberries, kiwi, oranges, pineapple, and melon. I was definitely guilty of licking the bowl clean. #NoShame
3. The Netherlands
The Netherlands completely took me by surprise. Amsterdam is a charming, clean, and super easy-to-navigate city filled with tons of cute boutiques and fantastic restaurants. While the chocolate dipped waffles, frites, Dutch apple pie, and stroopwafel McFlurries were all delicious, the "Belgian Pancake" at The Pancake Factory was hands down the best ever.
Sprinkled with apples, raisins, and sugar nuts and topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and a drizzle of maple syrup, it was a breakfast turned dessert—heaven on earth.
England is one of only three countries I traveled to this past year where I truly fell in love with the culture, people, and food. With so much to do, see, and eat in the fabulous city of London, it was very hard to pick a favorite.
While tea at Harrods is obviously a must, it might be a bit too "touristy" for those who would rather wine and dine like the locals. But let's face it, no matter how hard you try not to be, you are a tourist.
Indulging in some seriously decadent cookies at Covent Garden is also high up there on the list. However, my top choice has to be the hot chocolate and dark chocolate fondue at Choccywoccydoodah. The hot chocolate arrives topped with a generous dollop of homemade whipped cream, several large pink marshmallows, and a sprinkling of cocoa while the fondue is served alongside strawberries, honeycomb, chocolate dipping sticks, fudge, and various homemade baked goods.
To say I finished that meal with a sugar high is an understatement, more like chocolate #wasted.
My entire family came to visit me for winter break, and we were able to spend Christmas in Copenhagen. My favorite part of the trip was our Christmas Eve dinner, which was a traditional Danish meal.
We had roast duck, boiled potatoes, red cabbage, and gravy and then ended the meal with ris à l’amande, the star of the meal in my opinion. Ris à l’amande is cold rice pudding served with whipped cream, vanilla, almonds, and hot cherry sauce. A delicious meal with good food and even better company.
As I mentioned before, there were only three countries that I truly fell in love with while abroad, and France is the second of the three. Everything about France spoke to me as a person: the architecture, the fashion, the food, the museums, and art—the list could go on and on.
It’s extremely hard to define my best culinary experience in France as there were too many mind-blowing dishes to count, but the macarons at Pierre Hermé probably take the cake. My sister and I sampled a selection including raspberry, vanilla, and pistachio, but our favorite was the passion fruit and milk chocolate macaroon—the best of both worlds.
My experience in Belgium completely lived up to my very high expectations, as it is a friendly, quaint yet still cosmopolitan country filled with all things sweet and savory. Although I did sample quite a few sweet treats, the dish that sealed the deal for me was savory.
My friend and I shared a great dinner our last night in Brussels at this local restaurant that specialized in mussels, which also happens to be my favorite seafood. The mussels were topped with a spicy, slightly salty, and extremely fragrant curry sauce, which made for a soul warming, hunger appeasing pot of yumminess.
Sweden is a country whose lifestyle, people, and overall essence is equal to that of a modern day fairytale. The food was healthy, yummy, and completely satisfying. The dishes I tried varied from chia pudding to homemade, organic gummy bears and everything in between, but the meal that clinched the top spot for me was the burrata salad at Pascal Café.
Filled with lots of yummy ingredients such as roasted peppers and onions, micro greens, and a big ball of burrata topped with a drizzle of homemade pesto, I definitely think it was one of the best salads I've ever had.
I could be here all day raving about the various delicacies I enjoyed in Italy. To say I ate my way through Italy is an understatement, but when in Italy right? I visited Pisa, Florence, and Bologna, and each city had a different cultural and culinary vibe. I sampled gluten-free pizza, seafood platters, cured meats, homemade cheeses, and of course, loads of gelato.
Surprisingly, the dish I enjoyed the most in each city always remained the same: pistachio gelato. This dessert was nutty, slightly sweet, and super creamy, all of which combined each time to form a fabulous scoop of creamy decadence.
Berlin is a highly underrated city. It has an absolutely crazy nightlife, stunning museums, super cool street art, a huge variety of world cuisines, and a fascinating history, among other things.
I myself am not the biggest fan of potatoes and red meat, so a lot of the traditional German food was not exactly up my ally, but their ethnic food, on the other hand, was to die for. Over the course of the trip I had vegetable curry, chicken tikka masala, sushi, and Vietnamese spring rolls, but the top contender was the vegetable pad thai.
11. Czech Republic
Spain was a truly stunning country. In regards to the food scene in Barcelona, I was in awe of all the awesome dishes I tried. The offerings ranged from octopus with sautéed potatoes and capers to a Spanish omelet with ham to chocolate sorbet with olive oil and sea salt.
Each was wonderful in its own right, but my personal favorite was the fruit salad and smoothie served in a carved-out pineapple at Brunch and Cake. It was super refreshing, healthy, and filling. All in all, it was the best way to start the day.