Part of the fun of exploring a new country and getting to know the local culture is sampling the signature dishes and delicacies of the region. Whether that involves going out to eat delicious, authentic specialities every night or picking up fresh, seasonal ingredients from the market to indulge in on a picnic or in self-catered accommodation, the culinary tradition of your holiday destination can open your mind (and taste-buds) up to all sorts of tempting possibilities.
Here are some of the most popular European foodie destinations of the past year:
The Independent claimed Puglia to be one of the hottest destinations of 2014 for those that delight in Italian fare. The rustic cuisine of the region is typified by hearty, Mediterranean food that stems from what is known as 'cucina povera' or 'peasant food'. Expect colourful, locally-sourced vegetable dishes; fresh-off-the-boat seafood; wood-fire baked bread; and creamy cheeses made from both sheep and cow's milk.
Signature dishes include a variety of wholesome, comforting recipes such as patate e cozze - a dish consisting of rice, potatoes and mussels - and friselle, crunchy bread moistened with olive oil and tomatoes. Shell-shaped orecchiette pasta is also popular, served with sauces from tomato and ricotta to meat ragu.
The foodie's alternative to Paris, Bordeaux boasts speciality dishes showcasing all the rich flavours of France. Carnivores will appreciate the famous entrecote bordelaise - steak immersed in a buttery, red wine sauce - as well as the region's decadent foie gras, pigeon stews and confit de canard - a poached duck dish.
Bordeaux's close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean means you can expect platters of oysters, mussels, shrimps and catch-of-the-day specials in abundance, often served in a white wine and garlic sauce.
Denmark has been a rising star of the New Nordic cuisine scene over the past few years, an ascent which many believe culminated when the award of Pellegrino World No.1 restaurant was awarded to Noma. However, Noma does not have the final word on sophisticated fine dining in this city – there are 15 Michelin starred restaurants to choose from.
Yet some would argue that the real charm of Copenhagen's culinary scene comes from its simple, traditional offerings. Smorrebrod is an open sandwich of buttered, sour-dough rye bread topped with a variety of imaginative toppings from choice cuts of tender beef and horseradish, to smoked salmon and scrambled egg. Pork meatballs and succulent hotdogs are also popular options, whilst potato features in a range of stews like the beef dish, sipperlabskovs, as well as in simple salads.
The northern coast of Spain is a favourite for foodies, with some of the best tapas dishes in the country – although they are typically referred to as 'pintxos' here.
Fish and seafood feature prominently in Basque cuisine, with the famous tuna stew, marmitako, and the poached seafood dish, bacalao fresco, two of the must-try specialities.
Spicy sausages, mushrooms, cheeses, artichokes and asparagus are signature ingredients and colourful sauces, to complement dishes, are created from a range of fresh, seasonal produce.
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