Friday, August 24, 2012

Eating My Way Through Europe Part 3

In this final part, we've checked out some of the more unusual dishes that you don't see as much around Sydney (Czech cuisine) or have just gotten recent exposure (Pintxos in Spain) which has all been a mad journey for the taste buds.

Czech Republic

From this time onwards, I was pretty much hungover every night so I did not do as much sightseeing as before. However I did make the time to try several of their sweet and savoury delicacies that is hard to find elsewhere (possibly because of its hard-to-pronounce names). The food here was definitely one of the more unusual and fascinating cuisines as it isn't something you would normally see as much as Asian, Italian, German, French or American 'dude food' to name a few. While there are restaurants, it is the street food that won the hearts of locals and tourists.

A trdelnik is similar to a cinnamon donut but much bigger and heavier and is available at markets or smaller shops with no tables. The way they make this reminds me of the massive hand made pretzels at Pretzelworld. Packed with cinnamon, walnut, almond and sugar with soft dough on the inside, I wish this was available elsewhere.


Another thing that I wish was available in Australia is the Halusky, which is another popular street food in Prague consisting of potato combined in a batter with cabbage and bacon. This dish is very popular in Central and Eastern European countries like Cezch Republic. It seemed like an odd combination but it is really delicious especially after a big night and it was eye catching when I first saw it at the market. A must try if you want to get Eastern European cuisine that is pretty rare elsewhere.

Making the Halusky

Old Prague ham (Prosicuitto di Praga)

There were familiar favourites like savoury and sweet crepes when we stopped at a tiny crepe shop in Cesky Krumlov - a World Heritage medieval village site. It was cool seeing how they were made to order.

Tomato, basil and mozzarella crepe


Next stop Munich, home of the Bavarian beer halls, beer gardens and anything related to beer! It's not a surprise that there's at least one beer hall on many street corners in this city. Not to mention its epically humongous servings for food and drinks.

Hofbrau Original - Check out the size of that beer!

We headed to a Munchner Haupt Beer Hall that is a bit further from the city centre where we enjoyed the usual Bavarian food such as the pork knuckle and the chicken schnitzel and traditional beer hall entertainment. Once again I had the schnitzel which is a lot better and tender than the one I had in Vienna. Although it did get pretty soggy towards the end. The chips were enjoyable as they pretty crispy to my liking.

Chicken schnitzel

On the following night, we checked out Hofbrauhaus - one of the most popular and oldest beer halls in Munchen (founded in 1589!). While it is mostly aimed at tourists, this didn't deter us. Several of the girls on the tour bought and wore the traditional Bavarian outfits and we all join in the boisterous entertainment.

While the meals for most of my tour mates arrived very quickly, mine (and one tour mate who ordered the same thing) took a while. It was a roast suckling pig after all so I expected something like that to be slow cooked. Mine arrived to the table first but my tour mate waited a lot longer. Thankfully it arrived before we all had to leave. The suckling pig was worth the wait. Crispy, tender, melting goodness! Don't get me started on the crackling! And not as heavy as a pork knuckle. I preferred the bread dumplings (that several tour mates have) over the potato dumplings that came with my meal. Ended up having a very crazy night thanks to the 1L beer (and skulling some of it) plus many many more shots at the Munich club district...and we went to white water rafting and paragliding the following day!!!

Suckling pig with potato dumpling

Hand-made pretzel - a very popular snack in Germany

HB Fried sausage

Munich-style sauerbraten (Munich pot roast) - my tour mates clearly enjoyed this dish

The Netherlands

After a couple of slightly relaxing nights in the Swiss Alps and The Rhine Valley, it was time for Amsterdamage! But first we stopped at Edam, the home of cheese, clogs and windmills. We were given demonstrations as well as cheese tastings. It is amazing to note how many varieties of Edam cheese exist.

At the final group dinner, we ended up going to Sea Palace restaurant...a Chinese restaurant in Amsterdam! The floating restaurant is similar to a Pagoda and is situated near the canals. We were given a banquet meal where waiters pile up many dishes at the same time for us to dig in. This may not be the most authentic Chinese restaurant we have experienced but it was a pretty decent effort . Plus it was fun getting as much food as we can out of 5 or six dishes on a rolling table.

And then we all say goodbye to each other and AC and I headed back to London and Barcelona for our final week in Europe.


Staying in Barcelona was a whole new experience for AC and I as we weren't with our tour anymore. While we didn't have a language barrier problem as there were 50 of us, including the tour manager, here it is just the two of us and the number of people who can speak English is Spain is limited. Time to pick up what I've learnt from Spanish class 2 years ago.

Complimentary olives

We were completely exhausted when we got to our hotel because of the early flight so we didn't really bother travelling to La Rambla. I was so hungry so I checked out a local restaurant across the street from the hotel that is open during Spain's siesta hours (phew). It was so hot that day so I was relieved to see a cold gazebo soup dish on the menu. So refreshing and tangy.

Tomato gazebo soup with croutons

Because the restaurant wants their customers to order a two course meal , I decided to try the potato and jamon croquettes with chips but it didn't taste as nice as I thought it would. Didn't mind the seaweed though as it helps with the starch from this meal.

Croquettes with chips and seaweed

When in Spain you have to try paella at least once. We headed to Diagonal strip for some shopping and stopped by Restaurant Moncho's nearby for some much needed paella. First we had a couple of tapas. Got complimentary olives (they love their olives) but AC doesn't enjoy them so I had most of them.

Mixed Olives

From what I remember, the croquettes at Moncho's were better than the one I've had earlier that day. The crunchy coating and creamy filling is indulging. Plus it helped us fill up while we wait for the paella.


THE CRUST OMG. It was so good! It wasn't soggy as some of the paella I've had in Sydney and you can definitely feel the crust at the bottom. However we did find the dish a bit too salty with too much sauce so my friend didn't really enjoy it. For me, any paella with a crust is a winner.

Seafood paella

The next few days we went on a hop on hop off bus tour across Barcelona. Eventually we were pretty hungry so we stopped by this place called Piper's Tavern in L'Eixample where we enjoyed tapas and pintxos (smaller dishes with a toothpick on a slice of bread) dishes. Before coming to Spain, my main exposure to pintxos was at The Carrington so I was excited to try the authentic stuff. Wished we bought less starchy food and more smaller dishes as we were sooo stuffed after this meal. The service was pretty poor but it was mainly due to language barriers so we let it go. Recommended for its pintxos!

Can't remember the name but it was so yummy!

Chorizo - I wish I had more of this!

Patatas bravas - bigger meal than we thought! Sauce was a bit too creamy for our liking

Calamari, crumbed mussels, croquettes to name a few...oh help us...

We checked out La Roca shopping village outside of Barcelona which was a bit disappointing than we expected...though I did buy a sweet pair of heels :). Checked out Andreu restaurant that specialises in charcuterie, baguets, and tapas.

Aside from the paella at Moncho's, this is one of the best places I've been to in Spain. I gasped when I saw pork scratching on the menu so I had to try it and it didn't disappoint me. I was only disappointed when I finished the whole thing and wanted more. I really enjoyed the other dishes as well especially the iberico ham coca and the mini salamis. Great place for meat lovers.

Llardons - Pork Scratchings

Didalets de secallona - Mini dried salamis

Iberic de gla - Acorn-fed Iberian ham

Amanida de pasta - Pasta salad

Baguet amb tomaquet - Tomato bread

One the last day in Barcelona (sniffs) we had lunch at another place across the street from the hotel. We got a couple of tapas dishes including meatballs (did not get a photos) and a rustic dish consisting of chopped chorizo and breadcrumbs called 'Migas'. While it was a bit salty I still enjoyed this dish. As someone who loves anything with breadcrumbs, this is a very good rustic dish especially with chorizo.


Two months since coming back from Europe, I still miss it and think about it everyday. Some of my tour mates are currently in Europe travelling to nearly every other country that we didn't get to see during the tour. Thanks to Contiki and my friend AC for giving me the opportunity to finally travel to Europe and Singapore as I don't think I will be able to do it on my own for my first time there. Not to mention putting up with me getting lost five times, taking my camera out every single time we go to a restaurant and other nuisances that can be said for another blog :p. It was definitely an experience that I won't forget for a long time and I hope to come back to Europe and Singapore sometime soon.

Harry potter shot in Amsterdam. Yes you can drink it!

1 comment:

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