Ah, Europe. There’s culture, beautiful views and historic sites, all overflowing with tradition at every turn. Some of the most unique and authentic experiences can be found through food, a channel that unites locals and travelers alike. From food tours and cooking classes to meals prepared in a Spanish home and a medieval banquet in Ireland, there are endless foodie encounters for all types of travelers on this cultured continent steeped in tradition.
Trattoria Terra Madre
The philosophy behind this restaurant is unpretentious, yet not lacking sophistication. The farm-to-table ideology is strong here; fresh fruits and other organic ingredients are grown on site with the assistance of compost produced from former meals, resulting in dishes with powerful, savory flavors. Guests relax with drinks while enjoying pasta-rolling demonstrations. Diners can visit the themed rooms of the trattoria to learn about the different stages for growing and harvesting the fresh ingredients, and then enjoy a meal in the trulli (a stone cone-roofed house) or on the veranda.
Bunratty Castle Medieval Banquet
County Clare, Ireland
Dunguaire Castle Banquet
County Galway, Ireland
Slide into a seat at the long, wooden banquet tables with friends and family for a meal led by the Earl of Thomond and featuring song and dance by the Bunratty Castle Singers in this 15th century castle. While enjoying the entertainment, diners will be treated to a traditional Irish meal washed down with glasses of Bunratty honey mead. Alternatively, travelers can choose to dine at Dunguaire Castle and enjoy a four-course meal narrated by Irish stories and poetry readings.
Galvin Brasserie de Luxe
Set in the city’s West End in the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian, this elegant restaurant serves up French-influenced contemporary Scottish fare. Sample dishes might include roast pheasant breast or herb-crusted venison, and a crustacea bar is featured. Insight Vacations features this experience as one of its Celebration Dinners at the end of a trip, which allows travelers to visit with their trip companions, solidifying new friendships in an upscale setting.
Insight Vacations has partnered with EatWith, a company providing travelers with access to a community of local hosts offering authentic food experiences, often in their own homes. Events are available in over 130 countries, including many in Europe. One such offering features a dine-at-home experience in Asturias, Spain, where guests will enjoy the renowned cider of host Flor Santiago and discover her recipe for her ideal pisto (ratatouille). Diners will relish their meal with fellow travelers and new friends in Santiago’s home.
Old Taverna Sorrentina Cooking School
Looking to learn to prepare meals and eat like a real Italian? Search no further than chef Guglielmo Gargiulo’s kitchen, where he hosts cooking classes that teach travelers to prepare authentic dishes such as lasagna, bruschetta and gnocchi and, to top it all off, tiramisu. Diners will then enjoy their creations with fellow class members. Friends and family stateside will be ultra-impressed with newly fostered abilities to prepare an authentic Italian meal.
The West End Gourmet Tour
Lace up your walking shoes and get ready for an authentic adventure through the streets of Copenhagen’s Meatpacking District (also known as the Ködbyen), where former factory buildings have been transformed into a foodie heaven. The three-hour tour includes tastings of foods like smörrebrod, cheeses, chocolates and akvavit and local brews to wash down the goodies, which will add up to the amount of one meal over the course of the tour.
Bite Berlin was founded by local Samantha Reidie, who was looking to share the gourmet magic and traditional dishes of her home city with visitors. Three tours are available, including an excursion to the Turkish market in Kreuzberg and a vegan-centric tour. The most popular tour, however, offers travelers a diverse understanding of German foods as they journey through the old Jewish Quarter and the district of Prenzlauer Berg. The tours are capped at 10 participants, so travelers are sure to get personal attention from the guide. Those looking to extend their experience should ask about Reidie’s supper clubs (a dining and social event) that she hosts in her own home.
Strap on Your Dancing Shoes!
EatWith’s Tapas and Flamenco Fusion Dinner
This EatWith experience is worth highlighting for its sheer uniqueness and fun atmosphere. Diners will enjoy a menu highlighting traditional Andalusian dishes such as a tortilla de patatas (a traditional Spanish omelet), espinacas con garbanzos (spinach with chickpeas) and a traditional paella upon request. Travelers will then dive into a one-hour authentic flamenco class led by a professional dancer. Those looking to extend their experience can enjoy a flamenco show.
Scottish Dinner and Cabaret
Those wanting to expand their dancing skills should head to Scotland, where they can enjoy a meal accompanied by traditional music and dancing. First, enjoy haggis, the national dish of Scotland, then learn time-honored Highland dance steps while mingling with fellow travelers and hosts clad in customary kilts, all while enjoying the sounds of bagpipes.
Paella Demonstration at La Cigrona Restaurant
Join the chef of a traditional restaurant in the city center of Valencia for an interactive class to learn a preparation of this timeless dish. Once travelers know the chef’s secrets, they’ll discover the 15 steps to properly eating paella, all while enjoying a glass of a classic sangria.
Learn more about how you can experience the authentic flavors of Europe with AAA Insight Vacations. Happy eating and safe traveling!