Continental Cuisine: Discover the Traditional Taste of Europe this Summer

Whether you’re searching for a siesta snack in Spain, a bratwurst in Bavaria or a Portuguese pastry on your interrailing trails — our guide has a dish for you to try.

The return of idyllic interrailing travels over the summer break has been welcomed by everyone, especially adventurous foodies. If you’re planning a trip away to indulge your wanderlust and taste buds, this list of our favourite authentic meals and hotspots will feed your curiosity. This summer, delicious delicacies await!

In Germany, whether you travel to the bustling city of Berlin or further south to the mountains and lakes of rural Bavaria, you’re sure to find a dish that will satisfy your tastebuds. Whilst German cuisine is not typically lauded as a European staple when was the last time you saw a German restaurant open up when there was a Milano’s nearby? the nation’s food is still rich with flavour and inherits a long and treasured history.

Walking through the cobblestoned streets of Nürnberg, Bavaria’s second-largest city, you’re never far from some authentic cuisine. For example, the Nürnberger bratwurst is a pork sausage that has been a staple of the city for over 700 years. This local delicacy is traditionally prepared over an open beech wood fire, a technique that many restaurants still practice today. Smaller and thinner than other German sausages, these are usually served with a side of sauerkraut and a dollop of horseradish. These flavours combine to provide a sharp and distinct taste that is sure to leave you satisfied.

If pork isn’t your thing, never fear. The Germans have enough meat delicacies to go around, with the schnitzel being a firm favourite. A thin slice of meat, schnitzel can range from being made of chicken, mutton, or turkey. However, the Wiener schnitzel, native to Austria, is very particular, and can only be made from veal. Dating back to the 19th century, this dish is prepared by thinly slicing the meat before covering it in homemade bread crumbs.  Traditional recipes very specifically state that the meat must only be very lightly and delicately coated before finally being deep-fried.

Pintxos are the Basque equivalent of tapas, a skewered variety of Spanish tortilla, fish, jambon de Bayonne, or Idiazabal cheese toppings on bread. Txikiteo is the customary Basque bar crawl practice of enjoying these tasty bites among friends.”

Strolling down the narrow streets of San Sebastián, or through the modern alleys of Bilbao, you will come across many restaurants and bars offering some of the rich food that Basque Country cuisine has to offer. Pintxos are the Basque equivalent of tapas, a skewered variety of Spanish tortilla, fish, jambon de Bayonne, or Idiazabal cheese toppings on bread. Txikiteo is the customary Basque bar crawl practice of enjoying these tasty bites among friends. Spend an evening traversing across the city bars sampling different pintxos alongside beer or a glass of txakoli, a sparkling white wine served as an aperitif. We also recommend sipping some Basque cider, a tart drink that complements the region’s savoury appetisers.

As much of Basque Country is located on the coast, many staple dishes revolve around fish or seafood. For example, marmitako, a cod stew containing potatoes, peppers, onion and garlic, or the green dish merlu kozkera, a hake served in a sauce of white wine, parsley, garlic, and olive oil, and finally txangurro, baked spider crab stuffed with a variety of herbs and vegetables. Finish your stay here with mamia, a curdled cheese served with honey and walnuts or gâteau basque, a layered pastry filled with a sweet cherry jam.

If your next stop lands you in the barri of Barcelona to continue your fiesta of feasts, you should try authentic paella. Steer clear of tourist traps in Ciutat Vella in the middle of town that serve goopy yellowed rice full of imposters such as chorizo and frozen prawns. The arròz seco rice which traditional recipes call for will absorb more fresh seafood flavours than water as it is sautéd in the classic shallow frying pan. 

“To follow, we had the crema Catalana, the region’s famed mouthwatering dessert. This delectable dessert combines warm cinnamon with tangy lemon peel encased in a golden caramelised crust.”

On our last night here we arrived at the only restaurant still serving food amid the busy nightlife in our barri at 11pm. Four outside tables were run by a grandmother and her 12-year-old grandson serving us charred squid, crispy croquetas filled with gooey bechamel sauce and meat, and patatas bravas with a satisfying spicy crunch. To follow, we had the crema Catalana, the region’s famed mouthwatering dessert. This delectable dessert combines warm cinnamon with tangy lemon peel encased in a golden caramelised crust. Its smooth and creamy texture is similar to crème brûlée but made with milk instead of cream. Enjoyed with a fresh margarita overlooking the bustling hub of Catalonia, it tastes wonderfully indulgent.

“Old wives’ tales talk of its inclusion in over 365 recipes — one for every day of the year, so you can never be bored. In Portugal, it’s bacalhau or bust.”

Portugal’s coastal location lends itself to a superb seafood culture. The national dish of bacalhau, salted cod, is a testament to this. The dried fish is the base for many Portuguese recipes. Old wives’ tales talk of its inclusion in over 365 recipes one for every day of the year, so you can never be bored. In Portugal, it’s bacalhau or bust. 

The northern Alentejo region and its acorn-rich pastures lend itself to some of the tastiest and juiciest pork Europe has to offer. Our personal favourite use for this rich meat is the bifana, thin pork slices simmered and marinated in a garlic white wine sauce served on a floury bun with an obligatory dousing of amber yellow mustard from a squeeze bottle. What more could one ask for? One can’t talk about Portugal and forget to mention the pastel de nata. The oozy custard-filled tart is topped with some optional ground cinnamon or powdered sugar. This paired with your €1 morning espresso puts Dublin’s €3.50 flat whites to shame. 

Off the beaten track there are some hidden gems. The best place to find an authentic bifana is at the corner of Largo Adelino Amaro da Costa in As Bifanas do Afonso. You might as well join the locals as they sip on half pints of Sagres beer from 11am and get their daily dose of greasy goodness. It’s summer after all!

So before we return to rainy Dublin in the autumn, why not venture outside the McDonalds and Hard Rock Cafés on the continent? The rich cuisine and atmosphere offers an unbeatable experience that will satiate both your dreams and your Instagram dumps in the months to come!

Katelyn Davis

Katelyn Davis is the current Food and Drink Editor and a Junior Sophister in English and History Joint Honours.

Eve Conway

Eve Conway is the Deputy Comment Editor of Trinity News and is currently in her Junior Sophister year studying English Literature and History.