Oh, this is going to be tricky. I’ve been visiting other European countries, covered by this board, once or twice a year for over 40 years. So many meals.
In Pollensa, Mallorca, I remember lunch at Celler es Moli. Effectively it’s workman’s cafe and we shared our table with two decorators, still in their overalls. There were three choices at each course - basic cafe stuff - salads or soup to start; fish or lasagne to start, tarta for dessert. Food includes water wine and coffee. Cost €8 (in 2008). The concession to you being foreign is that they’ll address you in Castilian, rather than Mallorquin.
There was the first dinner we ate at the Basilique in Albert, department of the Somme. I couldnt tell you what we had for the other three courses but the cheese course was memorable. The trolley had about 20, all from the region and they served it with bread (of course) and small handful of salad with a really mustardy dressing. We’ve tried to replicate the dressing at home but never quite got it right. We’ve eatne there several times since and always enjoyed ourselves.
I’m torn between two mezze meals in Yeroskipou, Cyprus. One at the well known Seven St Georges where they seem to reinvent the mezze every time we go. And the other, just round the corner at Mezodopolian. The latter didnt have the inventiveness of the former and you’re sat at tables scattered along the pavement. It was hospitality at its best. My notes say we ate Village salad, the dips, pickled celery, a very fiery pickled chilli pepper, roasted olives and a roasted cherry tomato, a fine lountza, deep fried rolls of ham stuffed with feta and spinach, moussaka, courgette mixed with scrambled egg. And then on to the meats – chicken wings, three sorts of sausage, pork souvlaki, afelia, lamb chops, sheftalia, liver. All excellent – apart from some strips of belly pork which were unpleasantly chewy. Fresh and candied fruit for dessert. Cost was about €15.
A lunch at Aquaile in Calais. On the top of a block of flats - had it been a finer day, you’d have seen Britain. To start, an assiette de fruits de mer - whelks, winkles, grey shrimps, oysters, prawns and langoustine. For a main I had a tagine of monkfish.
We had pizza in Bardolino at the Pizzeria Bardolino. It was, simply, the best pizza we’d eaten before or since. Everything you want from apizza - thin crsip crust, tasty tomato sauce, just the right amount of toppings. And, a bonus for this straight middle aged man - the servers were all very good looking your women, showing off most of their very lovely legs. No wonder it was packed with young Bardolino men.
Dinner at Club Allard in Madrid. Very formal place as it can often be in Spain. Chef comes to introduce himself and check you’ve no dietary issues. Then it’s straight into a full-on multi course tasting menu. All very clever and memorable as an over all experience. And the next day, we went grazing round the tapas stalls at the Mercado San Miguel. Just fab.
Oh, I could go on and on. But I’ll finish on the first time we went to the now closed In De Wulf in Dranouter, Belgium. Another tasting menu. Chefs bring our the dishes they’ve cooked and explain them to you. We were surprised one was a Briton form near home - we asked how he got with the language (Dranouter is a Dutch speaking part of Belgium) - but the language of the kitchen is English. The food is all very local, all very seasonal. Here’s a list of what we ate (taken from the menu):
Dogfish, green asparagus, rhubarb, lovage, lardo
Heather smoked mackerel
Kohlrabi, sour cream, herbs
North Sea crab, young fennel
Roasted cucumber, roe, squid
Plaice, split pea miso, yellow beans
Reed mace, sorrel
Snails from Comines, garlic
Oosterschelde lobster, Kerremelkstampers
Asparagus of Ghyvelde, nettles, egg yolk
Goat kid of Uxem, seashore vegetables and herbs of Ambleteuse, goat’s whey
Blood pudding, pig’s ear, rhubarb
Burned bread, maroilles
Keiems Bloempje, rye bread
Spruce shoots, woodruff, green strawberries
Goat’s milk of Uxem, dill, young cucumber