Food and Drinks in Europe
Let's be honest, Armenian wine is not among the best - not even in the region. Nevertheless, it is still interesting to taste some Armenian cherry wine, apricot wine, peach wine, pomegranate wine, and variations of red and white wines. And with a bottle price of about 6 USD, it is okay to try a few to see which one gives you the least hangovers. Their cognac though is another story, reputed to have been a favourite of Winston Churchill, who, by personal request, received several dozen cases from Stalin.
Kvas is a local (almost) non-alcoholic beverage made from fermenting rye bread and other good stuff. It can be home-made, but mostly industrially brewed and sold in bottles like any other soft drink. Try it, it's very... hmm, interesting.
Nørrebrogade is lined with shawarma/kebab shops. Coming from the city centre and travelling out, the closer you get to Nørrebros Runddel, the higher the density becomes until it reaches a level where pretty much every shop is a shawarma joint. It is one of the cheapest places to eat in Copenhagen, but some shops are definitely better than others - try you way down.
Traditional cuisine on the Faroe Islands consists almost entirely of fish and mutton, combines potatoes and – controversially – whale meat and puffins. In the rough climate and rocky shores that are the Faroe Islands, it was tough to store one's provisions, so families resorted to salt, pickle, and dry their meat and fish. Most celebrated today is the dried fish and two types of mutton; dried skerpikjøt and fermented ræstkjøt (literary "leftover meat"). There's a distinct difference between fermented and rotten – or so say the Faroese. Fermenting is basically controlled rotting where only specific bacteria is allowed to break down certain parts of the meat – most often turning sugar into alcohol. Thus, making the meat long-lasting, as well as uneatable for a lot of outsiders. Better wash it down with some locally distilled snaps.
Food in Georgia is surprisingly yummy. A lot of salads and beans, bread, hard cheese, yogurt, honey and stew with meat so tender it falls from the bones. All vegetables are homegrown, fresh and natural with a lot of flavour. For real food lovers, each province has their own specialties. Homestays normally offer meals and it is impressive how many different dishes they can manage to serve, even for breakfast. Expect the table to be covered in plates, sometimes even in multiple levels - and there are always more where it comes from.
Probably the best thing in Gibraltar (given you love everything kitch). These British pubs tend to compensate for being so far from the British mainland that they vastly overdo their Britishness. The result is pubs that are more British than the regular pub on the British Isles. However, the truly weird thing about these bars is that many local Gibraltarians are both British and Spanish. For example, most are Catholics and not members of the Church of England and multiple of these places serve both Fish’n’Chips and Tapas. The inevitable cultural confusion is completed by the bartender being a Polack or Italian working abroad rather than a local. So even if kitch is not your thing, the pubs makes an excellent place to observe the rather unique Gibraltar culture – if you can find one without too many tourists.
If there is any country that justifies a clear distinction between delicacies and specialties, Iceland is it. Iceland has some incredible food – particularly fish (salmon, cod, Atlantic charr), seafood (it doesn’t get much better than langustines cooked in butter, garlic and parsley) and lamb. There are a few dishes that, while not exactly exotic, are not as common elsewhere: horse, for example. Reindeer is both healthy and very tasty. Then it gets a bit odder. How about a taste of puffin, seal or whale? Still, these are actually quite tasty, and for the most part they look and smell like normal food. And there is skyr, of course – a delicious yoghurt-like dairy product best eaten with fresh berries or in a skyrcake (similar to a cheesecake): you might struggle to find a single Icelandic dessert that does not contain skyr. Enter the true specialties – and be warned: these are not for the faint hearted, or those with an acute sense of smell. How about slátur (think Iceland’s answer to haggis), svið (singed sheep’s head, including the eyes, sawn in two), súrsaðir hrútspungar (pickled rams’ testicles in sour milk) or, for something really special, kæstur hákarl: Greenland shark, left to rot underground for six months. Better drink plenty of brennivín with that – with luck you won’t remember any of it tomorrow!
Many have been to a so-called Irish pub outside Ireland, but how is a real Irish pub in Ireland then. Well, there are the tourist pubs, which can be absolutely brilliant with an international crowd and live traditional music, even during the week. Then there are the ordinary Irish pubs, which can also double as a restaurant or a club. These are most lively during the weekend or when a big game of Gaelic football is on. And then there are the real local pubs, often run by some old granny. These act as the towns meeting place and is great for some people watching. Since even the smallest town has a few pubs, you can always go pub crawling and find out which one serves the best Guinness.
If you don't know what to do with an otherwise uneatable part of an animal, serve it with beer. In the Baltic region, the number one beer snack is pig ear. Just skin and cartilage - pickled, sliced and served with strong mustard. And it's actually not too bad.
Very few seem to know this, but Moldova is actually semi-famous for its wine. You will however notice this right away when arriving to the country for every hill and every field seem to be covered in long rows of grapevines. The two biggest wineries are Milestii Mici and Cricova, both can be visited on a winery tour. They are both located underground in limestone mines and are very large, as in largest in the world. The wine collection at Milestii Mici alone contains more than 1.5 million bottles, which makes it the largest collection in the world. The underground network at Milestii Mici is more than 200 km long (Cricova is "only" 120 km in length), though only 55 km of those are used for storage, and every underground street has a catchy wine-name like Sauvignon street. Any wine tour ends of course with some wine sampling, which in our case was more about quantity than quality. Keep in mind that bookings are necessary with these not-so-foreign-tourist-friendly wineries.