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If Spain has long monopolised the gastronomic attention of the Iberian peninsula, Portugal is now giving it a good run for its money. Little-known regions such as the Alentejo are undergoing a gastronomic revival as travellers discover the richness of their simple yet toothsome fare. In the cities, a new generation of chefs is looking to put Portuguese cuisine on the international gastronomic map. Perhaps nowhere else is this more visible than in the capital, Lisbon. At the top end, chefs such as José Avillez and João Rodrigues have driven the Michelin-starred dining scene, while the Time Out Market project in the up-and-coming Cais do Sodre neighbourhood has reawakened the street food and market eating movement.
When René Redzepi’s restaurant Noma won best restaurant of the year in 2010, all eyes turned to Scandinavian cuisine, and to Copenhagen in particular. Today the Danish capital remains one of the best places in Europe for food, whether it’s Michelin-starred dining or snacking on a traditional smørrebrød. Less well known and nowhere near as well-stocked with trendy eateries, the Baltic island of Bornholm is emerging as a hot new destination for Scandi food lovers. The island is famous for its smoke-houses, which produce some of the finest smoked herring you will ever try. The island is also a haven for sustainable farming, with producers using old-fashioned techniques to produce gourmet charcuterie, cheese and ice-cream. And if you’re looking for a top-end destination, the Michelin-starred Kadeau restaurant is just the ticket.
When it comes to French cities, Lyon and Paris have usually topped the charts of the best places to eat. However, in recent years the southern city of Bordeaux has undergone a veritable revival, thanks largely to the urban renewal policies of mayor Alain Juppé, and ditched its reputation as the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ of France. The city is most known for its wine culture, but the food scene is starting to catch up, as a new wave of chefs embrace the bistronomy movement – top-notch cuisine without the formality or frills. Glouton and Belle Campagne are particularly worth mentioning. The British chef Gordon Ramsay has shown an interest in the city and has become the first foreign chef to win a Michelin star in France with his restaurant Le Pressoir d’Argent, where he’s even dared to serve English wine.
The capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana, is one of Europe’s fastest growing food scenes, benefiting from its incorporation into the EU in 2004 to become a popular city-break destination with a modern, cosmopolitan atmosphere. In the past 10 years the dining scene has really exploded and a number of restaurants, bars and cafés have popped up across the city. The local gastronomy is rich and varied, sharing similarities with all four of its neighbours – Italy, Croatia, Austria and Hungary – and includes dishes such as home-made pastas, hearty stews and wholesome soups. While the city is still lacking in Michelin-star establishments, the café culture and many independent eateries really make it worth the visit.
If in recent years Croatia has developed a reputation for its lively party scene in places such as Split and Hvar island, the city of Dubrovnik, located in the southern tip of the country on the shores of the Adriatic sea, is hedging its bets elsewhere. The city’s food culture is rich in Mediterranean influences and has drawn on the best of regional cuisine in Croatia. Aromatic olive oils from the region of Istria, pungent black truffles from the Motovun forest and fresh seafood from the coast are just some of the ingredients that give the food scene in Dubrovnik its distinctive character.
Long considered a popular seaside resort for the wealthy of London, in recent years Cornwall has steadily succeeded in establishing a thriving food culture based a network of independent farmers, artisans and chefs. The green pastures, wild coastline and unique climate of Cornwall are favourable to the growing of quality produce. Local small-scale artisans produce everything from craft beer and cider, to charcuterie, cheese and ice-cream – all made using local ingredients. Celebrity chefs such as Rick Stein and Jamie Oliver have helped draw interest to the local dining scene, and today a new generation of local chefs have taken up the baton.