Lonely Planet Gourmet Trails Europe

Gourmet Trails Europe. Top view of a woman behind a counter at a fruit and vegetable kiosk in the Balti Jaama Turg market.
The Balti Jaama Turg market in Tallinn, Estonia.

I can only imagine how hard it must have been to whittle the contents of Lonely Planet’s Gourmet Trails Europe down to 40 trails. As the book’s introduction points out, Europe is arguably the most diverse culinary continent on the planet, with fiercely local food traditions and recipes passed down from generation to generation.

Chefs are writing a new food language too, fusing tradition with creativity. And then of course there’s the allure of vineyards, breweries, and distilleries. As the book declares, “this is a boozy part of the world”. Yes, Europe is most definitely the place to feed your wanderlust and feed your stomach at the same time.

The 40 epicurean regions featured in Gourmet Trails Europe range from Vienna and its wonderful heurigen; the Mediterranean’s ‘isle of beauty’, Corsica; and Germany’s Black Forest where you can go foraging for wild herbs; to Copenhagen and its Danish pastries; Warsaw, the rising star of the east; and Abruzzo, where you can experience the real dolce vita.

Lonely Planet Gourmet Trails Europe

It’s pleasing to see some regions where I’ve had amazing food experiences, like Bordeaux, Dijon and Alsace (including its fairytale town of Colmar), not to mention Albania’s capital, Tirana, which the book proclaims to be the most dynamic dining scene in the Balkans. We had some wonderful (and very affordable) experiences in Tirana, including at the quirky Kometeti café that is mentioned in the book. It doesn’t mention the impressive Mullixhiu restaurant run by Bledar Kola, a fine chef and proponent of the Slow Food movement, but I guess lists like these can never be exhaustive. Do add it to your list if you’re following the trail.

The trails cater for a wide range of tastes and budgets, covering both food and drink experiences. That could mean rolling up your sleeves for a country cooking class, foraging in the woods, tasting stinky cheeses, visiting farmers markets or queuing with locals for outrageously good street food. But there’s also Michelin-starred dining, waterfront seafood feasting, eco-distilleries, and wine-tasting on picturesque vineyard terraces.

Rose-flavoured Turkish delight, a national treasure in Istanbul.
Rose-flavoured Turkish delight, a national treasure in Istanbul.

Each itinerary comes with information on where to stay, what to do, and local celebrations. The photography is generous and fabulous – there’s so much to whet the appetite you’ll be wanting to hop on a plane tomorrow. If you’re planning a culinary getaway, looking for some armchair travel inspiration, or buying a gift for a foodie friend, pop this one in your bag. Bon appétit!

Lonely Planet Gourmet Trails Europe is published by Lonely Planet Food. Photos from the book are reproduced with the publisher’s permission.

Buy your copy of  Lonely Planet Gourmet Trails Europe from Australian-owned Booktopia.

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