Tag: travel

Bjorn Koch - 4 of the Most Famous European Restaurants

4 of the Most Famous European Restaurants

50 different countries make up the European continent, and each country features a rich history and fascinating culture. When it comes to restaurants, critics agree that Europe is home to some of the finest establishments on the planet. Below is a list of some of the best restaurants found in Europe.

Noma

Not only is Noma one of the best restaurants in Europe—it is also one of the most famous restaurants in the world. The restaurant is located in Copenhagen, Denmark. Chef René Redzepi runs the two-Michelin-star restaurant. Since its opening in 2003, the restaurant has received numerous awards. On four different occasions, Noma has appeared at the top of the Best Restaurant in the World list. The word Noma is actually a play on two Danish words which mean Nordic food. When most people think of Europe’s best food offerings, Nordic and Scandinavian food usually don’t appear at the top of the list, but Noma has changed that.

The restaurant has appeared in the media many times including on Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. As a result of the restaurant’s popularity, securing a reservation is very difficult. At the moment, securing a reservation is actually impossible since the restaurant closed at the end of 2016. Chef Redzepi plans to open Noma at a new location during the summer of 2017. The new location will have a farm next to it that the staff will use to source ingredients. If you want to know when Noma will reopen its doors, visit their website.

Osteria Francescana

In 2016 Osteria Francescana became the first ever Italian restaurant to appear at the top of the Best Restaurant in the World list. The three-Michelin-star restaurant opened its doors in 1995, and over the past 20 years, its dishes have been wowing diner after diner. Massimo Bottura is the man behind Osteria Francescana. Before Massimo Bottura opened Osteria Francescana he was studying law. However, he decided to leave law behind, open a restaurant, and learn to be a chef. Bottura apprenticed under chef Georges Coigny for a time before opening Osteria Francescana.

Lunch and dinner reservations at Osteria Francescana are difficult to come by. If you plan to visit, make sure you book your reservation months in advance. Osteria Francescana offers diners a 9-course or 12-course tasting menu. When you visit make sure you are prepared to spend at least three hours enjoying each course. The experience should definitely not be rushed. In a 2014 interview, Bottura spoke about the idea of closing Osteria Francescana and relocating to another city. So far Bottura is staying put in Modena, Italy. Still, if you want to dine at this fantastic Italian establish, make sure you do it soon.

El Celler de Can Roca

Joan, Josep, and Jordi Roca opened El Celler de Can Roca in 1986 in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Over the years the three brothers have earned three Michelin stars, and in 2013 and 2015 Restaurant magazine named it the best restaurant in the world. The restaurant’s wine cellar holds nearly 60,000 bottles, so come prepared to drink when you visit. El Celler de Can Roca can only hold 45 diners so booking a reservation is required. The Roca brothers focus on serving Catalan cuisine with some creative twists. For example, some of the dishes take inspiration from popular perfumes. Another dish includes a Bonsai tree on the plate.

Each of the brothers has different responsibilities when it comes to running the restaurant. The youngest brother, Jordi, is the pastry chef; the middle brother, Josep, focuses on wine, and the oldest brother, Joan, has head chef duty. Before you are seated you get a glimpse at the restaurant’s 40 cooks at work in the kitchen. Last year FoodBarcelona reviewed El Celler de Can Roca. The reviewer noted that the current wait for a reservation is 11 months (Source). Read the review, look at the pictures of the dishes, and you might decide that 11 months isn’t that long of a wait.

The Ledbury

The Ledbury is the youngest restaurant on this list. It opened its doors in 2005 and has gone on to earn two Michelin stars. While the restaurant hasn’t appeared at the very top of Restaurant’s Best Restaurant in the World list, this year it appears as the highest-ranking UK restaurant on the list. Brett Graham, who is originally from Newcastle, Australia, is the chef behind The Ledbury. He made his way to London in 2000 when he was 21 years old.

Last year the Telegraph reviewed The Ledbury and concluded that its dishes are just as delectable as they were when the restaurant first opened. It concludes the review by saying that even though The Ledbury has a world-class reputation it feels down-to-earth and friendly. There likely won’t be any leftovers when you’re done your meal. Food this delicious tends to be eaten quickly. However, the restaurant does offer guests the opportunity to take compost bags of kitchen scraps when they leave. So not only will you get a good meal, your plants will too.

Nine Foods To Try Once in your Life

Mouthwatering food exists all over the world, but there are also certain foods that you have to try at least once in your life. While many of them can be found in various locations, some are specific to the area of the world they originated in, because that place just does them the best. So get ready to plan your next trip around the fantastic food you’ll be able to find somewhere!

Escargot in France

Many people might be grossed out by the thought of eating snails, but these are truly a delicacy. The snails are killed, removed from their shells, and then prepared with butter, garlic, and other seasonings, before being placed back into the shell and served. The texture and flavor is incredible and the snail is incredibly tender.

Macarons in France

Macarons can be found all over the world now, but nothing beats real French macarons. These sweet treats come in various flavors and are the perfect size for a quick snack. They’re light and delicious, with an amazing ganache or buttercream filling.

Lobster Roll

Lobster rolls are truly masterpieces, which few people realize. The sandwich is filled with lobster meat and usually soaked in butter. Find a place that uses lots of lobster and great bread and you’ll be sure to enjoy this dish.

Shrimp and Grits

People in the North may turn their nose up at grits, but those in the South know what they’re doing when it comes to this food. This dish is normally had at breakfast time and can be sweet or savory. It’s rich in butter, but worth it.

Gelato in Italy

No place can do gelato like Italy (France comes a close second). Gelato is an amazing combination of milk, sugar, and cream, often flavored with various fruits or nuts. Italian gelato shops are known for serving their gelato in fancy shapes, such as a flower, and it immediately melts in your mouth.

Steak Tartare

Even though this dish is raw meat, which might not appeal to some people, it’s definitely worth overcoming your squeamishness. The meat is prepared with onions and seasonings for a delicious flavor. When stored and prepared properly, it’s unlikely that any bacteria is present, so you can enjoy this dish with peace of mind.

Sushi in Japan

It’s possible to find great sushi in lots of places, but none of it can compare to the sushi of Japan. If raw fish is completely repulsive to you, try some cooked sushi. Sashimi is also a great type of sushi to try, where the fish is laid over a serving of rice and can easily be eaten in one or two bites.

Real Ramen

Ramen is frequently associated with college students who need to make food quickly and on a budget, but ramen cuisine is much more impressive than this image. Real ramen is fresh noodles with either chicken or beef in a warm broth. It’s very much like a kind of soup and is a great dish to warm you up.

Tamales

Tamales are a Mesoamerican dish that originated sometime between 8000 and 5000 BC, which is incredible. This delicious food is masa dough mixed with various foods and then wrapped in a cornhusk. You unwrap the dough before eating and then can dig into this scrumptious delight.

Best Countries for Upscale Dining

Bjorn Koch upscale dining

On this website you’ve seen me write time and time again about foods you need to try from various countries, eatiers that you should visit in your city, state or country, and the authentic dishes you should try around the world.

This might be the end all and be all of cultural fine dining blog posts on BjornKoch.net. It won’t, of course, be the end of the blog posts on here, you can expect me to write about dining whenever I can moving forward–but this might be the most all-encompassing piece I write on international cuisine.

Here are the five countries with the best food around the world.

India

1.2 billion people cannot possibly be wrong. India’s food is unique in its composition and overall makeup, combining a wide variety of flavors to appease all audiences. Tandoori chicken, butter chicken, and curries are some of the most popular dishes from India, which is also famous for its fantastic vegetarian dishes given the fact that many Indians do not eat meat.

USA

It’s hard to name a top ten foods list without mentioning the USA. Notable, the USA is the only country on this list that isn’t necessarily widely regarded for its original food, but for its spins on other countries’ cuisines.

The USA is famous for its multicultural makeup, which has allowed it to blend a wide range of international foods into one cultural epicenter. Perhaps more interestingly, the USA has put its own spin on international foods (think pizza, tacos, hamburgers), taking hugely famous international food and Americanizing it.

France

Dining upscale has a few almost mandatory aspects to it; when we think of an upscale dinner party we often think about wine and cheese. It just so happens, then, that wine and cheese are two of the edibles that France is most famous for. On top of them, the croissants, macarons, fine breads and a widely ranging spread of chicken and beef dishes make French cuisine one of the best in the world.

Mexico

Often lambasted for being the same ingredients (tortilla, meat, cheese) spread out across a number of dishes, eating authentic Mexican is incredibly hard to beat. Despite that notion, there is quite a bit of variety found in real Mexican food, from the sauces that go into each dish to the preparation and presentation, each of which intensely modifies the dishes’ overall flavors.

You might bump Mexican to number one if you’re a fan of spicy foods, as most of the world’s chilis come from Mexico, particularly the very spicy ones. Worked into a number of dishes, sometimes the pain of stuffing a few jalapenos or habaneros into your mouth is worth it for the flavor compliments.

Italy

When you think of Italian food you probably think of freshness. Italian food is often not overly complicated or difficult to prepare, but one taste of an authentic Italian dish will show you how little that matters in the grand scheme of things, Fresh tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and breads are staples of Italian cuisine. The food is so wide ranging–from marinara to alfredo, from pizza to gelato–that it’s difficult to cover it all and not drool on my keyboard.

Five States and Their Defining Foods

Traveling and food are an intertwined, intersecting pair of interests of mine that I often find myself experiencing at the same time. When I travel, I sample the local cuisine regardless of how exotic it is or is not. There’s nothing like visiting the heart and birthplace of a dish and tasting an authentic version yourself. It always–always–blows imitations out of the water.

Regardless of where I’m headed–across the ocean, across the state or across the country, food will continue to be a huge part of traveling for me. And it should be the same way for you.

Within the United States are, of course, 50 states. Most everyone knows that, but what not everyone knows is that within each state is a signature dish, sandwich or local delicacy that you’re best off trying on your next visit. Here are five states with the most recognizable and most delicious foods that you should indulge in on your next visit.

Louisiana–Gumbo

If you’ve been to Louisianna before, you know that the state is known for its cajun creole inspired seafood dishes. In New Orleans you’ll likely find a good bit of jambalaya, but statewide, gumbo is a must-try. The base vegetables of celery, onions and peppers with stock, a meat or seafood and a variety of seasonings, spices and other ingredients combine to form a fantastic southern dish.

Maryland–Crabs/Crab cakes

The popularity of Maryland crabs comes from the method in which they’re cooked. Instead of simply boiling blue crabs with little to no spice, Maryland has made famous the method of utilizing Old Bay and a variety of spices to bring out the flavor of the crabs. If cracking is too much work for you, Maryland crab cakes are a fantastic substitute in Maryland.

Illinois–Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

You’ve probably tried deep dish pizza before, but unless you’ve been to Chicago, you haven’t really tried deep dish pizza. The chunky tomato sauce, the heaps of cheese and the perfectly cooked crust makes eating authentic Chicago-style deep dish an experience that every human on earth should try at least once in their life.

Pennsylvania–Philly Cheesesteak

A classic example of something that you can get just about anywhere in the world, but probably shouldn’t. Visiting just about any pizza place in America, you’ll find a menu item that will likely read “Philadelphia cheesesteak.” If you want a real Philly cheesesteak, avoid this. Philly cheesesteaks should be eaten in Philly. Avoid tourist-based spots like Pats and Genos, and opt instead for Dalessandros or Steve’s. My final recommendation: cheese whiz and onions. Not exactly upscale, but certainly delicious.

Massachusetts/New England– Clam Chowder

You had to have seen this coming. As a Boston resident, filling up with a bowl of clam chowder, particularly on a chilly evening, is hard to beat. Thicker than most other chowders because of its creamy base, New England clam chowder is a must-try when you’re in the area. And, by the way, to the locals it’s chowda’.

 

Five Countries & Their Defining Cuisine

Bjorn Koch Food

Some countries are well known for a specific type of food, like pasta in Italy or sushi in Japan. Other countries have lesser known delicacies that require some research to learn about. I’ve compiled a list of six different countries that are not always cited as the best countries to sample food in, but they do have their own dishes to offer that are stupendous.

 

Australia – Pie floater

The pie floater is a meat pie placed in green pea soup, often finished off with salt and pepper, vinegar, and tomato sauce. It’s ideal for when cold weather hits Australia. Some even claim the pie floater is a reliable hangover cure. They were traditionally served from pie-carts parked on the side of the street, but can now be found in restaurants throughout Australia.

 

Argentina – Asado

Asado is a type of grilled meat served in Argentina. Only the best cuts are used, so the meat will have a tantalizing taste. Many people claim the best place to get asado is in the countryside, or homemade in someone’s backyard. It’s carefully flavored and grilled, which leaves a stunning flavor. This food is an important part of the culture in Argentina. The person who makes the grilled meat even has a special name; the “asador”.

 

Singapore – Katong Laksa

Laksa is a dish that originated with descendents of Chinese immigrants who moved to the area between the 15th and 17th centuries. There are many different variations of laksa, but the way Katong Laksa differs from the others is that the noodles are cut into bite-sized pieces. The noodles are then mixed together with fish cake, bean sprouts, cockles, and prawns, all in a coconut curry gravy. It’s a pleasure to the tastebuds.

 

Canada – Poutine

This dish originated in Quebec, but can now be found throughout the country, in diners or pubs and sometimes fast food restaurants. Poutine is french fries, slathered in gravy and cheese curds. To some people, this food may not sound that appetizing, but many consider it delicious. It’s sometimes offered with different meat toppings, like chicken or bacon.

 

Czech Republic – Czech Goulash

Goulash may have had its beginning in Hungary, but the Czech Republic has given the food their own unique twist. Beef is the main ingredient in this food, and sometimes beer is added in as well. These ingredients result in a thick stew that is mouthwatering. It’s often paired with bread dumplings and a pint of beer!

Imperial Beijing Cuisine

Traditional Chinese cuisine epitomizes sophistication. With its diverse ingredients and lavish presentation, classical Chinese dining is the height of elegance and palatable pleasure. The Waldorf Astoria has, for a limited time, the foremost expert on Chinese dining assisting in the creation of the penultimate Chinese dining experience.

Desmond Chang, the foremost expert on the traditional Chinese meal, enjoys the exploration of a culture’s history through its meals. The Hong Kong native found the construction of such an involved menu challenging. With nine-courses, the menu represented the collision of culinary cultures in ancient Beijing. When asked how he was able to conquer such a challenge, Chang said “You have to address it from scratch. You have to ask; ‘What is the signature dish of the Han people?’ And then you have to look at the recipes and try to redefine them in a delicate way, one by one.”

The authenticity of dishes was paramount when constructing the menu. This proved difficult when crafting Manchurian dishes originating from China’s northeastern region, however. The long list of rare ingredients included tendon of wild deer, challenging Chang to produce potable entrees with foods he’s never worked with. Never deterred, Chang was able to cook the stringy meat in a savory stew, pairing it with frozen blueberries to bring sweetness to the traditional dish.

A small piece of the massive nine-course meal, Chang’s research grew ever more in-depth. Following the traditional serving of an appetizer, a platinum square platter is divided into ornate circular dishes and plated with fried meatballs, cucumber with ox tongue, jellyfish in vinegar, bean sprout and baby coriander rolls, Peking duck slices, mustard duck web, chicken with Chinese wine, pear and hawthorn with Osmanthus syrup, and traditional pork jelly with soybeans. Each delicacy representing one of the Nine Halls Diagram, or Jiu Gong Ge of Daoist philosophy.

A dish served to state officials during the Qing dynasty, Tan style braised fish maw with chicken soup is a delicacy fit for royalty. Made from a sweet pumpkin juice and three types of free-range chickens, the soup pairs well with the Chinese Spring pancake to follow. Packed with vegetables, crispy rice and Beef, the Beijing people believe this meal has restorative powers that aid the body’s internal organs. With the remaining courses running the gamut from suckling pig, baby cabbage cooked in spring water, to rose and lychee jelly for dessert, this meal is sure to be one for the history books.

 

Bjorn’s 10 Favorite Restaurants in NYC

Below is a list of Bjorn’s favorite restaurants in New York City

  1.  Cafe Felix (SoHo) – great brunch spot for Sunday in Soho with French bistro cuisine and a Brazilian feel to it. Great steak frites after a long Saturday night. Fun crowd for afternoon cocktails too.
  2. Wallse (West Village) – Best authentic Austrian food in the City with an excellent selection of Gruner Veltliner wines. Original “Salzburger Nockerln” as dessert are exquisite and the Spaetzle with braised rabbit a must-have.
  3. STK Downtown (Meatpacking) – Great place for steaks with good people watching and DJ spinning tunes. Lively scene. Also, their outdoor patio seems to be open now too.
  4. Marea (Columbus Circle) Michelin star-rated seafood restaurant with an Italian twist but not as stuffy as others can be. Great bar to dine at in a bit more casual setting but when it comes to attire I would still suggest dressing up. The crudo dishes are excellent with fluke and octopus worth exploring.
  5. The Lion (Greenwich Village) – Upscale American cuisine with some Italian inspired dishes. Upper west side chic interior with more of a downtown crowd.
  6.  Minetta’s Tavern (Greenwich Village) – Lively French Bistro in an old-style setting with lots of history to it. Another favorite.
  7. Hatsuhana (Midtown) – Excellent sushi/sashimi in more of a classic Japanese setting. A welcome change to the more trendy sushi places in town.
  8. Bocca di Bacco (Hell’s Kitchen) – Fantastic neighborhood spot for real Italian food. Rustic contemporary interior makes the setting very comfortable.
  9. Acme (NoHo) – Cool downtown spot with very creative American cuisine and a great lounge downstairs for cocktails after dinner.
  10. Beauty & Essex (Lower East Side) – Needs no explanation, just a fun dinner spot to go with a bunch of friends.

Dining on Top of the World In New York City

Bjorn Koch One World TradeNew York City is home to arguably one of the most memorable and historically recognized skylines. With millions of people bustling about its streets and buildings, the city comes alive at a distance. A diamond with a thousand living, glimmering facets. This storied scenery has undergone drastic changes over the years, but none more triumphant than One World Trade. Risen from the footprints of the Twin Towers, One World Trade has more to offer than its message of remembrance and strength. Some of the finest dining in the city rests atop this massive building, and its as breathtaking as the views.

            This 1,776 ft tall excursion is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, making your meal something more than your usual restaurant experience. With in-house chef’s preparing spectacular meals in One Cafe, One Mix, and One Dine, you’re sure to find something to whet your appetite. Inside such a landmark to New York, it should come as no surprise the cuisine represent all the flavor of the city. A fine dining experience at this location, however, will demand a fine dining price.

            While the views are spectacular from atop this modern marvel, the price to get you from the revolving door your seat can run higher than you’d expect. Lines into the establishments are often surrounded by faux-paparazzi looking to replicate the hollywood experience for anyone willing to pay a little cash before they enter. With a cover of $32 per person, and a tempting $65 fee to cut the lines, you could be looking at nearly $100 of tips and expenses before you even sit down. Taking into account the three course meal usually running $75 per person, this is an expensive night on the town.

            Though the plates may be expensive, it’s difficult to put a price on the experience. With breathtaking views of the city that no other establishment can boast, One World Trade can offer a unique experience to anyone willing to dig a little deeper in their wallet. Though not an establishment to frequent, you may find this memorable monument to New York’s spirit a perfect spot for that special occasion.

Below is a time-lapse of the 11 year construction on One World Trade.

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