Satisfying my Sweet Tooth Across Europe
I’ve been one of those people since 3rd January that’s done nothing but harp on about how I’m on a diet. I’ve stuck to it*, the weight is coming off weekly, and for the most part I’ve not found it too difficult. Two weeks ago though something changed and I got this enormous craving for something really sweet.
I was chatting to a friend about what I could eat most in the world there and then. Donuts, pancakes with chocolate sauce, all the creme eggs, a huge ice cream sundae with sprinkles…I literally couldn’t stop thinking about what I’d give my right arm for first. It didn’t help that I wrote this post on all the amazing Valentine’s themes deserts and delights that were happening across Newcastle.
I resisted at the time, but it got me thinking of all the delicious treats I’ve had on my travels the last couple of years, and more often than not it’s no surprise where I’ve had the best of the best. Gelato in Italy, macarons in Paris, oliebollen in the Netherlands…this post is starting to sound like a bit of a cliche but there’s always truth behind the biggest cliche’s and this, is all true.
*Since I started to write this post when I was at peak craving, I spent four days in Dieppe and ate everything in sight, so cravings are satisfied for now but I thought I’d share anyway.
Cheesecake at Cafe Rivoire
Cafe Rivoir is an elegant Italian cafe located on the busy Piazza della Signoria, and has been there since 1872. We actually went for wine and cold meats after our first morning exploring Florence, but inside it became very obvious it was a lot more than just a place for lunch. The rows and rows of delicately crafted chocolates inside the glass cabinets, and boxes of any number of different pralines filled the shelves.
The chocolatiers and pastry chefs of Cafe Rivoir work on site every day, and although I didn’t have any of the chocolates, I couldn’t resist a slice of cheesecake and it was delicious.
Gelato from Vivoli and Don Nino’s
Vivoli gelato parlour appeared on so many ‘best gelato in Florence’ lists when I was taking my research very seriously, and it took us a few days to find it but we got there, and it was worth the wait. It’s quite a big place, with a huge selection of flavours, and a lot of indoor seating. Vivoli began in 1929 and was a family run place where locals and tourists alike used to meet for ice cream after dinner. It was known as a place to socialise as well as get your desert.
Don Nino’s was a lot easier to find, located right on Piazza del Duomo, and you can’t miss the huge queue waiting outside. It looks a lot more fancy, with it’s white decor and plaques that change every day detailing the flavours on offer. Maybe it’s because of the incredible view you get when you’re eating it, but Don Nino’s was my favourite gelato in Florence.
Gelato at Gelateria Tre Fontane
The gelato may be very good in Florence but the Italian capital is just another level. There are gelateria all over the city, but my favourite was one on Piazza Navona, one of the big squares lined by restaurants and little shops.
It was called Gelateria Tre Fontane, and despite being small it still had a huge range of home made flavours to choose from. Amazing in the heat of the city as you wander among the fountains, sights and Roman architecture.
Macarons from Laduree
I know some people don’t like them, but I love macarons especially if you get the flavour right. So many people go for the brightly coloured ones, ignoring the flavour and instead choosing based on how cute they look in the Laduree packaging. They do look very cute mind.
But anyway if you go for the flavours you like I don’t think you can be disappointed. They’re always goo-ey in the middle which is exactly how they should be, and while flavours like rose can be a bit heady, the citrusy ones like orange or lemon are an absolute delight.
You might as well complete the cliche and enjoy them with a glass of champagne by the Eiffel Tower.
Chocolate eclair from Angelina’s
I first had a chocolate eclair from Angelina’s when I was a child on what was I think my first ever visit to Paris. I can still remember how annoyed I was when it took a while to arrive, but it was so unbelievable all my anger disappeared pretty quickly when I wolfed it down.
I’d also really recommend the Angelina’s hot chocolate, especially in winter when you can get it from the little street cart that opens outside.
I discovered these absolute beauties on Instagram, as I’ve followed the owner of the pop up business for a while. They create very cute sweets, including chocolate covered strawberries, mini ice creams, novelty edible bouquets, and gorgeous looking chocolate bars. They only deliver within Amsterdam, so on a weekend visit last year I ordered a box.
Not only are they beautiful to look at they taste unbelievable. Huge juicy strawberries in pink chocolate decoration I’d travel back to Amsterdam just for these.
The Happy Pig pancakes
Pancake! is often most people’s favourite pancake place in the Dutch capital, and it is very good especially the one in the Nine Streets, but I much prefer the tiny, always busy and cramped Happy Pig pancake shop.
Oliebollen, any bakery shop usually around the Red Light District
These deep fried dough balls are a dream, and you can get them smothered in various chocolate dips. There are so many sweet/bakery places in the tourist hot spots and nearly all of them have them. A real fatty treat but worth every calorie.
Stroopwaffels, Van Wonderen
Like oliebollen, stroopwaffels are a tradition in the Netherlands and can be found all over the place in Amsterdam. My personal favourite for a huge selection including ones that are a bit different can be found at Van Wonderen.
Stroopwaffels are basically a thin biscuit type of waffle with a layer of caramel sandwiched between them. They’re sized to fit over your cup of coffee when it’s hot to warm them up turning the caramel all sticky and delicious.
The stroowaffels at Van Wonderen are also dipped in chocolate and have additional toppings like nuts, smarties etc to make them just that bit better.
Waffle on a stick/ice cream from Vaffelbageren
I had one of these on my first ever trip to Copenhagen, and almost had it stolen from me by a hungry pigeon. Vaffelbageren is located at the iconic area of Nyhavn, recogniseable by all the colourful buildings, restaurants and the little canal.
It’s a haven for tourists in both summer and winter, and depending on the season they cater for different sweet tooth tastes. In winter, the warm waffles on a stick dipped in chocolate sauce and covered in sprinkles are to die for, but you can also get proper waffles on a plate or churros.
In the summer the queues are out the door for their ice cream, with a huge range of flavours and this very sickly but also rather amazing marshmallow whip stuff that you can get on the top.
Flavoured popcorn, and all manner of treats at Tivoli
The most quaint and adorable theme park you will ever discover, Tivoli completely surprised me when I first went last summer. As well as the gorgeous landscaped gardens, rides and attractions for the kids, and theatrical shows the food scene is pretty good.
It isn’t all candyfloss and toffee apples either, I remember a shop full of different flavoured popcorn, a waffle place and plenty of ice cream parlours dotted about too.
Freia chocolate shop
Once the biggest chocolate factory in Norway, the Freia chocolate brought milk chocolate to a Norwegian market that had previously been dominated by dark chocolate. Let me tell you, it’s bloody unreal.
The giant Freia clock sits in the centre of Oslo, and you can also find the little traditional shop on Karl Johan’s Gate.
Brita Kook, any cafe in Tallinn Old Town
I cant remember the name of the cafe or ‘Kohvik’ place that I had this when I was in Tallinn, but I do know that despite possibly originating from Sweden this type of cake bake thing called ‘Brita Kook’ is very popular in Estonia.
It was flaky, held together with cream and jam, was covered in almonds, and overall was really nice with coffee!
Everything chocolate at Chocolaterie Pierre
This little cafe is tucked away in a little courtyard off Vene Street in Tallinn, and it’s the strangest little place. It’s like entering a gypsy cave with velvet chairs, huge heavy curtains, gold trim, the kind of lamps you’d expect to find in your grandmas living room, but above all else the whole place is entered around chocolate.
Everything on the menu, from the drinks to the cakes involves chocolate in some way. I had a hot chocolate, and tried two chocolate truffles which came served on a silver platter. They were so rich, but so good!
So the Lindt chocolate museum and factory in Cologne is obviously dedicated to the Lindt brand, but as well as being able to learn about the art of chocolate making, you can get stuck in for yourself in the cafe that’s attached to it, without having to pay the admission fee.
I’d much rather be eating than learning about chocolate, but be warned that like the Chocolate cafe in Tallinn it’s very rich. I went for the waffles with Lindt chocolate sauce.
Sorbet cocktails at The Dock
The Dock is actually a burger place in Klaipeda, but they do a lovely range of desert cocktails, that come with a side of sorbet. This raspberry one was absolutely amazing!
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