Whether it is a picturesque setting, the abundance of fresh fare or just a tradition for good cooking, Europe has more than its fair share of exceptional modern cuisine, with certain towns and cities doing it particularly well.
In Modena, famed for its balsamic vinegar and fast cars, world-renowned Osteria Francescana has added much to its already famous dining scene. Here Massimo Bottura will lead you through a gastronomic Italian adventure, combining the traditional with the contemporary to produce 9-course and 12-course tasting menus with wine pairings, plus à la carte offerings.
The town of Modena
The menu reads playfully, featuring ‘An eel swimming up the Po River’, ‘Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate’, and perhaps his most famous dish, the dessert ‘Oops! I dropped the lemon tart’ – taking the idea of the deconstructed dish to new levels. Previous winner of best restaurant in the world (and this year number two), Bottura’s skills have not gone unrecognised.
Some of the delightful food on offer at Osteria Francescana
Once you sample the delights of the world’s best osteria, if you feel inspired, try one of the many excellent cooking schools that further place Modena on the gastronomic world map, and be sure to explore the beautiful walkable city on foot, along via Emilia to the town centre and the cobbled Piazza Grande. If fast cars are your thing the Ferrari museum at Enzo Ferrari’s old home is a must.
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If your tastes tend more to the Spanish, Girona is the perfect choice, with El Celler de Can Roca, another restaurant right up there on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list. Run by the three Roca brothers it remains famous for its ability to marry the newest techniques with traditional Catalan flavours.
These modern touches include molecular gastronomy and the brothers’ ability to inject surreal touches. Tasting menus begin with the smallest of amuse-bouches, and lead through to dishes that include the Catalan flavours of pigeon and pigs trotters, finishing with desserts, some of which have been inspired by the world’s leadings perfumes.
Enjoy the delights on offar at El Celler de Can Roca
Tucked away in a suburb this is true destination dining when only the very best in the world will do, but the city itself has much to offer, and as a more tranquil cousin to Barcelona’s heady buzz, its 800 year old historic centre with medieval remains and Roman ruins provides many a place to stroll and square to discover – not to mention the close by mountains for some outdoor pursuits.
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And finally to the South of France and Menton, and the wonderful Mirazur. Set up by Mauro Colagreco just moments from the Italian border, the food is inspired by Colagreco’s Argentine and Italian roots and is based around three themes: sea, mountains and gardens.
Enjoy beautiful vistas whilst you dine at Mirazur
Much of the produce is grown in the chef’s own garden and a must from the menu is Colagreco’s signature dish of oysters with tapioca, pear and shallot cream. The restaurant itself is housed in a 3-storey 1930s rotunda building in the hills and affords the most spectacular views over the water, and to Menton itself.
Enjoy ‘the forest’ at Mirazur
After your meal check out the Jean Cocteau museum in Menton, explore the water by diving at Palmes Beach with its 30 dive spots or simply take advantage of the close proximity of the border and see Ventimiglia and Sanremo on the Italian Riviera.
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With some of the very best culinary creations in the world all just a short flight away, why not head to some stunning towns and cities in France, Spain and Italy and make food the focus of an unforgettable getaway.