4 of the Most Famous European Restaurants

*This post originally appeared on Bjorn Koch.

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.

5 Tips for Cooking Like a Pro

*This post originally appeared on Bjorn Koch.

Whether you’re cooking for yourself, your family or somebody you want to impress, it’s always nice to feel confident in your culinary abilities — no matter how much experience you have. Here are 5 tips that will help you cook like a pro:

1. Always Prepare Before You Cook

No matter how simple your dish, it’s important to take the time to lay out all of the necessary tools and ingredients before you even flip on the stove. Otherwise, you could run the risk of burning something while you turn away to retrieve that bulb of garlic you forgot to pull out of the fridge.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Get Your Hands Dirty

It may sound taboo, but using your hands in the kitchen is entirely natural and acceptable — after all, they’re the best tools you have. Use your hands in measuring portions, applying marinades and seasoning to meat, and even toss salads. These methods not only save you time during preparation, but in the clean-up department as well.

3. Don’t Waste Food

…Unless it’s moldy and entirely unsafe for consumption, of course. According to head chef Abra Berens, however, there are several ways you could use to get rid of the older food in your fridge without being wasteful, including: turning your wilting lettuce into a delectable soup, making chicken or another form of stock from your leftover bones, and zesting your oranges before eating them.

4. Shop Smarter

It may be tempting to just go to your local grocery store and pick up your necessary ingredients in one fell swoop, but many chefs recommend you hold out on purchasing your fruits and vegetables until you get to a farmer’s market. More often than not, the produce sold at farmer’s markets are fresher and have been exposed to fewer pesticides and other toxic substances than their supermarket counterparts.

5. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Sometimes, it’s good to branch out from rigid recipes and test out a few ingredients of your own choosing — though this isn’t recommended when you’re cooking for somebody other than yourself.

Or, if you feel comfortable in your ability to choose complementary seasonings and garnishes, try a new cooking technique. Many master chefs recommend testing out methods like sautéing, French frying, and poaching, as these are some of the easiest to learn. Please don’t experiment with methods that incorporate an open flame, like flambéing, as these take a decent amount of professional training to safely perform.

Best German Restaurants in the US

*This post originally appeared on www.bjornkoch.org.

You don’t have to visit Germany in order to enjoy a delicious German meal. In the United States, you’ll find many German restaurants that celebrate German cuisine. Even if you don’t have German ancestors, you should make a point to visit one of the below restaurants. You won’t regret it!

Old Europe – Washington, DC

Old Europe has been serving delectable German food since 1948. Inside the restaurant, servers dress in traditional German attire to transport you in time to old Europe. The Schnitzel Old Europe is a popular choice for first-time diners. Throughout the year the restaurant features special menus for different holidays. For example, there’s a sausage week, and, of course, Oktoberfest. Take a look at these pictures to get an idea of the restaurant’s ambiance.

Bavarian Grill – Plano, TX

Bavarian Grill has been voted the best German restaurant in America on multiple occasions. It has also received numerous other awards since its opening in 1993. The restaurant features an extensive beer and wine menu in addition to its German cuisine. Although German food has a reputation for being meat heavy, at Bavarian Grill you’ll find a vegetarian menu as well as a gluten-free menu.

Prime Meats – Brooklyn, NY

Prime Meats opened in 2009. The restaurant focuses on serving farm to table alpine inspired fare. While the menu doesn’t feature an extensive beer list like most other German restaurants, it does feature a lot of wine. One of the best items on the menu is the house-made sausage. If you have trouble picking a sausage you can make things easier by ordering the sausage tasting board. Visit the Prime Meats website to learn more about this cozy restaurant.

Suppenküche – San Francisco, CA

Suppenküche is located in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood, not far from the Civic Center. If you visit with a party that’s less than six, you won’t be able to make a reservation. The restaurant opens at 5:00 every day. Arrive at 5:00 if you don’t want to wait—the restaurant fills up quickly, and there aren’t many seats at the bar where you can wait until your table is ready. On the menu, you’ll find imported beers from Germany, Belgium, and Austria. If you really want a challenge, order one of the beers that are served in a glass boot! The dinner menu changes often, yet you’ll find tasty traditional German fare including pretzels and sauerkraut.

No, Instagram Isn’t Ruining Travel

 

Early this morning, a piece entitled “How Instagram is Ruining Travel” was posted to the nationally acclaimed publication Conde Nast Traveller. Reading it did flash me back to numerous experiences I’ve had with fellow travelers; people who were engrossed in their phones, in taking photos and in garnering as many “Likes” or “Favorites” as they could. Essentially, utilizing incredible wonders of Earth as backdrops for social media attention.

 

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

 

Has social media changed how we travel, absolutely. It’s had a profound impact on not only the experiences that many people have while exploring the world, but how we document it. Photography serves a purpose. We unearth old photos of us or our loved ones, taken by our parents and stored in a shoebox in the basement until we happen upon them one afternoon, and the nostalgia comes rushing back. We want to relive these moments and the best way to do so is via photography. The memory of viewing the Eiffel Tower or the Pyramids of Giza in person fades, as do the sounds and the smells and the experience. But photography doesn’t.

To continue reading, visit BjornKoch.net.

 

 

Simply put, there is no wrong way to travel. There is no wrong way to experience the sights and sounds of the world. Do what you please and recognize that not everyone will share those thoughts. Ultimately, don’t let it affect you, and never, ever, stop traveling.

Madrid Travel Guide

Madrid Travel Guide

 

Madrid is commonly referred to as one of Europe’s most artistic cities. With a wide range of museums like that of the Prado Museum, it’s not difficult to see why. Within this art gallery lies tens of thousands of European paintings, sculptures, and drawings, all ranging from the 12th century to the early 19th century.

 

Another landmark one must see when visiting Madrid is Buen Retiro Park. This 350-acre park houses Madrid’s finest gardens and monuments, along with a shimmering pond that allows kayaking and boating. Throughout the park, you will come across many street performers such as musicians, fortune tellers, dancers, and much more. The bustling social life can resemble that of an entire city within the confines of towering trees and stunning flowers.

 

Running through alleyways and cobblestone streets lies some of Madrid’s greatest restaurants. If you’re not immediately drawn by these dining places’ personal advertisers, the smell alone is enough to stop you in your tracks. With authentic foods like tapas, paella, tortilla espaniola, and jamon, this city’s menu could greatly expand your palate.

 

Once the sun sets, the city becomes more alive than ever. After a large midday meal followed by an afternoon nap, or siesta, Madrid’s rejuvenated nightlife becomes one of the most active in the country. Aside from the hundreds of bars and nightclubs, you can find a wide range of entertainment; one of the most popular being flamenco. This beautiful artform entails graceful yet fierce dancers in long, flowing dresses, accompanied by jaw-droppingly skilled guitarists. The talent and dedication to their craft that these performers possess is truly a sight to see.

 

So, if a trip to Europe is next on your list, Madrid just may be the city for you

Traveling With Pets

Traveling with Your Pets

Homesickness can surely put a damper on any vacation, whether you’re across the country, across the city or across the world. You miss the comfort of your own bed, the smell that only your house has, and of course, your pets.

 

Traveling without your pets can be heartbreaking, and not just for you. Of course you miss giving your furry, four-legged friends all the love and affection that they deserve and have become accustomed to. But the pain can be just as bad for your pets as it is for you. Instead of feeling guilty for leaving them behind and dealing with the thoughts of abandonment, bring them along.

 

Whether or not you pack Fido away will depend largely on where you’re heading, and for how long.

 

A day trip to the beach or an overnight camping trip are ideal for bringing your dog along.

Transportation in these cases is easy–depending on how large or small he or she is, you can let your dog sit in the back seat of your car and stick its head out of the window for the ride. If it’s a smaller dog (or a cat), a crate is an easy, safe and much cleaner way to transport your pet for car rides.

 

However, it’s important to take safety precautions when traveling with your pet in the back (or front) seat. By sticking its head out of the window, your dog is at risk of being pelted with insects or other debris at fairly high speeds. And, while it’s an oft-forgotten risk, dogs can fall (or jump) out of a window left too wide open.

 

Shorter, more outdoorsy trips like the beach, camping or hiking can be enormously fun for you and your pet; they allow you to bring them along but not feel as though they’re an extra chore or a nuisance for the duration.

 

If you’re going on a slightly longer trip somewhere further from home and you’d rather not pay a sitter or put your dog in a cage at the vet for a week or two, bringing him or her on your flight is a fairly simple process. Even though the process is a fairly straightforward one, it’s important to make sure you’re going to cover all the bases when it comes to getting your pet on board a flight.

 

First, try to book a direct flight if at all possible–avoiding layovers means less time your pet spends inside the cage in the cargo area of the plane, and less time that the crate will be moved around, transported and potentially mishandled or dropped during the switch over. The ASPCA also recommends buying a USDA approved carrying crate which, above all else, should be properly labeled. Should your pet wriggle its way out of the cage, the cage get lost or misplaced, ensuring everything is labeled with the pet’s name, your name, and some contact info could be the difference between reunited you and your fuzzy friend quickly and safely.

 

But, once you’ve arrived at your destination with your dog (or cat) in tow, let the fun begin. To find out some pet-friendly attractions and destinations, visitPetTravel.com

America’s Best Concert Venues

There’s something viscerally enjoyable about closing your eyes and listening to music. Music can help drive our emotions, bring out feelings we didn’t know we had, relax us almost to sleep, or amp us up for a night out with our closest friends.

While turning your iPod on or opening Spotify on your phone and putting in your headphones is a great way to drown out the outside world for a little bit, nothing beats hearing your favorite singers or bands play live, in person, in front of your very eyes.

Here are a few of the most beautiful and mind-blowing concert and performance venues around America that all music lovers should try to see during their lifetime.

Carnegie Hall–New York

If you want to see one of the most beautiful, historic and most well-known concert halls in the entire United States, Carnegie Hall may be for you.

The hall, built in 1891 was funded, of course by philanthropist and steel industry magnate Andrew Carnegie. Divided into three performance halls, each more ornate than the last, Carnegie Hall is home to some of the most brilliant performances of the last century plus, which make up a part of the nearly 50,000

performances put on since its opening.

According to its website, Carnegie Hall was designed by William Burnet Tuthill, who clearly put all of his architectural abilities into the New York performance center, as he never designed another building–concert hall or not–again.

 

The Red Rocks Amphitheatre–Colorado

Unlike Carnegie Hall, the Red Rocks Amphitheatre isn’t necessarily world-renowned for its acoustics, its namesake or its hosting of generations of the music world’s greatest talent. But the appeal of Red Rocks isn’t necessarily in the talent it attracts (and it does attract talent, as the Beatles and U2, among others, have performed there), but in its appearance.

Situated about 6,500 feet above sea level, Red Rocks is the only naturally occurringand acoustically flawless amphitheatre in the entire world.

 

Radio City Music Hall–New York

Back to New York for another entry on this list. Known for the performances of the famous Rockettes, RCMH is also often referred to as “The Showplace of the Nation.” Adorned with work from numerous depression era artists, the hall hosts everything from huge rock concerts to the annual Christmas Spectacular, a defining aspect of Radio City Music Hall’s appeal.

While few places on this list can claim the same, Radio City has also left important marks on the sporting world in the past. It formerly hosted the NFL Draft (which will be in Philadelphia this season) and played home to the New York Liberty, a WNBA team for six games while Madison Square Garden was being renovated in 2004.