One of my best friends, Jill, and her brother, Jim, planned a trip to Europe so I invited myself along! I met up with them in Paris and then we spent a week traveling through France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
Of course – macarons. I am obsessed with the colors of macarons. I’ve read about the great Laduree vs. Pierre Herme debate, so I thought I’d try my own taste test.
I tried Pierre Herme first, where I just got a pre-made box of 12. The flavors were pretty interesting – milk chocolate & passion fruit, salted butter caramel, olive oil with mandarin orange, mint, etc. The ones with fruit weren’t my favorite, but the quality was great and they really did melt in my mouth.
Laduree had a much longer line. While the colors of the macarons were a lot more Instagramable, but I didn’t think they were as good as Pierre Herme. They just didn’t taste as fresh and the flavors felt a little more artificial. I got a box of six – I tried rose, coffee, pistachio, citron, Marie Antoinette, and salted caramel. Don’t get me wrong though – if someone offered me a Laduree macaron, it’s not like I’d pass it up.
Here we made one of the worst decisions of the trip – eating at Quick, a fast food restaurant similar to McDonald’s that’s big in France, Belgium, and Luxembourg. A couple of us had some stomach issues after eating Quick, if you get what I mean…
We got these Belgian waffles pretty close to Brussels’ main square, which probably wasn’t smart. There wasn’t anything special about these waffles, which were absolutely covered in milk chocolate, strawberries, and powdered sugar. It was a little disgusting to eat by the end.
This was actually the first time I had ever eaten mussels. I liked them! However, that might be because they were slathered in butter and garlic. Jim also had them and thought they were good; Jill had one and thought they tasted like boogers.
In Bruges, we got Belgian frites! These are pretty much just normal french fries, but there are a ton of different sauces to get – curry, tartar, cocktail, mustard, and andalouse (similar to thousand island dressing) just to name a few. I got a garlic sauce, which was tasty.
We ate poffertjes, or Dutch pancakes, several times in Amsterdam. They’re basically just regular pancakes, but mini sized, with a slightly spongy texture. You could get them with chocolate and tons of fruit, or the traditional (and my favorite) way – covered in butter and powdered sugar.
While in the 1 1/2 hour long line for the Van Gogh Museum, Jill and I each got a stroopwafel. Stroopwafels are really thin waffles with a caramel syrup inside. It wasn’t as sweet as you’d think it would be, which was good.
My last day in Amsterdam, I did a wine and cheese tasting at the Reypenaer cheese tasting room! An instructor guided a group of about 15 of us through six cheeses and three wines. I learned that as the cheese gets older, it gets a lot drier and more crumbly. We were provided with a sheet of paper to write down descriptions of the color, taste and our ratings. I wasn’t really too good at picking out the flavors in each cheese – apparently there were flavors like smoke and chocolate in them?! All I could taste was cheese.
I loved my time traveling through Europe, and especially Amsterdam, which is definitely my favorite city in Europe so far! Maybe next time I’ll be brave enough to try some raw herring?