by Gabrielle Sander, The Telegraph, March 26, 2019
Your ship has docked in Lisbon, on a shore visit. When you’ve exhausted the medieval maze of Alfama, ridden the number 28 tram and admired the city from the ancient ramparts of São Jorge Castle... what next? You should absolutely make time for Lisbon’s foodie delights. Whether you’re a dedicated gourmand or just like to sample a few local specialities, take time to browse the fresh-produce markets when you step ashore in Europe’s towns and cities. Here’s our pick of the best.
Time Out Market, Lisbon
A slingshot from the Tagus river is Mercado da Ribeira, Lisbon’s main fresh-produce market for over 100 years. Since 2014 it has been home to a 32,000sq-ft food court called the Time Out Market − the perfect place for epicureans to explore the city’s flavours in one buzzy location.
Wooden tables run the length of the space, so you can decide on your next dish while tucking into another. Expect melt-in-the-mouth cured meats and cheeses from one of the city’s oldest charcuterias, Silva; moreish crispy rounds of cuttlefish from Croqueteria, and slow-pork belly from celebrated chef Alexandra Silva.
Buy: a box of Manteigaria’s oven-fresh cinnamon-sprinkled pastéis de nata.
Nearest metro: Cais do Sodre. Open daily; timeoutmarket.com/lisboa
La Felicità, Paris
Enjoy your brief dalliance in Paris with a walk through one of its prettiest quarters, Victor Hugo’s former playground, Le Marais. Continue on to the Seine, across the Pont du Sully, then make a beeline for La Felicità. This Italian food court, housed in a former 1920s rail-freight depot, has five kitchens and two bars plus an outdoor wood-fired pizza oven.
Inside you’ll find flea market-salvaged tables, vintage rugs and plenty of greenery. Choose from the illustrated menu du jour. A juicy French beef patty, oozing with caramelised onions from the Hamburgheria? A portly burrata with slabs of just-baked sourdough from Il Gran Aperitivo? Or maybe something from the Crudo Bar, a disused train carriage turning out pretty plates of ceviche?
Buy: a slice of pecan pie to go at the Caffeteria.
Nearest metro: Chevaleret. Open daily; lafelicita.fr
There are 165 canals in Amsterdam and 1,281 bridges, a man-made infrastructure harking back to the 17th century. At its core, expanding outwards like semicircular soundwaves, is the Grachtengordel, a Unesco World Heritage site encompassing the Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht canals. A 20-minute walk from the outer ring, in the city’s Oud-West district, is Foodhallen. At this former train depot you can dive into Dutch classics such as bitterballen (Dutch meatballs), at Michelin-starred chef Peter Gast’s De Ballenbar. Then explore the international offerings: from chicken kebabs drizzled in 30-day-fermented garlic sauce at Pita, to blistered, seasalted peppers at veggie hotspot Padron.
Buy: tulip season is in full swing until the end of May. Pick up bulbs from the floating flower market on the Singel.
Nearest metro: Ten Katestraat. Open daily; foodhallen.nl
Bom Successo, Porto
Port houses along the bank of the Douro, the colourful houses of Praça da Ribeira, and the mighty Dom Luis I bridge are three must-sees on a visit to Portugal’s second-largest city. For foodies, the comparatively new kid on the block, Bom Successo, is another. Communal hang-outs, a hotel and a library intermingle with a fresh-produce market and food court, with regular Fado performances providing the soundtrack. For a taste of Porto, try a francesinha, an ode to the croque madame served with a moat of melted cheese and a tomato and beer sauce, or bacalhau, traditional cod fritters. Finish with a typical Northern Portuguese sweet, Jesuit – an icing-crusted, layered pastry.
Buy: colourful tins of biscuits from Pauperio and gift-worthy boxes of chocolate sardines from chocolatier Acadia.
Nearest metro: Casa da Musica. Open daily (until midnight on Friday and Saturday); casedamusica.com
A popular call on Danube river cruises, Vienna is steeped in fine architecture: baroque imperial palaces, Gothic churches and Art Nouveau facades. Austria’s capital boasts an equally diverse pot of culinary influences which can be enjoyed during a short walk from MuseumsQuartier at Naschmarkt. Here, among the 100 stalls and restaurants, enjoy delights such as Kaiserschmarrn and wiener schnitzel, flaky spinach and cheese borek, falafel, and stuffed dates. On Saturdays the adjacent fleamarket rolls out more than 400 tables of antiques and curiosities.
Buy: zirbenschnaps (a warming Austrian tipple); good-quality jams and pickles from Stauds; sauerkraut from Gurken-Leo.
Nearest metro: Karlsplatz. Open daily (until midnight on Friday and Saturday); wienernaschmarkt.eu
El Nacional, Barcelona
Slap-bang in the heart of Barcelona’s commercial area, close to La Rambla, the Modern Art Museum and Gaudi’s striking Casa Batlló, El Nacional is a convenient pit stop when you have only a few hours to explore. With a vaulted Catalan ceiling and tropical flora, it’s as delectable as the food served inside. Expect slivers of sweet Guijuelo ham and Idiazabal cheese from the Basque Country; Galician oysters cracked open to order, with a crisp Albariño; salt-roast sea bream netted in Ibiza, and Catalonian cocas (like mini pizzas). A monthly selection of dishes champions a seasonal ingredient: asparagus will star in April.
Buy: tins of smoked paprika at nearby La Boqueria Market.
Nearest metro: Placa Catalunya. Open daily; (until 3am Friday and Saturday); elnacionalbcn.com
Step off your cruise ship at Rotterdam and you will be met by one of its iconic sights, the Erasmus Bridge, spanning the walkable stretch across the Maas River to the city centre. Once you have perused the independent shops along Witte de Withstraat, head back in the direction of the harbour to De Markthal. Concealed inside this enormous steel-grey arched apartment block is something rather special. Spanning the 11,840sq-ft underside of the arch is the Horn of Plenty, a vibrant artwork that melds scenes of Rotterdam with nature, fruit and vegetables to trippy effect. Feast on stroopwafels the size of your head; Dutch cheeses, such as the 50-week ripened Rotterdamsche Oude meaty croquettes, and Rotterdam potato french fries from Bram Ladage.
Buy: gift packs of bite-size stroopwafels; Van Delft ginger biscuits (pepernoten).
Nearest metro: Blaak. Open daily except Saturday (until 9pm on Fri); markthal-en.klepierre.nl
Les Halles de Lyon
For foodies who have heard all about Lyon’s reputation as the “gastronomical capital of France”, this stop on Saône and Rhône routes (see page 7) will be highly anticipated. After you’ve explored the medieval old town, and taken the funicular to Fourviere to see St Jean Cathedral, head to Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse. Named in honour of the late three-Michelin-starred Lyonnaise chef, it’s a must-visit for bon vivants. Sample pistachio-spiked saucisson brioche from Sabilia, creamy rounds of Saint-Marcellin, and goat’s milk Rigotte de Condrieu from fromagerie Mons, snails from Malartre, quenelles (Lyonnaise dumplings) from market veteran Giraudet, and Richart’s mini macarons.
Buy: chocolate and marzipan Coussin de Lyon and Rosette de Lyon saucisson.
Nearest metro: Guichard. Open Tuesday-Sunday; halles-de-lyon-paulbocuse.com
Mercat Central, Valencia
Valencia’s blanket of terracotta tiled roofs is a panoramic vista worth climbing the Serranos Towers for, and high on the list of things to do in this Spanish city. That dome you see, poking out of the Unesco-listed old town, like the helmet of a medieval knight, is the Mercat Central. Hugged by a web of black and white beams, across the honeycomb tiles, are over 300 stalls, many serving as the city’s main fresh produce suppliers since 1928. Slurp freshly-squeezed new-season Valencian orange juice and strawberries, patatas bravas, two-euro walkaround pots of Serrano ham and cheese, tuna empanadillas, and cosy slabs of tortilla. Eat as you go, or head over to the Turia Gardens for a picnic.
Buy: paper wraps of crumbly polvorón (Spanish shortbread), peladillas (sugared almonds), and Spanish saffron and olive oil.
Nearest metro: Xativa. Open Monday-Saturday; mercadocentralvalencia.es
How to book
A 15-day Romantic Rhine and Moselle cruise from Amsterdam to Basle with Scenic costs £4,645pp (scenic.co.uk).
See the Douro, on a cruise from Lisbon to Porto, with Viking. A 10-day cruise costs from £1,945pp (vikingcruises.co.uk).
Cruise the Seine from Paris to Burgundy on a luxury barge. Six nights costs from £1,995pp (vjv.com).
An eight-day Rhone Treasures cruise from Lyon to Arles with APT costs from £2,895pp in May (aptouring.co.uk).
Depart Southampton on a Holland, Channel Isles and Bruges cruise on P&O Cruises’ Azura. From £445pp, departing April 27, 2019 (iglucruise.com)