Amsterdam, the Netherlands
If you have a sweet tooth, you must try Amsterdam’s Poffertjes. Poffertjes are small pancakes that are made out of buckwheat and yeast and are usually served with butter and powdered sugar on them. These delicious treats are available at almost any open air market or street food truck. Another sweet specialty of the Dutch is the Stroopwafel (syrup waffle) which is a waffle that’s made from two thin layers of batter and has a sticky syrup filling in the middle. The Stroopwafel was first made in the Netherlands in the 18th century. This sweet, sticky snack is available almost everywhere in Amsterdam and is lovely to eat with a cup of coffee or tea. A pub specialty in Amsterdam is a food called Bitterballen which are deep fried appetizers that are served in almost every café and pub in the city. Bitterballen has a crispy exterior, while the interior is a soft mixture of chopped beef, herbs, spices and beef broth. This snack goes really well with a chilled glass of beer. Besides these three foods, Amsterdam has a whole lot of other specialties that are available almost everywhere. These specialties include Limburgse Vlaai (a pie with a light crust that is usually filled with fruits), Stamppot (a dish that has mashed potatoes that is mixed with vegetables and is always served with rookworst which is a smoked sausage) and Patat which is french fries or chips served with loads of mayonnaise.
Now, it’s time to talk about the fashion and shopping. When one hears the words ‘shopping’ or ‘fashion’, the city of Amsterdam rarely comes to mind. Well, it’s time to change that as Amsterdam has quite a wild fashion scene. An example of Amsterdam’s insane fashion scene is a concept called ‘Red Light Fashion’. In the year 2008, a number of former prostitutes’ windows in De Wallen were changed into fashion studios which provide the city’s fashion designers with a platform on which they can display their creations to the public. Also, these creations can be bought. So, if you’re looking for some unique shows, accessories or clothes, Red Light Fashion is a great place to shop at. If you’re visiting Amsterdam in the months of January or July, you should try making it for Amsterdam Fashion Week. This could be called the leading Dutch fashion event as it allows young fashion designers to show off their creations. There are also quite a few spur-of-the-moment events like parties at which anyone and everyone can mix with the who’s who of the fashion industry. During Amsterdam Fashion Week, a number of lectures and exhibitions which are open to all are also held. But that isn’t all. One of the best fashion museums in the world, the Museum of Bags and Purses, is situated in Amsterdam. This museum houses one of the most amazing collection of bags right from the Middle Ages to today. Besides the Museum of Bags and Purses, there is the Hermitage Amsterdam where you get the chance to see beautiful antique ball gowns and accessories.
When it comes to food, Florence is famous for its fresh meats that come from local farms. If you’re visiting Florence, your favourite part of your holiday may not be the sightseeing, as there’s a high chance of it being the food. A very popular Florentine appetizer is Liver Crostini which is a slice of toasted bread with liver patè. Whoever has tasted this typical Florentine appetizer has loved it and has literally devoured it. Also, with the liver crostini, different types of salami and ham are served. This appetizer is an absolute favourite of the locals as well as the tourists who have tasted it. Another Florentine favourite is the Florentine Steak. This dish is not only famous in Florence but is popular in other countries as well. The special thing about this steak is that it is not fully done. It is eaten slightly cooked and is served with either roasted potatoes or a fresh, light salad. If you’re a fan of pasta, Florence’s pappardelle with meat sauce is a must-try. This dish is truly delightful and is seasoned with sausages, porcini mushrooms, artichokes and other traditional Italian ingredients. Those with a sweet tooth will be pleased as Florence has some great sweet foods. For example, Cantucci, which are almond biscuits are a crowd pleaser there. Another Florentine favourite is the schiacciata alla fiorentina which is a sponge cake that is filled with either chocolate or cream and is topped with icing sugar. Other Florentine specialties include soups like pappa al pomodoro and ribollita.
About the fashion now. Did you know that Florence is home to some of the biggest brands in fashion industry? Florence is home to Salvatore Ferragamo, Roberto Cavalli, Gucci, Emilio Pucci and others. Florence is one of the most important cities in the fashion world. The commercial district of luxury is where all the important fashion boutiques are situated. Shopping in Florence is great due to the diversity of types of clothing available. Florentines love fashion and so, you will find many small boutiques in the city that have new designers’ creations on display. The best part is that these creations can be bought! Besides the numerous clothing boutiques, Florence is also home to quite a few fashion museums. The Galleria del Costume is Italy’s only museum that is dedicated solely to fashion. This museum shows you the history of fashion and houses antique pieces of clothing, theatre costumes and accessories. Another amazing fashion museum in Florence is the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum. This museum houses about 10,000 shoes that were made by the fashion house. These shoes also show the evolution of style right from the previous century to now. Another thing that the museum puts on display are photographs, newspapers and sketches to show what used to be in vogue in the previous century. Florence also has a number of fashion events. The most important Florentine fashion event is the Pitti Immagine. This event includes numerous smaller events like Pitti W-Woman Pre-collections, Pitti Immagine Casa, etc. This major fashion event also hosts exhibitions, fashion shows, galas and other social events that are held all over the city of Florence.
You must have already heard so much of Barcelona’s tapas and must think they’re completely overrated. However, that is not true. You can’t claim to have visited Barcelona without trying tapas. Typical tapas include Patatas Bravas which are fried bits of potatoes served with spicy sauce, Calamares which are rings of deep fried battered squid, Chorizo al vino is chorizo sausage cooked in wine, Empanadas which are turnovers that are filled with either vegetables or meat and many more. Another specialty of Barcelona is the Paella. This dish is world-famous, but the best Paella is available only in Barcelona. Almost every restaurant in that city serves this fantastic dish. Paella is a rice dish that is full of seafood, vegetables and spices. Another lovely savoury Spanish dish that is very popular in Barcelona is Albondigas, which is meatballs in a savoury sauce. This dish is so delightful that you’ll forget all about the legendary Swedish meatballs! Gazpacho, a cold soup which is very flavoursome is another Barcelonan speciality. San Jacobos which is chicken, ham and cheese covered in breadcrumbs and deep-fried is also quite popular in Barcelona. For those who love sweet foods, the city of Barcelona will please you with its large variety of sweet treats. Crema Catalana is the Spaniard’s take on the French Crème brûlée. But not to worry, the Spaniards have done a great job with this dessert and it is one of the most famous desserts in Barcelona. Churros con Chocolate is hands down the most famous Spanish sweet dish. Even though this dish is available almost all over the world, there’s something different about the way it’s made in Barcelona and must be tried there. Lastly, Bunuelos de Viento are light, fluffy fritters that are fried, filled with pastry cream and topped off with powdered sugar. This dish is very popular amongst the Barcelonans and is also a perfect evening or afternoon snack.
The fashion scene in Barcelona is quite happening. For example, Barcelona Fashion Week gives the city’s young, talented designers a chance to show off their work to the public. Also, many fashion shows are held for the designers who are already popular in the fashion industry. An independent, non-profit organisation called MODAFAD has been focusing on helping Barcelona’s young fashion designers promote their creations since the year 1993. MODAFAD hosts fashion shows annually so that these young designers’ creations are published. Barcelonans also care about sustainability. BeCo, launched in Barcelona, is Spain’s first initiative that aims on raising awareness about sustainability. This initiative is focused on encouraging sustainability-related missions in the fashion world. If you have an interest in the audio-visual aspect of fashion, then you mustn’t miss ASVOFF by any chance. This is the Barcelona International Fashion Film Festival that is run by fashion critic, Diane Pernet. Besides the numerous fashion events held in Barcelona, the city also has countless fashion boutiques. Some of these boutiques are local while some are boutiques of other Spanish designers like Manolo Blahnik and Balenciaga. Barcelona’s happening scene isn’t apparent only on the runways or at other fashion events or at the boutiques. The Barcelonans love to dress up! They have a lovely fashion sense and could be called trend setters. The city’s well-dressed people add to its beauty and therefore, Barcelona never looks dull.
Therefore, besides the famous London, Paris and Milan, the cities of Amsterdam, Florence and Barcelona also have great culinary and fashion scenes. These cities shouldn't be missed out by someone who loves trying new cuisines as well as experimenting with different styles!