Nancy Novogrod
May 19, 2009

One of the occupational hazards of my life as editor-in-chief of Travel + Leisure is keeping up with the new and the noteworthy—hotels, restaurants, shops, and even artists and writers—at the expense of revisiting places and experiences I have loved. But lately I’ve had a "back to the earth" urge that has led me to reread some favorite authors, indulge in scrambled eggs and bacon, and make a beeline for a few far-flung spots I thought I knew too well. So I was only too happy when Anya von Bremzen proposed an article on the best classic European dishes and where to find them, from bouillabaisse in Marseilles and fish-and-chips in London to Wiener schnitzel in Vienna and moules frites in Brussels ("Tastes of Europe"). You may also know where to find me!

In this, our annual Europe issue, we point the way to a variety of opportunities to experience the enduring and real. Special correspondent Christopher Petkanas scouts out four new inns nestled in the hills of the southern French countryside ("New Wave France"), and in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna, actor, director, and art historian Peter Weller leads a tour of medieval and Renaissance art and architecture ("Italy’s Hidden Treasures"). Alice Rawsthorn, design critic for the International Herald Tribune, provides an insider’s guide to the latest expression of London’s perennial role as a cultural capital—its buzzing gallery scene ("All Eyes on London"), while journalist Julian Rubinstein reports on Riga, Latvia, a once-remote destination now being rediscovered ("Riga Is Ready"). Finally, there’s the Italian wine country of the Langhe region, where wine and spirits editor Bruce Schoenfeld enjoys the deep rich flavors of the renowned Barolos and Barbarescos, local culinary specialties, and other bounty of the region’s earthbound traditions ("The Best Wine in the World?").

All this goes to show that sometimes the newest and most rewarding travel sensation is a classic rediscovered. —Nancy Novogrod

Trip Tips: Europe

A few of my favorite places to experience the authentic:

Vorderer Sternen Grill
Heavenly bratwurst and roll. 22 Theaterstrasse, Zurich; 41-1/251-4949; www.vorderer-sternen.ch.

Musée Carnavalet
Proust’s bed, the dauphin’s room in the prison tower, and historic art. 23 Rue de Sévigné, Third Arr., Paris; 33-1/44-59-58-58; www.carnavalet.paris.fr.

Madova
A classic for Italian gloves. 1R Via Guicciardini, Florence; 39-055/239-6526; www.madova.com.

Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill
Reassuringly traditional restaurant for oysters and Dover sole. 11-15 Swallow St., London; 44-20/7734-4756; www.bentleys.org.

Bentley's Oyster Bar & Grill

In London, the finest oysters tend to be found in rarefied settings, at hyper-polished, clubby places like Wiltons and Bentley's. The latter has been here since 1914-oh, the stories its marble bar must have been privy to over the years. Bentley's ur-English fish pie is the stuff of legend, but oysters are the main event. Sit at the bar and let the amiable shuckers prepare you a dozen (if available) of the rare European flat oyster, which has a round, scallop-like shell, a fibrous, almost crunchy texture, and a tangy, metallic aftertaste-like licking a penny.

Musée Carnavalet

Musée Carnavalet explores the history of Paris via this art museum located inside two Marais district mansions. Parisian history starts in prehistoric times (around 4600 B.C.) at this city-run museum and continues to the present day. Centuries of Paris history evolve inside the grand rooms and lush gardens of what was once l’hôtel de Carnavalet (built in 1548) and l’hôtel Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau (built in 1688). The museum holds around 600,000 objects d’art in more than 100 rooms. The interior architecture reflects five centuries of ornate royal décor, but Second Empire decoration is most prominent. 

Vorderer Sternen Grill

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