My Top 10 Dishes from Four Seasons Europe
Leah Walker February 11, 2013

Lately I’ve been accruing frequent flyer miles like I do shoes–obsessively and with abandon. Europe has been the object of my desire, and I must say, I’m definitely smitten. I’ve become impassioned by the languages, history, and cultures. What I have become most obsessed with is the food. I hold the Four Seasons completely responsible for that.

Geneva Switzerland

I’ve always loved food, but I’ve never been a picky eater. I can stomach hospital and school cafeteria food without so much as a single complaint. I find this ironic considering I’m now the Houston Travel Editor for The Daily Meal. But after dining at Four Seasons Prague, Florence, Milan, Paris, London, and Geneva, all that has changed. I’m no longer a disgrace to foodies everywhere.

Le Cinq

I’ll admit that I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole after my queen-like treatment by those Four Seasons properties. To say I was a little spoiled after visiting would be a gross understatement. When I returned to Houston I expected someone to provide me with a little stool for my purse, a bazillion courses, clean utensils between those courses, and perfectly paired wine. My reality check was a bit disconcerting to say the least.

Prague Czech Republic

While I’m no longer at Prague’s CrotoCrudo where Executive Chef Richard Fuchs grilled me a delicious black pork chop or in Milan where I became bewitched by all things white truffle, I can still reflect on all the fabulous dishes I’ve been fortunate enough to taste. Behold, my top ten favorite dishes from my recent trips to Europe:

10. Paris, George V

Le Cinq

Ahhhh….Paris. My three-hour lunch at Le Cinq will get its own individual post, but for now I’ll just give you a little taste {pun intended}. What you’re looking at is every little kid’s dream. This, my friend, is just a sampling taken from a very special dessert cart.

Le Cinq Candy Cart

I’m not sure that ‘cart’ is even the right term for what this is; it would be like calling a Rolls Royce a ‘car’. Nonetheless, this cart is filled with candied fruit dipped in chocolate, fudge filled with fruits and nuts, a homemade marshmallow rope that’s cut at the table, real pineapple lollipops surrounded in marshmallow, and countless other divine choices. This diabetic coma on wheels will make you ask, “Who the heck is Willy Wonka?”

9. London, Park Lane

Breakfast

I know this must look like an ordinary plate of bacon and eggs, but I can promise you that it was much more to me. After nearly a month-long quest for scrambled eggs in Europe, I finally found breakfast nirvana in the form of Four Seasons Park Lane’s room service. I’m not really sure what was driving my egg obsession, but it was quelled with a few fork fulls of that yellow goodness. A couple dashes of Tabasco sauce and all was good in my world.

8. London, Park Lane

Pasta

I arrived to London a bit later than planned, so the kitchen tour with Davide Degiovanni, the Executive Chef for Amaranto, was delayed until the next day. Instead of a formal dinner, I ate in the Amaranto Bar where Chef Degiovanni brought out a bounty of food. I think this pasta was the third in a long line of dishes. Although I can’t remember the name of it, I do remember that I ate every last bit. And had I been at home, I probably would have licked the bowl. It was seriously that good.

7.  Paris, George V

Cheese

What Notre Dame is to Catholics, Le Cinq is to turophiles. I kneel at the alter of cheese, and for people like me, there’s no place more holy than Le Cinq. Like the candy cart, there’s also a cheese cart that rolls around the dining room tempting patrons with its delicious stickiness.

Le Cinq

I wasn’t in need of much convincing as I tried at least ten different kinds. It’s no surprise that I liked the ones that were the richest, creamiest, and gooiness. Can cheese be described as “gooey”? I think so.

Amen.

6. London, Park Lane

Sashimi

Goodness, London really did a number on me, didn’t it? After a solid month of rich sauces, giant chunks of meat, and eating every shape of pasta one can imagine, this antipasti by Chef Degiovanni was a welcomed change. Light and fresh, this dish was as delicious as it is pretty. A tasty delight, really.

5.  Prague

mozzerella cheese

CrottoCrudo‘s Executive Chef, Richard Fuch, created an incredible sampling of appetizers. I certainly enjoyed the yellow fin tuna, salmon and halibut, but what stole my heart was the Mozzabar. It wasn’t really fair to the fish given my enamorment of all-things cheese. I’m especially fond of mozzarella, and Prague has its own bar. Mozzarella di bufala, ciliegine di bufala, and burrata, oh my! I’m sure after a few more visits to this bar I’ll need to enter a twelve-step program.

4. Geneva

Goat

“Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.”

In Texas we call it cabrito, but in Geneva it’s kid goat. No matter how you refer to it, Chef Saverio Sbaragli of Il Lago, knows how to cook a tender goat. Made with Italian spices, this dish was like no other goat I’ve eaten. From the tasting menu I actually ordered the sea bass, but seeing the look on my face when I laid eyes on the goat, Chef Sbaragli sent out an additional serving for yours truly. Fork tender, this piece of meat melted in my mouth. If only all goat tasted like this and all chefs looked like Saverio.

One can only hope.

3. Milan

white truffles

I am putting the Four Seasons Milan on notice. They are responsible for my affair with the rare white truffle. Falling in love with white truffles is as dangerous {and expensive} as loving red diamonds. At about $2,000 a pound, white truffles are only found in one part of Italy and available a few of months out of the year. If that’s not enough, there’s a particular pig that is responsible for finding them. Isn’t that special?

I was fortunate for my visit to coincide with Milan’s barolo and white truffle dinner. This, too, deserves its own post. I will say that each of the seven courses included white truffles and all were plate-licking good. I particularly loved the risotto with pumpkin flowers, shallots, Parmesan cream cheese, and Alba white truffles.

You can’t undo what you’ve already done, Four Seasons Milan. I’ll see you in November when I’ll expect a white truffle on my pillow.

2. Florence

seafood pasta

Let me give you a tip: When going to the Four Seasons Florence, don’t tell Executive Chef Vito Mollica to just bring you whatever he wants to make. He’ll take you seriously and cook up the entire contents of his kitchen. You’ll end up in a food coma and happily miserable. Well-deserving of its one Michelin star, Il Palagio, is impressive, but one course stood out from the rest: cavatello pasta with prawns and calamari in cream. So simple yet so delicious.  What can I say? I’m a sucker for squid.

1. Paris, George V

Lamb

Audrey Hepburn famously said, “Paris is always a good idea.”

I’d like to amend that by saying, “Milk-fed lamb shoulder from the Aveyron region at Le Cinq in Paris is always a good idea.” Cooked for 17 hours in crazy-good spices, this lamb serves two extremely hungry people.

Le Cinq

When ordering the lamb, don’t expect a plate to be simply brought to your table. No, this is the two-stared Michelin restaurant, Le Cinq. There’s nothing ordinary here. In fact, seeing the whole table carving of the lamb, decorating of the plate, and spooning of the au jus is akin to watching live theater.

Vegetables

I’m a huge lamb fan and thought I’d found the best in New Zealand. I stand corrected. Who needs mint sauce when you have a piece of meat this tasty sitting in front of you? Although delicious, I felt sorry for the Moroccan vegetable tagine. How can these humble vegetables compete? In short: They can’t. The milk-fed lamb shoulder from the Aveyron region is the star of this show and everything else is simply playing a supporting role.

Le Cinq

Quite frankly, I’m not certain as to how I was able to narrow this list down to ten, much less rank the dishes. The food alone is delicious enough for me to return, but the service and company at dinner are what made these experiences so memorable. And speaking of memory, I haven’t forgotten you, Four Seasons Milan. I wasn’t kidding about that white truffle on my pillow.
Next up? My favorite Four Seasons cocktails…and I thought choosing the food was difficult.

I was an invited guest of the Four Seasons, but in no way was I swayed to write a positive review by their little stools for my purse, fingerprint-free flatware, or attentive staff. As always, the opinions are mine.

Leah Walker

Leah has a marketing management company specializing in strategy, content creation and implementation for luxury brands and destinations. She's also a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. Leah documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. She sometimes freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, USA Today 10 Best, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel and wine ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's lived in Paris for five years, and was awarded additional time with a Passeport Talent visa. Though, her talent for speaking French is abysmal.

28 Comments

  1. hahaha! you know what is so funny about this post?! that we were NOT the least bit hungry when we got to Four Seasons London. we were praying that they didn’t feed us. and, still, we ate & it was some of the best food out there 🙂

    1. Yes, we were completely stuffed when we walked in. As soon as the food came out, what did we do? Ate it all! How I didn’t gain 20 pounds is beyond me.

  2. Leah, I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: I completely imagine you and Lauren co-hosting a food-travel show sometime in the future. It’s easy to say: so much food, too little time. However, if someone were to set you both on the task of seek-and-ye-shall-find, there would be great relish spread along with a side of glee. And now, I’m very hungry!

    1. Haha…Tell you what, Henry, if you come across a producer feel free to point him our way. And I love the relish spread with a side of glee…great imagery.

  3. It all looks so amazing Leah! I am with Henry – I could see you and Lauren hosting some sort of travel foodie and cocktails show. Those shots are amazing…I just want to hop a plane and try for myself.

    1. Thank you, Anita. It really was all so good. Each meal seemed better than the last. Like I told Henry, send those producers our way. Seeing that you both are Canadian, perhaps we should start there. We already have two fans. 😉

  4. Everything looks absolutely delicious in this post! I always seem to miss the Alba White Truffle Festival but now I know to head to Milan for a taste! PS. I love all the puns in this post.

    1. What is this Alba White Truffle Festival in which you speak of? It sounds like something I need to familiarize myself with. Oh, and thanks, I’m a sucker for puns. I’m happy you noticed.

    1. You’ve never had goat, Scott? If you like lamb, then you’d love goat. It’s common in Portugal and Mexico among other places.

  5. Rude rude rude rude! I’ve never heard of a SEVEN course meal. You girls were utterly spoiled and I am ridiculously jealous. That risotto is on my hit list. I need that sample that ASAP.

  6. So yummy food, been to Prague and had the same dish, lovely and fresh. Have you been to Poland? You should try Polish dumplings called pierogi 🙂

    1. I’ve not been to Poland but I REALLY want to. I have a good friend from Poland. I’ve had pierogis before and they are delicious.

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