Food lovers guide to the perfect European destination - United Hub

Food lovers guide to the perfect European destination

By Nick Harper , October 16, 2017

If it's true that to truly understand a culture you must first taste it, your next vacation needs to be somewhere they serve great food. With that simple rule in mind, we've scoured the whole of Europe to find seven cities that combine world-class culture with a signature dish you have to taste at least once in your life. Each dish is a window into that nation's history and culture – and a source of local pride. Once tasted, you'll understand why.

Hungarian goulash

Go to Budapest for… Goulash

From cassoulet and tagine to gumbo and beef bourguignon, hearty soupy stews are a staple all over Europe. One of Europe's most storied stews, however, is Hungarian goulash. Taking its name from 'gulyás', the Magyar for 'herdsman', goulash became a national dish in the late 1800s when Hungarians sought a way of further distinguishing themselves from their neighbors in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

A hearty blend of beef, vegetables and spices–most notably the fiery kick of paprika–regional variations exist but the most authentic version is cooked in a kettle, as the gulyás did several centuries ago.

Eat it here: For the best taste of this dish in the capital city, head for Budapest Bisztró, a slick modern restaurant whose goulash is reassuringly old school.

Wiener schnitzel in Vienna

Go to Vienna for… Wiener schnitzel

While the precise origins of the wiener schnitzel remain hotly contested-Italians claim Costoletta Milanese is the original take–the dish has long been one of the culinary icons of Austria's capital city.

A distant cousin of the American chicken-fried steak, and further proof that frying in breadcrumbs improves any cut of meat, the wiener schnitzel is essentially a thin veal cutlet– Michelin-starred Austrian chef Kurt Gutenbrunner suggests a very precise 3mm. Breaded, pan-fried in butter and garnished with lemon and parsley, it is served with a potato salad.

Eat it here: For arguably the most elegant experience of the dish, head to Cafe Dommayer. You'll dine beneath the chandeliers and beside the locals.

Currywurst in Germany

Go to Berlin for… Currywurst

One part large German sausage, the other part a thick covering of curry sauce–while a dietician would no doubt disagree, there's much to admire in Germany's modern classic. Since its introduction in either 1947 or 1949, depending on which story you believe, the currywurst has grown in popularity to the point that around 800,000,000 servings are happily devoured annually. The wise traveler would combine currywurst with Munich's annual Oktoberfest, an annual celebration of vast steins of beer and gigantic sausage, where every face carries a smile.

Eat it here: While available on almost every street in the land, Berlin is a particular currywurst hotspot. Of the many options, Curry 36 is worthy of special praise and a late-night visit.

Neapolitan pizza in Naples

Go to Naples for… Pizza

Sure, it's not the national dish. And sure, you can get world-class wood-fired pizza in Brooklyn, in Texas, Wisconsin and Flagstaff, Arizona. But for the original and best version of the world's favorite food, head back to where it all began.

A chaotic but charming city that enriches all six senses, pizza in Napoli is unlike anywhere else on earth, with pizzaiolo on every street and every corner. And the beauty of Neapolitan pizza is that the puffy, cloud-like dough is far easier to digest than most other styles, so it won't leave you feeling too full. Take advantage by taking a tour of as many pizzerias as your stomach allows.

Eat it here: For the most historic, head to L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele, opened in 1870 and unchanged ever since. For the most celebrated, you need Pizzeria Dal Presidente, its name changed after a visit from a hungry President Clinton. And for the best of the new generation, seek out Sorbillo or 50 Kalò, or preferably both.

Raclette cheese melted on hot potatoes, charcuterie and vegetables

Go to Geneva for… Hot, gooey cheese

Few if any nations on earth have been melting cheese for as long or with such obvious love as the Swiss. Fondue–the art of dipping bread and meat into a cauldron of melted cheese–became an international classic in the 1970s and '80s and is still a staple of any visit.

Likewise raclette, a dish served in Switzerland's mountainous regions since the 13th century and derived from the French verb meaning “to scrape". As with fondue, the cheese is the star, but this time a huge wheel of cow's milk cheese is heated over a flame and ceremoniously scraped off, melted and molten, onto hot potatoes, charcuterie and vegetables. Raclette is less celebrated perhaps, but every bit as essential.

Eat it here: While available almost everywhere, Auberge de Saviese has perfected the art of fondue and raclette and benefits from being just moments from beautiful Lake Geneva.

Fish & Chips in London

Go to London for… Fish & chips

Throughout the decades, the world has been blessed with a number of memorable double acts. Laurel and Hardy. Abbott and Costello. Aykroyd and Belushi. Impressive as they all were, none can claim to have had the enduring popularity of Britain's greatest twosome: the fried fish and chipped potato. Its origins remain unclear; the fried fish element was brought to England by Western Sephardic Jews in the 17th century, but Britain has made fish and chips its own.

A working class staple, the modern “chippy" has evolved but remained true to its origins, with the fish and the chips forever and always the stars of the piece. They are, as Prime Minister Winston Churchill remarked, “The good companions", and no visit to England is complete without them.



Eat it here: King Fisher Fish and Chips in Devon was named chip shop of the year for 2017–it's a long drive but worth every mile. Within London's confines, and amid very hot competition, Kerbisher and Malt in three locations put a contemporary spin on the classic dish. And no less a connoisseur than Idris Elba stated recently that: “The Rock and Sole Plaice in Covent Garden does proper fish and chips."

Sm\u00f8rrebr\u00f8d or open faced sandwiches in Copenhagen

Go to Copenhagen for… Smørrebrød

Head to the Danish capital and you could attempt to secure a seat at one of the city's many Michelin-starred establishments–Copenhagen is a gastronomic hotspot right now. But you might be better off just grabbing a sandwich. For the most authentic Danish dining experience, seek out a smørrebrød, the nation's signature, open-faced sandwich.

As the name translates, it's nothing more complicated than butter on bread–thick, dark rye onto which you pile cheese, vegetables, roast pork, pickled herrings, smoked salmon or whatever combination you desire. To the Danes, 'hygge' is the pursuit of happiness. Smørrebrød will take you there.

Eat it here: Head to Restuarant Schonnemann for history and herring–the venerable establishment has been perfecting its smørrebrød since 1877 and is always reassuringly busy.

If you go

United Airlines offers nonstop flights from many cities to these destinations or airports nearby. Visit united.com or use the United app to plan your next European adventure.

Marvelous sites to local hideaways: the expert’s guide to Toronto

By Nick Harper

Canada's largest city spreads out along the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario, and it's a dynamic, multicultural and inclusive experience like almost no other place on earth. Not only is Toronto a thriving living city,it's also become one of the world's truly must-visit destinations. Regularly ranked as one of the greatest places to live, Toronto is the cultural center of the country and home to the biggest events, the most pro sports and the greatest concentration of theaters and restaurants.

Recent decades have seen regular multi-million-dollar upgrades to the city's public spaces, with a slew of great museums, iconic architecture and the redevelopment of the now glittering lakefront adding to the city's appeal.

Add in an ever-growing number of world-class hotels, upbeat nightlife that runs from dusk until dawn and a vibrant and diverse culinary scene influenced by the eclectic makeup of the city's people. Bright and bustling, cosmopolitan and cultured, unpredictable and energetic, Toronto has become one of the greatest cities on earth.

What you see and where you go will depend on the length of your stay. A week is good, longer is better. But even a long weekend will give you a taste of 'The Six' — one of the city's many nicknames, reworked recently as 'The 6ix' by one of its most famous sons, Drake.

However long you stay, you can't hope to see it all. So, consider what follows a starting point for your first visit…

City Hall, Toronto City Hall, Toronto

The checklist sites

No visit to The Six can be considered complete without ticking off several of Toronto's true heavyweight sights. All of the following are in or within easy reach of the city's compact, walk-able and very vibrant center.

The CN Tower is unmissable in every sense, a vast freestanding spire that looks down upon the city and takes its place as one of the 'Seven Wonders of the Modern World'. Head up for the city's best 360-degree views, or get your heart racing on the EdgeWalk — a journey around the circumference of the tower's main pod, 116 stories high and tethered by a harness.

Back on solid ground, Ripley's Aquarium is almost right next door to the CN Tower and is home to 16,000 aquatic animals and the Dangerous Lagoon. A moving sidewalk that whisks you through a long tunnel surrounded by sharks and stingrays is guaranteed to make your heart race all over again.

Ripleys Aquarium Ripleys Aquarium

Also close to the CN Tower is the Rogers Center, home to Canada's only baseball team, the Toronto Blue Jays. Visit on game day for the full experience, or take the stadium tour to go behind the scenes and through closed doors.

In a city of so many museums and galleries, the Royal Ontario Museum stands out. Not just because it's home to a world-class collection of 13 million artworks, cultural objects and natural history specimens, but as much because it hosts exciting Friday night events that include dance, drink and top DJs.

Two other must ticks include the Art Gallery of Ontario, which houses 95,000 works of art and is free for visitors under 25, and the Hockey Hall of Fame, which taps into Canada's national obsession in stunning depth.

Art Gallery of Ontario Art Gallery of Ontario

Casa Loma is a must-visit Gothic castle in the heart of the city. North America's only castle is filled with artworks and treasures from Canada and beyond, but its big pull is the network of hidden tunnels to explore as they stretch out beneath the city.

Casa Loma Casa Loma

Toronto's multi-cultural makeup is visible all across the city but reflected best in its remarkable culinary scene (see Where to eat and drink). The city's 'fresh and local' mantra is perfectly showcased at St. Lawrence Market, one of the world's greatest food experiences. Pay it a visit and grab a peameal bacon sandwich — a Canadian staple invented in Toronto and now considered the city's signature dish.

St. Lawrence Market St. Lawrence Market

Afterwards, walk off the calories by wandering the historic cobblestone and car-free Distillery District. Once a vast whiskey distillery and an important spot during prohibition, historians mention that even Al Capone would visit the Distillery to load alcohol destined for the States[9] . This iconic landmark now distils creativity within the 19th century buildings now home to hip restaurants, bars, independent boutique stores, galleries and theaters. Visit in December for the Toronto Christmas Market.

Finally, don't even think about returning home without having had a picture taken with your head poking through an 'O' of the multicolored, 3D Toronto sign at City Hall — the most Insta-worthy location in a city of so many. You'll need to head there early in the morning to avoid the crowds.

If you stay long enough, take a ferry and hop across to Toronto Islands, a chain of 15 small islands in Lake Ontario just south of the mainland. They're home to beaches, a theme park and a breathtaking view of the city's skyline and will very happily fill a full day of your stay.

The bucket list

You absolutely cannot leave Toronto without having witnessed the power of the Niagara Falls and its hypnotic mist up close. Trying to visit the Falls from the States is a trip on its own, but it's almost non-optional when you're less than two hours away in Toronto. Take the trip, buy the T-shirt and tick off one of the world's must-see sights.

Explore like a local

Away from the sleek, gleaming towers of downtown lie many of Toronto's less obvious but no less essential attractions. West Queen West is Toronto's hippest neighborhood and artistic heart, a one-mile strip of very chic galleries, stores, restaurants and boutique hotels. Kensington Market is a fantastically chaotic neighborhood and perhaps the best example of the city's famous multiculturalism. It's not a market as the name implies, but a collection of independent shops, vintage boutiques, art spaces, cafés, bars and restaurants from every corner of the globe.

The Bata Shoe Museum is one of the city's quirkiest collections, an unexpectedly fascinating exhibit that retraces the 4,500-year history of footwear. And as you wander the city, you can't fail to notice that Toronto's walls are alive with graffiti. Take a free 90-minute walking tour through the back alleys of Queen Street West and down Graffiti Alley to gain a better understanding of the city's street art scene. If you visit during the sunnier months, escape the hustle by heading just east of the center to High Park, the green heart of the city where forests, walking trails, picnic spots and even a zoo await you. Ideal to unwind after a long day of urban adventures.

The essentials

When to go With the sun shining, May through October is a great time to visit, but the city is alive through all four seasons. The Spring and Autumn months are ideal as the humidity and visitor numbers are lighter, while Toronto comes alive through the colder months through a wide array of winter celebrations. One of the most spectacular is the Aurora Winter Festival, a six-week celebration that sees the Ontario Place, West Island transformed into four mystical worlds. Whichever season you choose, plan to stay for at least five nights to get a true flavor of the city.

Toronto skyline view Toronto skyline view

Where to stay To be at the heart of most of the attractions you'll want to see, aim for downtown. One of the best options is the Marriott City Center, not only because it's located right next to the CN Tower but also because it's attached to the iconic Rogers Center where the Toronto Blue Jays play and countless concerts and popular events are held.

Toronto Blue Jay stadium Toronto Blue Jay stadium

Opt for a Stadium room and you'll look out onto the field. If you want to experience Toronto's non-stop nightlife, the Entertainment District is the place to be. If you're looking for a luxury experience, discover Canada's first St. Regis hotel in the heart of downtown.

Where to eat and drink Nowhere is Toronto's incredible diversity more evident than in its food scene — taste Toronto and you're tasting the world. The city is brimming with restaurants and cafés serving everything from high-end fine dining to comfort food from an informal neighborhood joint — plus every option imaginable in between.

For fine dining, consider Alo, Canis and Edulis. Book a table at Canoe, Lavelle, The One Eighty or 360 at the CN Tower and you're guaranteeing a view as spectacular as the food. Or experience the city's remarkable fusion food at DaiLo (French-Cantonese), El Catrin (Mexican-French) and the unexpected mashup of Rasta Pasta (Jamaican-Italian).

The above suggestions don't even scratch the surface of a food scene to rival any city on earth, with options to suit every taste and any budget.

How to get around Toronto is perfect to explore on foot or via a growing network of cycle routes. For a quicker journey, buy a Presto card to use the TTC, Toronto's subway, streetcar and bus system.

How to get there Fly into Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) with United and you're around 15 miles west of the city center. The most comfortable route in is via the Union Pearson Express, which runs every 15 minutes and gets you downtown in 25 minutes ($13).The TTC is a cheaper option at under $5, but it can take an hour and a half and involves a number of transfers, while a taxi will take around 30 minutes and cost $45.

United flies to Toronto from numerous U.S. cities including our Hub city locations. Book your trip via united.com or by downloading the United app.


Taking action to make a global impact

By The Hub team , January 17, 2020

Following the devastating wildfires in Australia and powerful earthquakes that shook Puerto Rico last week, we're taking action to make a global impact through our international partnerships as well as nonprofit organizations Afya Foundation and ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency).

Helping Puerto Rico recover from earthquakes

Last week, Puerto Rico was hit with a 5.2 magnitude earthquake, following a 6.4 magnitude earthquake it experienced just days before. The island has been experiencing hundreds of smaller quakes during the past few weeks.

These earthquakes destroyed crucial infrastructure and left 4,000 people sleeping outside or in shelters after losing their homes. We've donated $50,000 to our partner charity organization Airlink and through them, we've helped transport disaster relief experts and medical supplies for residents, as well as tents and blankets for those who have lost their homes. Funding will go towards organizations within Airlink's partner network, which includes Habitat for Humanity, Mercy Corps and Americares, to help with relief efforts and long-term recovery.

Australian wildfire relief efforts

Our efforts to help Australia have inspired others to make their own positive impact. In addition to teaming up with Ellen DeGeneres to donate $250,000 and launching a fundraising campaign with GlobalGiving to benefit those impacted by the devastating wildfires in the country known for its open spaces and wildlife, our cargo team is helping to send more than 600 pounds of medical supplies to treat injured animals in the region.

Helping us send these supplies is the Afya Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit that seeks to improve global health by collecting surplus medical supplies and delivering them to parts of the world where they are most needed. Through Airlink, the Afya Foundation will send more than $18,000 worth of materials that will be used to treat animals injured in the Australian fires.

These medical supplies will fly to Melbourne (MEL) and delivered to The Rescue Collective. This Australian organization is currently focused on treating the massive population of wildlife, such as koalas, kangaroos, and birds, that have had their habitats destroyed by the recent wildfires. The supplies being sent include wound dressings, gloves, catheters, syringes and other items that are unused but would otherwise be disposed of.

By working together, we can continue to make a global impact and help those affected by natural disasters to rebuild and restore their lives

Help us (and Ellen DeGeneres) support wildfire relief efforts in Australia

By The Hub team , January 08, 2020

Australia needs our help as wildfires continue to devastate the continent that's beloved by locals and travelers alike. In times like these, the world gets a little smaller and we all have a responsibility to do what we can.

On Monday, The Ellen DeGeneres Show announced a campaign to raise $5 million to aid in relief efforts. When we heard about Ellen's effort, we immediately reached out to see how we could help.

Today, we're committing $250,000 toward Ellen's campaign so we can offer support now and help with rebuilding. For more on The Ellen DeGeneres Show efforts and to donate yourself, you can visit www.gofundme.com/f/ellenaustraliafund

We're also matching donations made to the Australian Wildfire Relief Fund, created by GlobalGiving's Disaster Recovery Network. This fund will support immediate relief efforts for people impacted by the fires in the form of emergency supplies like food, water and medicine. Funds will also go toward long-term recovery assistance, helping residents recover and rebuild. United will match up to $50,000 USD in donations, and MileagePlus® members who donate $50 or more will receive up to 1,000 award miles from United. Donate to GlobalGiving.

Please note: Donations made toward GlobalGiving's fund are only eligible for the MileagePlus miles match.

In addition to helping with fundraising, we're staying in touch with our employees and customers in Australia. Together, we'll help keep Australia a beautiful place to live and visit in the years to come.

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