Ever since it was first cultivated and traded worldwide, sugar has been one of the world’s most prized ingredients. Each city has its own national treat that oozes mouth-watering character, unifying locals and visitors alike with a shared sweet tooth. If you’re venturing abroad in the near future, here are some of our particular favourites.
Turkey’s Istanbul has lokum, or Turkish Delight; gem-like cubes of fragrant jelly introduced to the city by Ali Muhiddin Haci Bekir in 1777. Although you can now taste lokum all over the city, branches of the original shop remain in Istanbul, where the double pistachio is our top flavour recommendation.
Lokum is to Istanbul what gelato is to Florence – world renowned, and uniquely evocative of the city that created it. It was Bernado Buontalenti who first froze zabaglione and fruit together to form an ice cold, creamy dessert, and who sparked the Firenze-wide rivalry between gelaterie artigianale for the top reputation. We’re backing Gelateria dei Neri, whose freezer groans with adventurous flavours – try the Gorgonzola or the chilli chocolate.
Firenze locals will always add cream to their gelato – it’s a sure-fire way to spot a non-tourist. The same can be said for Brussels waffles in Belgium, where the natives enjoy their waffles lightly buttered and sprinkled with icing sugar, leaving the mountains of cream and chocolate sauce for the gauche newcomer. To get the classic Belgian experience, head to the Maison Dandoy; established in 1829 and still serving the finest waffles in the country today.
Over in New York, it seems there’s a new sweet treat every month with cheesecakes, cake pops and cronuts just a few of the delicacies that have seen locals queuing round the block at bakeries. But with all those possibilities for icing, decoration and endless flavours, the cupcake still reigns supreme in our book. Head to Crumbs on the Upper East Side for a mind-blowing range of flavours including Apple Cobbler, Cannoli and Peanut Butter Cup.
On the other side of the world, two nations are still locked in a heated dispute over their territorial rights to pudding. New Zealand and Australia both claim a light, meringue-based dessert called pavlova as their own, with citizens even writing contradictory books on the subject. NZ holds the world record for the biggest ever made at an amazing 64m, as well as the strongest historical proof of ownership, but their neighbours across the pond still devour the dish every Australia Day regardless.
With offices and shops in cities throughout the globe, Engel and Völkers has tasted its fair share of local delicacies. One of the finest has to be the Pastel de Nata from Lisbon, Portugal – little tartlets, filled with custard and sprinkled with cinnamon. Originally sold by enterprising nuns, it is thought the recipe was born from a need to use up the egg yolks left over after the whites were used to starch the nun’s habits. Antiga Confeitaria de Belém does Pastel de Nata the best, using long established expertise, passion and local knowledge to deliver the best service. We at E&V do just the same for our clients, ensuring that every step of the buying process runs as sweetly as possible. Visit the E&V website to find out more.