Best French Fries in Europe by City - and their sauces...
What are the most popular shops in Europe that specialize in french fries?
I understand Balthazar in New York City has some of the best in the USA. Looking to make a list of the absolute best places in Europe so I may visit.
Also in countries like Belgium, what kind of sauces are offered other than mayo?
I believe Remia Fritessaus is the standard mayo there?
typical sauces in Belgium: mayo (a bit different than its neighbour in the north), garlic mayo, ketchup, stewed meat with gravy (usually contains horse meat, percentage varies), sate, curry ketchup, curry mayo, mayo + chili sauce. too many to list. also, in Liège one can eat boulets-frites (chips with meat balls and gravy).
typical sauces in Netherlands: mayo, 'frietssaus' (sauce), sate + raw minced onions, curry ketchup etc.
i've never seen anyone eat chips with ketchup alone. have tried most of the sauces in both countries but prefer my chips plain.
A quick overview of some of the typical sauces for fries in Belgium, most of them mayo based:
- Mayo (more lemony/vinagry than your average Hellman's)
- Dutch Mayo (sweeter than the regular mayo, like the Remia Fritessauce you mention)
- Garlic mayo
- Curry mayo
- Samourai (spicy mayo)
- Andalouse (mayo with puree of bell peppers and cayenne, not spicy)
- Tomato ketchup (yes it it sounds silly, but used to distinguish from the next sauce, typically this is not Heinz but usually Zeissner, a German brand of very sweet ketchup, almost not tomato flavor)
- Curry ketchup (contains some typical curry spices, but not hot, still very sweet)
- Tomagrec (tomate paste based sauce)
- Curry sauce (Chinese/Indonesian curry, watery and very mild)
- Meat gravy (this is the sauce from Carbonades a la flamande, a beef stew typically made with dark beer, though for most friteries this is the industrial kind so it's a dark brown gravy with hints of sweetness). It should not contain horse meat, but then again all friterie meat is really mysterious).
- mustard (think a more vinegary dijon but with less kick)
There are loads more, but these are the main ones. Some typical combinations are:
Meat gravy (with/without meat chunks) and mayo
Special: mayo with ketchup and chopped raw onions
Tartare and pickled small silverskin onions
In Brussels you can get a mitraillete (translates as machine gun): it's a baguette filled with meat (could be a burger, merguez sausages or whatever you fancy) with a sauce of your choosing, salad and topped with heaps of fries.
The best fries are those cooked in tallow. Unfortunately there are not a lot of places in Belgium that continue this tradition (too expensive, turns rancid too quickly, have to change it more often than vegetable oil, less healthy, allergens, religious or dietary restrictions, etc.
Fries cooked in tallow are heavier, but oh so tasty. A couple of years ago I ate at The Publican in Chicago and immediately recognized that their fries were fried in tallow and complemented the waiter on being the real deal (also their extensive Belgian beer list)
In Belgium, that beef tallow gives the best frites is generally beyond question. Even before biting into them, the golden colour tells how they are fried.
Tallow is not so difficult to source. The real traditionalist will say however that rendered horse fat is the real thing but, even if horse meat is readily available, I can't ever recall eating frites fried in horse fat.
Best fries I've had in Europe were the double-fried thick cut chips I ordered in Ireland in villages outside the big cities, at pubs (rather than fry specialists- edit- sorry- didn't notice the specialist part of your post until after I posted.)
Best in the UK - Seniors in Thornton, Lancashire. Fosters in Alderley Edge, Cheshire would be a close second. Both winners of national awards.
They serve British chips, rather than the thin continental style (similar to American fast food fries), so that might make them off-topic for this thread.
We don't usually serve sauce with our chips (except ketchup) but do drench them in malt vinegar.
Do patatas bravas in Spain count? (fried potatoes, usually diced and covered in a spicy sauce) Best Bravas I've had was at a bar called Patanchon in Seville on Calle Mateos Gago. Their spicy sauce was mayo based and contained leftover bits of jamon. SO good! Last time I was there was a few years ago but I'll be back in January, so I'll let you know.
First, to the OP, frietsaus is like Miracle Whip - it's a sweetened and filled ersatz mayo. Mayo vs. frietssaus is a debate like whiz (aka pump cheese) vs. provolone on a Philly cheesesteak. Some people prefer the cheaper processed product and some do not. (I personally do not.)
The ubiquitous satesaus or pindasaus in the Netherlands is usually a very sweet peanut sauce. "Patatjes Oorlog" (literally "war fries" but don't ask me why) usually have peanut sauce, raw onions, and mayo or frietssaus.
If you can't tell, I'm not really a fan of frietsaus and pindasaus. One South Holland fry-bearing specialty I do like is the kapsalon (which means barbershop, long story) - that's basically shawarma meat and gouda cheese on a bed of french fries, warmed in an oven or (the best) under a salamander so the cheese melts. Then it's topped with an iceberg lettuce and tomato salad, garlic sauce and/or sambal. Spectacular kcal/€ ratio.
My reply relates to Belgium only and its sauces for frites.
Mayonnaise, real one, is based on an emulsion of raw egg yolks. When kept for a long time in open air - specially in low hygiene conditions - there is always a risk of contamination. Hence, most frites stands have long abandonned real mayo and use a sauce with a different emulgator, some chemical stuff, not organic. The sauce you mention is one of those surrogates. It can legally not even be called mayonnaise. You must promise to shoot me if you ever saw me eating it.
The real connaisseur sauce for Belgian frites is pickles or picalilly. That is a vinegar, sugar and curcuma base, with salted and cooked vegetables: cauliflower, gherkins, onions, apples etc. It is so good, I would eat it without the fries. Or have it with a really big pork roast.
The best fries of my life(and my husband's life) was the one we had in Les Baux, France. It was a smalll food vendor that was there for a medieval festival. The onwers, maybe husband and wife were selling bbq'ed bull meat and french fries...and oh my god, my husband and I still talk about the french fries we had that day. I believe they were cooked in duck fat or something but it was incredibly delicious...rich..so so good and so cheap too.