I realise there are many threads on these forums already and many people such as Sturmi and Kukubura have contributed with their immense wealth of knowledge and experience. However, I'm worried some of the posts might be a little outdated (esp. rgd. prices of cheap eats) and some of the places mentioned might be out of my reach (I'll explain later) and frankly speaking it's quite overwhelming to see a huge list of restaurants and going through all the online menus. I realise this is a little selfish, just that it's quite a lot to take in at the moment. I'm new to chowhound so if this isn't according to the rules please moderate as necessary. Thanks!
Basically, I'm a solo traveller going to the cities mentioned during late September before starting university in London. So essentially I'm cash strapped, staying in hostels and getting by with budget airlines, buses and SparNight discounts. I'm spending 3 days in each city and am mostly interested in food, so my plan is to get by with self catering and messing around with local market fare, trying street food as well as the occasional meal out. While I will be staying in hostels I haven't booked anywhere yet so that's flexible. I'm planning to stay near the markets like the Wombats hostel beside Nashmarkt in Vienna, but if there are better 'hotspots' I can just shift as needed.
I'd like to get advice on street food and the local markets available. I'll be heading to Naschmarkt (Vienna), Central Market Hall (Bp), Stary Kleparz (Krakow) - are there any other places I should look out for? Also, are there things that are really specialities or simply tourist scams like the saffron supposedly is in the budapest central hall? Are there any must tries such as that bridge sausage seller in krakow or foods/ingredients that are far more expensive elsewhere like foie in Bp? I'm from South East Asia and have had extremely little exposure to European/Western fare beyond generic stuff like fish and chips and steak, and reading and seeing stuff like the crazy sausage varieties in Vienna makes me really want to try it for real! That said, I love cooking and am hoping to gather a stash of ingredients to spice up (aheh sorry) my college cooking. I've visited various blogs and websites like budapest.eu and the pictures are honestly mindblowing, which is why I was a little confused when some threads on chowhound say that there aren't really any good foodie souvenirs. Maybe it's because I'm not from the states - stuff like sambal belacan/jaggery/tripe/durian are everyday foods and ingredients while stuff like olives/jalapenos/pate taste completely funky to me. Are there anything that I should use the opportunity to stock up that would be pricer in London? Though I'm not sure if there's any customs issues...
Also, while many of the threads had incredible coverage of restaurants, most are really pricey and out of my league except for maybe the restaurants in Budapest. I do hope I can get, say, 1 or 2 nice restaurant meals per city there though. I'm used to heavier lunches and would rather a heaping pile of meat over dessert so I'm hoping that would be in my favour (I didn't really think meat and dumplings was a bad description of eastern european food). I'm really trying not to blow more than 25-30 euros per nice meal, though 30 is already stretching it in my case. Is this actually a wise decision, or is it better to just spread this 'nice meal' budget out for more budget eats? If I had to pick, I'd rather use the money to buy more ingredients to play around with during college.
Lastly, despite not being much of a fan of desserts I love chocolate and hot chocolate - my Vienna itinerary essentially consists on hitting the Nashmarkt, Meinl emporium, museum and xocolat factory (yea I can while away a whole morning simply at a generic supermarket and looking at local foodstuffs...). I've also read of Gerbeaud/Aztek in Bp, Wedel in Krakow, another museum in Prague..are these also worth visiting and are there any notable local chocolate brands/makers/shops that should not be missed?
For all who have read this post, thank you VERY MUCH! I know I tend to ramble, but I'm frightfully excited about going to these places and starting a new phase of life. As I mentioned, I'm new to these boards and I forsee asking a lot more about London eats in a few months time, or maybe after I know my accommodation details...