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Category Archives: Christmas markets

The Good Wife

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Do not be alarmed. I did not eat them all. But it’s hard to wander around the central squares in German cities these days without being accosted by the smell of roasting meat, mulled wine, candied nuts. It’s enough to drive you mad. I gave in finally during a business trip on Thursday in Nürnburg. We waited for the train and the Christmas market was just outside the station. Needless to say, we needed to sample a few of the famous Nürnburger sausages. With sauerkraut. Alas, without the spicy warm wine. I was so tired from the travel this week that had I taken a sip, I would have been out cold on the spot.

Well, in case you hadn’t noticed – and it would be awfully hard to not notice – Christmas time is upon us here in Germany. There is no escaping it. Last weekend I in fact *did* drink my first mulled wine, and this weekend finds me…baking cookies.

A good (German) wife must certainly have some cookies lying around during the holiday season. And my ridiculous travel/work schedule in the last two weeks hasn’t allowed for anything beyond me begging the cleaning lady to bring some of her “Plätzen” (cookies) to us so we could munch a few of them in the in-beween-work moments. In fact, I need her recipe. They were delicious.

Not one to settle for some simple “Vanilla Kipferl” (sugar cookie crescents), I sought out the weird and wonderful for baking this weekend. Two kinds. Results: weird, not sure about the wonderful.

What did we end up with? For starters, I decided to go weird with a gluten-free thumbprint cookie. I like buckwheat, I like thumbprint cookies, I had some delicious plum mousse to fill them with from a colleague…what could go wrong? Nothing went wrong, per se. But damn it. BUCKWHEAT? No. Never again.

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Don’t get me wrong – all the right stuff there – nice crunchy nutty texture, rich buttery crumble, the various jams fit well, but the overcharged flavor of buckwheat flour doesn’t do it for me. I like buckwheat meanwhile, as a whole grain risotto – delicious with lemons, greens, cheese. I love savory buckwheat crepes with a glass of cider. But buckwheat cookies? Nope, never again.

Ok, so cookie number two you ask? Have a look here:

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A perfect and surprising flavor combination – chilis and chocolate – yuuuuum. And I was gifted one of those chilies after expressing strong interest in them. Let me warn you – not for the spicy averse. They were edible, but not enjoyable. But I still love chocolate chili, so these spiced chocolate cookies looked like a match for me.

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Much better. A relief after the disappointment of the buckwheat bonanza. I did swap out regular flour for the oat and rice flour, I admit it – I wanted a slightly more “normal” ingredient list. And that worked without a hitch. These are chocolaty, although not over the top, soft and rich and slightly chewy because of the raisins, and they have a slow but strong burn entering after a few seconds from the chipotle chili powder I dosed them with. A worthwhile cookie.

Wishing you all a very lovely second Advent Sunday.

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Posted by on December 7, 2014 in Christmas markets, Holiday Foods

 

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Better late than never

list of drinks at xmas marketsBetter late than never. I’ve been a bad bad blogger of later. It has been a combination of just too much to do in the last month plus the feeling that I haven’t cooked anything really new, innovative, new…

My mother made a blog request a week or two back that I agreed to create. Or at least, a request – “take some pictures of the Christmas markets” – that I interpreted to be a blog request. I’ve taken photos before of the markets, so nothing much new here, but nevertheless, worth an occasional revisit of some of the goodies that one can get at the millions of Christmas market booths in Munich and beyond.

First off, that photo above is a list of various types of mulled wine to be had. We’ve got the red and white wine versions, the blueberry, blackberry and cherry versions. Add a shot to it and you pay a euro more, Want it without alcohol (“children’s punch”) and you pay a euro less. Not listed here are all the modern variations – hot mulled mojitos, the “Feuerzangenbowle” – mulled wine with rum-soaked sugar, and the like.

Chocolate, yes, Chocolate tools

Chocolate, yes, Chocolate tools

I have to admit, I didn’t buy or eat any of these. And if you look really closely, you still might not believe these are edible. Quite a creation of art. These “tools” are all made out of chocolate. Rather brilliant, but probably a bit scary to bite into. I mean, have a look of these scissors. Hungry yet?

Chocolate scissors

Chocolate scissors

No, I didn’t think so. Far more inviting somehow, would be these little guys – found scattered all over the markets throughout Munich. Chocolate covered fruits – amazing really and so simple. You can find everything covered in chocolate at the Christmas markets and fruits are perhaps one of the nicest and simplest treats.

Chocolate covered fruits and cakes

Chocolate covered fruits and cakes

If you want to skip the chocolate altogether and concentrate a bit more on the fruit, go for a baked apple. Even better with a little caramel sauce or the like glazed over the top.

Baked apples

Baked apples

They smell heavenly when you pass by…

Speaking of which, so do these. And they start showing up months in advance of Christmas. You like nuts? Well, you’d go nuts for these nuts…all candied and amazingly delicious. Easy to gain 10 kilos in no time flat if you heat a few handfuls of these during the advent time… No, I didn’t. 😉

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They are officially called “burned” nuts. Crazy, I know. But I guess it refers to the sugar being burned in a way. Here the sign below tells you what’s on the menu of nuts: almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, cashews, macadamia, walnuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, and cocoa almonds. My favorite is actually missing from the list – coconut. mmmm

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Don’t have a sweet tooth? (Mine is a bit lame), then go for the savory treats. My favorite every year is the “healthy” version of a flammkuchen – essentially a whole-grain pizza with cheese, bacon, and chopped chives. No particularly healthy, but a yummy lunch after a session at the gym. And not huge.

Flammkuchen

Flammkuchen

Ok, for sure I am missing a million treats, but hopefully this smattering made you hungry for more. Come visit, please, next year, at the beginning of December. I’ll take you to find the best Christmas market “Leckerieen” (delicious things) you can imagine.

And between bites you can appreciate the musicians scattered around the pedestrian areas – they are usually extremely talented. I enjoyed watching these guys (Called “Connexion Balkon”) for about 20 minutes, despite the cold.

 
 

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Feeding my Hungarian roots

Sooo….there was one last meal at the Christmas markets a few days back. I had been curious about a food booth I had seen at the Schwabing market (which has a lot of non-German foods as well – Ethiopian being a favorite). A week or two back I’d seen a bunch of people eating some kind of puffy flat bread topped with all sorts of stuff and found out that this thing was called “Langos.” The line at the place that was selling them was too long, though. And naturally they were making them on the spot, which took a few minutes per order…and at least 10 people were standing there waiting in the cold. So at the time, it was a quick decision – no Langos…

But on the 23rd, right after a visit to the gym, where I had a decent 6 km run on a treadmill plus a good 30 minutes on the Eliptical machine, I dropped by the market before going home. It was close to empty, because if you don’t have presents for your loved ones by then…you’re obviously a depraved individual. Ehm…clearing throat.cSo there was no line for these “langos” treats, which I have just learned are Hungarian in origin. Ah ha – as good a reason as any to try them. Seeing that I am half Hungarian…some 5 or 6 generations back. Just researching and understanding my cultural roots.

I ordered a Langos with garlic, cheese and tomatoes.

Langos - Hungarian street food

Langos – Hungarian street food

And…not bad, but not great, I would say. There was a bit too much of a feeling of…substituting local ingredients. Tomatoes were not great – an unfortunate fact of the weather in Germany…although I imagine Hungary is not so different at the moment, cheese was standard plastic bag stuff – that could have been better. Bread could have used a pinch of salt. Nothing I would re-create at home because I don’t fry things at home…but nice enough to try at a Christmas market. After I had eaten it, I passed the Flammkueche stand that sells a localized version of the Alsace treat with whole wheat bread…and kind of wished I had eaten it instead.

Flammkuechen

Flammkueche

Today…the second day of Christmas in Germany…will be a leftover day. Perhaps I will make some fried rice in the spirit of what Jews generally do on Christmas – eat Chinese food. 😉

 

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