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A Culinary Tour of Holiday Markets

Updated: Apr 19, 2022

When you think of the holidays it is hard not to think about all the delicious treats that can be enjoyed during the season. Stroll with me through holiday markets around the world and Sip & Savor the finest they have to offer.

Strolling through Strasbourg

Symmetrical rows of wooden huts, each decorated according to the contents inside, keep pulling my attention while walking on the cobblestone streets through the bustling market. I slowly begin to smell the enticing aroma of the mulled wine and delicious pastries, and I allow my stomach to lead the way. However, I find myself loosing focus as my eyes keep darting to the beautiful decorations, and hand-crafted goods. I could spend hours trying to choose the perfect glittering ornament, or the best nutcracker and don’t forget those adorable wooden smokers.

I digress…onto the mulled wine! It’s like a boozy version of mulled cider, with hints of orange, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. If you are lucky the stall will offer a shot of rum or brandy, which I highly recommend! Surely it is medicinal- after all you must keep yourself warm from the chill in the air, one would not want to catch cold.

Now for some snacks…

Alsace, which has historical ties to both France and Germany, presents a unique hybrid of cuisine and culture like nowhere else. The Christkindelsmarik is the oldest market in all of Europe located in Strasbourg.

Mireille Oster’s famous gingerbread and an assortment of different types of delicious buttery or spiced cookies (my favorite, the cinnamon stars) are always a good pairing, but if you are looking for something a bit more savory, the tarte flambée is a great choice. The dish features a thin crust typically topped with crème fraîche or fromage blanc, white onions, and lardon (bacon) - an Alsace staple much like NYC Pizza!

If you want something smaller to snack on consider the Bretzel, a tasty cousin of the American soft pretzel you find on almost every city street corner or ballpark. Still satisfying but not as indulgent! This one however, can be served with cheese.

Pastry tales from Vienna and Budapest,

Besides the chestnuts literally roasting on an open fire Apfelstrudel, another Viennese tradition found at the Christkindmarket Rathausplatz, consists of paper thin dough wrapped in many layers around the filling of spiced apples and raisins. This delicious pastry is like our American version of apple pie, but can be eaten at breakfast.

Vienna's coffee culture is legendary. The atmosphere has a bit of elegance that cannot be found in any Starbucks. While there are several famous coffee houses where one can relax and read the latest news, the Sacher Café, across from the Opera house, offers a slice of Vienna history. Their famous chocolate torte that originated in 1832, can still be enjoyed today.

The Christmas Market at St Stephen Square in Budapest was our favorite and definitely a change of pace in the food offerings.

One might not think of Budapest for this delicious almond paste treat , but my husband and I fell in love with Kings’ Marzipan. There were probably over 20 flavors to choose from, but some standouts included; apple caramel, whisky truffle, salted caramel, and coconut. I could keep going- after all I think we tried at least a dozen. I have since tried to see if I can have them shipped back to the States but have not been successful.

Charcoal grilled salmon on an open flame served with grilled onion and peepers over a crispy potato pancake, made for quite a memorable lunch and much needed change from all the brats we enjoyed on our earlier excursions. Stroll over to Best Bavarian Brats

If you want to escape from the cold the famous spice market is filled with warmth! The varieties of paprika and saffron are a must to bring back as a souvenir or gift.

For a special dessert I would recommend Kurtoskalacs…what I like to call chimney cakes!

One must wait patiently to indulge in this Hungarian treat while watching them roll out the dough, wrapping it around a long stick, sprinkling it with cinnamon and sugar and then setting it over the flames to cook. It is quite an impressive show, much better than waiting in line at Auntie Anne’s. When I finally get to dig in to my own I take a moment to let the smoke waft out of the chimney like treat. The smell of slightly burnt sugar fills the air as the steam rushes to my face, a welcomed mini facial of warmth during this cold night.

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