When your child becomes an ex-pat in another country, f you're very lucky, your child will take you on adventures that you might have missed along the way.
The fairy-tale lover in me has always wanted to experience the Christmas markets in Germany. The nooks and crannies, the nearby gnarled woods, the light in the dark and the magical occurrences that all seem possible this time of year.
And it happened.
Strasbourg: On the border with Germany, it is the oldest Christmas Market in Europe. Originally called the Saint Nicholas Market, it was renamed when a Reformation preacher took umbrage of having a Christmas Market named for an outlawed patron Saint. (Heavens to Betsy!)
Chandeliers in Baccarat crystal guide you to the Place de la Cathedrale, where the main market is. It's all flight and fancy. It's hard to make it to the main market, because you have to stop at every window. Every. Single One.
The Charcuterie knows what they are about.
Outside the Cathedral, there is the usual array of ornaments (yes, I bought some), cookies (yes, we ate some), nuts, Gluhwein (yes, we drank some) and artisan gifts crafted from wood and stone.
And then there is this tree. The story behind the magic is here.
After Strasbourg, we went to Matthew's "home" town of Quedlinburg. It's where I first fell in love with the Moravian star also knows as the "Herrnhuter." It's origins come from Saxony (where Quedlinburg is located). Of course, it also has a story. Find it here.
I love the smaller towns and their personalities. While Strasbourg is adorned with crystal, Quedlinburg is all about the nearby forests and Harz mountains. Timber and greens are everywhere.
You will not leave hungry.
You will be filled with music.
We took a side trip to Wernigerode near the Harz mountains. We climbed up (and up and up and up) to the castle on top of the town. It was a hike. But then there are the rewards:
The market was just getting going.
And there was Gluhwein to keep you warm.
We went to the Advent Fair in Quedlinburg. Every alley, every small park, every groove called to you with warm lights, hearty meats, wine, beer, and hand-crafted items.
As is my way, I relive this memories with food because as much as I love the travel, I am also more than 50% "There's No Place Like Home." Home incorporates where you've been and who you are now.
German food has a lot in common with Minnesota. It's hearty for the winter. It's yeasty and earthy and is fond of calories. The Kugelhopf many have originated in Vienna, but Alsace upped their game and it is one of the most traditional Christmas foods in the region. They use a Kugelhopf pan (I used a Bundt). It's easy to make even if you're afraid of yeast (I murder yeast). I did the minimum cooking time and they were darker than I wanted. But live and learn and live to bake again.
Ingredients (from Epicurious) - 8-10 servings