From late November to the New Year a whole new world of amazing options open up to the hungry, and thirsty, traveler passing through Europe.
Eating and drinking at Christmas markets is an essential part of soaking in the whole experience.
What are you going to find?
We expected to see a lot on sausage varieties served on buns, the mysterious currywurst, Gluhwein and pretzels. And while we certainly found these in abundance we were delighted to find plenty of other treats, both savoury and sweet. So strap on your feed bag and enjoy the meal.
The twisted Christmas treat
The obvious place to start when talking Christmas Market food, especially in Germany, is the humble pretzel. Although we soon discovered that there is more to the world of pretzels than just a simple, twisted lump of dough.
You could quite happily, but maybe not healthily, live of the assortment of these wonders for weeks. While the standard pretzel may be a favourite in the beer halls it is the possibility of adding chocolate, nuts, fruit, cinnamon, cheese, or just about anything to them that make them such a fighter of hunger.
The Wurst decision
The next obvious food group is sausage, or wurst as they call it in these parts.
Shopfronts are filled with every variety you could imagine, and most of them are offered surrounded by bread in all shapes and sizes.
This half a metre of sausage on a roll was a challenge I had to accept.
A common addition at many of the sausage vendors was the amazing potato pancakes pictured below. Delicious on their own but I was also talked in to trying one with apfelmus (German applesauce), and what a revelation! It took the potato to a new level of awesome.
Better in a bun
Wrapping something in bread to make it easier to eat on the go was not limited to sausage by any means, from spit-roasted and barbecued meats to incredibly tasty chicken and vegetable skewers, it seemed the possibilities were almost endless.
Eating on the go
If you don’t want any more bread you might try some of the tasty options served in a container or on a plate.
Maybe some potato, bacon and onion, or some of this sensational slow cooked vegetable medley which can spend hours simmering along in these giant iron bowls before being offers to hungry patrons.
Or maybe you prefer some slow roasted mushrooms with pasta. Some much food, so little time.
If you are longing for something a little more crunchy then why not go for a bag of these thin cut, fresh fried potato chips. Perfect for that quick snack on the go with the bonus of the bag warming your freezing cold hands.
Our mysterious highlight
Sometimes you need nothing more than a napkin to hold the most delicious treats. I hate that I can’t remember the name of this culinary wonder but it’s pure deliciousness will remain with us forever.
Dough is stretched out on a large board, then covered with capsicum (peppers), bacon, and a large sprinkling of grated cheese before being folded and folded like a strudel. After some time in the oven you are left with a perfect pile of awesome.
Crispy top, gooey cheese, salty bacon, and topped with sour cream and chives. This was quite possibly the savoury sensation of our trip.
Deep fried delights
We also had the pleasure of trying a number of deep fried delights.
These varied from town to town but all seemed to be a type of pancake, donut, sweet bun thingy, stretched into a large circle, fried and then topped with a range of sweet or savoury toppings.
We tried a few of the different options like cinnamon sugar, apfelmus, cheese and plain. We were never disappointed.
Drinks and dessert
I suppose after all this eating we should find something to wash it down to prepare for some dessert. The most common sight across the Christmas Markets would have to be Gluhwein stands. Always the most crowded areas and also the most festive.
Friends and families congregate to share stories and partake in this warm, spiced wine beverage. I was not a huge fan but did find some delicious warmed and spiced apple juice to take its place. We also loved the souvenir mugs on offer and now have a small collection. We particularly like the Munich boot mug above.
You may be wondering what the cake is in the photo. Wonder no more, Stollen is a German Christmas cake which is usually available wherever Gluhwein is found. They pair beautifully.
I mentioned desserts above and Salzburg wins the award for best market dessert in a bowl. This amazing concoction is smashed apple pretzel with icing sugar and hot apfelmus. I was very reluctant to share but in the end the decision was taken out of my hands… as was my dessert!
Beyond the markets
So the final part of our food tour winds down and I have saved the best for last. These may not be Markets foods as such but you can not go to Europe without trying some fine French dessert pastries.
Dana has always been partial to eclairs (as well as donuts of course), while I could never go to France withour devouring at least one Tarte au Poire.
The final food offering is our piece de resistance, a masterpiece we found in Colmar simply called Le Cube. A featherlight base of slightly crunchy but sweet crumble covered with layers of perfect chocolate mouse, beautifully tempered chocolate and topped with a tiny highlight of gold leaf.
We hope you enjoyed our wander through the Christmas Markets of Europe and have filled up nicely. I would love to hear your favourite market foods and if you might know the names of any of these delights.