It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Everywhere you go, you see glistening lights. What a pretty sight!
We were in Cologne, Germany, recently for the annual Weihnachtsmarkt am Kölner Dom (Christmas Market at the Cologne Cathedral)
We have been to several Christmas Markets. They are quite similar everywhere in Central Europe. The decors, colours, the sweet smell of spices, waffles, pretzels, fried onions, dry roasted chestnuts and the crowd!
It was amazingly crowded the weekend we were in Cologne. It was also the day when whole Belgium stood still. 15th Dec 2014 saw the country went on strike against the ruling government’s policy of austerity measures. Many low landers from Belgium took a day off as well as neighbouring Netherlands thronged at the Cologne Christmas Market that weekend. It was almost impossible to take decent pictures of the Christmas stalls without human beings stampeding in every nook and cranny. I managed to take a few with just the roofs 🙂
It was such a pity with the immense crowd, we were struggling with our manoeuvres, elbow to elbow. We had been walking around the same stalls for the umpteenth time. My younger son said he preferred hanging around in the big Lego shop in the centre of Cologne. We did that! And wow, the price tags! Cha-Ching! Cha-Ching! Lol!
A Glowing Christmas
A German colleague once told me, “Never leave a German Christmas Market without trying the German Glühwein.”
By the way, what is Glühwein?
Glühwein literally means “glow-wine”, from the hot irons once used in heating wine with mulling spices. The holy trinity of a traditional German mulled wine are cinnamon sticks, cloves and orange (juice and rind or zest). However, there are many variations of mulling spices used for making Glühwein today.
A few German friends I know swore to the “glow” in Glühwein as the addition of stronger liquor such as rum, whiskey or brandy. Whatever it meant, I never failed to “glow” within me when sipping the warm mulled wine :-). An excellent winter treat.
My version of the Glühwein included lemon rind, juice and honey instead of sugar plus the holy trinity of the mulling spices.
For the red wine, I used Ruby Cabernet from South Africa because of its fruitful essence. To make Glühwein, the red wine is warmed at low heat (Note: Do NOT boil the wine). In a muslin cloth or tea bag, add the cinnamon sticks, star anise , cloves, and rinds of orange and lemon. Throw the mulling spice bag in the warmed wine. Add some honey and juices of orange and lemon to taste.
And that’s it!
Unlike other Christmas Markets we have been to, the ones in Germany are quite exceptional. Instead of plastic cups, the Glühwein is served in festive mugs.
These Glühwein mugs have become collective items, but for a price, of course. Eur 2.50 for the wine and another Eur 2.50 for the mug! Well, it’s Christmas and it only happens once a year!
I am sharing this Christmas warmth to the following Cooking Challenges – my last one for this year 😉
And without much ado, I would like to take this opportunity to wish my family, friends and readers a very Merry Christmas!
May the real message of Christmas fill your life with love, joy and peace.
Best wishes to you and your family during this holiday season.