Mulled Wine on a Cold Day

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A few weeks back, I mentioned the seasonal return of eggnog and Glühwein, and while I’ve been thoroughly enjoying my nog all this time, it wasn’t until a few days ago that I finally had a chance to crack open the bottle of Glühwein I picked up from Trader Joe’s.

A quick refresher about the beverage: Glühwein is mulled wine, served warm. I’ve talked about it a number of times on this blog. It’s usually part of my retelling of going to a Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Market) with friends.

I don’t think I’ve ever talked about sharing Glühwein with office-mates, though. I spent three Decembers working in a German office, and it was a semi-regular occurrence during the season that someone would heat up a bottle or two of Glühwein or Glögg on the stove, and then would summon everyone to the office kitchen to share in the drink. (Glögg is also mulled wine like Glühwein, but it’s from Sweden instead of Germany.)

We would linger around the kitchen and enjoy the drink and chat about absolutely anything. Sometimes there were seasonal treats, like Stollen, which I do not like at all. Even the Muslim guy who didn’t drink alcohol would still come to the kitchen and hang out. Technically, drinking at work was against the rules. I don’t feel bad about spilling the tea though, because the company no longer exists and it’s fairly unlikely anyone will get in trouble now.

Connoisseurs of Glühwein will tell you not to heat it in the microwave, since the delicate blend of spices can be easily damaged by that much rapid heat. Instead, you should pour your preferred drink into a pot and heat it gradually over the stove. Stir it often, and don’t let it come to a boil!

Once the drink is heated, pour it into an appropriate vessel to drink it. Coffee mugs are fine, but I chose to use my glass from the 2013 Kuchlbauer Christmas Market in Abensberg. In hindsight, I wish I had thought to keep one souvenir glass from every Christkindlmarkt I attended over the years, but I only ever brought this one home.

Have you had Glühwein this year?

53/52! Goal achieved!

Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt

I decided a while back that I wanted to see the Nuremberg Christmas Market this year.  The Nuremberg market is one of the most famous, and it’s a big attraction for tourists.   It sees about two million visitors a year.   This is what it looked like at around 5pm on a very rainy Saturday night.

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It was pretty difficult to move up and down the aisles because of the volume of people visiting.  This was more crowded than my visit to Oktoberfest, although that was a weekday rather than a Saturday.

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It’s held in the Hauptmarkt, a large courtyard between a big church and a big pointy fountain in the Nürnberg Altstadt.  This is the fountain:

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There are booths and decorations on all the connecting streets as well.  This little fellow was in front of a store.

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The market has the usual things you find in any Christmas market – hot nuts, Lebkuchen, Bratwurst, handmade goods, and Glühwein.

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Nuremberg also sports the world’s largest flaming punch bowl.  I took some pictures of the flaming punch bowl, but they really didn’t come out very well so they won’t be included here.

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While I was there, a German chorus was singing English Christmas music in front of the Church.

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When I stopped for a closer look, the director (in the red cowboy shaped hat) asked the audience if there were any Americans in the audience.  He seemed disappointed with the lack of response-  apparently the Americans are usually noisier.

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Perhaps it’s because all the Americans were enjoying the Glühwein-  Nuremberg had the white variety seen here.  It’s not quite as sweet as the usual red wine flavors of Glühwein, but it was very delicious.  A hot steaming mug of this was enough to make me forget it was raining the entire time I was at the market.

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What is the most crowded event or festival you have visited?

Kuchlbauer Weinachtsmarkt, Abensberg

The third Christkindlmarkt I visited this year was in Abensberg. On Friday, Jenny, Robert, and I went to the Kuchlbauer’s Weinachtsmarkt at the Kuchlbauer brewery.

The Kuchlbauer brewery is not just a brewery, it’s also a tourist attraction, since the Kuchlbauer-Turm (Kuchlbauer Tower) was opened to visitors in 2010.

Up until this trip, I thought that Hundertwasser was the name of the tower- I didn’t realize that Hundertwasser was the name of the artist who designed it.  The tower was designed by artist Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser.  That’s not his given name-  he was born in Austria as Friedrich Stowasser.  His chosen name is kind of fascinating though, since the individual parts translate to Kingdom of Peace, Rainy Day, Darkly Colored, and Hundred Waters.   I’m positive there’s a story there that I haven’t gotten to yet.

We didn’t climb up the tower on this visit-  that’s something that would be much more interesting in the daytime, when you can properly see the view from the tower.

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We were a little surprised at how small this market was- all three of us expected it to be larger.  We started in the courtyard area around the base of the tower.  There were a few stands, including Lebkuchen:

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…as well as Baumstrietzel, the delicious rolled pastries that I first encountered in Prague.  These were dessert.  Dinner was a wrap with venison, horseradish, and some other typical fillings.  Very delicious.

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We spent some time in the tiny little Christmas market there before moving around to the street to take pictures of some of the other lit up buildings.  There as a little train-tram in front to carry people from the outer parking area.

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When we turned around the corner on the other side of the Bierwelt building, we found more booths.  Our original assumption that we had seen the entire Christkindlmarkt was not accurate.  The section at the base of the tower was only one tiny part of the market.  There was much, much, much more.

This booth had incense burners.  Very cute ones.

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Toward the back, near the food, there’s a Rudolph “mounted” in the wall.  The sign above his head says, Bitte Nicht Füttern! Rudolpf hat Verdauungsprobleme!  Translated:  “Please do not feed. Rudolph has digestive problems.”

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Digestive problems would explain the singing…

The parking garage has been converted for the time being into a market for goods.  Decorations…

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Horns which I assume are supposed to be used for cornucopia displays, not this foolishness here:

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There was a tiny carousel for the children.

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…and lots of places to get food and drink.

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The Brewery has a tilty building which is still being constructed on the inside, but the open parts are quite interesting, and it’s lit up adorably for the holidays.

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The Kuchlbauer Weinachtsmarkt was actually the nicest Christmas Market I’ve been to, and I’ve seen them now in five cities.  It was large, with a great deal of variety, and yet it wasn’t too crowded.

Which Christkindlmarkt is your favorite so far?

Christmas Market Season Is Here!

Last week, the Christkindlmärkte opened all over Germany.  It’s time for Glühwein (hot mulled wine), hot fresh festival food, gingerbread, and the warmth that comes from spending time with your friends.  The markets will be open until just before Christmas.

I didn’t take this picture of the Regensburg market on Neupfarrplatz, but I wish I had-  I’m pretty sure that this view was taken from the spire of the Dom, and I really want to go up there.

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These next nine photos, on the other hand, are from the Marienplatz Christkindlmarkt in Munich.  I took these yesterday, while I was hanging out with Cliff before Sarah’s concert.

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Yup, they were singing.

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Oh crepes, lovely lovely crepes…

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The crepe under construction here was a Schafskäse (feta cheese), tomato, pesto, and balasmic crepe.  It was incredibly delicious, and really piping hot.

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There are a bajillion Glühwein stands in Munich.  They’re easy to spot, too.

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Have you ever been to a Christmas Market?  What’s your favorite flavor of Glühwein?