Christmas markets in Leipzig and Mainz… unexpected and wonderful!
My BFF has been living in Germany for the past few years and she told me that Germany goes all out for the holiday season. I didn’t quite understand what that meant, because America is certainly bedecked with lights and full of presents and Santas and all that… but she was right. December in Germany is different. Not inflatable Santa holidays, but golden lights, mulled wine, and hand-made wooden ornaments.
I had the joy of walking around two Christmas markets this past December (many thanks to Mr. Harris for a good reason to do this!) These markets had many stalls selling a variety of things that one needs to celebrate the holidays properly… gifts, chocolate, mulled wine, holiday ornaments, hot fried foods, plank roasted salmon, hot chocolate, paper lanterns… I quickly learned how to best enjoy my wanderings around the market… with a mug of hot gluhwein (mulled wine) in one hand! It’s important to remember where you got your beverage, because it comes in a ceramic mug, and you pay an additional 2-3 euros deposit for the mug, that you get back when you return it. Part of the fun is remembering where the current beverage came from, and dropping the cup off… then heading off to find a new beverage if needed! Another fun thing to do is to set forth with a quest … an item to buy for someone or a specific food to eat! I really wanted some plank roasted salmon in Mainz, like I saw at Leipzig (but I wasn’t hungry then, so didn’t buy)… we eventually found it, and it was delicious!
When I came home, I had a hankering for gluhwein, so I hunted up recipes and happily re-created it at home. Here’s my recipe!
2 bottles of red wine (I used Charles Shaw cabernet sauvignon)
1 orange, zested with a vegetable peeler
Juice of orange you just zested
3/4 cup of water
1/2 cup sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
4 cardamon pods
Brandy to taste (I’ve also used amaretto)
Combine everything but the wine and brandy and boil on medium heat for 20 minutes. Then add wine and gently heat until hot (don’t boil!) Add brandy to taste. Can you feel the glow of holiday lights now?