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Feature Fri Dec 04 2009
I love the holiday season - it's such a happy time of year and there are always so many fun, festive things going on. One of my favorite things to do this time of year is go to the Christkindlmarket at Daley Plaza. Modeled after the famous Christkindlsmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany (it began in 1545!), the Market features traditional German food, handmade crafts and beautiful lights. You can even go inside a heated tent and watch video from the magical event in Nuremberg.
This year, in order to make the most the event, my friends and I decided that we would go every Tuesday after work in December. Trying to get a good sampling of all the delicious food in one night is impossible and, in the previous two years I hadn't made it past the sausages. This year, I'm determined to try something new.
This is my third winter in Chicago and I've enjoyed going to the Market every year, but this year I was looking forward to it even more because I spent a week in Germany this past September and have a new appreciation for German food. Wursts, brotchen, pretzels, schnitzel - I could go on for a long time. And don't get me started on the beer.
So, last Tuesday night I made my way over to Daley Plaza to begin my weekly feast. When I got there I did a lap around the Market to take in all of my options - potato pancakes, cheese-stuffed pretzels, crepes, bratwurst, schnitzel, stolen, Leberkäse, popcorn, candied nuts, endless strudels - I had no idea where to start. I spent some time looking at all of the beautiful handmade ornaments and steins (this is a great place to get some Christmas shopping done), gazing at the beautiful Christmas tree and people watching.
When I found myself undecided after all of this, I headed to the beverage stand and ordered a Glühwein. Glühwein is the alcoholic version of apple cider - replace the cider with red wine, add cinnamon sticks and other spices and you have one of the best cold-weather drinks out there. For $7 you can get a decent sized glass of Glühwein complete with a souvenir mug shaped as das boot.
After a few sips of wine, I decided to get a traditional bratwurst. Loaded with sauerkraut and German mustard, I have to say it was a pretty good dinner. I was tempted to get a pretzel on the side, but I couldn't do it. One wurst was enough for the night, besides I still have three more trips to the Market in my future - plenty of time to sample a majority of the food.
The wurst was actually pretty similar to what I had in Germany, but it had more bread than I'd prefer (in Germany the bread only covers a portion of the sausage). The kraut and mustard really compliment the flavors nicely, be sure to try both. And, if you REALLY love sauerkraut, you can order an entire plateful for just $3.
There are many different types of sausages and in Germany I often had the rotwurst (pictured above) - it truly is the perfect sausage - a little crunchy on the outside, soft and a little spicy on the inside. I also had a couple Nurembergers which were also good (they serve these at the Market, but I couldn't access that area with my Glühwein). Next time, I guess.
Is the food as good as it is in Germany? No. But it's pretty close.
Go to the Christkindlmarket, sample the food and let me know what you think. I'll be there every Tuesday at six, shoot me a tweet @kaitlinolson if you want to meet up.