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Feature Fri Dec 04 2009

Christkindlmarket, Anyone?

IMG_5274.JPGI 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.

IMG_0102.JPGWhen 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.

Thumbnail image for Sausage.jpgThe 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.

 
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E / December 4, 2009 6:14 PM

Actually, as your picture illustrates, the Gluhwine mugs are shaped like a boot, not "Das Boot" which is a boat (or a movie about a boat.)

Cliff / December 4, 2009 11:55 PM

I've been helping out a friend at his booth at the Christkindlmarket, and I have to say that the Weinerschnitzel sammich is hot-diggity dog deliciousness! You can get it at most of the wurst/liberkase stands there.

Get it with the onions and zee German mustard for a substantial and tasty treat!

Kaitlin / December 5, 2009 3:16 PM

Thanks for the tip, Cliff! I'll definitely try it next Tuesday.

Cathy / December 19, 2009 11:43 PM

I have attended the Christkindmarket in Chicago since 1996 and have collected the souvenir mugs. Today I purchased mugs only to discover that they are last year's mugs (2008)! Did they run out of 2009? Does anyone have a couple extra that you are willing to part with? Love this market - reminds me of the first Christmas market I ever attended in Germany!

Chuck Galmarini / December 26, 2009 12:49 PM

Kaitlin Olson, you are right this is a great event we go every year. We were unable to get a boot this year as they were sold out. Willing to part with yours or do you know where to get one..??

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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