Christkindelsmärik, Strasbourg Christmas market, is the oldest one in Europe – it’s functionable already since 1570. But that’s not the point of this article – today I’m gonna try to describe you the enchanting atmosphere of Strasbourg in the winter, and more particularly – Christmas time.
Did you know that in this Alsasian metropolis supposedly originates a tradition to decorate the Christmas tree? And let me tell you, they’re really proud of that, all the conifers in the city centre are decorated with either lights or some ornaments!
Residents of the city centre and owners of shops compete not only for the most beautiful tree, but also for the most interesting facade – golden cornucopias, whiff garlands with snowflakes spilling down silver stars, teddybears, flowers and lights, lights, lights.
Of course, some residents don’t find such decorations sufficient and they go for more bizarre ornaments – such as life-size Santa Claus or reindeers!
Christmas market is this year located at 16 different places – on every one of them you will find wooden chalets (all light up), overflowing with numerous kinds of unique items, from home goods and toys to giant Christmas trees.
However, on the Place des Meuniers you’ll find something a little bit different – countless tastes and scents of Alsace, everything in the highest quality from native producers. Munster cheese, goose liver flavored with nutmeg or pickled in brandy, organic jams, gugelhupl – typical Strasbourg bunt cake with almonds and raisins, pain d’épices – divine gingerbread. Mulled wine is a matter of course! I’ve also had some kind of gingerbread tea – I really don’t know what it was, but it’s been great so far!
Place d’Austerlitz belongs to confectioners and Christmas pastry. Selection is large, whether you want something with icing, sprinkled with cinnamon, flavoured with aniseed or decorated with silver beads.
But since we’re not supposed to be talking about Christmas markets today (that’s gonna be the main topic of the next article), I want to point out by far the most romantic part of the city – the La Petite France district. It’s soaking with picturesque German architecture, cute original restaurants and of course, also themed ornaments since it’s the Christmas time.
When frost penetrates to the bones, it’s time to sit down in a warm, cosy restaurant. La Petite France is a perfect place for that for three main reasons:
- fine prices
- smaller crowds
- chance of having been taken better care of (staff cares only about you, not also twenty other tables)
Drink mulled wine (nah, one time haven’t been enough), or, try one of specialities from the following list:
- Bretzel is basically the French version of the German pretzel. It’s made from brioche dough and comes in different sweet and savoury versions.
- Beignet is a pastry made of deep-fried sweetened dough.
- Chouquette is a Choux pastry sprinkled with sugar.
- Flammekueche is a wood-fired pizza topped with crème fraiche, bacon and onion.
- Choucroute is a typical Alsatian dish. It’s a grated cabbage pickled in wine, accompanied by sausages and slow-cooked pork.
- Bacheofe – This wine-simmered dish of meat and vegetables cooked in a dough-sealed pot is Alsatian through and through.
- Sauerkraut with Fish in Cream Sauce – Traditionally, choucroute au poisson was a dish made in Alsatian riverside villages, but today restaurants throughout Alsace serve a version in which filets of flaky, white-fleshed fish such as pike perch are pan-fried or poached and served on a bed of choucroute and topped with a creamy riesling sauce.
- Crayfish Soup – Crayfish were once so plentiful in Alsatian waters that soups like this one, served at L’Ecrevisse in Brumath, were common.
- Farmhouse Chicken in Vinegar Sauce is a true Alsatian classic.
- Grape Tart
- Schupfnudeln are rolled noodles, similar to gnocchi (little, potato noodle dumplings). The noodles are then boiled, deep – fried or pan fried, depending on the recipe. If they are boiled first, they are often sautéed to a golden brown in a pan afterward, with sage – butter and cubed bacon (Speck), and served with sauerkraut. They can also be served sweet with poppy seed, melted butter and sugar.
- Mandeltarte can be a flat, round cake made with a crust covered in an almond cream and baked, or a Mandelkuchen, where a Rührteig made with almond meal or flour is baked in a Gugelhupf form.
- Elsässischer Apfelkuchen – part pie, part cake, this “Kuchen” is made by pressing apple halves in a crust and pouring an egg cream over it which sets up when baked.
- Tarte aux poire has an eggy custard filling with baked pears.
And after a bountiful dinner…it’s time to burn some calories on the ice rink that’s to be found at Place Klebér! Or just purposeless (quite so) walking around the streets and listening to the music (street artists fight for attention) is also nice!
Have a great day!