Well, ladies and gentlemen, as mixed as your feelings may be on the subject, the Christmas season is officially upon us, as Christmas is in exactly one month.
This time of the year is such a flurry–there are parties, family gatherings, and of course the shopping, cooking and baking. Every single year, I feel like I’m never going to make it with my sanity intact, but yet, here I am, 40-some-odd years in, and still in possession of most of my my marbles.
Five years ago, a new Christmas tradition was born in Vancouver. For hundreds of years, European countries (particularly Germany) have celebrated the oncoming holiday season with a Christkindlmarkt, and now Vancouver has its own. Michael and I have been enjoying it as part of our holiday traditions for the last three years. We like to wander around and look at the vendors–toys and crafts–ride the carousel, listen to the live music, and, of course, eat!
The Vancouver Christmas Market is now open for the season just outside the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Georgia St.
Here are some of the tasty bites you can expect this year at the Market:
Traditional German Fare: pretzels, bratwurst and schnitzel, oh mein! The Germans traditionally have a pretty meat-heavy diet, and you’ll definitely see that reflected at the market. Bratwurst is a lot like a hot dog, and a schnitzel is a piece of pork that has been pounded thin, then breaded and fried. You’ll also find Haxen, a roasted ham hock that is first salt-cured, then slowly roasted for hours until the meat is falling off the bone. Potatoes also figure heavily into the German diet, and among the potato options you’ll find a potato pancake, which comes served with sour cream and sauerkraut.
Sweets: there is quite a wide variety of sweets at the market, both to eat there, or to purchase and take home. There are lots of waffle options, of course, and also a poffertjes, which is Dutch mini-pancake made in a cast-iron pan that reminded me of a Takoyaki maker that you see at the Asian Night Market. Both the waffles and the pancakes come with a variety of toppings, including (my fave) bananas and Nutella. There are also traditional German desserts, like a Black Forest Cake, stollen, gingerbread, and crepes.
Hot (and boozy) beverages: because it’s an outdoor market, having a warm drink in hand is required. Having it in a warm, steamy mug you can wrap your hands around, and having the addition of liquor are a (wonderful) bonus. The options here include gluhwein (a warm, mulled red wine), hot spiced cider (alcohol free for the kiddies), and boozy hot chocolates and coffees.
Things on sticks: c’mon. It’s an outdoor market. That means street food. Street food equals things on sticks! They may not be very German, but Hurricane Potatoes (an entire potato is cut in a spiral, threaded onto a stick, deep fried, and then dipped in seasoning) are a huge hit at the market. There are also waffles on a stick. That’s right. Waffles. Awesome. On a stick? Awesomer. And, although they aren’t on a stick, there are also stick-style pastries, shaped like a long log, similar to a danish, but slightly chewier, and filled with bavarian cream, chocolate, or apples.
Vegan options: I was really pleasantly surprised to find vegan options at the Market this year. It’s a surprising fact, but Berlin is one of the top vegan cities in the world, and that’s reflected at the Market this year. Zotter’s Chocolate serves a variety of vegan hot chocolates (made with coconut milk), and there is entire kiosk, Berlin Vegan Eatery, which serves veganized German classics like a grilled cheese made with Daiya and saurkraut, and a vegan bratwurst by Tofurky.
If there’s one thing I love about my city, it’s the multiculturalism, and the food options that come with that. Still, it seems like my defaults end up being Thai, Japanese, or Indian food when I’m eating out, and almost never German. So visiting the Christmas Market is a great opportunity to try something new.