Merry Christmas

Just a quick posting to wish all my readers a very merry Christmas whether you will be celebrating it on the 24th as the Germans do, or on 25th as we Brits do. I myself am spending it in Essen with my partner and our Christmas lunch will be a rather untraditional but incredibly tasty roast leg of lamb supplied by my brother back in England who runs traditional butcher shop in England and can claim Jamie Oliver as a customer.

Whilst I am here, I also want to apologise for the lack of posts over the last few months. Work problems, studying and more recently a family bereavement amongst other things have taken their toll but hopefully I will be able to start 2017 with a fresh outlook and provide you with lots more interesting stuff on life in both the Moseltal and Germany in general.

Take care everyone and enjoy the festive season no matter what nationally or religious denomination you are.

Weihnachts Comes But Once A Year

Christmas – or “Weihnachts” in German – is fast approaching and that means the famous German Christmas Markets are now well underway. For those of us living in or visiting the Mosel, the unique combination of the magical market atmosphere coupled with picturesque surroundings really is unbeatable.

So put on your woolly scarves and gloves and indulge in a glass or two of the ubiquitous “Glühwein” (warm mulled wine) or “Eierlikor” (eggnog) as you browse a multitude of stalls selling crafts, trinkets, sweets and a whole host of other traditional (an not so traditional) Christmas goods.

Most towns big and small have at least one market, some lasting just for a few days and others for much longer, and you can find a selection of those that take place in and around the valley here, or for a little further afield but still close enough for a day trip click here.

Riesling Glühwein

Christmas is rapidly approaching now and those of us living in Germany will no doubt have already had the pleasure of sampling the famous “Glühwein” at one of the multitude of Christmas Markets that start in late November and go on right up until Christmas Eve or even into the New Year.

Traditionally, Glühwein is made from red wine, but of course, Mosel wine is predominantly white. It would be a bit of an insult to the local wine producers not to attempt to make some using the local plonk, so I reproduce here a recipe I found on the German cooking website http://www.kochbar.de/. It is the best translation from German to English I could manage, but I think it is reasonably accurate.

Weißer Glühwein (Mulled White Wine)

Ingredients:

  • 600 ml dry white wine
  • 150 ml Vodka
  • One orange
  • Five cloves
  • Two cinnamon sticks
  • Half teaspoon cardamom seeds
  • Three tablespoons of honey
  • Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
  • Lemon slices, to serve.

Slice the orange and throw into a saucepan along with all the other ingredients. Cover and heat gently but do not boil for at least ten minutes (if you boil it you will evaporate off the alcohol and we don’t want that now do we?). Taste and add more honey if necessary. Serve hot in heat-resistant glasses garnished with a light sprinkling of cinnamon, one clove and a slice of lemon.

Please note this is just one variation on a theme – the aforementioned website has numerous other recipes for mulled white wine, so feel free to experiment to come up different spice and citrus combinations to make your own personalised Christmas drink!

Countdown Is Progressing

Well, the Christmas countdown has now officially started and that means that the Christmas markets are now underway across Germany.

So now is the time to start doing a bit of Christmas shopping, and while you are at it you may as well have a few glasses of the legendary Glühwein to keep you warm. And if you get a bit peckish, there are always seasonal treats available to accompany the plonk.

There are numerous markets across the region. In the larger towns and cities, they are generally open daily, but in the smaller towns and villages they may only operate for a few days. I myself am not so keen on the larger markets as they tend to be a bit “samey”, whilst the smaller ones  can have bags more Christmas spirit about them and I am not necessarily talking about the bottled kind.

To find a list of markets taking place in the area, click here. Given that the towns along the river are all quite small the events will be easy enough to find – just follow the crowd!

Wein Nachts Markt in Traben Trarbach

Germany is famous for its Christmas markets, and virtually every town has one. The problem is, they can be a bit ‘samey’ if you know what I mean. But there are plenty with an unusual twist, and I think one of the most notable and romantic has to be the  Traben-Trarbach”Mosel-Wein-Nachts-Markt” which literally mean “Wine Nights Market”, a clever play on “Weihnachtsmarkt”, the German word for Christmas Market.

In keeping with the wine heritage of the town, this event offers markets in some enormous old vaulted cellars which are decked out with stalls offering a big variety of traditional crafts, edible treats and of course local plonk. Also on offer is an ice skating rink (outdoor, not in a cellar!) plus an extensive entertainment programme.

The markets are open from Friday through Sunday between 27th November to 20th December, and daily from 21st December to 3rd January, although 24th, 25th and 31st December are closed for obvious reasons. Opening times for the market are 11am to 9pm, and 3pm to 8pm for the skating rink except at weekends when the fun starts at 11am.

Traben-Trabach is very accessible, being located on the Mosel between Koblenz and Trier. A shuttle bus service from some of the other towns along the river is available. For those of you in the UK, Ryanair offers cheap flights from Stansted (and Edinburgh I believe but I need to check) to Frankfurt Hahn regional airport which is only about 40 minutes away from Traben-Trarbach, so there is no reason not to spend a weekend in the region and experience the real German Christmas spirit.

You can find out more by clicking here for the website but you may have to run it through Google Translate as it is only in German. Clicking here will give you the brochure which includes a map of the various attractions, programme for the entertainment and more. Alternatively, the Tourist Information office in the town will be able to help.

Merry Christmas Or Frohe Weihnachten As The Locals Say

Just a quick posting to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and hope you all have a lovely time wherever you are.

Unfortunately, I myself am away to the Middle East on a work assignment so no wine, beer, Schnapps or pork for me for a couple of weeks. And don’t think I am sitting in the sunshine either – it is a bit nippy here and besides, I will be working on Christmas Day!

Anyway, all the best!!