If you know me or if you’ve read any of my previous posts you’ll probably have realised by now that I am a bit of a foodie, so it’ll come as no surprise that the best part of my trip to Germany was definitely wandering the markets tasting all the traditional German grub! Aside from one breakfast in our hotel, my friend and I only ate market food for the three days that we were in Cologne. With so much to try in so little time we decided this was the only way to go and I think we probably ended up saving quite a bit of money this way too!
We visited four of the city’s main Christmas markets and found that most of the food is the same in each. But there were plenty of options for all tastes and honestly too much to choose from. I’d never even heard of some of the food that we tried, but a lot of it is traditional in Christmas markets all around the country and it was genuinely delicious. So I thought i’d make a little list and share my 10 favourite food and drinks with you so you can look out for them if you’re ever in Germany too!
This one’s a given. I mean, no trip to Germany is complete without them! There were several varieties available ranging in spices but I opted for a simple Bratwurst. Well, actually three of them. I had to limit myself to one a day so I could manage everything else but could easily have demolished a few more – sausages can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner after all!
2. Champignons Mit Knoblauchsoße
Steaming hot mushrooms caramelised and drowning in garlic sauce, served with a slice of bread to mop it all up. Need I say more? De-licious. I’ve never tasted mushrooms with this much flavour and so fresh as they are cooked while you wait! Not to be missed if you come across them, trust me!
Like a hash brown, but better. These German delicacies are basically grated potato and onion fried and served with a sauce of your choice. We went for apple sauce which is apparently the traditional condiment for Reibekuchen and I can see why, the sweet and savoury mix is a bit unexpected and you wouldn’t think it would work but it really does! This quickly became my favourite food of the trip and I found myself gravitating back towards them every time we walked by a stall. The only trouble is they are sold in threes and are deceptively filling so if like me you’re planning to eat your way around the market i’d talk your travel buddy into sharing! Although at around €4 a portion you can’t go wrong, i’d 100% recommend!
To wash them down try a mug of glühwein, a staple in any German Christmas market. This mulled wine drink is extremely popular with tourists and locals alike – it seemed every other person we saw was sipping it as they strolled! I’m not typically a fan of mulled wine but am a firm believer in doing as the locals do when travelling so I was adamant about giving it a go. It’s definitely an acquired taste and wasn’t really my cup of tea but the alcohol and spices did warm me up after being out in the cold so I wasn’t complaining! Luckily for me, along with white and red versions of the drink, most of the little bars also did a non-alcoholic version called ‘kinderpunsch’. Contrary to what the name suggests, this hot fruit juice infused with spices isn’t just for kids and was actually really delicious! So if you don’t drink or start feeling a bit tipsy after a couple of Glühweins, i’d recommend this as an alternative!
5. Eierpunsch & Heiße Schokolade
Eierpunsch is a warm, creamy, alcoholic drink similar to eggnog and made with Advocaat. I actually discovered it by accident when attempting to order kinderpunsch (what can I say, my German accent needs some work!) I have a real sweet tooth so after some confusion when these were presented to us, I had a taste and was more than happy with the surprise. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for my friend who doesn’t particularly like alcohol as they really do pack a punsch!
But if you aren’t drinking, there are also plenty of alternatives like hot chocolate (heiße schokolade in German) – perfect for a quick sugar fix to get you through another hour or two of shopping! The hot chocolate in the Cathedral Market was actually one of the nicest i’ve had, although I must admit I added a shot of amaretto to mine (as if it wasn’t sweet enough already!)
6. Gebrannte Mandeln
Just when I thought I was too full to possibly eat another thing, I would catch the sweet smell of these freshly roasted nuts wafting through the market and voila, I’m peckish again. They come in a variety of flavours but I don’t think you can beat the original, caramelised almonds. So delicious and oh so moorish too! I ate a whole packet and went back for more to bring home, although they are definitely better warm!
7. Chimney Cake
I also tried chimney cake for the first time on this trip, which is technically Hungarian but so delicious it felt wrong not to mention it! How have I been missing this all my life? It’s basically a cake made from batter that’s poured over a rotating pole to form really thin layers and when its removed looks like a stack of bagels or a ‘chimney’. You can get packets of them to take home but we wanted to eat ours right away so it was shaped into a Christmas tree, covered in chocolate and put onto a skewer so we could eat it easily on the go! So light & fluffy, get your hands on one of these if you can!
Spiessbraten is essentially rotisserie pork in a bun with all the trimmings. I’m not a big lover of pork personally, so I gave this one a miss but i’ll admit when my friend’s arrived, I had major food envy. You can probably tell from the photo above, it had a bit of everything; onions, red cabbage, mayo, you name it. I can’t comment on the taste but it looked amazing and she seemed to enjoy it so if you’re a pork fan, this might be for you.
I’m assuming schokokuss translates to ‘chocolate kiss’ and if it doesn’t then it really should, because that is exactly what these are. I scoffed mine before I could get a decent picture but they are a lot like an English teacake, a wafer bottom with a gooey marshmallowy centre covered in a thin coating of chocolate. They had rows and rows of these in all different flavours and only €1 each. I tried two; marzipan and strawberry, both of which were yummy and the perfect amount of sugary goodness!
I genuinely thought this stall was selling potatoes as we walked past and I think the lady behind the counter noticed my expression as she offered us a taster, it turned out to be marzipan & the best i’ve ever tasted by far! I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do with it, whether it’s for baking or just eating as a snack, I bought some that I planned to bring home and figure out later but I got a bit over-excited and ate them before I had a chance to find out, whoops. I can confirm they make a delicious, if very unhealthy, snack.
And if that hasn’t got your stomachs growling and your passport at the ready, there are also hundreds of stalls selling great food items to bring home and give as gifts over Christmas! These include: lebkuchen (ornately decorated hanging gingerbread), spekulatius (thin spiced biscuits), fudge, liquorice, stollen, and my personal favourite – candy canes that you can watch being made (you just can’t get more christmassy than that in my opinion!)
I hope you enjoyed my top ten food and drinks of Germany and if you haven’t seen my first post all about my trip to Cologne check it out here. As for me, i’m off to the gym!