...Christmas market season!! Christmas markets originated in the Late Middle Ages in Germany, Austria, Northern Italy and South Tyrol - which means that we're right in the thick of it. If you find yourself in this region in the month of December, you can't miss them. We put together a short list of our favorites:
Lienz, Austria - for "The Potato"
"The Potato" is something that we dream about in July. It's a baked potato with a really crispy skin that gets split open and filled with a bacon and onion mixture and a sour cream - garlic sauce....and it's heaven. We usually have to hit this market twice in the month of December because once is just not enough. (http://www.tyrol.tl/en/highlights/christmas-markets/lienz-christmas-market/)
Munich, Germany - for the ornaments
This market dates back to the 14th century and has amazing ornaments (a lot of the ones on our tree come from here) and gingerbread. And a bonus - this market, too, has an amazing potato dish - but their version is flat like a pancake and you dip it in to a different but still amazing sour cream - garlic sauce. (http://www.germany-christmas-market.org.uk/munich_christmas_market.php)
Salzburg, Austria - for the glitter
It's not December without a
Bolzano, Italy - for the best warm drinks (and Italy's largest market)
Vin brule (gluhwein) is a staple at all Christmas markets but Bolzano takes it one step further with the Bombardino: it's a popular apres-ski drink in Northern Italy (although not so much in Cortina) made with Advocaat or eggnog and brandy and topped with whipped cream. At the Christmas market, they serve it in a small ice cream cone. (http://www.christmas-markets.it/en/christmas-market-bolzano-south-tyrol.aspx)
Innsbruck - for the odd doughnut and sauerkraut snack they thought up
This is fried dough that you can eat plain or with a sauce like vanilla cream or Nutella - but the most popular way to eat it is topped with sauerkraut. It's oddly tasty and definitely worth a try. (http://www.innsbruck.info/en/experience/events/detail/article/christkindlmaerkte.html)
And last but not least....
Cortina - the hometown favorite
Cortina's Christmas market is tiny compared to the ones listed above but when it opens, it's fun (and festive) to buy a cup of vin brule and stroll through town. Our favorites are the lavender hut and, of course, the chocolate hut which sells fancy chocolates with pistachios and hazelnuts. (http://www.dolomiti.it/en/bellunese/cortina/events/christmas-market-in-cortina-/)