Christmas market in Colmar

Colmar was voted in the top 3 Christmas markets in Europe in 2016

When we read Colmar was rated one of the top Christmas markets (also called Weihnactsmarkt) we decided to spend my birthday weekend there. Colmar, is approximately an hour from the Swiss-French border in the Alsace region.

One of the first surprises was how well organized everything was. Clear signs in the city take you to a parking lot. Parking was free for the entire weekend and there were free shuttles that took the crowd to the Christmas market. No wonder it was rated highly, and this was even before we had reached the market.

 

The entire town of Colmar transforms into a Winter Wonderland

Plan enough time to walk around all the Christmas market areas (there were 5 of them!) and also visit the “Little Venice” and other neighbourhoods in town. The entire town lights up in the evening and it is a sight to behold!

Vin Chaud and Warm Maroni

Christmas markets are all about the food and drink. What better way to keep warm on the cold, winter days than some hot wine. Vin chaud, gluhwine, mulled wine- whatever you call it, it’s as delicious! We also tried some warm maroni (chestnuts) which are popular during the winters

Colmar’s market is a wonderful day out for the kids

Christmas markets, especially in Colmar, are wonderful days out for kids. There are skating rinks, carol singing at wineries, carousels and fun rides throughout the town. The highlight was kids singing carols, floating down the “Little Venice” canals in illuminated boats.

All in all, experiencing a Christmas market, and especially the one in Colmar is highly recommended!

Eat-aly part 1: Food Guide for Florence 

Italy is a foodie’s paradise! We spent 10 days traveling through Southern Italy- from Florence, though Tuscany, along the Amalfi coast and ended in Rome, sampling the sights and sounds, and of course the food and drink! This post is part 1 of a 3-part series of the food we ate and loved, in Eat-aly!

Here are some must try foods in Florence.

Bistecca alla Florentina: Florentine beef steak, which was first prepared for the wedding of Isabella de’ Medici, is seared on the outside and medium rare or rare inside. Eaten with artichokes or potatoes, its delicious! img_1916.jpg

Gnocchi with truffles: it is just impossible to go wrong with this, it was half gone before it even occurred to us to take a photograph!IMG_2152.JPG

Tripe: not for the squeamish or faint-hearted, but cooked with the right kind of sauce, it can be quite tasty. The texture takes some getting used to though.

Ribollita: a tasty potage, made with white beans and a number of vegetables, it makes a nice break from the meat and carbs that constitute most meals. It is also amazingly warming on a cold evening. While not available in most of the ubiquitous pizzerias, it is worth the effort of finding a local trattoria to try it. 

Arancini: these are fried rice balls, stuffed with anything ranging from ham, cheese, salami, mushrooms, spinach, to the ones we tried with squid ink! They’re sinful and delicious!

Meat and cheese (and everything in between) at the Mercato Centrale. The central food market in Florence is a great place to sample small portions of a number of local dishes, including the famous lampredotto sandwich.

When it comes to desserts, the Italians have some of the best sweets we’ve eaten.

Panna cotta: Forget about the panna cotta you’ve eaten before. This has the perfect sweetness, a melt-in-your-mouth consistency- it cannot be resisted! Served with nuts or fruit compote, it is a must-have.img_1917.jpg1.png

Creme brule with orange zest. Again, sweetened to perfection!

Cannoli: Piccolo or grande, filled with cream or chocolate, it is the perfect infusion of sugar to keep you going as you explore Florence. So versatile is the cannolo, that we had it at all times of the day, including breakfast, with an espresso to perfectly balance the sweetness! 3.png

And of course, wash it all down with a lip-smacking glass of Chianti from the Tuscan wineries! Salute!

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Food guide for Croatia: Restaurant Jadruhi, Istria

On our day trip through Istria, wine country in Croatia, we came across this small town called Vizinada and a restaurant called Konoba Jadruhi. Our plan was to taste their wine and leave but instead we decided to eat at the restaurant. And what a good idea that turned out to be.

The restaurant’s owner, Dario Simonovic, and the chief vintner, his son Marko Simonovic, are trying to promote what they refer to as Agrotourism with their home-made prosciutto,  olive oil, wine and cheese. You can follow them on social media  or check out their Jadruhi website

@agroturizam.jadruhi

https://www.facebook.com/agroturizam.jadruhi/

The menu was simple and we started with a cheese and meat platter (all made from local ingredients). Sounds simple but was delicious. We later found out that the cheese,  prosciutto and olives were all locally made

Cheese and meat platter

We also tried their soup as an appetizer and it was quite delicious.

Delicious pasta in truffle sauce

For the main course, we got the truffle pasta. We had never tried truffles before and reading about it later found out how expensive it can be. The fact that it was delicious and also not that expensive made the  meal even more special. We paired it with their house red wine and it was just perfect. Istria is known for its truffles and the area close to Motovun has an abundance of it

After the meal, we had no room left for dessert but we saw some served at the neighboring table and couldn’t resist. We ended up getting the house specialty cake and it was fresh and moist.

With the owner Dario Simonovic

After lunch it was time for some wine tasting straight from the barrel. Dario’s son, Marko, who is the vintner and prosciutto expert took us to their cellar for some wine and grappa.

Barrel tasting some young wine
Marko was so hospitable and humble
The Simonovic wine collection
The grappa collection!
Marko pouring some of his home-made grappa straight from the gigantic vat

Marko showed us the process of making prosciutto. It is made from the rear haunches of the pig; The curing is controlled so that the ham absorbs only enough salt to preserve it.

Posing with his hard work, prosciutto!

This happened to be one of the best meals of the trip. The food, experience and hospitality left a lasting impression on us. Highly recommend spending a day or two around Istria tasting wine and making a stop in Vizinada visiting the Simonovic’s and their wonderful restaurant.

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