I have a couple of friends – one from Germany and one who just likes to travel to Germany – who keep telling me about the wonderful Christmas Markets they have there. The ChristkindlMarket is in downtown Chicago, and I’ve visited a couple of times over the years. It’s just so crowded that I never end up enjoying it or getting to see as much as I’d like. So my friend Liz – the one who likes to travel to Germany – has been on me to visit Frankenmuth with her. I’ve been waffling because it seems to be a big Christmas shopping mecca with restaurants specializing in huge meals of fried chicken. With me eating vegetarian and being basically unemployed at the moment, shopping and eating chicken are not at the top of my list.
So we compromised yesterday and visited the Kerstmarket in Holland MI. This market is decidedly smaller, and Holland is only an hour drive for me as opposed to the three hours for Frankenmuth. Plus I knew the Dutch restaurant in town serves lots of yummy vegetable-heavy dishes that would be a treat. Although Kerstmarket is Dutch, the market was inspired by the German markets and designed after them. We met for brunch at DeBoer’s bakery and restaurant where I enjoyed a Veggie Skillet with some wonderful Muesli Bread and a yummy cup of Beer Barrel Bourbon coffee. The coffee beans were actually soaked in bourbon and then roasted giving them a really unique and delicious flavor profile. It was the first caffeine I’ve had in a long time, but it was truly worth the headache I have today.
It was really cold out, and it’s the first day that it’s been cold like that all day since last winter. I dressed in layers so I’d be comfortable outside. There were about 20 cute little booths lined up outside the Convention Center, and we leisurely visited each one. The people who manned the booths were super friendly, and they each talked to us about who made their hand-crafted products and how they got started. I was particularly interested in one booth where they had all kinds of grains and beans and the most wonderful woolen hats. I’ve been in a bit of a hair crisis lately, so I bought one of those super warm and cozy hats and put it on right away. My ears won’t get cold walking Ashok in this one!
After our toes froze, we stopped in the Warming Shed and took advantage of the wood stove. My ears were warm and cozy, but it took a bit for my icicle toes to get back to normal. After we were warm we strolled through the rest of the market where I bought a cat toy for my kitties and made a list of vendors for jams and bakeries for future visits. We took a walk downtown, bought each other some cute little Christmas tree ornaments and discovered a really fun art supply store. I had never noticed it before, but I really want to go back.
It all got me in the mood to give Christkindlmarket another try. If I liked the small selection of booths in the Holland Kerstmarket, I bet I’ll find all kinds of things I like in the Chicago market. I was hoping I could grab some Stollen yesterday, but none was to be found. I picked up some today from the Bit of Swiss and had a slice this afternoon. It was delicious. Thanksgiving has come and gone, my Stollen is in the kitchen, my tree is up and lit, and I have a lovely little St. Joseph Lighthouse Christmas ornament I’ll hang on my tree tonight. This weekend, the City of St. Joseph will light up the bluff with holiday lights, and the Reindog Parade is Saturday. The holiday season has begun. I know it will be gone in a flash, but I’m looking forward to a low key and lovely few weeks.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!