Chicago’s Seasonal Slice of Germany
The Christkindlmarket is an annual event at Daley Plaza that brings the old world to the new in the form of food, drink, and merchandise. Originating in Germany, the market is made up of vendors from America and Europe. It's open from before Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve so Chicagoans can enjoy food, drink and buy unique gifts for loved ones.
Perhaps the most famous drink and souvenir of the Christkindlmarket is the gluhwine and its mug. Gluhwine, made by Original Sternthaler Gluhwein from Nurenberg, is a hot, spiced wine that's perfect for a spot of warmth on a chilly winter day. There are non-alcoholic versions available for those who want the warm-up without an extra hit, or if there's a younger crowd in tow. The spicy drink comes in a collector's mug for you to take home if you so desire. Every year has a different mug shape and graphic design, although the traditional boot-shaped mug occasionally makes a return. If gluhwein isn't to your taste, you can get dark or light beer in the festival tent, grand timber haus, or a sole vendor located near the Picasso sculpture.
The main draw of the market is its hearty German fare, specifically sausages, although there are lighter options to be had. A majority of the food vendors serving sausages come from Germany and bring their local variation along with. It's almost mandatory that a visit includes the purchase of some type of sausage. Varieties include: curry wurst, nurnberger, frankfurter, thuringer, and of course, bratwurst. Make sure to get a side of sauerkraut to complete the savory feast. If sauerkraut isn't your style, get some potato pancakes to mop up the juices from the sausage. German Grill Company, DonerMen, and Traditional German Food are the booths you want to hit to get yourself some lovely cased meats.
Not interested in sausage, but still want to try German fare? There's leberkase, a traditional sliced pork loaf, doner and gemuse keba, curry fries and stuffed pretzels on offer. Schnitzel House sells schnitzel, of course, chicken sandwiches, goulash, and soups. Sample stuffed bread rolls filled with salted or pickled herring and salmon. There's a little non-German food available in the form of crepes and waffles from Crepes Paname direct from Paris.
Those who have a sweet tooth will find that their cravings are met with European baked goods and candies. St. Roger Abbey French Patisserie, direct from Marengo, IL, brings French pastries made with organic ingredients. Helmut's Original Austrian Strudel puts out fresh-baked puffs and strudels that taste just like the ones oma made. If toffee is your style, stop at Pemberton Candies for their signature English toffee straight from Tuttlingen, Germany. Dinkel's Bakery has their famous stollen cake, baked goods, and hot chocolate for a quick warm up. Get some baked apples or marzipan from Jossnitz for some authentic German sweets.
The Christkindlmarket is an annual treat that gourmands of all stripes can enjoy. It has something for everyone and offers a wonderful experience for all that take the time to slow down and enjoy the season.