Fire makes it better

We recently stumbled upon a delicacy of the German Christmas Markets…the fire bowl drink (feuerzangenbowle). A friend mentioned the stand on the other side of the Danube River in Regensberg so the family made its way wandering through the cobblestone streets in search of the elusive concoction. When we stumbled upon a long line of eager patrons waiting patiently for their drinks we knew we found something special. The drink comes served in a special cup that allows the sugar cube to rest on the side while the liquor is poured generously on top of the sugar and drink. Then, the magic comes when the server takes a small blowtorch and lights the drink on fire. We were duly impressed. So much so, that on subsequent trips, we made a beeline for the stand, passing up any imitations along the way. We thought this was a Regensberg specialty but are happy to report that Munich hosts a Fire Bowl Square right near the Old Town with several stands dedicated to the drink, and includes a 20 foot tower of copper with fire flaming out from the center. All we can say is “bring it on!”

German Christmas Markets

Starting just after American Thanksgiving, German villages and large cities play host to Christkindlmarkts…the traditional seasonal markets featuring handcrafted goods, fresh baked goods and  live music. We were able to visit several of the top markets this year: Dresden–the oldest market in Germany; Stuttgart–the largest market in Germany; Esslingen–a medieval market featuring pirates, wenches and lots of street performers; Nuremberg–voted “the best” market; and Regensberg–a collection of 4 markets in one city.  Each has their specialty but all have one draw in common: gluhwein, a hot mulled wine served in commemorative market coffee mugs.  You pay a deposit for the cup allowing visitors to choose which cups they want to collect. (most cost between 2-3 euro)  A spin on the gluhwein drink is “feuerzangenbowle” literally translated “fire tongs punch”.  This drink is mulled wine with a sugar cube doused in alcohol and then lit on fire.  Not only is it tasty on a cold winter’s night but adding the flame on top makes it irresistible.