I’ve decided that there is such a thing as Christmas crack, and I am high all of December on it.
Throw in a trip to the Cologne Christmas markets and I am nigh an overdose.
Just to be clear, there are seven, SEVEN Christmas markets for you to completely lose your sh*t in.
We awoke on Saturday (with slightly sore heads) to an absolute stunner of a day.
Our first stop naturally had to be the Christmas market at the Cologne Cathedral, “Weihnachtsmarkt”, i.e. the biggest and most impressive in Cologne, with well over 160 festively designed wooden pavilions, the largest Christmas tree in the Rhineland and, of course, the huge backdrop of the imposing Cathedral.
Obviously I love all the knickknacks and festive bits & bobs on offer at Christmas markets, but we all know the main event is the food. At least, it was for us.
I hope you’re prepared for the feasting.
It was nearing midday and Dan was so hangry that I was worried he might pass out, or explode, if we didn’t get some food in him ASAP. Luckily for us, his favourite treat of them all, ‘reibekuchen’, was easy enough to track down.
Essentially a fried potato pancake, mopped up with apple sauce.
Greasy, fried, artery-clogging deliciousness.
Then it was Bratwurst time.
I think Tina enjoyed it, to say the least.
I was pretty entranced by this lady firing up glass and making delicate trinkets.
And all the sweets.
Cologne was pretty nippy compared to home so hot (alcoholic) drinks were a must on the hour, every hour.
Can we please just take a moment to appreciate how amazing these mugs are?! It was love at first sight for me and I am pleased to say that I am now the proud owner of numerous.
Bailey’s hot chocolate and hot mulled red & white wine was on another level of good all weekend. The Colognians know what they’re doing.
Once we’d finished doing the rounds and stuffing our gobs with all the freebies on offer, we ventured to the next market.
After a 15-minute walk in the freezing cold, we arrived at the Alter Markt Christmas market, said to be home to the famous “Heinzelmännchen” house gnomes.
Legend has it that the gnomes are responsible for all the Christmas splendour, carefully observing the Christmas proceedings and preventing any mass-made or modern goods from being sold.
In need of warmth in our bellies, we got stuck into some Christmas mulled wine.
The largest stand at this market was a grill selling hot skewered meats.
Everyone seemed to be bearing a stick and, at the risk of FOMO, we had to get involved too.
The Alter Markt Christmas market was probably my favourite of them all, with beautiful, narrow-gabled houses and half-timbered stalls, it had a really cutesy vibe to it.
It was especially geared towards kids with a Christmas-themed Ferris wheel, puppet theatre, floating wreath, Santa Claus grotto and many toy stands.
And although I’m not entirely sure what you’d do with one of these, it didn’t stop me from thinking that they were pretty cool and the guy had some serious skillz.
Needing to warm our cockles properly, we headed for some indoor respite in a nearby beerhouse.
And were welcomed as pleasantly as we had been the evening before when we ordered a bottle of champagne instead of the local beer.
As dusk fell we revisited the Cathedral Christmas market.
Which looked totally different and even more magical with its ceiling of fairy lights switched on.
The central stage was occupied by a live band, getting everyone in a more than merry mood.
Tina & I fancied something sweet, so indulged in the ever-classic German delicacy of apfelstrudel.
With warm alcoholic beverages in hand, we were more than happy to stick around for the next hour, swaying with the crowds and soaking up the atmosphere.
Once it became dark there was only one place for it.
The “Markt der Engel” (Angel Market) on Neumarkt, Cologne’s oldest Christmas market, full of charmingly designed chalets and a ‘stars at night theme’ which, for a fairy light obsessive, took my Christmas spirit to a whole new level.
I’m sure that if I told you after this full day of food we then went for a full works dinner you wouldn’t believe me, but that we did, at an absolutely amazing Italian restaurant, Zippiri Gourmetwerkstatt.
We all had the 4-course set menu, which offered a number of choices for each course.
Starters saw burrata for three of us.
And marinated wild red shrimps on a wild herb salad for Tina.
Our second course was the absolute star of the show; home-made ravioli filled with porcini mushrooms in a truffle butter sauce.
I wish I had an unlimited bucket of this at all times.
We split down the middle on mains, with angled sashimi tuna in a sesame crust served with couscous:
And duck breast on Julienne vegetables accompanied by glazed chestnuts.
I personally thought both the tuna and duck were a tad cooked, but tasty nonetheless.
For puds, I saw no question; it had to be the chocolate fondant.
Although Dan decided to be weird and ordered the Christmas gingerbread mousse.
We had the best evening at Zippiri’s and received some of the friendliest & most generous service that I have ever received.
I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Cologne, and must thank Lisa for steering us their way.
We rolled home and into our beds, mentally preparing ourselves for the continuing onslaught of food to come the following day.