November Favourites – and a few words about Advent in Germany

Homemade beer advent calendar

In 2011, I marked the start of Advent by making my husband a calendar filled with his favourite winter beers (I know.  150 wife points for me).  I hadn’t celebrated the four weeks that lead up to Christmas since gradually emptying chocolate-filled calendars as a child, but it’s a bit of a big thing here in Germany, so I just wanted to make a rather untraditional attempt at getting involved.

This year, marking the start of my fifth Advent in Germany and a year in which I definitely didn’t have time to cobble together a festive-looking box of beers, I’m getting a bit more into the traditional swing of things.  On the first Sunday in Advent, people up and down the country light the first candle on their Advent wreath and settle down with a selection of Plätzchen, or traditional Advent biscuits, that they’ll keep on baking and eating right up until Christmas Day.  We don’t have a wreath with its four advent candles, but I’m embracing the culinary tradition of baking Plätzchen: there’s a sizeable ball of dough in the fridge, waiting to be shaped into little biscuity crescents and fingers crossed, I’ll be pulling a tray of Vanillekipferl (moon-shaped vanilla biscuits) out of the oven later this afternoon.

But we’re not here to talk about biscuits.  (Though by all means, please carry on down there in the comments.)  Here’s a high-speed roundup of the past month’s online culinary highlights from all over Germany.  Anything I’ve missed?

★ Last Friday, I contributed to an article on the biggest differences between life in Germany and Britain (you’ll never guess what I suggested)
★ Looking for gluten-free pretzels that don’t taste like cardboard?  Look no further: my good friend Kate’s done some gluten-free pretzel taste-testing and discovered three of the very best
★ The Germans are well known for loving their coffee (ideally with a slice of cake), but did you know they’re also heavily into their tea?  Well, the Germans love their tea.  And they’ve got one for every occasion
★ Some great local tips and lovely photos from a week of road trips in Germany and France
Gin.  With Riesling in
★ Would you rather visit the Black Forest for a few days at a health clinic going for hikes and supping broth …or go there for a five course, Michelin-starred meal?  One New York Times’ writer tried out both
★ Planning a German Christmas market road trip this year?  Here’s a list of all the Christmas markets in Germany.

German recipes: 

A wonderfully plump roast goose ★ Letscho: a chunky East German chutney ★ Braised red cabbage with apple and onion

Restaurant reviews:

Bavarian deli Stenz, Munich ★ New York-style deli food at Mogg & Melzer in Berlin ★ The best hot chocolate in Frankfurt ★ The Fudge Shop: a British sweet shop (that also sells online) in Mönchengladbach

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