The holiday season is rapidly approaching — it’s almost time to throw your diet out the window and indulge in all the delicious food and delectable drinks this time of year brings forth. If you’re anything like us here at Winetraveler, you plan your vacations based on cuisine and cocktails. So check out this list of the traditional European mouthwatering treats and warming drinks. Whatever sets your tummy to rumble — start planning that trip!
Traditional Christmas & Holiday Cuisine To Try Around Europe…
Turrón, Marzipan and Polvorones in Spain
Get sugared up in Madrid, Spain, with this collection of sweet treats. Turrón is nougat, made from honey, sugar and egg whites, often combined with almonds and chocolate. Marzipan is another candied treat, made of ground almonds, sugar and egg whites, melting in your mouth. If that’s not enough to give you a solid sugar high, polverones, (literally translating to ‘dusty debris’) is a special kind of sweet made from crumbling shortbread, coming in flavors like cinnamon, lemon and chocolate. The trick is to press the polverones, squeezing them together in the palm of your hand while still wrapped, which will keep the pastry from crumbling long enough for you to eat it!
Mulled Wine, All Over Europe
Depending on the country, you hear it as Bischopswijn, Gluehwein, Svařák or Glögg. No matter the name, there’s nothing cozier on a chilly winter day than a hot cup of spicy mulled wine. While the recipe is a bit different depending on the country, it’s always warming and gratifying. Find this comforting drink at Christmas markets around Europe in spots like Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, France, Hungary and more.
Speculoos in Belgium
These spiced, warm biscuits made with cinnamon and brown sugar are worth traveling to Brussels for. Not only will the scent alone bring visions of dancing sugar plum fairies to mind, but dipping one into a cup of coffee is simply heaven. While eating speculoos can be done year-round, tradition has it that children would leave their shoes out for St. Nick and later find the cookies inside.
Gingerbread, Nuremberg, Germany
Nothing says Christmas like the quintessential holiday goody gingerbread. It’s probable you’ve tasted it before, even bit into a house made out of the palatable treat. But Germans have been perfecting their gingerbread recipe for over 600 years in Nuremberg, and the giant biscuits are one of the city’s grandest claims to fame. Once you’ve had your fill, take some home for family and friends. Gingerbread (known as lebkuchen in Germany) is actually trademarked in Nuremberg under European law.
Wassail in the UK
While the word wassailing means singing Christmas carols, it’s also the name of the hot, mulled cider that wets the whistle of thirsty carolers. Usually made from a combination of fruit juices, cloves, cinnamon and brown sugar, this non-alcoholic drink can be enjoyed by both adults and children alike during the holiday season.
Julbord in Sweden
A smörgåsbord is a big collection of food to share, and Swedish locals love to host the holiday versions of these, julbords, which are basically Christmas buffets. Expect to chow down on Swedish holiday foods like potato and anchovy casseroles, pickled herring, red beets and cabbage, pork and ham, rice porridge and several fish dishes. Wash down your smörgåsbord extravaganza with the Swede holiday drink of choice — a soft drink called julmust which is similar to root beer.
Melomakarono in Greece
The sweet and savory pastry melomakarono is made from honey, orange juice, cinnamon, walnuts and olive oil and is enjoyed all over Greece around Christmas. Greeks swear the pastries are healthy and representative of the Mediterranean diet, as honey, walnuts and olives are good for you. So you can feel slightly less guilty when you eat
four 12 of these ball-shaped delights.
Kerststol in The Netherlands
Kerststol is a type of bread the Dutch eat around the holidays. Stuffed with almond paste and dried/candied fruits, soaked in brandy and lemon, and rolled along with marzipan, the oval-shaped roll is then baked until it’s warm and crispy on the outside and gooey and delicious on the inside. The finishing touch is usually powdered sugar, which is heavily sprinkled on top before the cake is cut into slices and served with butter.
Sonhos in Portugal
Eating a treat that’s called ‘dreams’ in Portuguese, is well, dreamy! Sonhos are deep-fried donuts commonly eaten around the holidays in spots like Lisbon and beyond. Often topped with sugar, icing or cinnamon, the donuts sometimes have pumpkin inside to complete that fall/wintery flavor. It’s easy to go overboard with these, as their small munchkin size encourages you to eat more and more.
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