Last weekend, we took the short trip across the North Sea to Bremen for a liberal dose of festive cheer before the Christmas period gets into full swing. After just a one-hour flight, we landed in a city that is effortlessly easy to explore and that has two distinct Christmas markets.
Along the bank of the River Weser, Schlachte Zauber (Schlachte Magic) provides a medieval atmosphere, complete with sellers in traditional dress, harp playing, live trade demonstrations and pirate-themed stalls. Then, on the famous Marktplatz, many more stalls cover the cobbles in every direction to provide a maze of decorations, fairground rides, gifts and food.
Whilst we appreciated the opportunity to do some Christmas shopping and grab a few souvenirs, it was the bountiful food options that caught our eye the most. Over the three days, we had lunch and dinner from the market stalls, trying to sample as much of the local delights on offer as possible. Here are just a few that you should definitely try on your own trip to the Bremen Christmas markets.
Walking along the Schlachte promenade, it can be difficult to decide what to eat between all of the wonderful sights and smells. However, the sight of salmon being lightly smoked over an open flame definitely caught our attention. Having warmed up next to the fire in the queue, we chose our salmon with new potatoes and salad before finding a nearby table to dig in. This was quite a civilised meal by Christmas market standards – we were given cutlery and the food came on a paper plate.
From the first bite to the last, we enjoyed every bit. The smoked flavour was definitely apparent but not overpowering and the salmon itself was incredibly flaky. A great choice, if not that adventurous.
Deep Fried Cheese
As massive cheese fans, our eyes lit up when we stumbled across a stall filled with different types of deep fried cheese. Although probably not the healthiest option on the market, we couldn’t resist trying some of the options. After deliberating for a while, we opted for a small wheel of deep fried camembert and some mozzarella sticks. Each came with its own sauce, chosen from a long list of options, (something we found quite a lot with the food from the market) and they were both delicious.
We went for a rustic cranberry sauce to compliment the camembert and lashings of garlic sauce in which to dip the mozzarella sticks. Neither cheese lasted too long before it was demolished.
These potato cakes are a staple at many German Christmas markets but this was our first chance to try them. As well as the flat, round variety that we went for, there was the option to enjoy potato twists (one potato cut into a spiral formation) and what looked like curly fries. The kartoffelpuffers we decided on came in servings of three, perfect for sharing and eating alongside a delicious bratwurst from the stall next door.
Again, we chose a garlic sauce in which to dip our deliciously crispy potato cakes. Even the rain and the wind (which suddenly whipped up out of nowhere) couldn’t taint our enjoyment.
Pretzels (bretzels) are synonymous with Germany, so we had to try one before leaving to come home. Soft and fluffy, these delicious knots of dough we offered in many different flavours – including a sweet version with chocolate chips. Our choice was topped with salami and cheese and it did not disappoint. It was the perfect thing to eat on the go as we wandered through the other stalls and the pretzels were so large that we could even save some for later.
Christmas markets food is not all about the savoury delights on offer, there are also plenty of sweet options in which to indulge. One that we saw quite a bit was Schmalzkuchen, which translates to mean lard cakes (don’t worry, they’re much tastier than that makes them sound). A yeast dough is made and then cut up into small, diamond-shaped pieces before being fired in vegetable oil. The portions are great too; we were given a large paper cone full of the little bundles of joy, topped off with a generous dusting of icing sugar.
From the same stand, we also tried vanilleballen. These were larger balls of dough with a light, fluffy centre and which had been flavoured with vanilla.
Although they are Dutch in origin, we saw poffertjes all over the Bremen Christmas market. We could only walk past a stand selling them a couple of times before we eventually gave in and had to try them. Similar to schmalzkuchen but rounder and flatter, they kind of look like little flying saucers and are made from a pancake batter cooked in a special pan filled with small holes. The tiny cakes are then smothered in whatever topping you choose – this time, we went for Nutella.
If you would like to visit the Bremen Christmas markets, or markets in any other city around Europe, we can tailor-make a holiday to suit you. Call us on 0800 988 3369 or click here to contact us through the website.