Tag Archives: Food

The Most Wonderful time of the Year – German Editon!

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The Most Wonderful time of the Year – German Editon!

It’s the holiday season and so many cities around the globe are known to attract tourists as they deck the halls to the max! Many countries draw crowds for their own traditional holiday touch and Christmas markets are great places to discover provincial traditions, but no one does Christmas quite like Germany! Known as Christkindlmarkts (Christ child markets) or Weihnachtsmarkts (Christmas, or Holy Night, markets), Germany’s holiday markets have been recorded as early as 1310! Here are 11 of the country’s can’t-miss markets.

Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt

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Widely considered by many Germans to be one of the most traditional markets in the country, Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt is an excellent spot for those looking for a hint of nostalgia! Known as one of the most beautiful markets in Europe, the main Stuttgart market, comprises nearly 300 stalls,  is set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Old Palace.

Munich Marienplatz Christmas Market

With over 20 different markets in Munich, there is something for everyone; from a medieval market with gospel choir, to the gay-friendly Pink Christmas Market, where wares are sold from pink and purple pagodas with added cabarets and shows. The Kripperlmarkt  specializes in all things Nativity. For something completely different, the Tollwood Market is an urban cultural festival offering a diverse range of international music, drama and cuisine. The main market in the city of Munich, though, is the Marienplatz Market.

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One will find a gigantic fir tree lit up brightly as the centerpiece of the market, with more than 3,000 lights! Dating back to the 14th century, this market remains quite traditional. Predominantly loaded with Bavarian produce, unique Christmas gifts and delectable treats, this market will undoubtedly fill you with the holiday spirit!. Concerts are played daily and you can look down on the sights of the market, well away from the hustle and bustle of the crowd, from the balconies of the spectacular town hall.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber Reiterlesmarkt

Few Christmas markets are as incredibly beautiful as the one in Rothenburg, a walled medieval city dating back to 950. Come December, the town transforms into a winter wonderland, and the market—which has been occurring since the 15th century—is its crown jewel! The Reiterlesmarkt is held on a medieval stage and Rothenburg is illuminated by thousands of twinkling lights! Unlike cosmopolitan Berlin and Cologne, Rothenburg has an entirely different feel, with smaller markets and a more intimate setting.

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Rothenburg’s Schneeball (snow ball) is a must-try for those with a sweet-tooth, made from strips of sweet fried dough covered in powdered chocolate or sugar.

Dresden Striezelmarkt

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With accounts dating back to 1434, Dresden’s Christmas Market, traditionally known as Striezelmarkt is the oldest in Germany. The Striezelmarkt boasts both the world’s tallest Nutcracker, and the world’s tallest Christmas pyramid. The highlight of the market is the Stollen Festival on the second Saturday in Advent.

Leipzig Christmas Market

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Second only to Dresden, Leipzig otherwise lays claim to the oldest Christmas market in Germany, tracing its origins back to 1458. Here, in front of the Old Town Hall where Johann Sebastian Bach signed his employment contract, you’ll find everything from a ferris wheel to a Finnish village!

Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market

In front of the impressive backdrop of Cologne’s landmark cathedral, this market has all of the expected bells and whistles: your glühwein, your crafts, your twinkling lights. One thing that stands out, however, is its entertainment, which comprises more than 100 stage performances through the duration of the festival.

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Apart from the Cathedral, the Alter Markt is the place to go for children — with a Santa’s grotto, puppet theatre and stands filled with toys. The Rudolfplatz will transport children to the world of the brothers Grimm, with fairytale figures and festive illuminations.

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Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt

With the majestic Alps to the south and the medieval Imperial Castle perched proudly at the top of the Old Town hill, Nuremberg is a spectacular back drop for one of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets. The Kinderweihnacht, or Children’s Market, provides plenty of family fun, featuring an old-fashioned carousel, Ferris wheel, steam train and Nativity scene trail.

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Over 180 traditional stalls, blanketed in red and white cloth, ensure that this extremely popular market remains authentic. Modern and mass-produced goods are strictly prohibited and officials police the stalls to ensure that the vendors are offering the visitors hand-crafted wares in keeping with the tradition of the market.

Konstanz Christmas Market

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This sprawling market runs from the town center to the shores of Lake Constance, Germany’s largest lake. Tuck in to traditional Käsespätzle, freshly made pasta with cheese; and spend some time on the ‘Christmas Ship’ moored in the harbor. Just be sure to bring extra layers!

Ravenna Gorge Christmas Market

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The snowy Black Forest is picturesque enough come wintertime, but this market in its midst manages to be even more Instagram-worthy. Here, over 40 stalls proffer handmade Christmas wares, while even more can be found nearby at the Hofgut Sternen Inn, where the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once stayed.

Frankfort

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Germany’s financial center taps into its inner medieval market town every holiday season with a Christmas market that dates back to 1393! Traditionally held with orchestras of carols chanting with religious mystery plays. These days you’re more likely to hear live music. Make sure to peek inside the 300-year-old timber Honey House, which sells pretty much any imaginable honey-related products. Fun fact: Poet Goethe was a fan of the Frankfurt market’s famous Bethmännchen, or marzipan cookies.

Freiburg Rathausplatz Market

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On the edge of the Black Forest, Freiburg’s medieval center looks straight out of a Brothers Grimm folk tale! The fair’s merchants, around 115 in total, sell their wares (beeswax candles, cuckoo clocks, blown glass) in the shadow of a 380-foot Gothic spire. The market opens every year with a ceremonial cutting and distribution of a giant Lebkuchen, or gingerbread loaf, to the waiting crowd.

 

 

Karen Bahri

 

 

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My Favorite dessert spots in New York!

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My Favorite dessert spots in New York!

In an effort to be more healthy, let’s talk about what’s so unhealthy that most people love – SUGAR. I have decided to try cutting out sugar from my diet. I like sweets, but I definitely can say my sweet tooth is not crazy; and I definitely know how to control myself. If I crave sweet, I either will allow myself to have whatever sweet I am craving – because I usually know I will be satisfied after a small portion. Sometimes though, I am mean to myself and say no!

I’m not sure how deleting sugar from my diet will make me feel or how it will change me or if I even will want to or whatever, but people usually save eventually you get to a point where you don’t want sweets anymore. I am hoping this becomes my result because diabetes seems to run in my family all of the sudden (meaning all of the sudden all these older relatives of mine are telling me they have it out of like nowhere and it’s like one after another!) and I see what they go through and it’s a life I want to avoid.

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Anyways, I’m ready to experiment! This week I am going to go strict and consciously try to avoid all or as much as possible sugar I can, and then see how I feel. From there I will see if I can continue on like that (obviously with a cheat day here and there – I’m human after all!) or at least I hope I can still continue on with as much reduced sugar as possible especially during weekdays.

With that in mind, I thought let me get one last weekend of really bad sweet binging out of the way! It’s funny though because like I said, I don’t have a crazy sweet tooth, so I was almost not going to get the 1st item on my list below! But I did it for the blog 😛

Here is my list of “the best of” sweets edition in NYC!

BEST COOKIE: City Cakes

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I’m sooooo sorry all you Levain Bakery lovers. No, no & no. Levain is sooo yesterday!! Who wants to go allllll the way to the Upper West Side to stand on line for an hour for a cookie that will go hard if you leave it for the next day?

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City Cakes cookie are thick and soft! Sooo perfect and if you save some for the next day or two  (they are so freakin big, they usually take me 3 days to finish!) they still stay chewy and delicious! The bakery is so cute too! Saturday I bought the peanut butter and a chocolate chip. The peanut butter was good, but very peanut buttery. I thought there would be more chocolate in it, since it has m&m’s inside. I have tried the red velvet, peanut butter and I think the Nutella stuffed, which are all good, but their chocolate chip is my absolute favorite! Their classic chocolate chip is THE BEST IN THE CITY HANDS DOWN!

BEST ICE CREAM: Davey’s Ice Cream

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This funky ice cream parlor is right in the heart of the east village. They have really funky flavors as well, such as ‘Strong Coffee’, ‘Speculoos Chocolate Chip’ and ‘Mexican Vanilla’, which of course they let you sample, on their regular menu, but they also have seasonal/monthly flavors which are really creative and funky like ‘Black Sesame’, ‘Red Velvet Oreo’ which I tried and it was amazing, ‘Matcha’, ‘Peppermint Chip’, once they had a ‘Star Wars’ flavor, everything!

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The thing is, Davey’s Ice Cream is made on-site from raw ingredients, and you really can taste the difference! Each batch requires a four-day-long production schedule. They also sell birch house coffee, cakes, milkshakes, sundaes, home made marsh mellows (huggeee marsh mellows!) pies, cookies, ice cream sandwiches, like everything!! They have everything!! Ohh, and artisan style cones decorated with cereal and cookies! See! Everything! And all this everything that they offer is homemade and delicious! My go-to is the cookies and cream with the salted caramel sauce – omg! It’s like crack lol.

BEST (CHEESE)CAKE: Martha’s Country Bakery

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Sorry Manhattanites, you gotta come to Queens for this slice of heaven! Martha’s Bakery is located in Astoria as well as Forest Hills, Bayside and they also have a location or two in Williamburg, which is in Brooklyn. THE best cakes & desserts. It has a European touch and they have a full coffee bar. They sell cupcakes, cakes, cookies, brownies, tarts, macaroon, gelato and cake cake cake cake cake – a variety of sorts of cakes and cheesecakes, you name it! Have you ever heard of a blue velvet cake??? They got it!

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My favorite is the apple crumb cheesecake. The bottom half is filled with apple pie filling, the middle with creamy, amazing cheesecake, and it’s topped off with cinammony crumble. I’m so glad the location in my neighborhood is on the complete other side, making it difficult for me to run on over whenever I crave that cheesecake! I must add the desserts are so pretty and the space has a very Euro vibe. It’s also very cozy and clean.

If coming out to the boroughs is such a thang for you, the best alternative in Manhattan I would say is Juniors for cheesecake. There IS another place located in Soho called Eileen’s Special Cheesecake, but I have not been there yet. It’s on my list though!

BEST DOUGHNUTS: Dough

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Yum! These are so delicious! I have tried the cafe au lait and one I really love – mocha almond crunch. The doughnuts here are big and fluffy. They have cake doughnuts and regular with loads of flavors.

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The hibiscus flavor seems to be really popular. I don’t know how I feel about that and I’m not sure if I’m willing to risk it unless they were giving out free samples. Maybe I’m missing out? Maybe one day I’ll decide to try it. Maybe that day I’ll be angry I wasted $5 on a doughnut that was weird.

BEST POPSICLE: La Newyorkina

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Wepaaa!! This place is soooo cute!!! As a non-Latina, the first time I walked in here I was so overwhelmed and confused. So I came back with a Latina and had her translate 😛 They have Mexican ice cream flavors, popsicles, frozen yogurts, ect.  We both got the mango chili palettes (Mango ice pops).

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They have these tubs of chili randomly left around that you can sprinkle on your ice pop. I HIGHLY recommend trying this. I HIGHLY recommend trying this. I am tempted to type that sentence again, but I think you get the picture 🙂

BEST HOT CHOCOLATE: Jacques Torres

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Back in January I was at City Bakery and tried their hot chocolate, although it was similar, it got cold quick and lost its je ne said quoi. So Jacque Torres, to me, is still the best.

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Honestly, I am not a hot chocolate fan. I was introduced to JT in 2010 when I was working down in Tribeca and a coworker was raving about it so much. It was a block or two down from our office, so one day she took me and I had never tried hot chocolate like this before! It’s literally thick, melted chocolate! You can choose regular, or ‘Wicked’. I prefer the regular. They have handmade, artisan chocolates, which make perfect gifts! There several locations throughout the city and Mr. Torres has even recently opened a museum!

BEST LATTE: Coffeecake Corner

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Only Because they have a peanut butter mocha and although it’s pretty small inside, the few times I came here I could always find a seat! I usually don’t drink latte’s either. If I get a latte it’s usually some type of soy mocha and I usually end up throwing it out after a few sips.

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This though, is definitely a treat! As far as coffee goes, I am not sure. I cannot find my absolute favorite when it comes to actual coffee. I do enjoy illy coffee but a lot of coffee shops are just decent. I hate to admit it but lately my go-to has been cart coffee on weekday mornings. I actually enjoy it more than any other independent coffee shop or you know, Starbucks.

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These are my top favorite desserts and my top favorite places FOR those desserts in the city. Sorry I gotta say sayonara to them for now! I do believe in cheating here and there, with control, but my goal is to make those cheat cravings become less often than before. But if you are not watching your sugar (something I am not encouraging but you are an adult!) or you do come to New York on holiday (holidays = excuse to cheat on your diet!), definitely try out these places! I guarantee you will not be disappointed!

-Karen Bahri

 

Italy’s most Underrated destinations

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Italy’s most Underrated destinations

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Ahhh Italy!!! Italy is such an amazing and beautiful country where there are sooo many famous cities/towns you have to check out. It’s like you have to take a couple months off so you can see everything! All the major cities – Venice, Milan, Tuscany, Florence, the Amalfi Coast, oh my god!! Italy just doesn’t stop!!

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I’m about to make your Italian itinerary a bit more complicated (insert evil smile emoji) Forget the major cities…okay maybe not, but try for a moment. Wouldn’t it be nice to explore REAL Italy?! Outside the major tourist destinations? Wouldn’t it be cool to get lost and see what Italy is REALLY like? Of course it would!! Just brush up on some Italiano and follow my list of destinations in Italy that are a little less “well known” but you get away from the crowds and actually see Italy for what it REALLY is!

MODENA

The ancient town of Modena boasts to have the best restaurant in ALL OF EUROPE (Osteria Francescana) as well as it is the hub of Italian auto making.

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RAVELLO

Amalfi Coast – be damned! The cliffside town of Ravello also offers breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea!

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SIRACUSA

Settlements in this Sicilian archeological wonderland date back as far as 734 BC! Siracusa was once the largest city in the ancient world! It is best known for its Ancient Greek ruins as well as amazing food.

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PARMA

Home of …you guessed it! Parmesan Cheese! Parma is a foodie’s paradise as it is the first Italian city to win the UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy award! It is also home of one of the oldest universities in the world – Parma University.

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MATERA

This ancient city is carved into a canyon believe it or not! It is one of the oldest still-inhabited places on earth and extremely exotic to visit!

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TRIESTE

Visiting Trieste is like pretending like you are actually in Slovenia, but actually you are not! This place is filled with Viennese coffee houses and Slavic restaurants. Uncommon for Italy, Trieste is kind of a melting pot of Italian, Latin, German, Jewish and Slavic people.

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So now which one or ones of these places do you think you want to include on your bucket list next time you are in Italy?? Let me know! 🙂

 

-Karen Bahri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thailand’s Pattaya Floating Market!

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Thailand’s Pattaya Floating Market!

Thailand is a place high on my list of destinations I want to travel to! From the beaches to the bustling city life, the rich culture and tasty food all appeal greatly to me. Can’t forget the hot weather either!!!

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I recently discovered some information on the Pattaya Floating Market – yes, that’s correct! A bazaar over water! If Pattaya wasn’t beautiful enough, and if you wanted a little break from lounging on the beach this is definitely worth the experience!

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Pattaya Floating Market the biggest floating market in the world covering an area of 100,000sqm. The Floating Market is separated into four sections – each representing and selling items from the four major parts of Thailand (north, northeast, central and south). Expect to find many eateries, fruit stalls, souvenir shops and some art galleries.

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There is also a cultural show every afternoon, with such performances such as a classical dance, martial art demonstrations, as well as water boxing, where the fighters perform on a horizontal pole above the canal. Painters do show their artificial work, like umbrella and portrait painting. For those needing a little pampering, you can even get a traditional Thai massages, head or foot massage, facial, etc.

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The 350 million baht market has over 114 shops and water vendors selling authentic Thai food, desserts and specialties from all over the kingdom. Truly eye-catching are the small floating kitchens. With a lot of skill these vendors navigate, cook, serve drinks, offer snacks and make small meals all at once!

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For the ultimate floating market experience, hire a man-powered boat to get around and discover the richness of the surrounding Thai architecture and riverside life. Typically, the boat is big enough for four people and can be hired for a small fee for around 30 minutes. This definitely sounds like a fun once in a lifetime experience while traveling in Thailand! Everywhere you visit has it’s markets and bazaars filled with souvenirs, arts & crafts, shows and food, but a floating market you don’t run across very often!

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Entry fee is Baht 200 and the market is open 08:00 to 20:00 daily, with shops open 09:00 to 19:00. The market is not to far out of town and visitors can reach the market by buss, taxi or baht bus (song thaew).

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-Karen Bahri