It’s already December!
It’s amazing how fast time flies by! There’s still a lot of exciting things happening in December before we welcome the start of the new year!
I wasn’t able to upload a post last weekend because I was away in Germany visiting Berlin and Dresden with Chai and Teddy. It was my first time visiting Germany around this season and I was super excited to see the famous German Christmas Markets!!! I did so much research about the markets in Berlin and Dresden and what food I wanted to try and bring back home. The majority of the souvenirs we bring back these days are food related. We brought back a nice WMF spätzle maker so we can now make authentic Käse (cheese) Spätzle which is my favorite German dish! There are two types of Spätzle makers but we chose the type that makes the shorter ones because it is Chai’s favorite, the device is a lot lighter, and less complicated (aka easier to clean.) It looks like this.
I did not visit as many Christmas markets in Berlin as I originally planned but the main Christmas market in Dresden made up for that! All the food that we tried in the Berlin Christmas markets was so disappointing. We tried a Bratwurst, Glühwein (mulled wine) for children (aka non-alcoholic), candied almonds, Baumstriezel (chimney cake), and Schneeball (a type of fried dough covered in chocolate with different flavors) in the Berlin Christmas Markets. I’ve had tastier food at the Spring Festival and Summer Tollwood Festival in Munich.
Another big reason why German Christmas Markets were a huge disappointment for us and we did not eat as much as we would have liked was because of the seriously unsanitary conditions these vendors were selling their food. The vendors would touch money and then touch the dough or whatever food they were preparing right away without wearing any gloves. I’ve seen vendors cough all over the food and eat their own food they were selling with their bare hands. I didn’t see a single person use hand sanitizer or wash their hands. It was a huge turnoff and we tried to keep eating at the markets to a minimum to avoid getting sick. I strongly recommend going to a stand that has a large enough team where there are designated food handlers and one person who only handles money. The only clean vendor I saw that had such a team was selling Handbrot (a delicious freshly made bread with cheese & Champagne mushrooms or ham inside topped with sour cream and chives) at the Dresdner Striezelmarkt.
I highly recommend the Dresdner Striezelmarkt over any Christmas Markets in Berlin if you are in the area. Dresden is about a 2 hour train ride away from Berlin. In any Christmas market, if you purchase a drink you can either keep the cup or return it to receive some euros back. The cups can make a good souvenir if you like the design. All markets sell knickknacks that are a bit overpriced and sold in multiple stands. If you really like something, I recommend trying to find the best price first before making your purchase.
Christmas is an amazing time for food and baked goods!
Chai grew up in Germany and really missed Stollen and Lebkuchen (German Christmas cookies full of warm spice.) We bought Dresdner Stollen and Nuremberg Lebkuchen from Kadewe. Chai mentioned that the Lebkuchen from Kadewe was more delicious and pricey than from the supermarket. Chai also bought me a Lindt Advent Calendar! I never knew about Advent Calendars in the US but apparently they’re big in Europe. This was my first time receiving an Advent Calendar and it’s really a simple yet fun treat to have. We look forward to opening a “window” of the Advent Calendar each day~ Some other food related souvenirs from Germany I recommend are: Speculaas (Christmas biscuits), various types of Stollen, various Ferrero chocolate, Leibniz crackers, candied and chocolate covered nuts, various gummies including vegan, pure European honey, Italian balsamic vinegar and/or olive oil, Händlmaier Bavarian sweet mustard, and European jam.
Christmas decoration inside Kadewe.
Realistic looking potatoes made out of marzipan. Germans love their potatoes!
A Korean monument in the middle of Berlin.
A part of the Berlin wall that had some Korean tribute to it.
One of the smaller Dresden Christmas markets.
This is what Handbrot looks like although we didn’t get it from this stand.
Inside the beautiful church.
An amusing wooden piece from a souvenir shop.
Teddy joined us on this trip! We took her to many of the dog-friendly restaurants in Berlin.
Teddy received some water from Ottenthal.
Teddy tired from her trip and relaxing in the hotel.
She buried her face in my arm to shade herself from the sunlight.
Reviews and Ratings of Christmas Markets
Dresden Striezelmarkt (4/5): Located in a beautiful city with wonderfully and uniquely decorated stands. Dresden is most well known for their Stollen (fruit bread.) We tried Handbrot as previously mentioned and white chocolate drink which was wonderfully warm and delicious to drink in the freezing weather.
Dresdner Striezelmarkt at night.
Ferris wheel and some market stands.
One of the many uniquely decorated stands.
German Christmas Pyramid.
White hot chocolate drink.
The ovens at the Handbrot stand.
Weihnachtszauber Gendarmenmarkt (3/5?): Chai visited this market on his own and he claimed that it was very similar to the market in Alexanderplatz but more scenic. It costs 1 Euro per person to enter after 2 PM.
Weihnachtsmarkt auf dem Alexanderplatz (2/5): The food here was not tasty and most vendors we saw were pretty unsanitary. I think it’s an okay market to visit if it’s your first time but I would recommend the Weihnachtszauber Gendarmenmarkt more if you want a nicer scenery.
Winterwelt am Potsdamer Platz (1/5): A small market with a small tube riding as its main feature.
Reviews and Ratings of Restaurants
Ottenthal (5/5): Although I love trying new restaurants, this is our favorite restaurant to visit whenever we are in Berlin. It’s an Austrian restaurant with the best Käsespätzle and Schnitzel I’ve ever tried. I also highly recommend their Apfelstrudel for dessert. The restaurant provides great quality food with good service.
I always order Käsespätzle from Ottenthal.
Plumb dumplings for dessert.
Kadewe Café Black Forest (4/5): This coffee shop is one of the two coffee shops on one of the top floors in Kadewe which is a luxury department store. I recommend this café over the one next to it as the coffee quality is higher. It’s one of the best coffees I’ve had in Germany. I always make multiple visits every time I am in Berlin.
Taverna Ouisa (4/5): A large Greek restaurant with delicious moussaka. The waiters were friendly and nice which was a surprising change from the usual German service.
Café Einstein Stammhaus (4/5): This restaurant is not really a café but more a restaurant. Chai and I visited here twice for breakfast. We both enjoyed the omelet with cheese on bread and the cappuccinos. I believe they also sell lunch and dinner which we haven’t tried yet.
Omelette with cheese on bread and Apfelstrudel.
Benedict (3/5): This place is attached to a hotel and sells breakfast 24 hours. We also visited here twice for breakfast. It’s popular with both locals and tourists. I recommend coming here before 9:30 AM during the weekday if you don’t want to be waitlisted. Most breakfast dishes come with a warm beverage or mimosa. I highly recommend the avocado and egg on a bagel.
Avocado and egg on a bagel.
Standard Pizza (3/5): This is an Austrian owned Italian pizza place. The pizza was baked in a stone oven by two Italian gentlemen. It’s a decent place to grab lunch but not the best pizza I’ve ever tried.
Spicy pizza from Standard.
Zeit fur Brot (3/5): A bakery that bakes their own fresh bread and has one of the best cinnamon buns I’ve ever had. They offer various of flavors including cherry! The bun was light, fluffy, and delicious.
Backermann (3/5): We visited this place on our last day because it opened early enough and was somewhat close by to our hotel. The bakery bakes their own bread but the service was lacking.
Coure Di Vetro (3/5): I recommend this place if you’re in the area and looking for gelato! I tried the pistachio but the White Duke was more tasty. It’s freshly made on site and cash only.
Bocca Di Bacco (2/5): I was very much looking forward to this Italian restaurant. The food was good, restaurant in a nice area, and there were even ambassadors visiting the same night. However, the service was unexpectedly lacking. Maybe I would give it another chance in the future but not any time soon.
Sea Bream with vegetables.
Bakery Backwerk (2/5): An average and common bakery chain. I questioned whether the baked goods were freshly prepared on site or arrived frozen and just heated in the oven.
Caras (2/5): We tried the cappuccino here and were not impressed at all.
Kastenmeirs (3/5): A famous seafood restaurant with lots of space. I tried the lobster and leek soup which was too salty for my taste. I recommend the fish risotto.
Compliments from the chef.
Lobster and leek soup.
Dresdener Kaffeestubchen (3/5): A very small café that is well known for its Eierschecke cake. I recommend trying the cake but the cappuccino was really not good so avoid the drinks.
The Lion King soundtrack collection in the cafe.
The Titanic collection in the cafe.