Many German families own nativity scenes that have often been in their families for several generations and have been passed on to children and grandchildren. Ours is at least 100 years old and it was made in Grulich, a town which now belongs to the Czech Republic. All the figures and animals are carved from wood and the artists have used very vibrant colours. We open the huge box a few days before Christmas. The children are excited when they unwrap the figures they have not seen for a year. They enjoy arranging them around the buildings, having the three wise men with their wonderful animals coming from the left side and and all the shepherds and sheep coming from the right side. The buildings did not come with the figures. We found them on eBay last year, it was the ideal setting. It shows the town of Bethlehem as an oriental place with lots of small towers and walls. There are cliffs and trees, a small pond and even a well. Everything has been made of wood.
Of course, it wouldn't be Christmas without a German feather tree trimmed in antique German ornaments! We began collecting these 30 years ago and now try to buy at least one special ornament every year.
100 grams Powdered Sugar
CHRISTMAS TREE SHOPPING IN GERMANY
Celebrating Christmas without a tree is unthinkable and we have finally found our tree in the courtyard of an old farmhouse. Many old farmhouses in our area open their courtyards and sell Christmas trees in all sizes. It is a wonderful event to go there and look at lots of different trees before you decide. There is a stall where you can warm up with a glass of Glühwein and a variety of Christmas cookies. They also sell their own geese for a festive dinner.
We are looking forward to the beginning of the festive season. There are so many different Christmas traditions here in Germany and we would like to describe a few interesting ones. Some of you might have German ancestors and might realize that these traditions have crossed the Atlantic and stayed alive in your families. We would like to present some photos of our decorations at home and give you a recipe for a traditional German cookie which is easy to prepare and very delicious.
Later on we are planning to show you photos from the famous Christmas markets.....
Come with us to a medieval castle surrounded by an ancient moat and wonderful grounds which has been turned into a restaurant. Climb up the staircase decorated with wonderful garlands and red ribbons for the festive season.
Open the old oak door and you enter another world. There is a wonderful antique fireplace with crackling fire in the huge hall next to a very tall Christmas tree.
A waiter leads you to a table surrounded by antiques with a view over the grounds and horses. In the kitchen the chef with a Michelin star prepares the most delicious French dinners. If you think this is terribly expensive, you are mistaken. Of course, the exchange rate is not very good for you, but you can still afford and enjoy such a wonderful treat. We went there on Saturday and chose a four-course dinner which we would recommend. After a wonderful "amuse bouche", we had loup de mer in four varieties and accompanied by the most delicious small rolls and bread. The second course consisted of a very unusual soup (pot au feu) with deer and vegetables. Our main course was a risotto with wild mushrooms and Argentinian filet of beef.
We could not wait to try the dessert, which is always a highlight: creme brulee and ice cream from white chocolate, delicious. And, of course, our espresso came with a small etagere full of chocolates and French pralines.
We find the meals reasonably priced and paid Euros 59 for the meal. The castle is approximately a 30-minute drive from Cologne in Germany. In the summer they have opera evenings on the grounds and a wonderful dinner in the restaurant and catering in the garden.
Maria & Dieter
We are a German couple living near the romantic Rhine valley and the cities of Cologne and Bonn in Germany. Three years ago we met Susan through the internet and have become great friends. We have so much in common and share a passion for antiques, good food and traveling, that it is fun to meet and do things together. Over the last 3 years we have met Susan and her sister Eileen in Paris, Germany and the USA. We are already planning our next trips to Provence and Prague and Dieter and I feel honored to provide photos, comments, reports and recipes from Europe to Susan and Eileen's blog.