Sunday, 13 December 2009
Manchester Christmas Market
Sometime during the end of November, Christmas markets pop up all over town. In London, there are markets in Hyde Park, in Covent Garden, and even one at the O2 from the posters I’ve seen.
Our favourite, though, remains the Christmas market in Manchester.
Rudolph for vegetarians.
Once a year, the area around St. Peter’s square is transformed from a pigeon social club to a place of food aplenty, and mulled wine merriness. It’s magical in the daytime, but more so at night when the fairy lights are switched on, and icicles litter the end of people’s breath.
All this magic comes at a price, though. It used to cost approximately £3.50 (for a pint of beer, a mug of mulled wine, a bratwurst, a portion of crepe, uh huh, everything). Now it costs £4.50. Call me a cheapskate, but a £1 increase is quite steep for something which was only £3.50 to begin with.
Nevertheless, it’s once a year, it’s cold, and it’s making me wanna eat, so £4.50 it is.
There are so many stalls there that it’s always best to have a first look around before buying that thing that looks so good, only to realise that everything else looks so good also.
So, what stalls are there?
1. The ‘I didn’t know there were even that many types of sausages’ stall
This nice lady was busy cutting up sausages as samples, and boy did we sample quite a few.
The peppered sausage was actually not as spicy as I expected it to be, considering how it’s almost entirely covered in pepper. Nice, slightly crunchy peppery bits, and salty when you got to the sausage.
So many types of sausages, that it began to get slightly confusing at one point. Which ones do I get, are they the same, what on earth do I want with 5 sausages. So many questions.
2. The bratwurst factory, selling a choice of either spicy, or non-spicy bratwurst in a bun - £4.50
This is the one stall that we HAVE to go to every time we’re here. Selling both bratwurst (spicy or non-spicy) and mulled wine, it provides an almost complete meal (no desserts, but that can always be found somewhere else).
The buns merely serve as sausage holders, and are quite unimpressive (slightly hard, and definitely been left out in the cold for some time), but hey, you don’t complain about the plates being hard and tasteless, do you.
3. The cheese stall featuring some 3D-style background
You would have thought it might have smelt slightly cheesy going by this stall, but it was surprisingly odour-free. Maybe it was because the cheese were all cling-filmed.
4. The hog roast stall, also known as ‘I want one of those’
It was almost difficult trying to take pictures of these, due to the immense number of people queuing up for a hog roast roll. Traditionally served in a bun / bap / roll, with some shredded pork, some crackling, some apple sauce, and lots of drool (added factor on my part), this is one amazing treat which we didn’t treat ourselves to (had to save some space for the sausages).
5. The strudel stall, with the very nice man who started chatting about his Nikon DSLR
This was the nice man, who, when he saw me snapping pictures of his strudel, started chatting about how he took pictures of food too. I chatted back enthusiastically, hoping that he might take a liking to us, and give us more strudel. Don’t reckon that happened, but the strudel was very nice anyhow.
I’d never had strawberry strudel before, and only thought that studels existed in the form of apple strudels, but this strawberry version was made with strawberry which had been cooked to an almost jam-like consistency, with bits of strawberry still in the jam.
This is what it looked like before it was served.
This is what it looked like with ALOT of custard. We love custard, and asked him to give us more of the stuff, which is why we ended up with a strudel which was literally treading in custard.
Marzipan on the outside, chocolate on the inside, making this a marzipan chocolate strudel. My friend said it was really nice.
6. The pancake house, with lots of serious-looking pancake-making men (and huge Nutella jars)
Nutella features quite heavily in this stall, one of the favourite pancake fillings, with bananas.
Mmm, one jar of those please, with some pancakes.
Now, the process of getting from pan to mouth.
a) Man makes pancake, with nutella and bananas.
b) Pancake gets onto plate, but only for a short while, prior to getting to mouth.
c) Pancake gets eaten.
Figured I didn’t need to elaborate much here.
Wasn’t quite sure how this was meant to be eaten, but it made for a nice photo anyway.
8. Wooden carvings stall, not rabbit pie
9. Stall selling Christmas trees and other decorative things
Look, they even have little reindeer things made of dried … leaves.
And when we got back to London, we excitedly took the little shiny and wrapped block of Black Bavarian Ham out of its packaging (from the first stall), sliced a few pieces out from the block, and this is what we had for nibbles.
The entire block of ham is cured in some spices (don’t ask me, I didn’t ask the lady about this), so slicing into it was like unwrapping a lovely piece of waxed cheese.
It felt as though it was made specially for us, and not sliced from the huge piece like what you get from the supermarket.
How did it taste? Absolutely amazing, the best ham I have had so far. When you bit into it, it had that slightly springy texture, as how perfectly cured meat should, and the amount of salt was just right. But it wasn’t just salty, it was also slightly spicy (as in, like five spice, and not chilli spice), with an aftertaste which just can’t be described by someone like me, so I’ll stick with the word amazing.
If you want to try the Christmas market out, best get there soon as it’s only there until about mid-December.