Double Market Day

What is there to do on a Sunday in Dresden? Not much. Not much at all. Most of the stores are closed all day long and ‘Dresdeners’ somehow remain hidden until the early hours of the afternoon. Where they are or what they are doing is far beyond me. Maybe they all need to sleep off their horrible hangovers from the barrel of beer each of them consumed the night before. I wouldn’t be surprised. (Beer is cheaper than water here. No joke.)

Thankfully as Hannah and I were the wandering around Neustadt (the part of Dresden north of the Elbe River) searching for a café, we came across an outdoor market. On our way home from the café we wandered in to see what goods it had to offer. It wasn’t a particularly large market, about 25 craft vendors and 5 or 6 food carts. It was rather peculiar though. The vendors were all selling essentially the same things: ceramic mugs, dishes, pots, and bowls. The only difference from stall to stall was the decoration and the style of the items.

I wonder if it was a special ceramic festival or something because that truly was all that was there. There were 2 stalls selling beads, but I bet those were ceramic too. Hey, maybe when Germans have had too much beer they turn ceramic making into a party game then just sell off their excess to pay for more beer. (Not a bad idea actually.)  As we were wandering around the ceramics we passed by a food cart selling bratwurst and I decided it was time. Time to have my first wurst. I negotiated the entire transaction in German too. “Eins bitte. Ja. Ja. Danke.” Success. The wurst came fresh off the grill and was nestled into a bun. After asking me for approval, the “chef” then laid a line of mustard along the wurst. The meat stuck out a good 3 inches from the bun on both sides. A perfect way to ensure that the eater will enjoy the bratwurst in is pure, delicious untouched form. That was one of the best sausages I have ever had. The soft and incredibly flavorful inside pleasantly exploded from the crunchy casing when you bit into it. Then add the plain fluffy bun around the outside for the last few bites. Pure bliss.

 

After I recovered from the wonderment of my first (but not only) bratwurst, we headed home for some hydration and a little rest. About an hour and a half later we headed back out to explore market number 2. This market was in Alstadt (the other side of the river) in the Altmarkt. We have seen them setting up for a few days so we made it a destination for our weekend. This market was quite different. Thank goodness. The biggest change was where people were selling their goods. They upgraded from tables under tents to mini buildings. I can’t think of a better way to describe it really.

They were constructed out of wood. Each had a roof, a counter in front where the vendors displayed what they were selling, a room behind where they could stand, doors to get in and out of the back, and shutters to close them up at night. It was quite an ordeal. The items being sold ranged from ornate wood villages and doilies to leather purses and wallets to candy, spices, and dried fruits. There were a few repeats of course but overall the variety of goods being sold was infinitely better than at market number 1. There were also many more food choices at market number 2. The end of each row of buildings had a mini restaurant. There were picnic tables set up all around the plaza where folks were drinking and dining. The food being sold was classic German fare, bratwurst of all sorts, mushroom dishes, french fries (??), beer, some type of German doughnut, crepes (??), and ice cream. Germans eat a lot of ice cream. There are shops all over the streets and it is impossible to walk around Dresden in the afternoon and not see at least 20 people licking an ice cream cone.

I may have figured it out. The staples of a German diet necessary for survival are ice cream, bratwurst, and beer. (In no particular order of course.)

Advertisements

Mostly Dessert

Well after 11 hours on airplanes and a mere 2 hours of sleep since 8 AM Thursday morning (in Pittsburgh) I have made it to Dresden! Before I lose myself with all the magnificence of European life I have to share the delicious day of dining that I provided for myself on my last day in America.

Breakfast was the usual coffee and cereal (multigrain cheerios from Trader Joe’s and homemade granola). The fun began at lunch time. I had ice cream for lunch. Yes, you heard me correctly. I did indeed just brag that I had ice cream for lunch. It was supplemented by a lovely summer fruit salad but that’s beside the point. My Mom and I made an excursion to Oh Yeah! Ice Cream on S Highland Ave. Now this is no ordinary pick a flavor, plop it on a cone and lick to your hearts content type of place. Not at all. Here at Oh Yeah! you enter the artfully cluttered shop and are immediately overwhelmed by a classroom sized chalkboard full of possibilities.

There are about 10 options for ice cream flavors (regular dairy or soy based) then four times that number worth of possible mix-ins. It must have taken me no less than 5 minutes to come up with my selection. I was just so tempted by the squirrel meat but they ran out so I had to go with my second choice.

I ultimately made up my mind and got a half scoop of sweet cream ice cream with oatmeal raisin cookies mixed in and another half scoop of butter almond ice cream with snickers mixed in. The dairy ice cream all comes from Dave and Andy’s Ice Cream, a local Pittsburgh business. The soy based flavors come from a Chicago company I believe. The process of mixing a feat in it’s own, there is no frozen slab or paddles used anywhere in the process. The ice cream is scooped into a cup and the appropriate amount of the selected mix-in is added. The cup is then emptied into a machine that works slightly similar to a milkshake maker in the sense that it thoroughly integrates the two ingredients so you can enjoy all flavors in each bite. This machine is funnel shaped though so after you dump the cup of separated ingredients into it the empty cup is then moved to underneath the funnel where the perfectly mixed creation is pumped out. It’s pure bliss let me tell you.

After every last morsel was consumed, we headed back home, fat and happy, to keep on packing. A few hours later it was time to eat again! My Mom, Dad, and I made the short drive from our home to Sharpsburgh for a lovely dinner at Bona Terra. The dinner was spectacular. The menu changes nightly depending on what ingredients the chef has that are in season and local. (The best way to do it if you ask me.) After we ordered (I decided to get 3 appetizers because the choices appealed to me the most in that category) we got a lovely amuse bouche of cucumber salad with sauteed strip steak all in a soy glaze. Yum! Next came the salad. Mixed greens topped with fresh chevre, golden rasberries, bing cherries and roasted pecans. Just before we finished our salad course we were brought brioche rolls fresh from the oven. Literally. They were too hot to touch at first. But once they cooled down just enough they were the most delectable fluffy buttery rolls in existence. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better out came the soup. Wild mushroom soup with white truffle oil and a few sauteed mushrooms floating in the middle. My mouth is watering just thinking about it again. I absolutely adore mushrooms. Finally, after a tiny helping of peach sorbet to cleanse our palates, I had home made gnocchi with angus beef bolognese. The sauce had so much flavor and the gnocchi were perfect. Even though it was an appetizer, the portion was just right for me. I finished off my meal with a collection of chocolate. A perfectly made from scratch brownie topped with Belgian chocolate ice cream with chocolate ganache and candied almonds. How can you go wrong?

Fat and happy once again, we headed home to pack, once again. That turned into one of the most stressful packing experiences of my life but at least I had a day filled with good food (mostly dessert!) to make up for it.