Friday, January 9, 2009

BBQ in Europe???

And now, here’s Julianne’s wrap-up of her quest to find some BBQ across the pond:

Well, it appears that BBQ is not just a Southern or American thing. The Europeans began the idea and love to fire up the grill for any reason. For centuries Weihnachtsmarkts (Christmas markets) have been held in villages and cities across Europe, each with their own flair for local food, drink, and novelties. The market is Dresden, Germany dates back to 1434. I honestly think my favorite part of Christmas is walking through the various markets. It beats our American department stores hands down. Each market is in the town square near the Cathedral or church for that town. The churches range from 200 years old to Koln’s Dom (Cathedral), which began in 1248. Until the completion of the Washington Monument in 1884 it was the tallest structure in the world standing at 516 feet. The snow falls down around the Cathedral that is all lit up, while the local bands play Christmas tunes. I graze through over 50 booths picking up Gluhwein (a spiced hot wine) and a swine steak to start off dinner. Then I pick up various potatoes, spatzle (noodles), wurst (similar to a hot dog) until I get to dessert. Then I peruse the chocolate covered strawberries, sugared nuts, waffles, crepes, Lebkuchen (gingerbread) and many more sweet delicacies.

The Germans are quite proud of their BBQ. All of the German BBQ is from the pig. Pig is pretty much the staple food of the Germans. They use all parts and grill it all up in different ways. They do not smoke the BBQ the way it is mostly done in America. It is more grilled. A large pit is created that is filled with wood. It is about 6-7 feet in diameter with a large grate hanging over it. This grate is tied up to the ceiling of the booth and allows for the entire grate (the same size at the pit across) to rotate in a circle as it holds the meat. The meat is continually rotated and glazed in BBQ sauce as smoke fills the booth. As a funny side note the BBQ sauce is of the American variety- Jack Daniels. Then when the meat is just right it is served in a brochen (bread roll). Even the meat on a stick is handed out in a brochen. The bread functions the same as a tortilla to hold the meat and allow for you to eat it. I just go for the meat, no need to fill up on bread.

The other main difference is the potatoes in Germany. In America we love potato salad and we like it cold. Germans LOVE potatoes in many different ways but they always come HOT. They have potatoes in rosemary seasoning with onions and bacon. They also have a favorite of potatoes in a garlic cream sauce and then of course the Frites (fries) with Frit Sauce (mayo). It is not a complete meal without Hot Frites covered in salt and Mayo.

Swine Steak - 9.999. I love Beef ribs and brisket but a swine steak is heavenly. So succulent and full of flavor. Never dry, never a bad piece of meat.

Gluhwein - 10. It sends a warm thrill through you heating you and dissolving any problems you have.

Shish-k-bobs - 8.5. Good meat, but a different part of the pig and not as tender. Grilled onions add to the flavor. A definite try but not the best.

Frites and Mayo - 9.5. Hot and with a mixture of salty sweet that hits the spot.

Potatoes in garlic cream sauce - 8. Full of flavor and cooked to just slightly soft. The key is they are cooked in the sauce, so it infuses deep inside to provide even flavor.

Atmosphere - 20 on a scale of 1 to 10.

As for the Dutch, they follow suit with the Germans. Their BBQ is about the exact same and runs a close second. Although I found it funny that the Dutch (much skinnier than the Germans on whole) require an XXXL Wurst and in Germany there is only L and XL. The Dutch also like to make pork ribs.

Pork Ribs - 6.5. Good but not my favorite.

Bottom line...

A German Christmas Market is a fabulous experience for all of your senses. And if you don’t like food, there is some of the best nativity scenes, and Christmas decorations you have ever seen. Beautifully hand made from wood, porcelain, and glass. The Cathedrals are decorated and lit up and if you are lucky to catch a mass service or a nun choir, sit down and let the beautiful music swim around you and draw you into the Yuletide spirit. The focus is community, love and fun; you cannot help but be caught up in the beauty of it all.

Who wants to come next year with me?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good news for euro travelers, I am originally from Texas and currently living on the French Riviera and my business is BBQ!!!
Here is the link to our website, the restaurant is located on a very nice resort and we do catering along the south of France.