Monday, March 21, 2011

A Fest of a Different Season

While it may still be -1* (Celsius) in the mornings, spring is in the air. Beautiful flowers are sprouting by the roadside, the sun is peaking out from behind the clouds more often than not, and - perhaps most importantly - Spring Fest came!

For those of you who are not aware, the Germans do love their "fests". Oktoberfest, as I'm sure you're all aware, is probably the most popular. But there are all sorts of fests! Several involve delicious carbonated beverages that may or may not contain alcohol (let's be fair - they do prefer sparkling water over here), but others are more like flea markets and are meant for shopping. Our little community hosted one such even just this past weekend to celebrate the new season.

Over three days, vendors from all over Europe came to sell their wares. Beautiful hand-carved furniture, artwork, jewelry, shoes, woolly parkas, delicious cheeses from the Netherlands, crystal from Austria, Italian china, Polish pottery, and wine from just about any country you can think of! And if you get a little hungry during your shopping adventure? Hot, authentic German food to help you weather the windchill. We took the first day simply to explore, sample, and note prices. The crowds and narrow walkways made it difficult to snap photos, but here are a few to give you an idea of what it was like:
Italian pottery
Ornately carved furniture - sold quickly!!

Italian wines. Never found out about the cloudy bottles, though.

For lunch on the first day, we sampled the bratwurst. I also learned something! Bratwurst here is red meat, whereas the Rotewurst (same concept) is a white sausage. Both look fabulous, and the bratwurst indeed was. Though sadly, our meal was gone before I even thought snap a photo. Sorry!

The next day we toured Spring Fest, we came prepared. Our first stop was the ATM and we came hungry. First stop was lunch and our first taste of Schnitzel! Our side options were pommes frites (french fries), potato salad (forgot the German word for it), or spinatspatzle (spinach noodles). We had been admiring other peoples' dishes of it, so we chose the spinatspatzle. The meal was, of course, supplemented with beer:
Schnitzel mit Spinatspatzle
I don't think the picture does this meal justice, really. It was not our favorite dish, but it was still quite tasty all the same. The noodles (spatzle) were creamy and cheesy with spinach and mushrooms mixed in. The schnitzel was pork.The beer complemented the ensemble nicely, really. And if you turn your empty beer bottle back in when you're finished? You get $1 back! Yey for recycling!

After filling our bellies, it was off to the vendors to spend our money! We chose to limit ourselves to $100 (including food) based on our window shopping the first day. I advise anyone who finds themselves at one of these markets to set a spending limit! Most vendors only take cash anyway, but I can imagine a credit card hitting its limit quickly if you were to simply swipe for everything you want. Anyway, we had decided we wanted some of the Dutch cheese, French wine, and a few bars of soap from "Bubbles, Oh la la!"

Shopping on the last day of the fest was both a blessing and a curse. While the vendors were happy to cut you a deal to unload just a few more goods, the selection was limited. We did come away with what we were looking for, though:

Wine: a 2003 Bordeaux from the north of France. $26ish
Cheese: a smoked black-pepper gouda, I believe. 500g for $12.50ish
Soap: all-natural, "pur vegetal". We got 6 bars for $20ish in the following scents: eucalyptus, thyme, cotton, mint, and black pepper/opium (weird, right?); plus one aloe vera bar. If you're interested, they have a facebook page.
Earrings: a last-minute decision at the girl scouts' fund raising booth. $5. I had Tory pick them out - he said these looked like a cow-pattern. I agreed :) I was disappointed there were no cookies, though...

Also, please take note of the yellow bag with the mice faces on it in the first picture. The Dutch cheese salesman certainly had a sense of humor (and an eye for marketing) as these were the bags he put the cheese purchases into. I loved it!

All in all, it was a great first fest for us! We know what we'll want more of next year (since this appears to be an annual fest) and will be saving for it in advance. This time, we're just happy to have what we got. :) But if there's any way to end a day properly and spend the last bit of your shopping money, it's by sampling something wonderfully sweet! Like Italian ice cream :) Needless to say.. we skipped dinner that night.

Pfeffermint & Haselnuss


  1. I love the earrings! Good job Tory!
    And BTW, I totally read "mice faces" as "mice feces". That was a bit of a shock for me :)

  2. LOL! Mice feces on a yellow bag would certainly be less exciting...