In the United States we know gingerbread at Christmas made into a gingerbread man, a dark cookie sweetened with molasses. But in Europe it takes all kinds of shapes. It is thought to have originated in Basel Switzerland as Basler Lackerli, a spiced bread sweetened with honey and kirsch and with hazelnuts and spices added. That sounds like a great addition to the Christmas tradition. In France it is known as pain d’epices, or spice bread.
We first discovered the Kugelhopf in the Alsatian city of Strasbourg, a sort of coffee cake with fruits and nuts, baked in a special mold. But when we got to Paris, we found the cakes were smaller and soaked in rum. Outside the Sacre Coeur there was a food festival at Christmas where famous food providers from all over France were demonstrating cooking techniques. There we discovered the Canele d’Armagnac and the Baba du Bougnat, which quickly became our new Christmas tradition. It went perfectly with our Christmas village where the Sacre Coeur is the centerpiece.
Really nice having some down time while traveling. Just leisurely wandering instead of rushing to the next planned activity.
While in Strasbourg, Tony and I stopped to admire the exquisite wedding dresses at the boutique shop of haute couture designer Cleone, and actually met the designer herself. The dresses are incredibly imaginative. I would love to be invited to a runway show for the next collection – I can’t wait to see what she will design next. [Strasbourg, France – October 2, 2013]
Our romantic cruise down the Rhine was now abruptly over due to the crash. There was a gash in the side of the Viking River Cruise boat, and it could not continue. We were now in Strasbourg and were about to spend a few days there. But, if you are going to be stuck someplace in Europe, Strasbourg is a pretty good place. The city is gorgeous. We continued on with trying the local food and wandering around the town. The leaves were changing color and the town is surrounded by a canal, bordered by half timber houses and lots of trees, so it looks beautiful in the fall.
Our relaxing river cruise has ended before it hardly got started! The Viking Sun, part of the Viking River Cruise line crashed into a structure on the side of the canal at 2:30 in the morning (news article). Our cabin was below the water level, so we went topside where we took these pictures of the damage. We were near Strasbourg, so eventually the boat was evacuated and we were taken to Strasbourg, which was the end of our river cruise. I guess you have to be flexible when you travel, since you never know what is going to happen!!