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 diligently tried all the best french macarons in Paris, but nothing compared to Laduree! Maybe it was the pastel colors, or the uber cute shop, or the matching ribbons and tissue paper with the Laduree insignia, but nobody does it like Laduree!
Candied almonds have historically been given as wedding gifts or served to the guests as wedding favors. In France, Calissons d’Aix en Provence are said to have been served at the wedding of the king in the 1400s. The Italians serve five almonds to signify five wishes for the bride and groom – health, wealth, happiness, children and long life. known by many names – dragee, confetti, Jordan Almonds, mlabas, koufeta – they are popular at many American weddings as well.
I was holding out for the best pastries, and when I got to Holtkamp I stopped looking. I got sucked in the door by the meringues in the window, but it was the cakes that were really incredible.
Traveling by boat was the perfect way to get see Amsterdam, since there are so many canals. Later, we discovered new things in the market, like stroopwafel and halva, and lots and lots of cheese.