We had a lovely afternoon a week or so ago at the Vancouver Christmas Market. I’m not sure how “authentic” the German aspects of the market really are, but the food they had was pretty darn enjoyable!
Our first food stop was at the Alpen Club stall – we were drawn by the sights and smells of the pig on a spit slowly turning and getting deliciously roasted over a bed of coals. The roast pork sandwich ($8) is juicy and delicious – it is served on a very non-Germanic Portuguese style roll with chipotle mayo sauce!
At this same stall, we tried the goulash ($7), a hearty beef stew that heavily features paprika in the sauce (very good, and a generous portion); and some raspberry cheesecake ($4 or $5?) which wasn’t that great, sorry.
What’s that saying? Man cannot live by meat and bread alone? 🙂 We may have accidentally skipped a lineup to get our ID bracelets so we could enjoy the traditional libations. We also may have ignored a lineup and got this $7 Paulaner beer (a wheat beer – thus Heffeweizen)! We’re bad! It was served slightly cold, which is perfect, and was crisp with a mild grainy flavour.
We kept wandering around – there were a ton of people present during our visit. The performances were nice to watch, and the man playing the calliope added a charming atmosphere to the mix. But when I saw the three wheels of cheese bubbling away in the Dussa’s Ham & Cheese stall, I couldn’t think of anything else! I’ve had the little electric plug-in raclette at a family gathering (provided, appropriately enough, by my uncle who spent quite a few years in Switzerland), but I’d never had the “scrape off the wheel” kind before…
We were lucky to get large pieces of chewy bread as the base of the raclette – it barely held the amazing, hot, gooey cheese. It has a flavour somewhere between a gruyere and a mild hole-y Swiss cheese, and it melts amazingly. The super-thin shaved dry cured ham and the tiny cornichon were lovely additions. At $8 (I think) it may seem steep, but you get a lot of high quality cheese in this dish!
Our final stop before leaving was to try the mulled wine that was being served in small ceramic mugs (nice touch!). The $7 price may seem a bit expensive, but then adding on the $4 cup deposit (which you can keep, waiving your deposit, or get your $4 back from one of the huts) may freak some people right out. The serving, while reasonable, packs a huge punch! The red wine is heavily topped up with rum, then warmed with some extra cinnamon, clove and star anise spices. Chris really enjoyed this – I was happy to try a sip and no more.
I enjoyed our time at the Christmas Market, but have to say that the food stalls are the real attraction here. Definitely bring cash as there is only one grey-market ATM machine in the entire complex. Lines for the most part do move quickly, but not at the large tent where ornaments are sold – I saw a sign similar to ones posted around the Olympics: “Line time 1 hour from here”!