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What is Christmas without over-indulging in copious amounts of food and drink? Especially when on a festive holiday to one of Europe’s amazing Christmas markets! This year I headed to the Swiss town of Basel and managed to eat my way around it’s many Christmas Markets. So to help others who plan on doing the same, here’s what to eat and drink at the Basel Christmas Markets…
Wacker Fonduestübli, Münsterplatz
Fondue – the famous Swiss dish which has become as popular internationally as it is within its home country. It is made by melting Gruyère and other Swiss cheeses, combined with a little dry white wine and served in a communal pot. The ultimate way to warm yourself up after a day out exploring the markets in the chilly Swiss winter.
Wacker Fonduestübli was a personal recommendation by a member of the Basel Tourism Board, and I’m definitely glad I listened. The pop-up restaurant is located in a wooden hut right in the heart of Münsterplatz, with fur-lined seats and an all-around cosy atmosphere. The large pot of delicious fondue is on a portable stove to keep it warm for as long as you need and served with baskets of bread for dipping. Grab a few drinks and you could easily spend a couple of hours in here sheltering from the cold and gradually making your way through the ridiculous amount of cheese.
Röstis are a Swiss dish made by grating raw potatoes, seasoning and shaping them into a pancake, then frying them for 10 minutes. Traditionally, Rösti’s were eaten by poor farmers in the area of Bern, however, these days they have become a popular national dish eaten all over the country at any time of day. Ingredients such as bacon, onion and cheese are often added to rösti’s, but at the Münsterplatz Christmas market, potato röstis are served up the traditional way with a large dollop of applesauce.
Vom Holzkohlegrill, Münsterplatz
Vom Holzkohlegrill translates into English as ‘from the grill’, and at this stall on Münsterplatz, the meat is grilled right there in front of you. Served on a long stick, with a bun placed on top (because why not!?), this dish is not only tasty but a unique and fun way of serving up food.
In Basel, don’t expect to find the abundance of Bratwurst and other sausages that you would expect to find at the German Markets, and the English ones too for that matter. However, if you are feeling the need for the traditional German festive snack, Claraplatz is the place to go. Try the Kalbsbratwurst, served with a slice of bread, from the grill as you first enter the market street, or move further down to find the small stall selling 3 types of sausage in a bun; sweet, savoury and spicey. The savoury sausage with mustard and sauerkraut was my favourite.
Cheese Toast and Other Cheesy Options, Claraplatz
On the corner of Claraplatz, before you turn on the market street, you will see a single festive looking stall with a wooden hut next door. This cute little spot sells a selection of Swiss specialities to go, or has the option of sitting inside their cosy pop-up restaurant next door. As well as a few other options such as soup and sausages, this spot specialises in its cheese dishes, such as fondue and raclette. Surprisingly, my favourite dish was the simple yet tasty cheese on toast which also ended up being one of my favourite dishes from the Basel Christmas markets.
Grittibänz, Everywhere in Basel
What some refer to as the cousin of the gingerbread man, Grittibänz (or Grattimannenm) is a lightly sweetened brioche dough sprinkled with sugar and shaped like a man. Traditionally the treat was made to be eaten by children on St. Nicholas Day (December 6th), but they have now become popular across the entire festive period. The little bread men can be found in bakeries, stalls and shops all over Basel during the month of December. They make a great breakfast if you’re looking for something to eat on the go.
Glühwein, Everywhere at the Basel Christmas Markets
There is only one thing you need to drink whilst exploring the Basel Christmas markets – Glühwein! Warm, spiced wine which you will find at every other stall across the whole of Basel during the festive season. Served in cute little Christmas-themed boots (which you will pay just a 2cf deposit for – they make great souvenirs), having a mug of Glühwein in your hands at all times in what Christmas in Central Europe is all about – right!?