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Review
Alexa Soto

More stories from Alexa Soto

September LSC Meeting
September 25, 2017

Event Review

Staff+member+of+Baked+Cheese+Haus+scraping+Raclette+off+a+wheel+onto+a+toasted+baguette.+The+baguette+is+best+shared.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Aimee+Soto%29
Staff member of Baked Cheese Haus scraping Raclette off a wheel onto a toasted baguette. The baguette is best shared. (Photo courtesy of Aimee Soto)

Staff member of Baked Cheese Haus scraping Raclette off a wheel onto a toasted baguette. The baguette is best shared. (Photo courtesy of Aimee Soto)

Staff member of Baked Cheese Haus scraping Raclette off a wheel onto a toasted baguette. The baguette is best shared. (Photo courtesy of Aimee Soto)

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Since 1996, the Christkindlmarket has been bringing its German and European traditions to  Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago. But for the first time, there is also a Christkindlmarket at The Park at Wrigley.

According to a Park at Wrigley press release, the market hosts “hand-crafted ornaments, toys and unique holiday gifts, as well as traditional German foods, sweets, and beverages.”   

The Christkindlmarket at Wrigley is smaller than the Daley Plaza market, with only 25 vendors, compared to the 50-plus vendors at  Daley Plaza. Out of the 25 vendors at the Wrigley market, 12 of those sell food or beverages, according to the Christkindlmarket website.

Apart from the Christkindl market, the park will host other festive events, turning the Park at Wrigley into “Winterland at the Park.” The ice rink opened Nov. 24 and will remain open until Feb. 25, and there will also be numerous Santa’s Workshop events.

The Christkindlmarket at the Park at Wrigley will remain open until Dec. 31, with the exception of Christmas Day. The hours are from Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., with special hours on Dec. 24 and 31.

On my first visit, I arrived at the Park at Wrigley at 8 p.m.; the surrounding streets were dark, but The Park at Wrigley was brightly lit. White sparkling Christmas lights hung all over, going from one side of the market to the other, and yellow lights wrapped around the tall Christmas tree at the corner of The Park. Holiday songs filled the space, and mini-trees were aligned around the frosty-blue ice rink, as the crowd stood along the rink, sat on the little tables, or the tiny bleachers, drinking from their mugs and talking.

Walking around the market, I saw a variety of products being sold from different vendors. These vendors come from different parts of Illinois, the U.S and the world, to sell their food and gifts.

Baked Cheese Haus, for example, is located in Darlington, Wisconsin; meanwhile, Yo Sox is located in Canada; Partnership for Culture and Crafts is from Kyrgyzstan; and Pemberton Candies is from Tuttlingen Germany.

Savory:

My first savory treat was the Chicago Dog from The Stackery; the wait was long, but considering it was made fresh, it was well worth it. The bread was warm and toasty. The homemade Polish sausage was bursting with spices inside. However, The Chicago blanket was a little challenging to bite, due to its massive size.

At the Baked Cheese Haus, I saw loaves of baguettes lined up against the wall, along with the longest line at the market. They served apple cider and baguette sandwiches. There were three sandwich options: salami, ham or a vegetarian option. I opted for the ham baguette, called “Jambon Cru.”

Every sandwich had melted Raclette, Alpine Cheese scraped off of an actual wheel, your choice of meat or vegetarian, with spring onions, baby gherkins, and dijon mustard, all in a toasted baguette.                                                      

After walking around and seeing everyone with baguettes full of cheese dripping off it, I was excited, only to be let down. The good thing was that the ham was thin, juicy and firm; the loaf was crunchy and big. But, the cheese was better before it cooled down and dried; the dijon was so strong that I didn’t know how the ham tasted until I took a bite of it on its own. The baby gherkins didn’t taste horrible, but they made the sandwich harder to chew because of their thickness.

All of the mentioned savory foods are large enough to be shared with another person, a good idea considering the price: the Chicago Blanket is $9, and the Jambon Cru is $12.

Snacks: 

Santa’s Secret Apple Strudel from The Stackey, my favorite dessert and quite the messiest. (Photo courtesy of Aimee Soto)

As for snacks, I went to the Candyality stand, a neighborhood store in Chicago, and got a bag of mixed popcorn, movie style, and caramel, for $6. They also offered a “Christkindl candy corn,” which had brownish, green and red popcorn pieces flavored as a cupcake, green apple, and cherry.

Another snack I purchased was the cinnamon roasted almonds from Pemberton Candies for $5, and they were my favorite snack. However, I suggest pairing it with a drink, such as hot chocolate, because they do leave your mouth a little thirsty.

The almonds were warm, crunchy and covered with hardened cinnamon — and great to just pop into your mouth as you watch families skate, in a non-creepy way.

Sweets:

At Decadent Flavor, originally located in Oak Park, I purchased an order of mini donuts for $8. The donuts were tiny little balls with a light caramel color and covered with either cinnamon or white powder.

I didn’t know which to get, so I asked for half powder and half cinnamon, and it all ended up getting mixed which made it taste quite delicious. I liked the powder, but it lacked the pop of flavor that the cinnamon gave; without the cinnamon, the mini donuts were too dry and left my throat dehydrated. But together they were delicious, as the powder served to neutralize the cinnamon.

Mini donuts, deliciously covered in powder and cinnamon from Decadent Flavor. Powder neutralized the cinnamon. (Photo courtesy of Aimee Soto)

The best dessert I had at the market was from The Stackery, located in Washington, D.C. The Stackary has a wide variety of artisan eastern European chimney cakes.

On my visit, the staff told me that the most popular sweet they sold was the Santa’s Secret Apple Strudel.

The apple strudel was the messiest dessert at the market, but by far the most delicious. My suggestion is to use utensils; I tried to bite the strudel and got the smooth whip cream up my nose.

The wait was over ten minutes, but the clear window provided entertainment as the crowd of people anxiously waiting for their food to be ready watched the bakers knead and shape the dough.

The strudel was shaped like a cone, toasted to crunchy perfection and covered in cinnamon. The sliced apple inside the strudel was fresh and soft, but not soggy, and the whip cream filling tasted somewhat like cream cheese, but it worked, especially because of the dripping layer of caramel on top.

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