Merry Christmas Everyone! Here’s to a sip into a hot Mulled Wine bellowing up smokey dreams in the air, a sniff into the Christmas chill and freezing hands trembling with excitement inside the gloves… yes, it’s that time of the year when happiness is suspended in bubbles in the wine glass and stuck in the grease of the Turkey gravy. A bit of a flashback to our lives in Germany 8 years back. Christmas meant magical Weihnachtsmarkt or Christmas market around Romer in Frankfurt and the aroma of Glühwein hitting the nostrils at all hours… and a real Christmas tree! In Dubai terms, it means shopping malls vying for the tallest Christmas trees and hotel lobbies turned into snowy winterlands. which has the most gorgeously decked one. It also means that we have fake snow and snowflakes cheering up some shopping mall around town (Dubai Marina Mall) and we have the ‘tallest gingerbread tower in Dubai’! At 11.7m tall, a tower made by chefs working 432 hours at The Address Marina, using 180kg of flour, 90kg of honey, 570 kg of icing sugar! No complaints at all, for December in Dubai is now unquestionably and undoubtedly Christmassy, as compared to a decade back. And I just tasted my first Mulled Wine of the season in a Christmas Market here… The Souk Festive Market at Madinat Jumeirah. The above picture is a testimony to that. But the real mulled wine of the season – is the one that we tasted on our trip to Prague, only to be recreated later in my kitchen.
Christmas also reminds me of my childhood in Kolkata, where we grew up celebrating all festivals from all religion. Christmas meant special rum balls from the very famous Kolkata confectioners – Flury’s (we revisted this place during my Kolkata visit this summer). We visited the special candle-lit midnight mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral – one of the oldest structures in Kolkata. Years later, I felt the same excitement as I saw my first ‘real’ Christmas tree – a fir tree almost 100 ft long in the Christmas Market in Frankfurt and sipped on my first Glühwein. I felt the same excitement when I sipped into a Svařák, the Czech mulled wine on our visit to Prague during Christmas two years back (my article on Prague in BBC GoodFood ME). At home, our Christmas dinners today are complete with Turkey roast, bread pudding and mulled wine, the latter prepared sometimes in the traditional way or using a shortcut method with pre-packed mulled spices available in one of the city’s wine stores. Recipes of Mulled wine differ with countries, as well with families. Like a treasured heirloom, some recipes are passed on from one generation to another. Here’s the Czech recipe that I follow… and it can be easily replicated at home. Oh, forgive me for the imperfect captures in a home kitchen!
Svařák - Czech Mulled Wine
Mulled wine is a usually made with red wine (Port and claret being the traditional choices) along with various mulling spices and raisins. It is a traditional drink during winter, especially around Christmas and is served hot or warm. Non-alcoholic mulled drink can also be made with hot apple cider and juices.
1 lt red wine (traditionally cheap ones are used as anyone )
10 pieces of whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 of lemon
1/2 of orange
4-7 teaspoons of sugar
- Pour wine into big pot, add cloves, cinnamon sticks, orange and/or lemon and heat up (do not boil).
- When hot add sugar (should be sweet enough for your taste) and serve.
*Note: The combination of spices varies, but it usually consists of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg; and less frequently star anise, peppercorn or cardamom. It also usually includes dried fruit (such as raisins, apples or orange rind). A “mulled” drink is a drink which has been prepared with these spices (usually through heating the drink in a pot with mulling spices and then strained.
While the above picture is from my Prague album and I still miss the European Christmas Markets, the Festive Souk Market in Madinat Jumeirah really filled us with happiness and we plan to pop by once again… it’s up there until the 27th of December. The season seems all too glittery and my earlier blogpost chalks exactly that – all the edible gold dishes that I could find in Dubai. The Festive Issue of Food e Mag dxb is brimming with recipes, roundups of the best dining venues, chef talk and talks about a winter getaway – an European Christmas market once again – to Vienna! I have been hopping in and out of Sally Prosser aka My Custard Pie’s blog the entire festive season and from the morning today – with all the last minute tips on everything Christmassy – starting with the cheese board that I am preparing for our Christmas dinner tonight to some of the festive cocktails that we will be stirring up. And amidst all the hullabaloo, I am still dreaming of a white Christmas that Sarah Walton aka The Hedonista writes about. And once we settle down after tonight’s party, it will be time to catch up on the dining trends suggested by Samantha Wood aka Foodiva.
Big Z is making cookies as festive gifts for all our friends this time, with Li’l Z helping in decorating them. Nothing brings in more happiness (and chaos) in the house than seeing the two sisters fight over the ‘technical glitches’ that the cookies have been facing. The gifts have already been opened. As I write this post, the Z-Sisters are busy planning for the evening – Christmas dinner is at home. Their stockings are already empty and I am keeping Big Z’s note (above) safely in my drawer… lest she forgets. Happiness should be everywhere and for everyone, only that – it isn’t. News channels on the television and newspaper headlines have different tales to narrate. For our children’s sake, can we pray that the New Year will bring a lot of hope and happiness to everyone in the world? Collective prayer works, and so does collective hope… so once again, Merry Christmas Everyone!
Unblogging it all… Ishita
Disclaimer: Please note that this post is not a sponsored post nor are there any affiliated links in this post. The subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own. While you enjoy reading my posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from these posts. Please join me on my daily food and travel journey on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.