Hubby and I are spending Christmas this year away from our little Spanish island and thrown into the brazen arms of a full Northern German winter. Yesterday, en route to the family’s vacation home at the North Sea, we stopped in Hamburg to stock up on fresh fruits, veggies, and meats at the Isemarkt – a twice weekly extensive outdoor market beneath the city’s bridge, along the Isestrasse.
For a California girl like me, Spanish winter has already been an interesting experience in a thing known as seasons; German winter, however, accosted me completely. I was ill-prepared and naive in thinking that jeans, boots, and a Patagonia jacket would keep me warm. I forgot about certain other body parts – like my head, ears, and hands – exposed and quickly numbed by the frigid air and icy rain drops.
Nonetheless, the distractions of lovely and colorful market displays enabled perseverance through the cold. Admittedly, we also got a small kickstart with a couple of espresso drinks and some creamy, sweet natas from a Spanish/Portuguese dessert stand – breakfast of champions.
The market seemed like an endless trail of fresh, colorful and beautifully lit produce (actual lighting, yes!), meats, fish, and tasty deli salads. Every vendor made sure to situate their wares with masterful rustic artistry – perfect arrangements of wicker baskets; creative vegetable stacking; and thoughtful juxtaposition. Each one seemed more of a well woven “scene” than mere display.
We filled our shopping bags with fresh apples; the whitest cauliflower I’ve ever seen; organic carrots and brocoli; boiling onions; bright bell peppers; fresh smoked salmon; bratwurst; free range chicken and eggs; one gargantuan bag of immensely dark leafy kale… and other goodies that would make this list far too long.
So excited by everything we hauled home and wanting to try everything new at once, this morning I made a big breakfast of scrambled eggs topped with sauteed kale, red pepper and onions, mellowed with a squeeze of lemon; and a big helping of smoked salmon with sliced avocado on the side.
After a steaming hot cup of coffee, I donned my newly purchased thick Northface fleece, knitted ski hat, and smartwool socks, ready to embrace anything Germany has to throw my way.