Travelin’ Man.

Well, Christmas is almost here and I have to say some fun has been had leading up to the big day! Between sharing stocking stuffer and gift ideas with you all here, our Riegelein #TravelingSanta, all the way from Germany, has been having some fun of his own on Twitter. He’s been seen all around our lovely Mitten State and he’s taken residence in my home, car and lodging wherever my family goes! He refers to my family as his host family, which really is kind of cute. While he’s fun to travel with, he can be a little difficult at times as he doesn’t care much to be in the sun too long, nor does he like to be near heat.

So as we all prepare to get our final holiday to-do lists complete and shopping done, I thought it would be fun to recap a little bit of what #TravelingSanta has been up to and then maybe share what’s up next for #TravelingSanta.

#TravelingSanta had some reflecting moments in Cadillac, Michigan.

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#TravelingSanta got to learn the game of hockey during his stay with us. Although we are NOT a travel team, we still do travel quite a bit. This time he was in Holland, Michigan with us at Griff’s Ice House West.

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#TravelingSanta in Holland, Michigan at Griff’s Ice House West.

#TravelingSanta is having a good time in the car with us, his host family, on the way to St. Ignace, Michigan where yes, again, hockey! This was the Battle at the Bridge hockey tournament.

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During Thanksgiving break, #TravelingSanta went for a hike, did some chores around the house and gave some advice to those who needed turkey help.

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#TravelingSanta celebrated National Gingerbread Cookie Day.

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#TravelingSanta helped us pick out our Christmas tree this year.

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#TravelingSanta enjoyed our first big snow storm of the season!

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And #TravelingSanta asked me to share some photos of him and our Elf on the Shelf, Buddy. They’ve been talking with each other quite a bit lately. They are good friends and they are keeping very close tabs on my boys, making sure they are behaving!

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And last but not least, only seen here, #TravelingSanta wanted me to share these photos of him with some of our many ornaments from our White House Christmas Ornament collection from the White House Historical Association.

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So what’s next for #TravelingSanta? I’m not sure yet, I guess we shall just have to wait and see what Christmas holds for all of us! Stay tuned to Twitter and see what happens! So far he’s been a really great guest and he’s kept my kids occupied, however, one child in particular keeps giving him some kind of crazed look… so not sure what that is all about!

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#TravelingSanta enjoying some chocolate and cookie samples.

Something to Warm You Up.

Baby it’s cold outside! Well, it’s trying to get cold outside here in Michigan! Slowly, but soon, we hope to see some more snow flying around! The weather here is erratic at best, from windy rain storms, to some bursts of random snow, to warm temperatures reminding us of spring time. Just give it five minutes and the weather will change! The expected high temperature today is 57° F on this November day! Say whaaaat?!

To keep us warm and toasty (or at least to get us in the mindset of a wintery scene), I found this cranberry-orange punch from Gerstacker. You simply warm it up and enjoy! Perfect for enjoying some nice gingerbread, pastries, stollen and other treats this holiday season and it comes alcohol-free! Best when served at 58-62° C (or 136-143° F), this fruity punch will warm you and your guests up in a jiffy!

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When you first open the bottle, you get that cranberry scent followed by what smells like fresh orange juice. Carefully warm up the punch on the stove top, keep mind that you don’t want to cook it, you just want to warm it up. If you’re in a hurry, I suppose quickly putting it in the microwave would be okay, just don’t let it go too long. Preferably, you want to gently warm this on the stove. There is a lot of flavor in this punch – from the cranberry to the orange for its fruity base, there are spices that are blended in that soothe the taste buds as you enjoy a sip! It has a hint of sweetness and then at times there is an underlying hint of herbal tea. It sounds weird, but it tastes great!

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If you have a winter get-together or holiday party, be sure to have this handy. Your guests will enjoy this beverage, and best of all, even the youngsters can enjoy this as it is non-alcoholic. Seriously, grab a warm cup of this Gerstacker punch and get some gingerbread! Or maybe stollen. Or maybe both. Yeah, both. Your taste buds will thank you! Well, they should thank me, since I gave you the idea! Eh…! I know, I’m lame. Nibble, nibble!

A Post Not to Take Gingerly.

Now that I have your attention, you may have guessed this post may be contain something with “ginger” within it. Well, you guessed correctly! It’s National Gingerbread Cookie Day, but while you may be thinking of the cute little Gingerbread Man when you think of the cookie, we like to think of the the true gingerbread form.

Follow our Instagram for #InTheKnowMan and follow our Twitter for #TravelingSanta to get holiday info and advice!

An earlier blog post had us traveling through Germany with our Vice President Monica. She can be seen below in Germany at Wicklein making her own gingerbread! You won’t see the traditional cute little guy or gal that would be running away from the fox! We are talking about the original, true, Nürnberg lebkuchen a.k.a. gingerbread!

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This original gingerbread is packed with flavor from spices and nuts and this treat is savored all around the world at this time of year! So we encourage you to go out and pick up yourself some gingerbread – hopefully the true and original kind – and enjoy the taste of National Gingerbread Cookie Day!

Travels Through and Near Nüremberg.

While I wished I was along to take these photos, the photos throughout this post for today come from Monica, our Vice President at Gourmet International. As our team was traveling to Germany for the Anuga trade show in Cologne, they also happened to stop at the Wicklein Store in Nüremberg and at Riegelein in nearby Cadolzburg.

From one of my earlier posts, we shared that the famous German gingerbread or traditional Lebkuchen, as it is called, made by Wicklein, has arrived to the warehouse for holiday orders. The team stopped into the “Die Lubküchnerei”, the Lebkuchen Bakery. Here, one can enjoy the scent of festive spices and the fresh aroma of coffee with a tasty pastry. If visiting, and you want to learn how to bake Lebkuchen, they offer workshops! How cool is that! You get to learn how to prepare and bake Lebkuchen, take them home with you and more! Check out the website for more information. It is something you would have to plan and book ahead of time, so be sure to sign up in advance!

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Another stop on their travels in Germany, the team stopped at Riegelein to check out the chocolate shop and watch chocolate makers performing their work at “Chocothek“. Riegelein is known all across Europe and across the globe for its German chocolate products. They make wonderful chocolate figurines for every holiday: Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day – even New Year’s Day – and MORE! Riegelein is a family-owned company, started by baker and confectionery master Hans Riegelein and his wife Gerda back in 1953. The company, in 1998, has now passed down to the reigns to Peter Riegelein, marking the second generation running the traditional family-owned company. I don’t know about you, but looking at all those figures on display in the photos below are making me crave some delectable chocolate!

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Growing up, I recall my mom buying Riegelein chocolates during the holidays, most notably, Christmas time. The Christmas figures are what I recall from my youth, being stuffed inside my stocking or maybe mom had (or even still does!) put a little tray of mini Santas or St. Nicholas’ out on Christmas Eve for us to nibble nibble on! And I am quite sure it was a Riegelein Advent Calendar that my brothers and I were always eager to open every day leading up to Christmas! Now, who thinks that next time I should tag along…? Nibble hint, nibble hint!? (Tee hee!)

Arrival of Holiday Lebkuchen in the Warehouse.

For those of you officially counting down the days to Christmas, we present you the link to the XmasClock. To be honest, I didn’t really want to write an actual number down, because I am afraid to look. I don’t want to know the actual number of days it is, so a link you shall receive!

We even had this guy stop by to help us announce that these products are in!

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Our new warehouse is starting to get filled with many holiday favorites! Various types of chocolates, hard candies, cookies, cakes, Advent Calendars, and so much more are filling the warehouse! We cannot forget some of our favorite German delicacies that we enjoy as the holidays arrive. We are talking about Lebkuchen (gingerbread) and Pfefferkuchen (peppernut cookies), which traditional roots can be traced all the way back to the 13th century and are made in Nüremberg. Wicklein call their product “real Nüremberg Gingerbread”.

Take a look below, on top is the Wicklein Burggraf Lebkuchen with nuts. Below that is the Wicklein Pfeffernüsse Cookie.

From the Wicklein website:

“The exact composition of the Lebkuchen-dough is, of course, both then and now a well kept secret. But the basic ingredients remain the same: Eggs, flour and honey. Hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts. Candied orange and lemon peel and – essential for the taste – the spices: aniseed, ginger, coriander, cloves, pimento, mace, cardamom and cinnamon.”

We also have Mini-Elisen Lebkuchen (see photos below), which is a type of German gingerbread that contains little to no flour, so the primary base is made of ground hazelnuts and almonds. Elisen Lebkuchen must not exceed 10 percent flour content and must have 25 percent nuts. The nut content helps keep the Lebkuchen extremely moist and delicious! In order for these cookies to hold together, they must be placed on oblaten wafers. What are oblaten wafers? Well, they are basically, a cookie wafer on the bottom of cookies. From my research they may resemble Communion wafers and are actually made in the same manner. The Elisen Lebkuchen was named after the daughter of a Nüremberg gingerbread maker.

In order to be officially allowed to have the legal protection as a geographical designation of origin, Wicklein’s most important requirement to carry the famous “Nürnberger Lebkuchen” title is to manufacture their products within the Nüremberg city limits. Wicklein has held this designation since 1996 and it is recognized all throughout Europe.

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These Lebkuchen are delicious, moist, flavorful (the spices are soooo good!) and you can taste tradition that has been proudly kept and passed down the many centuries! So you better not pout, and you better not cry… otherwise the big fella dressed in red won’t be showing up this holiday season! Enjoy the nibbles I’ve left for you today!