Yesterday was the first night of Chanukah, quite appropriate for my family’s annual visit to Chicago’s Christkindlmarket downtown, thanks to Chabad Lubavitch’s giant Menorah. At the Christkindlmarket we stock up on horribly expensive but cheaper-than-a-flight-to-Germany goodies like Hanuta (hazelnut-paste stuffed wafers), Mon Cheri (cherry-liquor and cherry-filled pralines), Lebkuchen (German gingerbread, but that’s not really the right term), Schokok├╝sse (how to explain? marshmallow-fluff set atop a thin wafer and coated thinly with dark chocolate), and Marzipanbrot (small loaves of marzipan coated in chocolate).

My annual must have: Gl├╝hwein (mulled wine). That stuff actually warms your fingers on a cold night like yesterday. And please notice the specks of snowflakes on my gloves. Romantic, eh? That, and a bag of warm, sugar-and-cinnamon-roasted almonds makes for a nice winter evening out.