We all know that Santa Claus lives in the North Pole.  But his spirit is strong in Strasbourg!  Known as the Capital of Christmas, Strasbourg celebrates the holidays like no place I’ve ever visited before.

I travelled to the gingerbread-scented city this week with my friend Marion…

She was invited to participate in a cooking competition for bloggers at the lovely Bistrot et Chocolat (http://www.bistrotetchocolat.net/)…

Before the competition we had time to stroll the streets and visit the markets…

I had to resist the urge to skip along and sing Christmas carols out loud!  Maybe I’ve watched “Elf” too many times, but there’s something wonderful about a whole city that revels in the holiday spirit.

After some hot wine and beignet pretzels, Marion and I made our way back to the restaurant because the competition was about to begin. They set up a mini-market for the competitors, tables brimming with the most beautiful food…

As the contestants began to cook, the room started buzzing with reporters, Top Chefs, a Master Chef and even an MOF…

When the cooking frenzy began to wind down and the judging started I knew that Marion had worked hard. She presented two very appetizing plates…

In 1.5 hours she had prepared a vegetarian couscous, cinnamon financier (a little French cake), and poached pears in a hibiscus syrup.  After some serious deliberation, the judges announced that Marion had won!

I’m sure in the next few weeks she’ll post the winning recipes on her blog, Marion a decouvert, http://marionadecouvert.com/.

That night as we walked through the magically lit-up streets of Strasbourg we reveled in her victory.  These past few days were a great reminder that we should all find time to enjoy the season.  Cooking competitions are a good place for hustle and and a little stress.  But the Christmas season is here for us to enjoy, to stop and taste the gingerbread, and to celebrate all of the little victories we’ve had over the past year.

Joyeux Noel!

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