WanderFood Wednesday: Christmas Cookies Around the World

by Samantha Scott
( December 16th, 2014 )

Rolling Out Gingerbread Dough

Christmas cookies around the world are loved by all every year. And as one of the most widely celebrated holidays, there’s a lot to choose from! And I found it interesting how many countries have their own variations on the same basic cookie types.

Scottish Shortbread

Scottish Shortbread

One of my favorites for the holidays, a simple treat that’s easy and fun to make. It’s a great option if you want to throw your own spin on it, or pair with interesting jams, jellies or chutneys.

Austrian Linzer Cookies

Austrian Linzer Cookie

I’d say this is one of the most universal Christmas cookies out there! So many places had some version of this almond cookie with jam filling. Often heart or star shaped, it is definitely a classic for the holidays.

German Spingerle

German Spingerle

Intricately decorated with various scenes, these German cookies are typically hard in texture (though the link provides some tips on how not to make them too hard!) and perfect for serving with coffee or tea.

Swedish Cardamom Rolls

Swedish Cardamom Roll

Okay, so not technically a cookie but I couldn’t resist including these after reading the comments on the recipe in the link above. So much nostalgia just gleamed through and I’ve never heard of them before! I’m anxious to try these this season!


Gingerbread Men

Where does gingerbread come from? The process of making gingerbread cookies has roots in Europe, and was popularized around the 1700’s though ginger had been present in Europe centuries earlier. But nowhere could I find a definitive pinpoint for where gingerbread cookies were first made. Such a quintessential Christmas treat proves once and for all the universality these cookies around the world share.

What Christmas cookies do you make in your family?

Eat Well, Travel Well ~ Samantha

Photo Credits

Making Cookies: Valters Krontals via Flickr

Scottish Shortbread: storebukkebruse via Flickr

Austrian Linzer Cookie: Family O’Abe via Flickr

German Springerle: Tim Sackton via Flickr

Swedish Cardamom Rolls: Celeste Lindell via Flickr

Gingerbread Cookies: Kate Farquharson via Flickr


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New Year’s Eve in Colombia

by Samantha Scott
( December 15th, 2014 )

New Year’s Eve in Colombia captures the vibrant, celebratory nature of the country’s people, with a quirky side as well! Many unique traditions and celebrations happen on New Year’s Eve around the world and Colombia is no exception!

While the making of resolutions is fairly universal, New Year’s Eve traditions in Colombia are slightly more specific and are called agüeros. The literal translation of this word is “omen” and each agüero is meant to help make everything you want to happen in the upcoming year happen.


Suitcase Walk: Seriously one of the coolest New Year’s Eve traditions I’ve ever heard of. Want to travel in the next year? Following this Colombian New Year’s Eve agüero just might help make it happen. All it involves is grabbing your suitcase at midnight and taking a walk around the block. Simple enough! I will definitely be trying this this year.


Grapes for Wishes: 12 to be exact, one grape for each month of the upcoming year. As the clock chimes towards midnight, make a wish with each grape! Good thing grapes go well with champagne!

Yellow Underwear: If you want good luck, good health and happiness in the new year, what’s one of the surest ways to make that happen? Wear yellow underwear on New Year’s Eve! Apparently their power is strongest if they have never been worn before and you wear them inside out until midnight when you must turn them back the right way.


Pockets of Lentils: One very popular agüero is the practice of putting lentils in your pockets on New Year’s Eve to ensure prosperity in the coming year. Hmm, might need to trade in the dress I was planning to wear for New Year’s for something with pockets!

Have you celebrated New Year’s Eve in Colombia before and did you participate in these or any other traditions? Share your stories!

Eat Well, Travel Well ~ Samantha

Photo Credits

Suitcases: Drew Coffman via Flickr

Grapes: funca88 via Flickr

Lentils: nick mote via Flickr

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WanderFood Wednesday: High Tea at the San Francisco Fairmont Hotel

by Samantha Scott
( December 10th, 2014 )

High Tea at the San Francisco Fairmont Hotel

High Tea at the San Francisco Fairmont Hotel is a holiday tradition enjoyed by families every year. Though they serve it all year round it has become a truly special experience around the holidays. Each year features an enormous gingerbread house and impressive decorations.

Fairmont Gingerbread House

So partly to inaugurate the holiday season and partly in anticipation of the upcoming fifth season of Downton Abby, I decided to go, for the first time, to a most enjoyable High Tea at the San Francisco Fairmont Hotel!

Earl Grey Tea

All the regular trappings were present, but with a delightfully modern twist.

Cucumber Sandwich, SF Fairmont

Sandwiches were open faced, with the exception of the egg salad, and the scones were paired with the normal lemon curd and clotted cream, but also with a delicious chunky apple spread as well.

Sandwiches and Scones, SF Fairmont

High Tea is a fairly predictable activity and I don’t mean that in a bad way. The traditional foods are part of the experience, but it was nice to see little new things here and there.

Scones at SF Fairmont High Tea

Interesting fact: what most American’s think of as High Tea, is actually Afternoon Tea. High Tea is a much heavier meal, served in the early evening. And in fact the name High Tea in England is associated with the middle and lower class whereas Afternoon Tea is the more posh, upperclass tea that Lady Mary might enjoy between clever quips and eye rolls. #DowntonForever

Scones and Tea, SF Fairmont

This was truly such a pleasant experience and one I’d recommend everyone try at least once. It feels immensely civilized and one could forgive the stereotypical British accent popping out now and again (I hope…). It’s a fantastic holiday outing for families and couples, young or old!

Gingerbread House Close-up, SF Fairmont

Eat Well, Travel Well ~ Samantha



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