Having A European Christmas

Have you ever wondered how our European cousins celebrate Christmas?
Some of our staff here at The Marygreen Manor Hotel thought it might be nice to give you a glimpse of what Christmas is like in their home countries and have included examples of some of their traditional Christmas dishes. So if you’re tired of turkey or strung out on sprouts here’s something new to try!

Tanja Beez, Front Office Manager – Germany
Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before December 25th. Every Sunday the families will light a candle from their advent wreath which eventually leads you up to Christmas. For the children we have Adventskalender which is to shorten the wait for Father Christmas to arrive. For all Protestants the Christmas celebration begins on the 24th December 2011 with a light supper. In my family we always celebrated with my parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles who live locally. Some of my relatives go to church to sing Christmas songs and listen to the Christmas story and the others stay at home doing the same. Gifts will be exchanged in the evening after the light supper.
The 25th & 26th December 2011 are days which you would traditionally spend with your family and further relatives which come from further away. The traditional food in our family is roasted Goose, potato dumplings, red cabbage or kale. The traditional dessert would be a baked apple stuffed with marzipan, raisins and almond slivers served with a hot vanilla sauce and sometimes ice cream. During the Christmas period you will find gingerbread (soft) with chocolate or sugar-coating and Oblate on the bottom, gingery biscuits (hard) with almonds and other delicious Christmas biscuits, sweets.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebkuchen The traditional drink would be Gluehwein which is similar to the English Mulled Wine or Feuerzangenbowle. http://www.food.com/recipe/gluehwein-german-hot-wine-punch-48713
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feuerzangenbowle

Nicolas Brill-Darder, Lounge Porter – Spain
We celebrate on the 24th December in the evening. We would have a big family dinner with our extended family. We would normally start with a soup, followed by roast suckling pig, jacket potatoes and vegetables and then finish with Turrón. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turr%C3%B3n
We would spend the 25th December with our immediate family. If we are lucky we might get an additional present from our parents on this day as well!

Laura Balint, Receptionist – Romanian
In Romania we begin our celebration on the 24th when many people go from door to door carol singing. Houses where you sing will normally give you Cozonac http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cozonac , Palinca http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C3%A1linka or wine!  On the 25th we exchange gifts in the morning before going to church with our families. After church we have a big meal with our close family with Soup as a starter, Sarmale as main course http://www.mamaliga.com/holidays/christmas/sarmale-recipe
For dessert we would normally have a selection creamy cakes and pastries

Gyorgy Bucsku, Lounge Porter – Hungarian
In Hungary our celebrations begin on 24th December when we put up our tree in the morning followed by a trip to church at noon. After church we would normally exchange gifts before having a big buffet style dinner with our extended families in the evening with Salads, Sandwiches, pickled cucumber, Roast Meats, Breaded Meats, Breaded Fish (carp) and toltot. http://www.chew.hu/toltott_kaposzta_1.html For dessert we would normally have beigli. http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Beigli-(Hungarian-Poppy-Seed-%26-Walnut-Rolls)

We continue to celebrate on 25th and 26th December with a visit to church each day and then a lunch with our close family – maybe Fish Soup, Meat Soup or Stuffed Cabbage. Later in the day other family and friends may visit and we would have a selection of cold items to eat – buffet style!

Cyril Capet, Assistant Manager – France
We celebrate the start of Christmas on 24th December with a 4 or 5 course meal with close family. In France Christmas food is quite regionally inspired and in my region, the Dordogne, we would typically have oysters to start, following on with foie gras, and then a main course of duck breast, roast beef or capon. Dessert is more of a national tradition and would normally consist of la buche de Noel.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C3%BBche_de_No%C3%ABl
After dinner we would attend midnight mass. On returning from church we would exchange gifts. However if there are young children in the family we would do the gifts on the morning of 25th December. On the 25th December we would celebrate with our extended family – spending almost the whole day at the dining table. We would eat typically regional dishes again and of course there would be plenty of wine!

Lukasz Wos – Lounge Porter – Poland

During the day time on Christmas Eve we try to only eat a little or fast altogether.  When the first star can be seen in the sky we sit down with our close family for a big meal.  We would begin by sharing oplatek and wishing each other success and health for the coming year. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_wafer Depending on the affluence of the family the meal may consist of from 5 – 13 different courses and will include dishes such as Barszcz Czerwony z Uszkami, http://easteuropeanfood.about.com/od/polishsoups/r/beetsoup.htm Karp W Sosie Polskim and for desserts mak Z Miodem.  Traditionally we would drink Kompot.  http://www.tastingpoland.com/food/polish_food_drinks.html  On the 25thwe would exchange gifts with our family and enjoy a big breakfast. In the afternoon we visit our extended families and friends.  The food on the 25th is usually served like a buffet with lost of different meats and other cold items.  We drink a lot of vodka on this day!

Spirit of Christmas Fair @ Bluewater

It’s never easy buying gifts and those of you suffering from “Gift Fatigue” this festive season will be pleased to know that Bluewater will be hosting the Spirit of Christmas Fair this year. The event has run successfully for the past 10 years at Olympia and this year sees the fair move to a purpose-built venue at Bluewater. You should definitely be able to find some extra special festive gifts and treats from the beautiful collection of distinctive and stylish items exclusive to the fair.

Bluewater is one of Europe’s biggest shopping centres and is easily reached, by car, in around 40 minutes from Marygreen Manor. Apart from the 250 boutiques offering an exclusive shopping experience you can also enjoy live demonstrations and interactive workshops. After all that shopping you can treat yourself to a delicious Luxury Afternoon Tea brought to you by Rowhill Grange.

The fair is running from Wednesday 30th November 2011 until Sunday 4thDecember 2011. Our friends at Bluewater have kindly given The Marygreen Manor Hotel a special code enabling our blog readers to claim two complimentary tickets each to the event. To claim your tickets simply click on this link:  http://www.spiritatbluewatertickets.com/ and enter unique reference code SR056.

More details of the event can be found at: http://www.spiritofchristmasatbluewater.co.uk/

Have fun! 

 

Marygreens Perfect Sugar Curls

Marygreen Manors Pastry Chef, David Illa, takes you through the stages of making perfect sugar curls.  These curls are fantastic for decorating your favourite desserts and can brighten up even a simple dish of ice cream.

1. Equipment & ingredients:

Good solid pan

Metal spoon

20gr Glucose

10gr Fondant Icing

2 drops Food Colouring

2. Method

Boil the glucose and fondant in the pan until it turns a light golden colour, stirring occasionally.* Allow to cool for about 2 minutes and add a few drops of your chosen food colouring (David is using red in this example).  The mixture should be of a thick run consistency.  Using a metal spoon lift some of the mixture and let it fall back into the bowl whilst twisting the falling mix around a clean, smooth, metal cylindrical implement (David is using the handle of a whisk).  Tighter curls can be achieved using a narrower object such as a knife steel.  As soon as the twist is complete snap off the ends with your fingers and remove the curl on to a clean plate.

Repete until you have enough curls or you have used all the mix. If your mixture begins to set and becomes unworkable it can be reheated back to the correct consistency (please note that re-heating the mixture more than once may alter the colour). Your curls must be stored in an air tight container where they will remain firm for up to a week.

*Please take care when working with hot sugar.

Going for Green

Environmental awareness has grown steadily and it is now an important factor for many travellers when choosing their hotel accommodation. Many large corporations are choosing to work with accommodation suppliers who are able to show a commitment to the environment that goes beyond the mandatory towel re-use scheme.

We had been discussing environmental issues and our “green” approach to our business for several months when we were contacted by Carbonsmart, a company specialising in delivering practical environmental solutions to businesses. One of the many services they offer is a basic service funded by government grants. This consists of an assessment of your business to determine its carbon footprint. Once the assessment is complete they prepare a Business Resource Review Report. This details your carbon footprint result and current usage of resources, together with suggestions of how these can be reduced. Once the report has been presented some additional telephone support with your advisor is available. Having received the report our advisor suggested that our first point of action should be to draw up an Environmental Policy Statement and work from there.

We used Carbon Smarts “Guide to writing environmentally focused policy documents”, together with our telephone support, to help with writing the policy statement. Once we had finalised and agreed the statement we used the policy as a guide to draw up an action plan detailing what we needed to do to achieve the aims of the policy. Having the action plan was a great help. It really kept us focused on the project and exactly what actions we needed to take. Some of our bigger projects will need to be factored in to budgets over the coming years whilst at the same time some smaller, previously missed opportunities, have been identified and addressed along the way.

Going “green” is a long term investment and should not be seen as a cost cutting exercise. Many environmentally friendly products cost more than there carbon sprouting alternatives – hopefully this will change as demand for these products increases.

Of course it is essential that our efforts do not go unnoticed! We keep our guests and staff updated on our progress using notice boards, our website and in-room collateral. This allows us to explain any changes we have made and keeps everyone updated on our plans for the future.

We begun this project in August of this year and have already implemented many changes. Of course this is a long term on-going project, with our policy and action plan evolving as we progress. As we continue into next year we looking into the possibility of offering a new “green” Conference & Meeting initiative as well looking into gaining recognition from The Green Tourism Business Scheme.

To view our Environmental Policy:
http://www.marygreenmanor.co.uk/EnvironmentalPolicy

To view our progress so far: http://www.marygreenmanor.co.uk/OurEnvironmentalProgress

For Details on way Carbon Smart can help your company:
http://www.carbonsmart.co.uk/aboutus//

Social networking made easy!

At a recent speed networking event I spoke to a woman who specialised in helping companies develop social networking strategies. She told me about “HootSuite”, a program which allows you to post to various social networks simultaneously. You can even schedule posts in advance, setting the date and time you want your message to go out and choosing the networks you want to update. You can have multiple users on one account and have access to various analytical reports that allow you to monitor the success of your various social network activities. There’s even an app for your smart phone
So far I have managed to add our twitter account and my LinkedIn profile and have been successfully scheduling messages for about two weeks now. We are still having problems adding our Facebook account but that is down to the way we set up our initial page on Facebook rather than an issue with hootsuite. The program is free to download with other paid for options also available, although to be honest I think it will be some time before I’ll be ready for them. Every few days you get little tutorial sent by email explaining various other aspects of the programme with hints and tips to help you along the way.
This program really is a great help especially to the smaller business trying to keep on top of various social networking sites. It removes the hassle of having to log on to all your individual accounts, saving you time and ensuring your company presents a uniform image across the spectrum of social networking sites used. The advance scheduling feature lets you consider what you want to say and when you want to say it which is invaluable for promoting you companies activities, events, product launches news and. Maybe you would like to send out posts at the weekend, during your well deserved holidays or simply want to send out festive greeting to you clients over the Christmas and New Year period; with hootsuite you can organise all this now.
The only downside I have found so far is that hoot suite does not seem to take into account the number of characters you are allowed to tweet. This has resulted in a couple of our tweets being cut short in their prime necessitating a quick tweet delete. Of course there is possibly a solution to this I haven’t managed to find yet – any fixes for this problem would be greatly appreciated.
To benefit from our use of hootsuite follow us on twitter @marygr33n
You can download Hoot Suite for free by clicking the link below but beware its addictive!
http://hootsuite.com/

The Front of Marygreen Manor

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