We took the train from Prague to Budapest on the 1st of Jan of 2014. What a city to start the year. The train station was empty, not a single sign in English, everything was shut. We managed to get a cab to drop us 4 and all our luggage to Deak Ter Square. The ride from the train station to the Airbnb was unexpected. Richly decorative bombed out buildings, still in a state of disarray showing layers of rich past covered with years of turmoil and war.Read More
The winter on the other hand is brutal and cold and bleak. And such is the weather my younger sister chose to tie the knot with her husband in his hometown Dresden. Of course the very bright side of it all was that we would spend our Christmas with the German family and do as the Germans do. So presenting - Eating my way through a German Christmas.Read More
I woke up next morning, to discover the beautiful city of Burgdorf outside my window. The church steeple in the distance, quaint Swiss homes, the sound of a river flowing nearby, the castle walls near the church, pine trees and oak trees, lush green lawns.Read More
Fondue is to be had around a table out of a community pot. Many fun games are played such as if you lose your bread in the cheese- buy a round of drinks for the table or kiss your neighbor.Read More
You do as the Amsterdammers do...
Of course - how could the Amsterdam experience be complete without an evening spent in one of the coffee shops. Really the Amsterdam cafes serve alot more than just coffee....Read More
My first observations of Amsterdam- the visual graphics in public spaces were really fascinating. The exploration line and color was beautiful. From the moment we arrived at Central Station the heart of Amsterdam (looks much like VT) I was a bit like Alice in Wonderland. We walked along the canal, I had never seen anything like this.Read More
The market is a half mile- long along this canal. This area was part of former East Berlin, now a very young hip area called Kreuzberg. The buildings were beautiful- large, imposing Pre-war 4 storey apartments with gorgeously decorated Art Nouveau and Deco facades with exquisite details. The beauty of the Berlin prewar homes is that they are spacious and highly subsidized to live in.Read More
My sister tipped me to eat at the Donar Kebab places outside the subway stations. Turns out the Doner is Berlin's most popular fast food. They are cheap, good and very filling.
I requested my Berliner friend Alexej who lived in the trendy Neu Koln area to take me to his favourite Donar place. And that he did. He explained to me that Turkish immigrants had been invited to Germany during the 60s after the war as Guest Workers as there was a shortage of labor. Here they establised large communities especially in big cities like Berlin and adapted their food and created uniquely Berlin- Turkish cuisine. The Donar sandwich in Berlin is one such speciality. What makes this Doner different from the rest- Well the Turkish doner is mostly lamb. Germans prefer a mix of veal and chicken. Instead of the traditional hummous and tahini sauces the Germans make their Doner with hot sauce (scharfe Soße), herb sauce (Kräutersoße), garlic sauce (Knoblauchsoße), or yogurt (Joghurtsoße) in any no. of combinations. They also serve it mit pommes or with fries instead of the salad. In a thin nicely toasted, crispy, sesame encrusted pita bread lay the gyro meat or shwerma , yogurt with garlic sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, hot sauce, and tahina. Fold it and serve. You have a massively beautiful Donar sandwich. Alexej told me that the doner in Berlin is probably more popular than the hamburger. Wah!
|Berlin's beautiful NeuKoln area|
|Gorgeous veal rotating roast|
|Sauces and other meats|
|Rice pudding a bit like kheer|
|Tomatoes, lettuce, thin slices of Shwerma, garlic and yogurt sauce, all wrapped in one crunchy, sesame laden thin pita bread. Since we were sharing - no hot sauce.|
|Alexej- my lunch date and tour guide for the day. A true Berliner- born and brought up in Berlin. A rarity I believe.|
|A testament to how good the sandwich was. Great hangover food!|
|Spelling my name to a foreigner. The Y always throws people off.|
It took me a couple of Metros to get to Pruessenpark. Surprisingly this was a hugely popular park on a Saturday evening. The place was abuzz with Thai families. Teenagers playing frisbee and ball games. Thai aunties with little grill frying up different types of fish, prawns. There were large bowls of soups, curries, sticky rice. And my favourite the tapioca, red bean, jelly coconut milk icy drink.
I chatted with some of the ladies. They were reluctant to let me photograph them. One them told me she has been coming here for 16 years. That the police does show up and they all just hide the money and pretend it is a family picnic. It has been the practice for many many years. She could not recall how far back the Thai community of Berlin had been congregating at the park. She did smile and say - More people here than Buddhist Temple.
|Thai fried fish, fried chicken|
|The famous Thai mortar and pestle|
|Liver? Heart? Testicles?|
|My favourite tapioca, fruity, corn, beans, coconut icy drink|
|Irene's lovely bangles and our very colorful rug|
|Barbequed chicken or pork?|
|A pho kind of chicken soup|
|Vietnamese spring rolls|
The lady I chatted with requested me not to take pictures of the park. I wish I had photos to share with you how wonderfully colorful this picnic was.
Can someone translate for me please. I saw this on the way to Pruessenpark
On another night after experiencing the beautiful Sauna performance by my host Peter, which I will have to write about in a separate post, we (Peter, Ringo, Joey, Irene and I) headed out to this Ramen Noodle place another recommendation by Ringo. This place was quite simple and lovely and was called Next to and the restaurant it was next to was called Kuchi. So the story goes that Kuchl has been a very popular Sushi restaurant in Berlin so the Ramen Noodle bar which is fairly new decided to call itself Next To. Clever. Another lovely feature was that all the bowls, plate, glasses, were hand made japanese ceramics and wooden spoons. They have a lovely backyard with benches.
It was a beautiful night. We ordered Edemame beans and ramen soup. Ringo and I ordered the Tonkotsu soup and the rest the Miso soup. Ringo promised me it is a soup I will not forget with slices of pork and a nice chunk of pork belly that has been cooked for over 12 hours. The broth is basically made with boiling the bones for several hours. Can I tell you by far the most beautiful soup I have ever had. EVER. There were sprouts, vegetables, boiled egg, slices of pork, seaweed, miso, ramen noodles of course and a sexy piece of pork belly. The noodles wrapped in basil leaves with the flavorings of this perfect broth was lovely to slurp. The broth reminded me why all the times I have looked for comfort in my food.
I looked into my soup and smiled savoring every bite. I took a small bite of the belly, it melted. It was delicate, soft and succulent. I sighed. Ringo was watching me and smiled giving me the see I told you look. Joey- Peter's friend a photographer helped my food pose for me. Later we ordered a large bowl of green tea ice-cream. We sprinkled the sesame seeds generously on the ice cream. The conversation light and fun. Another night where I felt completely at home in Berlin - a real Berliner. After dinner we got on bicycles and headed back home where we some more wine- I for a change stuck to trying another German beer.
|Our merry group|
|Joey and Ringo|
|Peter explaining the edemame|
|Boiled egg in the Miso soup.|
|Joey posing with the soup|
|'Im in love with you' Pork belly|
|The Tonkotsu soup|
|The Ramen Noodle Soup|
|Peter- A lovely hand made ceramic mug.|
|Save the best for last|
|Green tea ice cream|
|The walls were made of printed wooden plywood planks. More translations in order.|
|The soup prep bar|
|Handmade ceramic bowls|
|The other soups|
|The Bibimbap and iced tea|
|Loft or Love. (convert into upscale condos or leave it for the squatters) Liebe Liebe Liebe I say!|
The Peter's Apartment building:
|The view from my room and my bed|
|the neighbours wall|
|the gorgeous staircase.|
|The breath taking mind-blowing Tacheles right next to Peter's|
I came across this lovely cafe - St. Oberholz on my way to the train stop Rosenthaler Platz. The simple white facade and the stenciling of the cow and bear is what caught my eye. After a lovely night out with a friend, I decided to check out the cafe for my morning allowance and a brunch sandwich before I hit the town to see more museums and galleries.
The large windows, lots of natural light, a winding staircase, a red wall with the behind of a cow painted on it. Upstairs there were many people hanging with their Macs and lattes. The windows had a fun rounded shape looked on to the lovely street outside. Across the street was the Circus Hostel which has a beautiful facade as well. The graphics were strange and eye catching. I loved this cafe- St. Oberholz. If I had more hours in my day to just hang out and enjoy the mornings, I would spend them here. When in Berlin do give the Soy Milk Lattes a try.
|Beautiful street art|
|The view from my friends apt|
|Horse- check out the windows|
|The soy milk latte|
|The charming space|
|Beautiful hardwood staircase|
|Coffee and a olives, cheese and salami panini|
|Beautiful couple. Gorgeously styled dress|
|The lovely windows|
|A perfect place to spend the day with your Apple|
|The lovely graphical facade of the Circus Hostel.|
|Big Community tables to sit at and work|
|Beautiful white facade with black trim|
|Cock- maybe someone can translate what it says below|
|The doorway around the corner|
|My walk back home.|
|Car advertising for Circus berlin!|
I got recommendations and warnings about this typically Berlin food. The Curry Wurst. I was told not to get it from a cheap Turkish joint because I will suffer forever and that I cannot leave Berlin without trying one. So the hunt for Curry Wurst began. In my humble imagination I thought a curry wurst would be a nice spicy sausage. Till I was explained by my vegan host that it is a simple pork sausage doused in red sauce (a not so sweet ketchup) and served with a healthy sprinkling of curry powder. What?!?! That's it. I must try though.
I went with Irene to a fab party by the lake in this far off place from the city (ok a 20 min train ride and not reachable by our bicycles). I will post more about these amazing Berlin parties but I had to show a few pictures as to how remote and cool these locations were. I did have alot of fun.
|In the middle of a forest|
|Abadoned rail tracks|
|Irene- the excited for the lovely day. The party was on the other side of the bay|
|I almost got run over|
|Black glistening watch tower. On our way to the next party|
|Martina and Irene- waiting for the train|
|Kind of lost.|
|Some crazy park|
|Rummel's Bay - the fantastic location for the next party|
|An abandoned building which was the bar. No cameras allowed beyond this point.|
On our way back we stopped at one of the said Turkish places by the train station and suddenly I had to try a Curry Wurst. I mean how bad can it be.
Well the skin was kind of breaded and fried, unlike the Brats I had eaten before . it was served with ketchup and curry powder sprinkled on it which essentially tasted like turmeric. The meat was kind iof bland and really the ketchup like thing really helped. Cant say I was a fan of this at all.
|The deep fried breaded curry wurst. Cant say I was a fan.|
As we- Irene, Martina and I went to the next party for the night in this beautiful area called Rummel's Bay- At this other party there was a woman barbequing some brats. Martina said I must try some brats since they look so good. I was once again surprised. They did not seem like the Bratwursts I have had in the US- which seemed to have more color, a little spicier and were cooked in beer. But as Martina suggested they were not bad. Infact the skin was nicer- crispy and bbqed quite nicely. It is all white pork meat inside and definitely very simply salted. It took a minute to get used to it, but the accompanying mustard was amazing and I really enjoyed the bratwurst with the mustard. Lets say I really enjoyed the mustard a whole lot.
|Brats on the grill|
|Simple white meat inside.|
|Our Bratwurst chef|
|The skin is not fried- just grilled a better texture|
|Lots of mustard and ketchup|
|Martina Loves her brats|
|Definitely super for her- not bad for me.|
Irene wanted me to still have a better curry wurst experience and on recommendation with some friends we went to Curry 36 off the Miriamdam stop. (yeh I remember). There was a crowd there. I felt a bit more hopeful. The guy behind the counter had an adorable smile so much so that I kept photographing him almost forgeting the food. This time I was better equipped for my order. I did not want the Wurst with the breaded deep fried skin but the bratwurst with the thin barbecued skin, cooked crisp with the sauce and curry powder and definitely the fries with some mayo with Irene's favourite beer - A Rathaus Pilsner. I enjoyed it better the next day. I was a little more aware of the sausage, the curry powder still flummoxed me. I mean I am Curry Spice- so I was a bit confused about it. But it seems to be incredibly popular with the Berliners. I wonder if many of them would survive the real Curry.
|The Miriamdam stop|
|The vegan doner. A big hit!|
|Lines for the vegan doner. But my mission was clear.|
|Curry 36 - definitely popular|
|The cute curry 36 guy|
|And what would you like to have.|
|Finally a good curry wurst. I liked the sausage as well. The curry powder is still a bit much.|
The fries were great.
|My very Berlin meal. Oh the beer was fabulous.|
Oh yes disgustingly unhealthy! I made up for it by having a delicious salad later for dinner of greens, arugula, mushrooms, avocado, cheese and the most wonderful dressing of citrus and olive oil. O yes Irene made this lovely salad. Bless her because it helped me digest all that meat.
|The lovely salad that Irene made later|
|Delicious greens, tomatoes, avocado, cheese, mushrooms.|
|The lovely Marcus who joined us for dinner.|
This post is dedicated to Martina - My sister in Wursts and to Lucas who will be disgusted.