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 Berlin, Germany (Part 1)

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Culinary Wanderlust

  • Total Posts: 22
  • Joined: 10/12/2005
  • Location: Chicago, IL
Berlin, Germany (Part 1) Mon, 09/24/07 7:34 PM (permalink)
Greetings all,

During the last segment of the summer, I had the opportunity to spend ten days in Germany. roughly splitting the time in between Berlin and Munich. In this first post, I will try to include the most memorable points of the journey in Berlin and provide another one for the Bavarian region.

Thanks to my new employment, I will be spending more time in Europe and around the states. I intend to post the highlights and perhaps the lowlights as they unfold throughout my eating adventures.

By no small feat of serendipity, Carly accompanied me on this culinary tour throughout the mitte (middle) of Berlin. Along with twenty-odd other people we entered Germany ready to leave our mark, culturally and culinary on the various platz (squares) throughout the city.

After taking a night flight from New York to Berlin, and suffering from intense jetlag, Carly and I meandered throughout Potsdamer Platz, the old happening meeting place during the 1920's, as well as one of the locations where the Wall directly intersected the town. Considering our internal clocks, were snookered by jetlag, we walked in a daze for the rest of the day as we checked out the Brandenburg Gate, walked Unter der Linden trees, and paid our respect at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

We went back to our hotel and staggered into the restaurant, Brasserie Desbrosses, for some vittles.

For the main meal, we devoured a Tarte Flambee or Flammkuchen.
It is a razor thin pizza topped with bacon, onions, and parsley. It was deliciously salty and the first of several artery-clogging meals during this trip.

For the final course, we had a Creme Brulee with a bourbon base. Curiously served in a bowl, and not the tiny ramekins, it made me feel so ridiculously continental. The sweet, itself, was unremarkable, but the presentation caught my eye.

After a night of patchwork shuteye, we went around to a few touristy places including the Charlottenburg Palace where my father's porcelain exhibit was on display (long, unique story) and spent a majority of the morning there at the press conference and touring the castle. We returned to the hotel via a leisurely stroll of the Tiergarten, Berlin's major park, and stopped to observe the victory column. As we reached the hotel, Carly and I veered into the uber-eye stimulating Sony Center with our stomachs rumbling and settled at Josty Cafe. At this busy eatery, I tried some German meat as noted below:

The Boulette, a disc, is a German meatball filled with moist porky goodness. The accompanying meat included spare ribs and a scattering of cream less cole slaw.

For our dessert, we had (eis) ice cream. The habit of eating sweets after meals seemed to be a summer specialty. This might easily be my favorite photo ever.

The following, we took a side trip to Potsdam to check out Sans Souci, Frederick the Great's personal digs, and plethora of other castles scattered along the UNESCO protected property. Before we went to see Cecilienhof, the site of the Potsdam Conference between Truman, Stalin, and Atlee, we stopped at Meierei Hall for lunch.

I had been in Germany for two days and I had not yet had a beer. Eager to remedy the situation, I indulged in a Hell (Lager) type Bier (Beer) to accompany the regional specialty of seasonal orange chanterelle mushrooms, roasted pork, and two bread dumplings. Surprisingly not too salty or overpowering, it was a dynamic meal. The mushroom were well prepared, taking away the rubbery consistency usually found in the fungi, that could occasionally mar the meal.

So far, I loved the German food experience and the rest of the Berlin part is soon to follow.

    • Total Posts: 1946
    • Joined: 5/24/2006
    • Location: Scottsdale, AZ
    RE: Berlin, Germany (Part 1) Mon, 09/24/07 9:51 PM (permalink)

    You are off to a great start, CW !!! I am looking forward to your subsequent posts, esp. when you get down to Munich. I lived in Bavaria for 10 years, so it'll be a nice trip down memory lane. Your pics look great. Nice work!




      • Total Posts: 1265
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      RE: Berlin, Germany (Part 1) Mon, 09/24/07 10:11 PM (permalink)
      I lived in Berlin from '74-77. During that time you wouldn't bring your wife to Potzdammer strasse.
      When i first got there I had a lot of free time. It took about 2 weeks to get your security clearance activated. I was able to go to the east only one time. We went with an expert. First we went to the English exchange and exchanged dollars for pounds. and the to the S-Bahn station for E-Marks.(The dollar was a strong 4.00 mark/dollar). By the way we did it we got a fabulous exccchange. We went to the Beehive department store. I was looking for gifts at the prices we could get. Shamefully all the mechaaandise was shoddy and picked over. We bought some beautiful antique stuff, tho.
      We went to the Deutches Opera house and had lunch. It started out with russian caviar. Then turtle soup. Next we had a wonderful terrine(pate'). This was followed by a fish dish(I believe it was quinnelles of sole with a hollandaise) poached in court bullion. The main course was a saddle of veal that was awesome. This was followed by flamed cherries over ice cream. We had two nice bottles of wine with dinner and a bottle of Sekt for dessert.
      When we got the bill it was 800 E-mark. We we gave the waiter 1000 E=mark. This was the full treatment, everbody in tuxes, formal dining room, crystal and heirloom silver. I'll never find a bargin like that again. The way we exchanged currency we got 60 E-Marks/dollar. That meal for 4 of us came to around $5 dollars each.
      We spent the rest of the day exploring the areas we were allowed. And shopping in mom and pop places. It's a trip that I'll remeber always. The people were so warm and friendly and warm.

        • Total Posts: 1303
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        RE: Berlin, Germany (Part 1) Mon, 09/24/07 10:18 PM (permalink)
        Those meals look delicious --- especially the roast pork with the dumplings and mushrooms. And, re the ice cream, I LOVE the Germain "eis" --- never had bad ice cream in in Germany!

          John A

          • Total Posts: 4295
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          • Location: Daytona Beach, FL
          RE: Berlin, Germany (Part 1) Tue, 09/25/07 7:26 AM (permalink)
          Oh man, looks like you're going to gain some weight there. Good report and Pics, thanks.
            ann peeples

            • Total Posts: 8317
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            RE: Berlin, Germany (Part 1) Tue, 09/25/07 8:06 AM (permalink)
            Great pics and report!

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              • Roadfood Insider
              RE: Berlin, Germany (Part 1) Tue, 09/25/07 9:26 AM (permalink)
              Can't wait to hear more.

                Culinary Wanderlust

                • Total Posts: 22
                • Joined: 10/12/2005
                • Location: Chicago, IL
                RE: Berlin, Germany (Part 1) Tue, 09/25/07 11:15 AM (permalink)
                The next day, Carly, my brothers and I decided to engage in a little hardcore sightseeing since there are virtually limitless experiences in the city of Berlin. Amazement, confusion, and curiosity seemed to be the most prominent feelings bubbling within my psyche. Seeing portions of the Berlin Wall turned from a symbol of oppression to expression, visiting the Topography of Terror Exhibit at the former Gestapo/SS Headquarters, finding the scattered remains of Goebbels and Hitler's bunkers after an exhaustive search allows the manifestation of complex feelings arising from one's inner being. Thankfully, as I began to sort out my emotions, we started eating more and more around Berlin.

                For breakfast, we stopped at Cafe Adler for a fruhstuck (breakfast) consisting of mounds of fruits, salted meats, and a Schweppes beverage. The meal was not particularly astounding, but the array of items almost in danger of falling off the table or taking over the restaurant like kudzu was too good of an image to omit in this posting.

                After checking out Checkpoint Charlie and walking once again under the linden trees, Carly and I separated from my younger brothers and decided to challenge ourselves with a visit to KaDeWe, Berlin's answer to Harrod's monolith. Along with that classification, it has the largest food floor across Europe, actually larger than Harrod's. We must have spent at least an hour and a half walking from end to end, while partaking in several creative tasty concoctions. The amount of meat displayed in deli cases might equal that of the 26.2 miles of a marathon.

                The one item I loved was this sticky, nut-filled, apple torte. As salty as it was sweet, it had an addicting splash of crunch as I gnawed through the wide variety of nuts located here. The almond berry cake was delightful with just enough marzipan to stimulate the taste buds. The amount of marzipan found throughout this journey, allows me to assume that Berliners love their almonds. I think it is a fair logical conclusion. Anyhow, we waddled our way to the U-Bahn (Subway) after this food-fueled event.

                The next morning, I needed to participate in more involved touristy activities including checking out Museum Island, particularly the Pergamon, considering I have a soft spot in my heart for classical antiquities. As Carly and I walked to this cultural sight with the rain falling in oddly sized fits, we entered Cafe Einstein.

                At this restaurant, known for an out of this world apple strudel, we indulged in a skillet that looks far healthier than the ones I have ever seen in greasy spoons across the USA. It was tasty, yet not overpowering; a perfect protein punch to fuel our cultural energies for the rest of the day.

                After seeing the Simpsons movie, (it was in English), we went to dinner, right in Potsdamer Platz, at a swanky joint called Lutter and Wegner. It was here that I had two stereotypical German dishes.
                The first was sauerbraten.

                Sauerbraten is a pork entry bathed in a sublimely rich sauce. Delightful might be an understatement in terms of describing it.

                The item I grazed off my brother's plate is a wiener schnitzel, a pork version as well.

                I could see a bun trying in vain to wrap itself around that hunk of meat like the pork tenderloins at Nick's Kitchen in Huntington, Indiana.

                For dessert, I had this sour cream cake. It was not sour, actually very sweet and very tasty.

                One more Berlin update to come soon...

                  • Total Posts: 1089
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                  RE: Berlin, Germany (Part 1) Tue, 09/25/07 11:30 AM (permalink)
                  Oh my gosh, how lucky you are to have gotten to eat all that great German food. German food is my favorite. I worked for the DOD in Giessen, Germany, in the early 70's and I still remember the great tasting food.

                  Great pictures and descriptions. The desserts look absolutely wonderful.

                    • Total Posts: 354
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                    • Location: Hyattsville, MD
                    RE: Berlin, Germany (Part 1) Tue, 09/25/07 12:34 PM (permalink)
                    You know, I'm not particularly fond of German food, but my goodness, the descriptions and pictures have made my mouth water, especially the sweets. Question: what is the fruit that looks something like a grape (and is about the size of a grape too!)? It's in that last picture, nestled between the strawberry and raspberry.

                    Wonderful trip report, btw!!

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                      RE: Berlin, Germany (Part 1) Tue, 09/25/07 12:50 PM (permalink)
                      Originally posted by tarragon

                      You know, I'm not particularly fond of German food, but my goodness, the descriptions and pictures have made my mouth water, especially the sweets. Question: what is the fruit that looks something like a grape (and is about the size of a grape too!)? It's in that last picture, nestled between the strawberry and raspberry.

                      Wonderful trip report, btw!!

                      A red currant???
                        Culinary Wanderlust

                        • Total Posts: 22
                        • Joined: 10/12/2005
                        • Location: Chicago, IL
                        RE: Berlin, Germany (Part 1) Tue, 09/25/07 1:20 PM (permalink)
                        It is a currant. It is a very popular fruit in Germany. In the next update, I'll mention the best pastry I have ever tasted involving a red currant.

                          RE: Berlin, Germany (Part 1) Tue, 09/25/07 1:24 PM (permalink)
                          Another excellent report. I just wish we heard from you more often. And the look on Carly's face over the ice cream dessert is absolutely priceless!

                            • Total Posts: 354
                            • Joined: 7/23/2003
                            • Location: Hyattsville, MD
                            RE: Berlin, Germany (Part 1) Tue, 09/25/07 3:14 PM (permalink)
                            Ah, currants! I don't think I've ever had any, so I'm definitely looking forward to that report on the best pastry ever, Culinary Wanderlust. Hah, I just looked at that picture of Carly and the ice cream dessert again and you're right on target, buffetbuster. That's a -huge- dish of ice cream and I love that little ice cream cone in there!!

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                              RE: Berlin, Germany (Part 1) Tue, 09/25/07 3:27 PM (permalink)

                              This report is making me speachless. These are some of the best looking plates that I have ever seen.
                              The topic of 'Where have all the good German restaurants gone?' would be answered if there were places serving what you are eating.

                              I'm very envious.

                                Culinary Wanderlust

                                • Total Posts: 22
                                • Joined: 10/12/2005
                                • Location: Chicago, IL
                                RE: Berlin, Germany (Part 1) Tue, 09/25/07 11:27 PM (permalink)
                                Thank you all for the kind words. I intend to post more regularly on the site and hope with my new job, I will be able to do so with much more frequently.

                                The ultimate street food of Berlin is currywurst. Konnopke Imbiss, an institution in East Berlin for over seventy-five years, still serves the definitive currywurst in its small operation under the S-Bahn tracks.

                                Wherever you turn, there are currywurst vendors spilling into the streets of Berlin. Each have the wurst sliced and bathed with a ketchup and curry powder mixture that is really a fun patchwork of flavors. The meatiness of the sausage combined with tartness of tomato and curry leaves the eater feeling filled for the price of a euro and change. It is a requirement to partake in this iconic meal when in Berlin.

                                This evening, Carly, my brothers and I, intended to go into the Turkish district, but instead ended up in a Turkish restaurant in West Berlin. Sometimes when you don't speak the native language, errors can occur. Anyhow, we had some fattoush salad and some very delectable Nan.

                                The Turkish population is a sizable sector of the city of Berlin. I did not have the opportunity to visit the Turkish marketplace, but plan to rectify that on the next stop in Berlin.

                                The next morning, Carly and I went meandering through the streets in search for tasty treats and found my favorite pastry to date. It spotlights the elusive red currant.

                                This treat is in the top five tastiest things I have ever eaten. The tart berry, found throughout Germany and virtually nonexistent in the United States, proved such a terrific contrast from the sugary goodness and slightly grainy texture was so satisfying. I tried this treat at a few bakeries and found them all to be immensely terrific.

                                After another visit to the Charlottenburg Palace to check on the exhibit of Refinement and Elegance, Carly and I went next door to have some pizza and sample something called Berliner Weisse.

                                The beer supplied in this mixture has a sour tangy bitterness to it. The syrups, raspberry or woodruff flavor, baby's breath found in floral bouquets, are mixed with it to balance the palate. The taste was consistent with a sparkling cider, with a faint alcohol underlining taste.

                                After the Berliner Weisse, we intended to see Knut, the polar bear at the Berlin Zoo, but it was rainy, so we decided to rest at the hotel to prepare for the trip to Munich the next day. Before we rested, Carly and I took another opportunity to indulge in Bandy Brooks Eis Cream.

                                We had it a few days earlier and the same, rich creaminess echoed throughout our taste buds. Ice cream in Berlin tended to be a more gelato richness than the harder compact versions found throughout Cold Stones and Dairy Queens across the United States landscapes. The Pistachio and Almond flavored ice creams were so salty and sweet that after devouring this delectable treat I had no foodie desires for the next hour. A rarity indeed, considering I am always looking for my sequential taste sensation.

                                Next, in a new post, the home of beer, pretzel, and more massive sausage, Munich will be featured.

                                  • Total Posts: 354
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                                  • Location: Hyattsville, MD
                                  RE: Berlin, Germany (Part 1) Wed, 09/26/07 12:30 AM (permalink)
                                  Yum, that red currant pastry does look delicious! I found out this afternoon that the currant was "banned" in the US from 1903 to 2003 (a century!) due to fears that it would cause some sort of rust to decimate white pine trees (or something along those lines); the ban was lifted after a court case where proof was offered that a disease-resistant currant would not longer pose a problem. That's why currants are virtually un-heard of in the US (most people here think they're a variety of raisin!!).

                                  I am really enjoying your trip reports; I doubt that I'll ever get to Germany so it's extra special to see all the scenery as well as the foods. *laughs* And be darned if they are enticing me to try some German fare again now!!

                                    • Total Posts: 344
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                                    RE: Berlin, Germany (Part 1) Tue, 10/2/07 2:10 AM (permalink)
                                    Great report. Heavy desserts seem the order of the day. Excellent stuff.

                                      • Total Posts: 1946
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                                      RE: Berlin, Germany (Part 1) Tue, 10/2/07 9:57 AM (permalink)

                                      Since you are fond of museums, do not miss the Deutsches Museum in Munich. This technology museum is one the most interesting and creatively layed out I've ever seen.


                                      It works it's way from mining in the basement all the way up to Astrology in the observatory in the roof, with submarines, ships, cars, aircraft and spacecraft in between.

                                      It will easily take a day to enjoy this place. The great thing is that is within walking distance of the Franziskaner Brewery!


                                      Zum Wohl !

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