Archive for the ‘ENGLISH’ Category

werkstatt der süße – p’berg

October 20, 2011

i’ve long ago lost my sweet tooth – my preferences definitely lie on the savory side of the spectrum:  spicy, salty, bitter & sour are the flavors that make my mouth sing. in a restaurant, i am much more likely to order the cheese plate than mousse au chocolat (thankfully, i never eat alone, so i get the best of both worlds). i can walk past miles of cakes, pastries & other baked goods without missing a step >yawn<.

there are exceptions, however. the delectable creations from patissier guido fuhrmann at werkstatt der süße, for example.

la dolce vita indeed.

the tartlets, pralines and mousses are light as air, fantastically delicious and truly pieces of art with wonderful flavors. i’ve never had anything that was overly sweet – in fact, the dark nougat bar with passionfruit mousse had a nice, refreshing tartness to it.

a very passionate dessert.

the “chocolate crisp tartlet” is, despite its pedestrian name, the house’s flagship dessert and a personal favorite.

crispy, chocolatey goodness.

you can’t possibly go wrong ordering any one of these wonderful delights – be it as an afternoon coffee treat, taking home a fabulous dessert for your own dinner party for those of us less talented than mr. fuhrmann, or as a sweet gift for your favorite sweetie.

burgermeester – amsterdam

September 9, 2011

there are plenty of reasons to love amsterdam. one can get fantastic coffee, regardless of which random café one stumbles into….

lekker coffie everywhere.

and even the lowly toastie – the dutch version of a grilled cheese and every pothead’s main food group – provides a fine basis for various shleps around town, to name just a few.

goede gouda on toast.

of course, one cannot live on toasties alone. sometimes, a heartier lunch is required. like a good burger – something to behold & cherish, for all burgers are not equal.

thanks to a great source of culinary information for anything amsterdam, the restaurant blog dutchgrub, i had taken mental note of the burgermeester – a local chain with 3 locations neatly spread out within the city center, one in short walking distance to our pad in the jordaan.

mmmmmmm: moooooooooooohhhh.

upone entering the burgermeester, it’s pretty clear where the meat comes from (all ingredients are locally sourced, organic and humanely raised), even though there are other options, such as chicken, lamb or salmon burgers.

because we were hungry, but not that hungry, we decided to share a mini trio – 3 slider-sized burgers of our choice.

burgermeester offers a “burger of the month”, which in this case – since it was the middle of may – came with beef, fresh white asparagus, and hollandaise. sounds kinda gross, no? well, i’m a suckah for asparagus, so i had to get it: delicious. the other two were great, too – a lamb burger with red onion jam (!)  and the “meester” burger with grilled vegetables and dragon mayonnaise. it was in fact so schmecksville that it made us wish we had each ordered our own trio.  oh well.

triple win.

thankfully, we had ordered the “gepoofte aardappel” on the side, which i had cleverly identified as something potato, but figured it’d be wedges – well, it turned out to be a delightful baked potato with crème fraîche and scallions.

you say potato, i say eat it.

i guess we really liked that potato, too.

all gone.

> burp <

japanese nirvana – raku / las vegas

August 3, 2011

wenn man von neonlichtern, dem klingelingeling der slot-machines und überhaupt dem ganzen bunten kitsch auf dem strip so richtig die schnauze voll hat, heißt es taxi nehmen richtung wüste bzw. chinatown.  nun ist chinatown in vegas nicht, wie in anderen US-metropolen, hübsch begehbar oder auch einfach nur hübsch. es besteht aus wenigen versprenkelten asiatischen restaurants entlang der spring mountain road, die ansonsten nur autohändler, möbelläden und doofe strip malls zu bieten hat.

auch das fantastische aburiya raku befindet sich in einer dieser strip malls, gut versteckt in zweiter reihe hinter einem parkplatz.  wer nicht weiß, wo es ist, findet es auch nicht.  und das ist ein echter verlust, denn das essen ist großartig & darüber hinaus bezahlbar.

das restaurant ist eher klein, es empfiehlt sich also zu reservieren, am besten 24 stunden im voraus.  außer einer sehr guten sake-auswahl gibt es sapporo vom fass, ausgeschenkt in einer elegant-bauchigen karaffe.  von der karte zu wählen entpuppt sich als schwierig, weil alles gut klingt & es dazu noch eine tafel mit den tagesangeboten gibt.

ganz klar war, dass der täglich (!) im hause hergestellte tofu probiert werden mußte, der hier in 2 varianten serviert wird:

frischer tofu mit meersalz, frühlingszwiebeln & bonito-flocken

dieser tofu hat nichts mit dem geschmacksfreien pamps zu tun, den man im supermarkt kauft.  cremig & einfach märchenhaft.

tofu in dashi.... mmmmmmmmmmmm.

die andere hälfte des tofu wird frittiert und in einer wunderbaren dashi-brühe mit pilzen, frühlingzwiebeln, lachskaviar und seetang serviert.  für diesen unglaublichen tofu alleine würde ich fast noch mal den absurd langen flug auf mich nehmen.  zum glück gibt es aber noch viele andere leckereien auf spießen gegrillt und nett angerichtet.

sashimi salat

kurobata-schweinebacke & kobe flanksteak

gegrillter kräuterseitling

gegrillter bauch von der gelbflossenmakrele

von der poetischen gestaltung der waschräume kann sich so mancher laden eine scheibe abschneiden…

blüten statt klofuß-umpuschelung.

ein geheimtip ist das raku unter amerikanischen gourmands schon lange nicht mehr – für mich war es mit abstand das beste, was 2009 kulinarisch zu bieten hatte.  hinfliegen!

best damn thai food in berlin. seriously.

June 27, 2011

edd’s thailändisches restaurant?  please.  mao thai?  no way, josé.

nope — for the freshest, most delicious, and authentic thai food, head on over to winterfeldtmarkt on saturdays, and find the little stand owned by the talented and lovely ms. rattaporn moeckel.  choose any of their daily specialties.  you’ll love it, regardless of what you end up ordering — be it soups, curries, or chicken saté.  their wonton soup is made with delicate, pillowy wontons stuffed with ground pork and spices, bobbing around in a flavorful broth.

larb -- spicy ground pork salad.

my personal favorite by far, however, is their fiery dim sum.  people with “farang” palates can get a whimpier version, but really – what’s the point?  these are incredibly delicious dumplings bursting with thai flavors:  spicy, salty, sour, and a touch of sweetness.

dim sum = delightfully sumptuous.

a recent special was this incredible steamed fish topped with a custardy coconut curry.

a basket full of happiness.

ms. moeckel can be hired for catering, and if i were to throw a party in berlin, she’d be my first choice.

go eat there NOW.  do make sure to get there before 1 pm, otherwise most of the tasty treats will have been ravished by other, earlier birds.  damn, i hate those early birds.

strange snacks

June 7, 2011

staying at a lovely british lady’s pad this summer.  found this on the coffee table:

mmmmm... tasty rocks!

no wonder the brits have such bad teeth if they’re snacking on rocks.

the berlin bites burger bonanza

November 17, 2010

it seems like these days you can’t swing a cat without hitting the window of a recently opened or soon-to-be-opened burger joint.

haus or house – what’s it gonna be?

granted – the lowly hamburger has always been a popular fast food, but the sudden explosion of  burger places in berlin is a fairly recent phenomenon.  let’s avert our eyes from monstrosities such as this

papa… no! nooooooooo!

some things are better left unthunk. good heavens.

on offer at a local chain hitherto mainly famous for being a horrific excuse for a “sushi” restaurant that apparently didn’t want to feel left out.

to select the good, bad, and ugly, i took the heavy burden upon me to visit a few of them, ranging from established places to newbies, so you don’t have to waste money on sub-par patties.  i basically stuck to ordering cheeseburgers, because a burger without cheese is like pizza without cheese, and i sometimes got fries on the side, but they were a minor point in my final judgment.  sooo – let’s start with the worst of the bunch and work our way up to the ultimate burger nirvana, shall we?

V. ketchup & mayo / oranienstr. / newbie

i simply couldn’t resist the rather grandiose advertisement promising ‘finest burger cuisine.’  the namesakes – ketchup & mayonnaise – are available at the counter in large vats with no restrictions and no extra pay.  bonus point.  the menu offers a variety of burgers including vegetarian versions, but really, why bother?  we’re talking beef here, after all.  and omg, those patties are bad.  it’s like biting into a slice of meatloaf: densely packed & strange-tasting, no amount of free ketchup and mayo could make up for this awful, pasty mouth feel.  i don’t recall whether the patties are fresh or frozen, but really – who cares at this point?  epic fail.  stick to the fries instead which are actually some of the best i’ve had at any of the burger joints visited.

IV. marienburger / marienburger str. – duh / old school

this place has been around for a while, and has a fairly large and passionate fan base.  the people working the grill that day were ink & metal-augmented, which is a rare sight in the overly gentrified pregnant hill these days, and very friendly and swift.  orders are taken at the counter and called out later by name.  it’s tiny, and there is very little room to sit save for a narrow counter at the wall and a couple tables outside.  ketchup and mayo are on the tables free of charge.

looking good, baby. but beauty is only skin deep…

unfortunately, the patties are frozen, fairly flat (but much larger than your usual mcdirt size), the toppings generous & fresh, the buns toasted.  bonus point for that one.  no floppy buns for me, please.  alas, the mouth feel is once again too dense for the perfect burger, but certainly edible.  damage per burger: €3-4

IV. drachentöter / am falkplatz / newbie / update: CLOSED (huge surprise. not.)

it sure takes some ginormous balls to open up a burger place right next to the bird (reviewed below), undoubtedly the benchmark for any burger joint in berlin with obsessive fans, and it’s been around for a good 4 years.  i just had to find out what kind of a nutcase was running this operation, and how their burgers stood up to the competition next door.

it’s got a bistro atmosphere with 80s style pastel colors, which somehow just didn’t seem right for a burger joint.  surprisingly enough, the people who run this place don’t seem crazy at all and are rather friendly.  you can choose from a variety of burgers with cutesy german first names, and made with fresh meat.

this burger may slay the dragon, but not the bird.

the buns are toasted, there’s some sort of ‘special sauce’, and the toppings are fresh.  unfortunately, the patty has a similar texture to the marienburger – too dense.  overall not bad, but just.  not. right.

the fries are second best to ketchup & mayo. damage per burger: €3.50-6

III. bbi – berlin burger international / pflügerstr. / newbie

neukölln’s first address for your burger cravings.  a hole in the wall just off of sonnenallee, this place offers burgers made with a mix of  90% beef & 10% lamb = 100% fresh, and you also have the option of ordering any of their burgers in a mini version, which is about a 4 oz serving and perfect if you’re hungry, but not that hungry.  you order at the counter leaving your name, and wait till you’re called & eat at a tiny counter on the wall or at one of the few tables outside.

international (?) burgers in neukölln

this is where i noticed what seems to be a relatively new fashion:  potted rosemary as a centerpiece (i’ve seen this at a bunch of places now). not sure if this is a burger joint thing or just the latest trend, but whichever it is, i like it.  it creates the illusion of ‘atmosphere’ and style while sitting across the street from a bookie, and your only view is the M29 bus stopping right in front of your table every 10 minutes.

raw cheese… now, that’s just wrong.

the patty is flavorful, if overdone – my ordering med-rare was refused by the cook for some reason, and the cheese wasn’t melted on the patty, which is a massive bummer.  the salad topping consists of an interesting mix of spring greens, not your usual watery shredded iceberg, which adds a nice touch.  damage per burger €4-6

II. hamburger heaven / graefestr. / newbie

hamburger heaven indeed.

this is the place to have a burger if you are craving good meat – after all, you can choose between regular, halal, organic, and free-range (the priciest at €8 or 9).  the tiny booth, tucked away in a side street near kottbusser brücke, is usually run by the owner who can be a tad bit slow when more than a couple of orders are up, reinterpreting the notion of “fast food”, but he is super-friendly, and the quality of the resulting burger more than makes up for the wait.

cheeseburger heaven, even! oh yeah, baby.

both the ketchup and mayonnaise are house-made fresh daily (!), the ketchup being tomato-y to the max, and the mayonnaise having a nice, eggy taste to it.  your choice of cheese is appropriately melted, and the burger is grilled to order – yes, you can get your patty med-rare if you ask for it. the fries are pretty awesome too, a small portion is definitely enough.  you can park your lardass on one of the few picnic benches and tables (decorated with the aforementioned rosemary planters. weird.), or stand at the single table near the window.

hands down best newcomer burger in town.  highly recommended.  damage per burger between €4-9, depending on your ecological conscience.

and now, the top banana, the big cheese, the winner!  the bestest, juiciest, most delicious piece of ground meat on a bun in all of berlin & perhaps the rest of germany:

I.  the bird / am falkplatz / old school – the be all and end all in burgerosity

what can be said about this meat lovers’ paradise, this cavern of carnivorous delight, that hasn’t been said already?  two expats from new york opened this place in 2006, and they have since set the standard for all burgers to follow.  orgasm on a bun, that’s what it is.

the ghetto deluxe w/american cheese. ’nuff said.

the meat for the patties is ground up freshly every day from quality meat cuts (the steaks served here will make you believe you are not in germany anymore), not cooked beyond medium, regardless of how much your german ass begs for a patty ‘well-done’ … talk about a misnomer.  your MEDIUM-RARE burger is loosely packed and NOT over-handled, it’s beefy, cooked just right – tho they do tend to err on the rarer side, making those sweet meat juices running down your chin and hands.

bite me. burger with an attitude.

the cheese is a generous helping of molten, gooey deliciousness, the buns (english muffins, which has led to some controversies but i frankly find they handle the massive beast better than those cottony fluff buns) are toasted, the toppings kept simple – tomato, onion, lettuce leaf, pickle on the side.

the fries are hand-cut, and of varying quality.  nobody cares about the fries here, tho.  seriously.  damage per burger €9-13 – cheap it is not.  good it is.  fantastic, to be exact. yoda out.

henne / xberg

October 22, 2010

how could one possibly go wrong with fried chicken?

well, perhaps one could, but most definitely not at henne – a berlin institution that’s been around for over a century, and that has witnessed the wall go up and down practically in their FRONT LAWN in the meantime.

what hasn’t changed is the dark and dusty wooden interior, or the recipe for a fried half chicken:

where'd the wing bone go? >burp<

crispy, crunchy, golden-brown skin & juicy, tender meat.  in fact, the chicken is so cripy and crunchy that i’ve been known to eat the entire wing tip, bones and all.  because, well … did i mention how crispy-crunchy-delicious everything is?

yes, sometimes the cooks can go a little overboard with the salt… but please – don’t cry about it and have another sip of the deliciously refreshing bavarian mönchshof landbier on tap (which is actually served in traditional biersteins.  that fact alone should let any red-blooded american’s heart beat faster, no?)  alas, the staff is not dressed in dirndls and lederhosen – we are in prussia after all – but whether you’re enjoying an early summer evening in the tiny beergarden or somewhere in the cavernous rooms, you get to share the large, rustic tables with random strangers, which creates a rather convivial atmosphere, especially after a few rounds of landbier.  be advised that it can get rather hot in the upper back room, so i don’t tend to go there unless the weather is nice & you can sit outside.

apart from the golden chicken, you can order a pair of sausages, but nobody does that.  neither should you.  for sides, you’ve got the choice between potato salad and kraut salad (sadly, they’re both store-bought and thus a tad bit overpriced, but nonetheless tasty, at least the potato salad).  either salad is delivered pretty soon after the drinks, which is good, as the wait for the chicken can be long:  30-45 min., depending on how busy the place is… and it is ALWAYS busy.  considering that fact, the service is impressively swift, and generally very friendly.

after dinner, check out the awesome selection of various liqueurs – a number of traditional berlin spirits such as mampe halb and halb (i have no clue what it is, but it’s tasty), persico, ginger cream or cinnamon or walnut liqueur.  trust me, you won’t find this on any old diner menu.

when you go, make sure to call AT LEAST 3-4 days ahead, especially if you’ve got a party of more than 2 or 3 people – the phone is almost always busy, and reservations go fast.

i know. no, really, I KNOW.

August 9, 2010

it’s been a while since i posted here.  what can i say – life in the city is busy.  i have been busy.  BUT the fruits of my absence will soon be there to pluck and harvest, as the BERLIN BITES BURGER BONANZA is in the works, and will tell you everything you need to know (and some things you never wanted to know) about the burger scene in b-town.

do hold your breath.  i dare ya ‘-)

maria peligro / xberg

June 2, 2010

it’s a bit of a bummer, really.

what started off last summer as an exciting new venture with maria bonita, an unpretentious hole-in-the-wall serving fresh & authentic cal-mex at low prices is in danger of turning into an overhyped, overcrowded, over-expanded operation.

for full disclosure –  i haven’t been to their place on oranienstraße, but my visit at maria peligro, which was recently reviewed in the new york times (no, really!), was such that i’m not particularly motivated.  i’d be surprised if the writer ever had a meal at maria peligro.

what the new place has is more seating for all those hungry americans streaming in, craving that elusive fresh kick this town has denied them up until recently.  i wonder if they’ll be as disappointed as i was – save for the very friendly and dedicated service, this was a let-down.

things were off to a bad start with the fairly weak drinks (tequila sunrise & their very own homemade vodka lemonade, respectively), soon to be followed by two little bowls with green and red sauce.  to call these concoctions ‘salsa’ would be a smack in the face of even the lowliest store-bought salsa – as there was little to no difference in taste between the two, and any flavor or spice was sorely lacking.

we chose 3 different tacos (lamb ‘barbacoa’, carne asado, and pork), but wouldn’t necessarily have been able to distinguish between them.  each plate had 3-4 floppy, flavorless, room-temperature tacos with uninteresting, room-temperature meats on top.  sides?  well, if you count some chopped red onion and tomato bits, and some boring guac with the carne tacos. no rice, no beans… NO SOUP FOR YOU!

we had to request ‘something, anything spicy’, and got a little bowl with habanero puree.  you can bet your sweet ass that puree was hot…  however – i am a great believer in the old-fashioned concept of cooks preparing food to be eaten the way it is served, and not having to be tweaked and fixed and made more interesting by the customer.  perhaps that’s asking too much.

maybe they were having a bad day, maybe not.

i might give that 3rd location a try, but i’m in no particular hurry.

and now, for something completely different….

October 26, 2009

a nice lil song i recorded a few days ago.  sorry for the unabashed self-promotion ‘-)