Tag Archives: Food

The Eternal Search for Delicious Brunch

I am eternally searching for the best restaurants in Berlin. The latest, greatest, most delicious, most undiscovered place where I can sink my teeth into something divine. Berlin happens to be a happening brunch town, if only you can find the right places to go. Sundays offer up all-you-can-eat buffets to dine to your heart’s content, but where is it worthwhile spending such a luxurious period of your life? There are, of course, the staples (or at least my staples!):

  • Anna Blume for their beautiful brunch tower and over-sized tea mugs
  • Pasternak for their creative and unique buffet filled with Russian goodies (many of which remind me of my grandmother’s cooking) and mouth watering desserts
  • Frida Kahlo which tends to disappoint during all other mealtimes, but they seem to have gotten the Sunday brunch buffet filled with eggs, rice, beans, chicken, pancakes, etc right!
  • Barcomi’s which has your standard bagels affair with delicious dessert options.
  • Nalu Diner for a typical American breakfast complete with diner pancakes, bacon, eggs how you want them, and killer hash browns.

But say you want to take a step away from the norm…where would you go? Inputs welcome.

 

Experimenting with Juice

When A moved in, he bought us a housewarming gift – a beautiful juicer. And over the months we have been experimenting endlessly with juices of every kind, usually the “everything but the kitchen sink kind”. We’ve started to lose direction. Our juices have started to lose their identity.

JuiceNation

JuiceNation

Once a week we make our way to the local farmer’s market, (every Saturday) at Kollwitzplatz and stock up on whatever goodies they may have. Summer is obviously the best time for this as there is an overabundance of berries and fruits and veggies to your heart’s content! We stock up and get home and chow down. Then, whatever is leftover becomes juice.

We used to pick more carefully – selecting flavors and nutrients – then we became a bit more “it’s all gonna mix once it’s down there anyway! So I am here to take back the identity of my juice!

Strawberries from July

Strawberries from July

After much reading and inspiration from friends who “juice” (we will verb that, thank you!) and recipes and ideas and concepts across the internet, I’ve decided to experiment a bit with juice as a meal replacement. Many people advocate for the benefits of detoxing with juice, or juice cleanses (read, 3 days with nothing but the sweet stuff,) but that seems a bit intense for my purposes and I think I could also benefit from the overload of nutrients to replace the otherwise starchy food intake I’ve been known to have.

Juice Number 1 was a search through the kitchen for the right ingredients (anything that’s still good, which might taste good with the other selected ingredients – NOT the kitchen sink at all!) I knew I still had fresh spinach from the market, and I was eager to try out a spinach juice since it’s packed with iron and protein and all sorts of other goodness. So I pulled out the spinach, apples, a peach, wild blueberries, some lime, and fresh ginger root.

The Amanda Spinachberry (or something like that!)

The Amanda Spinachberry (or something like that!)

I used the following quantities (more or less, I didn’t measure exactly!)

  • Spinach (6 Cups – give or take)
  • Apple (2x)
  • Peach (1x)
  • Blueberries (3/4 cup)
  • Lime (1/2)
  • Ginger (Large Chunk)
The end result was delicious, despite it’s rather scary looking deep purple color. It was incredibly healthy (lots of green), sweet (from the apple and peach), and a bit spicey (thank you, ginger!)
Today I replaced breakfast  (about 8:30 AM) with this concoction and only around 11 did I start to feel a bit hungry, so I made some green tea chai to stave off the hunger until lunch. Now I’ll have to run to the grocery store to stock up on goodies for tomorrow’s breakfast!

Hi, I’m Amanda. And I’m a Sugar Addict.

This is how I feel most days.

This is how I feel most days.

One of the most difficult things I’ve tried to do is break free from my sugar addiction. It’s a daunting task I’ve attempted to undertake on a couple of occasions – and only met with limited success. A few months ago A and I agreed to cut sugar out of our diets. It was a difficult first couple of days, however once I realized how much more energy I had it was an easy habit to keep. My goal was short-term, only enough to help what I thought were some skin problems due to sugar intake and to fix my energy levels, (read, gray skies got me down,) and so after two weeks of feeling proud I had been successful, I let sugar slip its way back into my heart once again.

So here I am again, once again on the ledge of “to sugar or not to sugar” and my mind is saying, “no more sugar!” and my heart is saying, “please just one more piece of marzipan!” So which is it – tears of marzipan or a straight road to fitness?

Anyone willing to join me in a 15 day sugar challenge? What if we up that to 30? Who’s in?

Lunch and Graveyards

A day or two into my trip (which was only 3.5 days, after all,) when scouring for another delicious meal option before hitting the recoletta cemetary and the Sunday Feria, I came across Tea Connection, which I had never heard of before, (but seriously wish they would import to Berlin!) I was staying in Recoleta and planning to hit the Sunday Feria later in the afternoon, so I decided to stop in to one of the few locations near my apartment and enjoy some more healthy grub.

First order of the day – fresh juice! I simply cannot get enough tropical flavors, (and yes, I know BsAs is not tropical, but they seem to have much better access to the good stuff than those of us stuck in the northern tundra!) So I placed my order for juice and yet another inventive and delicious salad. The trend was catching on! Lo and behold, my food arrived and I had my very own bottle of juice!

It’s like they knew everthing I wanted before I even had to ask! Even down to the healthy bowl of breadsticks – ha.

My own bottleajuice!

My own bottleajuice!

So I chowed down, regretfully too full to have a tea, (but knowing I needed to save my resources for the lattes and ice creams to come later in the day when my legs were too tired to carry me,) and wandered my way over to the cemetary for what I always remember to be my favorite Feria in all of South America! Every Sunday the park in front of Eva Peron’s eternal home is cluttered with street vendors offering all variety of goods from leather bags to hand knitted scarves, paintings, pottery, jewelry, stones, and knick knacks a plenty. And on the sunny and warm days the grass is filled with people sipping mate and catching up with friends, often with some kind of live music to accompany their afternoon.

It’s just a happy and peaceful place to be. And lucky for me I found just what I was looking for!

Tree of Life

Tree of Life

I spent a lot of time looking for a Tree of Life that I loved over the years, and never quite found one. So as I passed by this man’s stand who had created this piece of work personally, I told him how beautiful it was and continued on my way. Only to realize a few minutes walk away that, wait – what was I thinking, it was perfect! So I quickly walked back and tried it on, along with 4 or 5 other beautiful pieces of jewelry he had on display, and made my selection carefully.

After a successful morning I decided to treat myself to a mid-afternoon capuccino and a snack. I wandered away from the park in the direction of my apartment and stumbled upon a quiet cafe with white trimmings – L’Avant Garde. A nicely designed place to catch a break. I saw someone munching on some type of yogurt parfait and decided it was a healthy enough alternative to all the ice cream I’d been eating, so I opted in.

Capuccino and a Parfait

Capuccino and a Parfait

Another afternoon complete, and it was off to the pool to catch some of those rays my poor pale skin had been so severely deprived of!

Buenos Aires Lunch Style

After a 14 hour flight from Frankfurt to Buenos Aires (not including the previous travel time from Berlin to Frankfurt,) arriving in Buenos Aires only to discover they do actually now charge American citizens a “reciprocity tax” of $160 dollars (i.e. a “visa” to enter the country,) and an hour drive to my apartment from the airport, I was exhausted. I debated never leaving the apartment, ever, and just staying put to sleep away the day. But then I remembered, I was in Buenos Aires!

So I ingested some caffeine (Excedrin people, nothing strange here!) to knock out my headache, put on a new, cute summer dress I acquired in Berlin, and hit the streets. The minute I stepped outside into the sunshine and busy streets of BsAs (Buenos Aires), I couldn’t hold back my smile. I felt like skipping along the roads and shouting that I had made it!

For a girl who loves to shop and doesn’t often get to do it (it’s a non-profit world I’m in these days,) Buenos Aires is heaven. Fashion and style abound, and for the less noble (like myself) the leather is simply gorgeous. You cannot hold back from drooling over purses, shoes, and jackets galore.

So to me, a perfect day in Buenos Aires consists of wandering the streets of Palermo, popping into shops to my heart’s content, stopping for a mid-morning espresso or fresh squeezed juice, wandering some more, and finding a delicious place to hole away for mealtime. That is one thing there is absolutely no shortage of in BsAs – food! And it is the best you could possibly imagine. Fresh ingredients, crisp salads, delicious pastries, mouth watering steaks – and not to mention the more exotic choices which have found their way into BsAs kitchens such as Japanese or Moroccan.

I managed to find my way into a few new restaurants that have popped up in the last few years since I was here. On my first day I was lucky enough to stumble upon B-Blue Deli & Natural Bar where I delightfully realized my mango juice would be served my favorite way – freshly squeezed and oversized! Accompanied by a side of carrots and some healthy dip I couldn’t quite identify, but was delicious all the same.

Fresh Squeezed Mango Juice!

Fresh Squeezed Mango Juice!

Knowing I was in for a few weeks of eating meat almost exclusively, (Paraguay does not have quite as prevalent a vegetable market in local restaurants as one would think given their extensive agriculture,) I eagerly ordered a salad. And once again, I was wide eyed at the largess of the bowl put in front of me. After two years living in Germany, I have yet to find a place that does salads right by me, and by right, of course, I mean like this!

Salad Deliciousness!

Salad Deliciousness!

Mixed greens, avocados, almonds, tomatoes, and some type of honey vinaigrette – muah! Perfection. Knowing I had plenty of steak ahead to fill my days and nights, I relished this fresh and healthy delight, (and took note of the ingredients with a promise to replicate the same at home!) And this was the beginning of my quest for yummy delights throughout the city.

Warmth, sunshine, and delicious food – indeed I had arrive in my beloved BsAs!

Delicious Home Cooking

[Please be warned: Graphic Images of Meat to Follow]

I am lucky to have a live-in Chef in my home now. Well, I should say, the grandson of a chef who happens to love cooking. Either way, I’m lucky!

What does it mean to live with someone who loves to cook? No more “spaghetti is all I have time or energy to cook” days, no more sandwiches for dinner (when I’ve already had it for breakfast and lunch,) and no more picking at random things all evening hoping it adds up to a meal.

It’s not only him that gets the cooking bug, but having him here makes me want to cook more too. It is more inspiring to prepare food for two, and my adding-too-much-butter-to-everything-I-bake skills are vastly improving. (Sounds a bit like my previous post about perfecting the art of, well, anything! The more you do it, the better you get!)

So after seeing some delicious looking steak at the grocery store last week, and realizing we had fresh mushrooms and brussels sprouts left from the farmer’s market, Aleks and I put together a delicious steak dinner for two in about a half hour or less!

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Lightly salted, olive oiled, and peppered steaks set to sizzle alongside some lightly steaming brussels

Sautéing the mushrooms...in butter. Mmmm!

Sautéing the mushrooms…in butter. Mmmm!

Perfectly browned brussels with a touch of butter

Perfectly browned brussels with a touch of butter

Nothing like some good grill marks!

Nothing like some good grill marks!

Voila! Dinner is served!
Voila! Dinner is served!

 

An American in Berlin

For those of us expats who have knowledgeably been living outside our homelands for a few years, we come to appreciate both the good and bad of our home country, as well as our newly adopted land. No one can say one place is more perfect than another, though I understand that in many instances certain nostalgias develop for things from home, (peanut butter, for instance!)

But one thing that never ceases for me is my want of sharing American culture or experiences with newfound friends. Not the obnoxious, loud-talking, I’m better than you kind of culture, but the “you can eat fried chicken on waffles with syrup” kind of culture.

So in my quest, and after having made many PBJ (foreigners, read: Peanut Butter and Jelly) sandwiches, some chicken fingers, more than a fair share of mac and cheese, and what for my family always feels truly like home, Noodle Pudding, I have come to scout out all the truly American joints throughout my city.

There was a New Orleans Cajun style restaurant in Kreuzberg when I first arrived, which has since closed, as well as a delicious pie shop down the road. But what has always persisted are the larger-than-life burgers and hot wings at The Bird, (thank you to those brave New Yorkers who decided to introduce a true American burger to Berlin!) And most recently, a new addition to the American culinary delights of Berlin, Nalu Diner in Prenzlauer Berg.

After first hearing about it two weeks ago from a friend, that some new American diner had opened in the hood with real American pancakes, I knew I needed to give it a try. So on Sunday, I convinced one of my (more than willing) friends to join me in my quest for pancakes and hash browns. What we were met with was, well, truly American!

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From the moment we sat down, they brought us two large glasses of water. To any American that sounds normal, ridiculous even that I had to point it out. But trust me, as an American in Europe, that. is. amazing. Free water! I immediately ordered a hot chocolate with whipped cream (!) and my friend, Kora, had a black coffee, (she even got a free refill!)

Please notice the American Presidents on the table mat

Please notice the American Presidents on the table mat

So we agreed to share the Deuces Wild (see above) 2 pancakes, 2 hash browns, 2 scrambled eggs, 2 strips of bacon. Oh. My. God. It was the American dream! We also planned to share a piece of Apple Pie afterwards, with whipped cream on top. (We may have been a bit overzealous, but at least we didn’t order it before the main meal came.)

So the waiter brought our food to us on one giant plate, and we asked for an extra for sharing. It was huge. American diner style huge, if you know what I mean. The pancake was the size of my head.

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Ignore the ketchup and look at the size of that panqueque!

I forgot to take a picture before I ate half of my plate, but I think you can still get the point…

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So we ate to our heart’s content, and I must admit, it really, truly, felt like we were in an American diner. the food was so spectacularly like home, I couldn’t believe we were on a street in Berlin.

So for anyone in Berlin looking for some good American Home Cooking, go to Nalu Diner. I cannot wait to go back and test out the grilled cheese and maybe even a burger!