Hello there! Last night’s blogging hiatus was due to potential drogging, sleepiness, and the fictional Laura Bush. Since we’re in completely different time zones, it doesn’t make too much of a difference… except that this is going to be one massive post! It’s more of a photo essay, anyway, so feel free to just scan on through 🙂
A couple nights ago, I stayed up pretty late reading, so I snacked on an apple around 1:30.
The next morning, we found a great place for breakfast called Blumencafé.
Half of it cafe was a florist shop…
… and the other half was a cute little eatery!
You all would have loved it.
There was a horrible screeching sound that reverberated through the cafe. We finally figured out it came from two giant parrots! The birds stopped yapping as soon as they were let out of their cage, and were quite spectacular to watch.
I started with a hot cup of coffee… it was quickly followed by another hot cup of coffee.
I ordered two sunny-side up eggs and made open-faced sandwiches with them using bread and the little side salad it came with.
It was a great, sunny way to start the day…
…which was, itself, pretty gray and rainy.
My friend Carlye, who studied abroad here a year ago, sent me some great suggestions for sights and eats around the city. We decided to make it a “Carlye day,” and started our tour at Mauerpark, a flea market that’s only opened on Sundays.
There were a LOT of interesting food stalls.
We picked up some fresh feta, of course! There are a lot of Turkish immigrants in Berlin, and feta is frequently featured in the German dishes here.
I’m kicking myself right now for not getting any specialty honey…
After walking around the market for a few hours (and picking up some choice fashion items 😉 ), we found an adorable cafe called Anja Gmelin.
It would have fit right in in both the East and West villages or Williamsburg.
I asked the waitress (who studied abroad in England) to surprise me with whatever flavor of tea she thought I’d like. She brought Vanilla Rooibos on this great little silver tray… this seems to be customary for hot drinks. I love it!
My dad and I shared two lunch items: a giant salad with mixed greens, sprouts, strawberries, radishes, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, wheatberries, avocado, melon and smoked trout:
We also got an order of homemade tagliatelle with pesto and parmesan. It was so, so good. Homemade pasta just can’t be beat! This also came with a side salad, but I gave that to Daddy-o.
I ate everything except the bread. Needless to say, I was pretty full…
But there is always room for gelato! There are gelaterias everywhere (this is true in a lot of other European countries I’ve been to… they’re just as prevalent as the New York City pretzel stand), but I’ve been holding out for a while.
I should have waited just a little longer… I ordered scoops of hazelnut and plum, but unfortunately I couldn’t tell which flavor was which 😦
After breakfast, we hopped on the U-bahn (we took the U2 line!) and the S-bahn to get to the Reichstag, home of the Berliner parliament.
Until we arrived in the city, we didn’t know Berlin had canals!
We passed a lot of government buildings. Don’t they look science fiction-y?
On the top of the Reichstag is a cupola, or dome, that visitors can climb up for an extraordinary view of the city.
Winding staircases bring you to the very top… keep your eyes on the horizon outside, though, or it gets a little nauseating!
During this time, I was unfortunately hit with one of my bouts of fatigue. I can’t really describe what it’s like when this happens, except that it’s hard for me to think about anything other than finding a place to sleep. My brain shuts down, I move in a fog… it’s pretty unpleasant. Even though I wasn’t hungry, I thought a snack might help boost my energy. (That, and the nap I took at the top of the dome… they have a sort of circular observation bench that you lie on to look at the sky.) I had a sesame bar that I stashed in my purse for precisely this reason.
This was sweeter and more like brittle than, say, a Bora Bora bar, but, with my mini (and public!) nap, it helped.
After soaking up some of the last rays of sunshine outside, we headed back to our neighborhood. Another one of Carlye’s suggestions was an East African restaurant called Massai, which is conveniently only a few blocks away from our apartment.
The lighting was dim, and you really can’t get an idea of the restaurant when it’s all bleached out by the camera flash, but it was really neat.
My mom and I ordered two African beers: Banana (which Carlye had recommended) and Palm.
The banana flavor was delicious! It was sweet, without being syrupy… it could have been a dessert! The palm tasted more like a regular beer, with the exception of its 8% alcohol content. They also had mango and passion fruit flavors… we’ll just have to go back to try those!
I started out with a delicious soup called shakazulu. With a thick coconut milk base, it was made with millet, spices, and vegetables. I’ve been looking all over for a recipe for it, but can’t find it anywhere! I’m definitely going to try to re-create this at home.
Our server brought us a mid-meal amuse- bouche: yam, jicama and carrot in a sweet mango sauce.
For my entrée, I ordered a vegetarian platter called Mama Afrika. From left to right: fufu (a starchy potato/banana dish with a polenta-like substance) cooked in mango sauce, tomato-stewed okra, spinach cooked in peanut sauce, and red lentils (one of my favorite dishes to get at Ethiopian restaurants). It also came with a small piece of injera (the Ethiopian bread you use to scoop the food) and a plantain, which was very dry and sadly had no taste. Plantain aside, everything was delicious!
I sipped on a glass of African Chenin Blanc while I ate.
When I got home, although I felt stuffed to the gills, I had a chocolate pudding.
I should have waited a few minutes, but the pudding was immediately followed by a piece of dark chocolate.
It was a fabulous day, despite the several- hour brain fog. As you can tell, I’ve been indulging (but enjoying, most importantly) in excellent food. I haven’t done a lick of exercise (although we’ve been walking a lot), which is entirely my fault… my dad keeps trying to get me to the gym and my mom wanted to go for a run earlier, but I was just too tired and unmotivated. I might do a little yoga later, though. I’m not too stressed about it, but it’s been almost a week since I’ve done any aerobic activity and it’s probably contributing to my low energy. So… I’ll get on that!
I’m off to get a little work done… I have a lot of reading to do, but it’s very pleasant to do it while relaxing in the apartment with a cup of coffee.
REMINDER for New York readers: Ari’s band, the Upwelling, is playing at the Mercury Lounge on Wednesday, June 10, at 9:30 PM. It’ll be a great show, so get your tickets ($10) in advance and show La Petite Tomate some love!
Hope you’re having a great day!