Good evening and happy humpday! It’s not much of a hump if you’re on vacation, however… yesterday was another fabulous day of art, exploration, and, most importantly, food! We found two surprisingly delicious (and deliciously surprising) restaurants that, sadly, will remain in Berlin even after we leave.
For breakfast, I started with a fresh bowl of fruit: half a peach, half a banana, and strawberries.
A slice of seedy, grainy bread with three different cheeses: raw goat, gruyère, and something else I’ve forgotten.
A cup of mixed-fruit yogurt:
Some wake-me-up java:
Doesn’t my mama just have the cutest little feet?
We headed out to get our shop on at KaDeWe, and passed a couple of these strawberry stands. They’re all over the place: in the metro, on the street… and all they sell is strawberries! Sounds good to me 🙂
Although we got caught in the rain, we didn’t melt, and found our destination with [relatively… neither my mom nor I speaks German] no problem.
The 6th floor of the KaDeWe department store is nothing short of amazing. Don’t get me wrong- I love Whole Foods almost more than life itself, but they don’t have an entire wing devoted to different kinds of olive oil (they even had an avocado oil!). Or mustard. Or pastas, organized by region.
This was only a fraction of the cheese department (I sampled several varieties, all of which missed the camera… oops):
Individually portioned sweet treats:
Nestled in with all of the gourmet goodies are all sorts of specialty food bars: pasta, antipasti, dessert, champagne… my mom and I picked the first one we saw. It had what we’ve come to identify as New German cuisine, and it was perfect.
We were feeling festive, so we ordered drinks with lunch. I had a glass of Sancerre to go with my bread:
We watched as the chefs prepared the meals. Each batch of asparagus was steamed to order, each shrimp peeled, devained and cooked. With the exception of, possibly, Basta Pasta, I’m pretty sure this doesn’t happen in New York.
I ordered a 1/2 portion (although, judging by the entrée size of the gentleman seated next to me, I’m pretty sure I was given the same amount of shrimp) of salad with shrimp, white asparagus, and tomatoes. It was dressed with aged balsamic and a light pesto.
My mom got a white asparagus quiche which was fresh, fluffy, and unlike any quiche I’ve ever tasted. (When we asked about the dressing her salad came with, the chef said he’d only give us the recipe if one of us married him. When my mom offered me up, the other chef came over and said that, since he was the younger chef’s father, he would have to marry my mother and keep everything even.)
Squares of dark chocolate came with our meal…
…. But, after seeing so many tempting treats, we needed a pastry. We found the Lenôtre counter, a Parisian luxury cake-shop. (I’d had Lenôtre once before, in Paris, when I bought a friend a cake for his birthday party.) Without any hesitation, we ordered the Concerto, a 12-layer chocolate hazelnut praline cake, to split. I could go on, in detail, about each layer, but that would be cruel.
After we’d fueled-up properly, we went back downstairs. In the clothing department, I ended up finding some great things… they ended up all being from Sandro, a Parisian brand (I’d hoped to find some German designers, but oh well), but I fell in love with them all and they were on sale.
A short brown eyelet skirt with a paper bag waist (I wore this today):
A finely knit black shirt with pretty silver detail:
And a white linen dress with great pockets (I LOVE dresses with pockets… they’re hard to see in this photo).
We finally tour ourselves away and went to meet my dad at the Pergamon museum. Inside the museum is an impressive number of re-constructed ancient ruins, the most famous of which is the Pergamon Altar.
Built in the 2nd century BC, the originally open-air altar is over 100-feet wide. (It was also very comfortable for our travel-weary hero to sit on.)
The Ishtar Gate is also, miraculously, in perfect condition.
This was built in 575 BC in the city of Babylon.
Unfortunately, this was all I saw because I got hit in the face with fatigue. I sat down on a bench and may or may not have fell asleep and head-flopped onto an elderly Spanish man, who asked if I was having a nice dream. Whoops. I thought food might help, so I had a bite of this dried peach and apricot bar.
I felt much better afterwards, so we took a long walk to get to dinner. We passed Humboldt University (very grand, huh?):
Across from the courtyard, amidst the cobblestones, was a piece of square glass through. Unfortunately there was too much glare to show you properly what’s inside: a room filled with bookshelves, representing the 20,000 books that were burned by the Nazis before and during World War II.
On our walk, we also happened upon Guggenheim Berlin, which was having a small but colorful exhibit by Imi Knoebel.
I used to flap my arms around a lot as a child…
My parents and I had planned on going to a vegetarian restaurant that was written up in our guidebook, but when we got to the address they’d given, something else was there instead that only had one vegetarian option. Luckily, we’d seen another restaurant on the way that looked promising, so we checked it out. I’m happy to report that Café Jolesh was far better than we could have hoped. The menu was creative and reasonably priced, the staff was knowledgeable and attentive, and, most importantly, we enjoyed a lovely evening together.
We started out with a basket of bread that came with a cheesy, herby dip.
I ordered a glass of White Burgandy to drink. I was just thinking the other day that I’d never tried it before, so I was glad it was on the menu! (I ended up ordering two glasses, but by the time the end of dinner rolled around I was so full that I finished less than half of the second glass.)
The pre-fixe menu was a steal, so we couldn’t turn it dow 😀 I started with salmon four ways: two tartares, a piece of a filet (which was perfectly cooked), and a spring roll that had a smokey, almost pork-like taste. It was all garnished with fresh sour cream (which I’m not usually a fan of, but it perfectly complemented the tartare) and caviar.
My dad and I split two entrées: saffron-roasted sea bass with a fennel-papaya salad and sesame noodles (these were just, as far as I could tell, angel hair noodles tossed with sesame oil instead of olive… a delicious change, and one I will try at home)
We also shared the vegetarian special: roasted vegetables, two kinds of chard, mixed greens, elderberry soufflé (it looks a bit like polenta) and a pine nut/wheatberry/raisin garnish. This was very good, but pretty rich. We both would have preferred a bit less sauce.
The dessert specials all sounded so interesting, so we ordered all three and split them.
Battered, cooked fig with honey poached white asparagus, chocolate-drizzled cooked strawberry, and a cold, sorbet-like soufflé that we couldn’t quite figure out.
No, it’s not funnel-cake: battered elderberry flowers with minty rhubarb and fresh raspberry granite.
Crème brulée made with a stinky cheese, served with golden rhubarb and a light salad.
All of the desserts were so interesting and unexpected that it was impossible to pick a favorite, although I did dip my spoon into the crème brulée a disproportionate amount of times to my parents. The salty/sweet combination was just too good!
When I got home, I was pretty sure that my food baby (who goes by Claude, by the way) had multiplied into twins. We are, however, walking an insane amount, so I’m not worried about it anymore and am just enjoying all of the different tastes. Because of all the walking, though, the ball of my left foot has started giving me some trouble, and I don’t want to end up like this again…
It’s a different bone and a different leg, but I’m going to be very, very careful.
Anyway, this monster of a post took two hours to write, and I’m still a day behind, so I’m going to get horizontal and finish my book. Have a great night!