bite berlin

Sketches of Berlin

Doodling is one of my favourite pastimes and so when I find myself with a little extra time, I try to create some characters that could well live here in Berlin.

Often, as with their creator, they are found with food on the mind.

Food in Berlin is wondrous.

Diverse and affordable, eating well in Berlin is pure joy.

That is the main reason I started giving food tours here, so I could share this wealth with others that may be new to the city.

A food tour tells you so much about a city, where it has come from- where it is going and that is exactly the case for Berlin.

In this blog, I introduce you to some of the people in Berlin on a quest for good food that may or may not be a figment of my imagination.

Enjoy!

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gimme beer

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to booze, or not to booze, that is the question…

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The Best Christmas markets in Berlin

It's that time of year again.

The time of year that the heady scent of Glühwein and Bratwurst fills the air and you cannot help but wonder how it can be Christmas again already.

Every year seems to go faster than the last, the year's 'to do lists' left incomplete yet again, we'll do better next year.

So while you're here in Berlin, take a break from the trials and tribulations of the festive season to enjoy all the good things that come along with this time of year.

Roasted chestnuts. The ubiquitous Raclette with its melted ooziness over toasted bread or potatoes with pickled onions and gherkins. And the sometimes too sweet, but always warming Glühwein- mulled wine with oranges and cloves and of course the customary shot or schuss of rum. Just to make sure you don't freeze from the cold, naturally.

There is somewhere between 60 and 80 Christmas markets in Berlin and it could be said that once you've seen one, you've seen them all.

They do tend to have the same offerings of food and general bits and pieces, however some of the markets here in Berlin just cannot be missed and here I have put together a list of my favourite ones.

Merry Christmas!! Frohe Weihnachten!!

1. WeihnachtsZauber Gendarmenmarkt- situated at one of, if not the, most beautiful squares in Berlin. This market is sure to put even Ebenezer in the Christmas Spirit. One of few that you have to pay to go in (just 1 euro), it is worth every penny. Carols fill the air, great food and drink, overlooked by stunning cathedrals and the concert house. Duration: 21.11.16-31.12.16

2. Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt in der Kulturbrauerei- within an old brewery, this Scandinavian themed market is a must! Try the Swedish Glögg with a shot of rum and a sprinkle of sultanas and almonds. Duration: 21.11.16-22.12.16

3. Weihnachtsmarkt in der Sophienstrasse- something for the weekend, this market is only on Saturday and Sunday. I love its simplicity as it just runs the length of the street. Duration: Each Advent weekend

4. Weihnachtsmarkt Charlottenburg Schloss- another one in a beautiful location with the backdrop of Charlottenburg Palace. Currently covered in scaffolding, it still makes for a gorgeous Christmassy Setting. Duration: 21.11.16- 26.12.16

5. Spandauer Weihnachtsmarkt in der Altstadt- this one is a little further out but very much worth the trip. One of the oldest Christmas markets in Berlin in the old town of Spandau. Duration: Tue, 13.12.2016 till Tue, 27.12.2016                 

6. Rixdorfer Weihnachtsmarkt in Neukölln- THIS WEEKEND ONLY!

One to miss- Weihnachtmarkt am Alexanderplatz. I hate to be a snob but this one is just a bit much in my opinion. Heaving with people, it doesn't have the charm of the other markets.  

Berlin foodie hitlist

So you've made it to Berlin for a little trip and there are so many amazing things to do and see that you just don't know where to start.

Of course the most important matter at hand is what to eat and where.

It's all too easy to get a little lost when you visit a new city and if you're only there for a few days or so, you need a little guidance. It's always best when you know someone that lives there, a friend that can take you by the hand to all their favourite spots and lead you away from all the tourist hellholes. You may be thinking, that's all well and good but we don't know anyone that lives here in Berlin.

There you'd be wrong.

You have me!

And this blog is for you- an easy, concise plan of foodie action for when you are in Berlin for a holiday and want to make the most of your trip without any culinary mishaps.

Follow these steps and you will have yourself a truly delicious, vibrant and an extremely Berlin holiday.

You'll find a balance of the German classics, that one may be craving on a visit to the Hauptstadt, and the more diverse foodie finds that reflect the multi-cultural bounty that is the Berlin food scene.  

Enjoy!

Kadewe- the foodhall

The stunning department store that is the Kadewe (Kaufhaus des Westens) hosts Europe's largest foodhall and it demands that you visit. Far more affordable than its British rival (Harrods) and the Wintergarten canteen on the very top is special. Awesome view of the city and the food is just immense with a great variety. The strudel here with vanilla and blackcurrant sauce should not be missed.

Rogacki- the deli

This is a little piece of history. A family owned business since 1928, they have been providing Berliners with delicious morsels such as smoked fish, sausages and even oysters for years. Go during a month with a 'R' in it and enjoy yourself some oysters with a nice little glass of Riesling. Also, for a little trivia- Anthony Bourdain went to Rogacki during his episode on Berlin food.

Berliner Weisse at Zwiebelfisch

This is charming little bar in the chic neighborhood of Savignyplatz in Charlottenburg. This area was extremely popular amongst artists, poets and other Bohemian types in the 70s before this scene moved over to East Berlin after the fall of the wall, and Zwiebelfisch encapsulates that. You can enjoy some traditional German bites here or just a little tipple- the red or green Berliner Weisse is a Berlin classic you can try here.

Strudel at Einstein

Though this is an Austrian delicacy, of course it can be found extensively in Germany and Cafe Einstein Stammhaus provide a pretty scrummy offering.

Schnitzel at Austria

Another Austrian dish adopted by their Germanic cousins and after extensive research, it is the schnitzel at Austria that is my favourite in Berlin. Crispy coated and the size of your head, this will satisfy those that are craving the Teutonic classic.

Schwarzes Cafe

This 24 hour cafe/restaurant/bar is a typical Berlin establishment. Cosy with an endearing shabbiness where you can enjoy extremely good afternoon Kaffee & Kuchen (coffee/cake) or a midnight cocktail. Alternatively you can have an afternoon cocktail and a midnight coffee and cake.

Clärchens Ballhaus

This Berlin institution built in 1913 as a ballroom is still used for dancing to this day along with a great German menu and also pizzas. Try the classic Königsburger Klopse and then join in for a little salsa.

Currywurst at Konnopkes

Because no trip without the Berlin Currywurst would be complete!

Brunch at Dots

Delightful little cafe with all the necessary brunchtime treats such as pancakes, avocado toast and eggs.

Fassbender & Rausch

For the chocolate lovers amongst us! In a beautiful location, opposite Gendarmenmarkt, this chocolate shop is a must. Check out the Berlin landmarks made entirely from chocolate and there is even a chocolate restaurant upstairs.

Dong Xuan Center

Go to Vietnam for the day and experience the cultural richness that the prominent Vietnamese community in Berlin brings to the city.

Sonnenallee for Middle Eastern cuisine

This street is nicknamed 'Arabic Street' and hosts a multitude of fantastic Arabic restaurants. Azzam. Al Andalous. Akroum. To name a few spots! The heavenly scent of baklava fills the air, get off at Rathaus Neukölln and follow your nose.

Food Markets

The markets are a must for any trip of Berlin, they teach us so much about the culture of the city and are just plain delicious. There are quite a few in Berlin, almost every day of the week there is a market somewhere to be found- so below is a list of my favourites.

And of course, join one of my food tours!

The Best Christmas markets in Berlin

It's that time of year again.

The time of year that the heady scent of Glühwein and Bratwurst fills the air and you cannot help but wonder how it can be Christmas again already.

Every year seems to go faster than the last, the year's 'to do lists' left incomplete yet again, we'll do better next year.

So while you're here in Berlin, take a break from the trials and tribulations of the festive season to enjoy all the good things that come along with this time of year.

Roasted chestnuts. The ubiquitous Raclette with its melted ooziness over toasted bread or potatoes with pickled onions and gherkins. And the sometimes too sweet, but always warming Glühwein- mulled wine with oranges and cloves and of course the customary shot or schuss of rum. Just to make sure you don't freeze from the cold, naturally.

There is somewhere between 60 and 80 Christmas markets in Berlin and it could be said that once you've seen one, you've seen them all.

They do tend to have the same offerings of food and general bits and pieces, however some of the markets here in Berlin just cannot be missed and here I have put together a list of my favourite ones.

Merry Christmas!! Frohe Weihnachten!!

1. WeihnachtsZauber Gendarmenmarkt- situated at one of, if not the, most beautiful squares in Berlin. This market is sure to put even Ebenezer in the Christmas Spirit. One of few that you have to pay to go in (just 1 euro), it is worth every penny. Carols fill the air, great food and drink, overlooked by stunning cathedrals and the concert house. Duration: 21.11.16-31.12.16

2. Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt in der Kulturbrauerei- within an old brewery, this Scandinavian themed market is a must! Try the Swedish Glögg with a shot of rum and a sprinkle of sultanas and almonds. Duration: 21.11.16-22.12.16

3. Weihnachtsmarkt in der Sophienstrasse- something for the weekend, this market is only on Saturday and Sunday. I love its simplicity as it just runs the length of the street. Duration: Each Advent weekend

4. Weihnachtsmarkt Charlottenburg Schloss- another one in a beautiful location with the backdrop of Charlottenburg Palace. Currently covered in scaffolding, it still makes for a gorgeous Christmassy Setting. Duration: 21.11.16- 26.12.16

5. Spandauer Weihnachtsmarkt in der Altstadt- this one is a little further out but very much worth the trip. One of the oldest Christmas markets in Berlin in the old town of Spandau. Duration: Tue, 13.12.2016 till Tue, 27.12.2016                 

One to miss- Weihnachtmarkt am Alexanderplatz. I hate to be a snob but this one is just a bit much in my opinion. Heaving with people, it doesn't have the charm of the other markets.  

Tales of Potatoes and Potsdam

 

The potato, or rather the Kartoffel, is king in Germany. 

It is the staple accompaniment for so many dishes, the childhood favourite of simply boiled and served with herby quark, or fried alongside an intimidatingly large schnitzel or used to create pillows of deliciousness in the form of German dumplings, Knödel. Debates are made as to the best way to make your kartoffel salat (potato salad) and any traditional German dish is not without the humble tuber in some form.

The potato invokes passion and great enthusiasm here in Germany, which is perhaps most evident in the sweet tale of the potato Linda. This particular variety of potato almost became extinct in Germany back in 2004, when the company that distributed it decided they were no longer going to. This meant that any farmer that continued to grow this potato would be acting illegally. Petitions were signed and rallies were made and with support from the media, Linda was saved. This was a farmer's success story and supports the fact, one should never try and come between a German and their potato! 

Now, in the area I live in Berlin- Neukölln, there is a farmers market named Die Dicke Linda (the fat Linda) in honour of this special spud.

Cookbooks and restaurants can be found dedicated solely to this humble veggie. The potato is revered and celebrated and to be honest, I can whole heartedly understand. WHAT WOULD WE DO WITHOUT POTATOES?

It is thanks to Prussia's favourite king, Frederick the Great, that we have such potato based specialities in Germany today.

He introduced this strange and exotic vegetable to the Kingdom of Prussia in 1743 which, initially, was met with suspicion and avoidance.

However, Old Fritz, recognising the potato's affordable and nourishing qualities, was on a mission to encourage his people to accept it. He decided to grow potatoes in abundance within the gardens leading up to his palace, Sanssouci, in Potsdam and ordered his soldiers to guard the potato fields heavily, thus piquing the interest of the villagers. At night, the king instructed his soldiers to relax their guard so as to allow villagers to creep into the fields and steal these 'treasured' potatoes.

And the rest, as they say, is history. To this day, the Germans love their spuds. If you visit the palace at Potsdam and go to Frederick's grave, you will find an array of potato offerings, scattered across his resting space. Flowers are redundant, it is the potato that should be left as a mark of respect and gratitude for bringing this great vegetable and source of such culinary wealth to their land.

Interestingly, the potato was shunned across Europe, originally brought over from South America by the Spanish during the 15th century. During the 18th century, it was met with doubt from the British, as potatoes were not mentioned in the Bible, and in France, Marie Antoinette needed a lot of persuasion to accept the strange looking tuber as food. This was achieved by a scientist named Antoine Parmentier (Parmentier potatoes!) who introduced her to the beauty of potato plant blossoms in the form of a trendy head dress.

Back in Germany, I recently made the journey from Berlin to Potsdam with my brother, visiting from London, and decided to respect the potato-offering tradition by leaving a few from my kitchen on the old king's grave. Unfortunately, my offerings were not too pretty and had become a little old and shriveled, (it was a Sunday when the whole of Germany is closed!).I decided to take them regardless. I mean after all- they were from the very expensive Bio Company, so I figured they would be good enough for Old Fritz and not too offensive!

Now, I am a fairly sentimental person and to be fair, it doesn't take much to stir my emotional side,  but it felt quite special to take part in this old tradition of placing a potato on top of Frederick the Great's grave and remembering his part to play.

Should I get out more? I don't know, but lets raise a schnapps (preferably a potato based one) to Old Fritz and his faith in the potato.

 

http://www.potsdam-park-sanssouci.de/palace-Sanssouci.html