Thursday, 23 December 2010
One of the neighborhoods we're really excited about and love to go to for a wander is the criss cross of streets around Savignyplatz. Every time we go we are delighted by what we find, and yesterday was no exception.
Our friend Cat is visiting us this week from Italy and we decided to take her there. We had been wandering around the neighborhood and were sufficiently cold/hungry/thirsty to warrant a stop. It was already getting dark out, and the lights inside beckoned us.
The restaurant is simply decorated with spacious booths and tables at the front, and a bar at the back. Our server was very friendly and helped us decide what to order from the extensive choices.
Cat and I decided to give the spätzle a try, neither of us having tried it before. I kept it simple and ordered Käsespätzle with speck and onions. Imagine oodles of rough cut noodles boiled, finished off by sauteeing with butter, smoked bacon and onions and coated with melted cheese. mmmmm!
Cat went for a spätzle omelette. She went for the veggie version which was filled with spätzle and assorted vegetables and also served with a side salad.
Kelsie ordered Maultaschen with chilli and tomato. Maultaschen are the German equivalent of raviolis. they are triangle shaped and quite large. We weren't quite sure what the filling was but the chilli and tomato sauce was surprisingly spicy.
All of it was a carb-tastic winter comfort food extravaganza, and with the reasonable prices a place we're sure to visit again. Total bill including 2 beers and bottled water came to 27€.
Bleibtreustraße 46, 10623 Berlin
Tuesday, 21 December 2010
On this particular night it was absolutely Baltic out. somewhere around -10 or -12. perfect conditions for Phở. The restaurant is brightly lit with plenty of room to sit. The service was friendly and efficient, but, alas the Phở fell way short of our expectations.
- Flavour of the broth: it was insipid at best. it looked weak even before we tasted it. just dull and lacking in flavour. Score: 1/5.
- Quantity of fresh herbs in relation to the soup: Again, lacking. There were a few chopped coriander leaves scattered on top, and not nearly enough to even make an impression. Score: 1/5.
- Price/Quantity: There was a good ratio of meat to soup and we certainly didn't leave hungry. Just a bit dissatisfied. Cost of 1 soup: 4,90€ Score: 3/5.
Summary: A lacklustre start to our quest. The other appetisers we ordered were just as disappointing as the Phở. Total score: 5/15.
Breite Straße 20, 13597 Berlin
tel: 030 52 134 178
Monday, 13 December 2010
- we had just started to find amazing places in London to eat this fine soup before we upped and moved (again). Most memorable was Pho where we had the good luck to be able to take a peek in their kitchen and see the magic happening in their stock pots...it was a heady, breathtaking smell, that stock...i am salivating just thinking about it:
we also had great Phở at our local vietnamese Khoai in crouch end, and at a few of the places dotted along Kingsland road. So the bar has been set with those experiences and we want to try more!
- it's dark and cold in berlin right now, and probably will be for another 2 months. nothing beckons more loudly in this kind of environment than a steaming bowl of noodle soup. perfect conditions for our voyage of discovery.
- there is a sizeable Vietnamese community in Berlin. so surely there must some good Phở
We'll be focusing on Pho with beef brisket. We'll use a rating scale of 1-5 for the following criteria that we feel are important to a good Phở
- Flavour of the broth. We're looking for depth of flavour here. Something that says this soup has been cooked with care and attention to the combination of herbs and spices as well as good meat.
- Quantity of fresh herbs in relation to the rest of the soup. We like LOTS of fresh herbs that we can add to the soup as wanted. Definitely a must is fresh coriander and a plus is a squeeze of lime.
- Price/Quantity. A big bowl of steaming soup for under 7€ will do very nicely thank you.
And to help you all follow us on our quest through Berlin we'll be adding our reviews to foodspotting and qype.
Sunday, 12 December 2010
Our third TWMF Supper Club was held on 04 December. We decided to call it 1001 Nights to reflect how dark the nights here have become and to ward off the winter blues. There was something about the glow of lots of burning candles, coupled with the ruby red of pomegranates and the lively energy that our guests brought to the evening that made this evening particularly memorable.
The lesson learned from last supper club was to keep things simple and to cook from the heart and that's exactly what I did. What a difference that made! I was relaxed, in control and had time to chat with our guests and enjoy the live music we had as well (more on that later).
The food was mostly Persian and reminiscent of our first London Cooking Club which was held at The London Foodie's house around the same time last year. Kelsie made a delicious welcome cocktail of fresh pomegranate juice and seeds and cava. Starters were an assortment of mezze: homemade flatbread, beetroot with yoghurt, winter tabbouleh, harissa-spice chicken wings and an utterly awesome batch of babba ganoush. One of our guests practically demolished the whole batch of babba ganoush and we sent her home with a takeaway portion.
For mains we had spectacular jewelled rice, with roast lamb and a pomegranate molasses gravy. One of our guests opted for sea bass stuffed with fresh herbs and dried fruit.
The highlight of the evening for me was a mini concert of santur music performed by Moritz. I found him on the internet and he kindly came by to perform a 30-minute set for us. You can hear a clip of his performance here. While he was performing we served a cooling palate cleanser of pomegranate sorbet.
Dessert came next and I relied on my tried and true recipe for Persian Love Cake. Totally sweet and intensely flavoured with cardamom and nutmeg. We had to wrap up the rose syrup scented baklava because everyone was stuffed.
Wine and more wine and brandy and conversation flowed about myriad subjects such as, scrum, ostrich egg omelettes, the difference between 'dag' and 'bogen' (australian vernacular terms) to name a few.
Funnily enough, Kelsie and I started TWMF Supper Club so that we could meet more Berliners, but on this particular evening, all our guests were from out of town! We had DoktorG and his wife, MsGourmetChick and her fabulous friends, and Kaeladan who was visiting us from Glasgow for the weekend.
I'm glad we got our mojo back and are really looking forward to our next supper club in January.
As always, here's my list of lessons learned:
- Definitey make the sorbet the night before, i didn't this time and it was melting as soon as i served it out.
- If you are going to have entertainment, limit the performance time and wait to serve any courses until it's over. I got the sense that people didn't know whether it was ok to eat or not while Moritz was playing.
- Have a few taxi numbers on hand for guests to be able to make their way home if it's really late.
- Thanks to Dave and Matt for letting us use some of their photos from the evening in this blog post
- THe gorgeous legs of lamb were purchased from Wild+Geflugel at the Karl-August-Platz market in Charlottenburg
- Beautiful sounds from Moritz on his santur
- overall recipe inspiration from New Food of Life by Najmieh Batmanglij and My Persian Kitchen
- Speciality Persian ingredients including advieh and dried barberries from Fruta Shiva (persian groceries in Charlottenburg)
Monday, 15 November 2010
What's that saying they have about breakthrough artists' problems with their second album? i think i might have felt a bit of that after our 2nd TWMF supperclub. this time round we decided to celebrate diwali by doing an indian vegetarian/vegan menu.
my trusted companions for the past two weeks have been Manjula's cooking videos on Youtube and my treasured book Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Yamuna Devi. I've tried lots of recipes in this book in the past and most have come out flawless and delicious the first time round.
which is no excuse for me throwing every last ounce of caution to the wind and embarking on a 9-course menu featuring a few dishes i'd be making for the first time. silly silly mel! when will you learn? i get like this you see, i start going off in tangents and basically want to cook as many different things as i can.
on thursday we felt amazingly calm and in control. i had my list i was checking it once twice all the time...
i did a lot of prep, making chenna and then rolling them into little balls which would then be fried off at the last minute and mixed into the Royal Rice
but by saturday night, after the first set of dishes went out i was well stuck in 'the weeds' and didn't think i'd be able to break through. in the thick of it i started making silly mistakes and by the end of it i was shattered.
this doesn't mean the guests didn't have a diverse menu featuring dishes you'd probably not find in your average indian restaurant. or that the food was awful. empty plates came back, and the leftovers said it all. of all 9 dishes, two had significant leftovers. which means i really didn't need to make them. and THAT, my friends is the biggest lesson learned. it's not about how many different dishes i can squeeze in, it's about doing the ones i love with the care and attention they deserve, because that feeling makes it way all the way to the plate. and, while it was a hard lesson to learn, i'm glad i did!
so, here are some more 'lessons learned' this time around:
- don't make too many dishes for one night.
- make food that you feel comfortable, confident and passionate about
- practice the menu or at the very least every single dish before the day
- prep all you can the day before
i'm very much looking forward to living by these lessons at our next supperclub. hope to see you there!
Wednesday, 3 November 2010
Finally we've launched TWMF Supper Club. And with the first night under our belts I've got time to reflect on the whirlwind weekend it was.
We did the first shop, mostly alcohol-based, on Thursday night after work. Keep in mind we don't have a car here. It's just us and our rucksacks and public transport. We do have a trolley that we can hitch to Kelsie's bike, but decided on public transport this round as we didn't know how much we'd be able to carry. Good thing we split the alcohol shopping from the food shopping. Wine and beer bottles are heavy.
The next morning we did the big Ikea shop. Got there really early and did pretty well, except we got stuck on the chairs and which to buy, cushions or no cushions? wish we knew how to sew, wish our friend jorge were here to help sew nice covers, do we have enough dessert forks? we took a taxi for this round, meeting Kofi, a Ghanaian in Spandau who was v. surprised when i started talking to him in Ewe.
We were home long enough to drop the stuff off and headed back out to do food shop part 1. This involved a journey to Charlottenburg to Aqui Espana to get the rest of the Mexican ingredients and the all important tequila. Had a mini-meltdown when we couldn't decide to spend another hour going to Getrankmarkt in Mitte where we were sure we could get the same bottle of Tequila for way cheaper. Decided not to, and headed back to Aqui Espana for the more expensive bottle.
Short train trip back to Spandau where we did food shop part 2 and finally got home around 5:30 pm. OMG. I started in on the flans and washing all the new crockery/cutlery/glassware. By 8 pm i was ready to start the mole. Mole is a very time consuming recipe. Practically each individual ingredient has to be cooked separately before joining the rest. And as with any sauce it takes time to develop. Lots of time. At 2:30 am i was finally finished. The house smelled deliciously spicy with all the cooking smells but i was beyond knackered.
After a fleeting sleep with mole-filled dreams I woke up on saturday. LATE! It was already 9 am and i still had to go back for food shop part 3. I left Kels at the flat to start setting things up, and hightailed it back to Charlottenburg for the farmers market at Karl-August Platz. Found beautiful side of salmon at my favourite fish stall, bargain limes, gorgeous lettuce, and pretty flowers for the table.
Once home i started 'cooking' the salmon ceviche, braising the turkey, and did all the prep for the evening. Lots of onion and garlic chopping, prepping the lime vinaigrette for the salad, and two of the 3 salsas. Amazingly by 5 pm i was ready. Kelsie had tranformed our place into a mini-Mexico, replete with crepe paper bunting with Dia de los Muertos cut-outs, and a beautifully laid out table. All i wanted was for the first guest to arrive so that i could start sending the food out.
And the bell rang. 4 guests arrived at once. I put the totopos in the oven and started making a batch of guacamole. 10 minutes later, another 3 arrived. Totopos and 3 salsas went out, Kelsie was expertly mixing margaritas and serving drinks. 20 minutes later we were still waiting for the remaining two guests to arrive. and waiting. and ...waiting. we decided to start the meal and i plated up the ceviche.
it got quiet. good thing? bad thing? kels brought back empty dishes. good thing! meanwhile i did the rice and calabacitas con elote. mole was ticking away. everything running like clockwork.
and, because we had two no-shows we got to sit at the table too. that was probably the coolest thing for me. sitting at the table with our guests, talking about the food, watching them enjoy it. really really gratifying.
we had plenty of food for seconds (and more...). salad with lime vinaigrette and toasted pepitas was next. a nice fresh palate cleanser after the heady flavours of the mole.
and for dessert one of the two flans i made the night before. coffee and the aged tequila. and more tequila. and chili-orange truffles. before we knew it it was past midnight and our guests were making their way home. we surveyed the scene and after one more tequila (what were we thinking?!) went to bed.
sunday was a painfully hungover day interspersed with washing batches of dishes and trudging back to bed for hangover recovery.
i'm learning things as i go along. here's what i've learned this round:
1) split the shopping into stages esp if you don't have a car.
2) 10 people is not the same as an army. don't make too much food or you'll be eating leftovers for eternity.
3) it takes a lot less room if you chill your wine/beer outdoors. especially if it's cold outside.
4) avocados take longer than you think to ripen.
5) keep those water jugs full.
6) don't mix margarita/beer/white wine/red wine/tequila/port in the same night.
7) remember to take pictures!
Special thanks to FoodieInBerlin for her kind review and to all our guests for making the first night a success! We hope you join us again for another supperclub evening.
Sunday, 24 October 2010
We will follow up next month with a report and some photos about our first Supper Club experience.
Kelsie and Mel
Wednesday, 6 October 2010
Sorry it has been a while since our last posting. We were moving homes within Berlin. We now live in the North West of the City in the district of Spandau. All settled now, pretty much. We also have some exciting news in that we would like to announce the arrival of our Berlin Supper Club. Our first night will be on the 30th October. The menu is to be Mexican in order to celebrate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). If you are in Berlin and are interested in attending our first Supper Club night please check out our website here
Thursday, 19 August 2010
Ok, it wasn't Oktoberfest, but a couple of weekends ago, with our friend @chocosquirrel in tow, we embarked on a day of beer discovery in our newly adopted city: the 14th International Berlin Beer Festival. The night before we had indulged in too many espresso martinis, sangria, and paella and we all thought a few beers and some pork would set us right.
We made our way to the festivities and started exploring. Our first stop was the festival stall where we purchased our souvenir mugs and a map of the mile. We saw people walking around with nifty lanyards which they attached their mugs to, so as not to lose them. If you didn't buy a souvenir mug, the stalls would simply take a deposit of 2 euros for the glass. But if you did have a souvenir mug then most of the stalls were selling 200ml of their beer for 1.50 to 2 euro a glass. Not a bad deal at all!
To get things rolling, and to attack the hangovers we had the obligatory rostbratwurst, slathered with senf (mustard) and a glass of Kormbacher Pils. We buy this all the time from our local shop and it was a gentle introduction into the other delights to come.
I'm sorry to say i wasn't organised enough on the day to record everything we sampled. But between the three of us we did pretty good. Here's a list of all the featured brewers. There were some outstanding choices and it all became a bit of a blur.
In between drinking we of course ate....immense gherkins, gorgeous beer-batter fried fish with remoulade sauce, and as a takeaway treat we bought Haxe which was pig knuckles cooked in a big cauldron -- the smell was unbelievable.
The well-named motto of this year's festival was beer makes us friends.
„Bier macht uns zu Freunden“
We had a chance encounter with some well groomed gentelmen....
The mile was really well organised, with plenty of seating, a great map to locate the participating brewers, and a good variety of food. By the time we made it to the end and started wending our way back to where we started, the entertainment was kicking in. There were brass bands, country-western singers, and pop/rock bands.
All in all it was a fabulous day, and we'll definitely be back next year!