berlin junk food, momos and a turkish bath

Momos

My holiday posts are a bit out of order, so here I am back in Berlin, at least on the blog page. In fact, I am at home, writing up my blog posts that were plagued by some terrible wifi and difficulty uploading¬†photos while overseas. I was also busy doing things rather than writing blog posts about them. ūüôā

While I was in Berlin for a week, I ate both junk food and did some fine dining. There are great examples of¬†both. The fine dining meals deserve posts of their own, I’ve already reviewed the Lucky Leek and there is another post coming up about dinner at Kopps.

On the junk food front, one of the yummiest¬†things I had was a double cheese meatball sandwich with a beer at an all vegan bar called Chaostheorie, a five minute walk from where I was¬†staying in Prenzlauerberg. It was really tasty even though it was inexplicably served on dreadful square white sliced bread. Germany has such great bread, so it is really hard to know why. It would have been really spectacular on a crispy roll. The bar staff were friendly and there was a bonus of a dog sleeping next to my table, though she was more interested in tidbits than smooching. They have limited food and most of it isn’t going to win any awards¬†but the sandwich I had was¬†perfect with¬†a beer.

Now, speaking of junk food, we need to talk about currywurst. It is an obsession in Germany, Berlin in particular, and it is really hard to know why. There are stands and shops selling them everywhere. So against my better judgement I tried a vegan one.

A currywurst, for the uninitiated, is a sausage cut into sections, sprinkled with curry powder and drowned in ketchup. If you say you like it spicy they’ll throw on some chilli flakes. It is hard to know what kind of mind dreamed it up. I can only assume it started life as a late night food for drunks.

Currywurst

For the record it was bad. Worse than bad. Just inexplicable. Once I’d sampled a couple of bites, for science only, I threw the rest in the bin.

I had booked in for a Turkish bath at a hammam for women that is situated in an old chocolate factory in Kreuzberg that is now a women’s centre. ¬†I’ve only had one other Turkish bath in my life and that was in Turkey. They are a wonderful experience and so I was delighted to find one in Berlin and booked immediately. I spent a few hours steaming and pouring warm and cold water, getting scrubbed and soaped and doused and emerged relaxed and sparking clean and soft.¬†if¬†you ever get the chance, I can highly recommend it.

Later that night I grabbed a quick dinner at Momos (not junk food at all) where they make 6 kinds of vegetarian dumplings, 4 of which are vegan. I ate 3 kinds: pumpkin and chickpea, potato and mushroom, and tofu, broccoli and shiitake with a couple of dipping sauces. I demolished 18 of them (pictured above), half steamed and half fried at the tiny shop.

 

Delicious. They were so good that I went back a second time later in the week.

Chaostheorie
Schliemannstraße 15, 10437 Berlin, Germany

http://www.chaostheorie.berlin/

Momos
Fehrbelliner Strasse 5, 10119, Berlin

https://momos-berlin.de/

leipzig

Thai yellow curry

I spent 5 days in Leipzig for the Bach festival, an annual event dedicated to the music of Bach. In that time I attended 5 major concerts, 3 church services, and 6 smaller concerts. Leipzig is a smallish, manageable town with a pretty historical centre and I walked everywhere between my lovely apartment and 4 different venues.

The only thing I did while in Leipzig, other than music,  was visit the old Stasi headquarters which is now a museum run by volunteers. It absolutely demonstrates the banality of evil, some of the spying techniques would be ridiculously comical, if only they hadn’t had such a brutal impact on people’s lives. The people of Leipzig are justifiably proud that the uprising against the authoritarian East German regime started here.

I hadn’t really given a lot of thought to food, but Leipzig apparently is one of Germany’s most vegan friendly cities. They do have a Veganz supermarket with a Goodies Cafe inside, but the other handful of vegan restaurants I found are several kilometers outside the city ring. I didn’t get to them as I was too busy racing from one concert to the next.

Eventually, I worked out what they meant by vegan friendly. I’m a compulsive menu reader and almost every mainstream restaurant has a couple of vegan dishes on the menu that are clearly marked.

I had a small kitchen in my apartment so I stocked up on both breakfast and sandwich making ingredients at Veganz. Breakfast has been lots of strawberries which are in season right now. They are not like the varieties we get at home. They are quite fragile, very sweet and aromatic.  I made my lunch most days.

One of my favourite spots to eat has been a salad and curry place called Dean and David just a couple of minutes walk from my apartment. They are part of a chain that is all over Germany. They have vegan curry and soup on their menu every day as well as build your own salads. My favourite was the Thai yellow curry pictured above.

Veganz
Nikolaistraße 53
04109 Leipzig

dean & david
H√∂fe am Br√ľhl
Br√ľhl 1
04109 Leipzig

berlin – the lucky leek

Ginger carrot with pistachios, tempura asparagus, white asparagus, bok choy, asparagus purée and a minty pea dumpling

On the second night I was in Berlin I dined at the Lucky Leek. I had booked before I left home to make sure I could go. I had high expectations and I wasn’t disappointed. The service is friendly and relaxed, I was treated well as a solo diner and given a nice table in the window. The food is refined without being so posh and minuscule that you end up hungry.

I had a choice of a 3 or 5 course chef’s menu. I chose the 5 courses. It cost 55 euros.

Here is what I ate.

 

Amuse Bouche of smoked tofu on a red pepper and lentil pilaf. This was accompanied by a sushi roll that had been fried in tempura batter and topped with something delicious that I couldn’t identify. Both were delicious.

smoked tofu on rice and lentil pilaf and tempura sushi roll

 

The first real course was a very pretty salad with a gratin of vegan feta on pumpernickel. It came with strawberries, pickled turnip and delicious apple purée and dried apple. Really good.

Gratin of feta on pumpernickel with salad, apple purée, green peppercorns, strawberry, radish and turnip

It is full on asparagus season in Europe at the moment and restaurants everywhere are featuring it on their menus. Here was no exception, where it came as a creamy asparagus soup with a wonton filled with potato and garnished with parsley oil. Simple and good with the crunch of the wonton perfect with the velvety soup.

Asparagus soup with a potato wonton and parsley oil

This course was probably my favourite. Ginger cooked carrot with pistachio, asparagus purée, sautéed bok choy, white asparagus, tempura green asparagus and a pea and mint dumpling. Plate licking worthy food.

Ginger carrot with pistachios, tempura asparagus, white asparagus, bok choy, asparagus purée and a minty pea dumpling

This course was mixed for me. Tempeh, gratinated eggplant, sweet potato and cheese croquette and cabbage with pepper and beetroot sauces. The tempeh was a dead loss for me as I can’t bear it unless it is thin and crispy. But the eggplant and the croquette were wonderful and the cabbage delicious. The sauces were not that thrilling. But I’d have eaten this dish for that croquette alone.

Tempeh, cabbage , cauliflower, sweet potato croquette, eggplant, pepper cream

Dessert was a fruit tart, with an apricot curry mousse and a lemon cheesecake icecream. All good and surprising the mousse with curry worked!

Fruit tart, apricot curry mousse, lemon cheesecake ice cream

 

I’d go back to the Lucky Leek anytime. It is high end, delicious vegan food without being stuffy and it is good value for the quality.

Lucky Leek
Kollwitzstraße 54
10405 Berlin

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