First in what will be an ongoing series of pointers to culinary events, curiosa, and cooking news too small to merit their own posts.
I have trouble figuring out what Goldhuhn und Sampson are all about, since the store’s stock has never cohered into a recognizable gestalt for me, but they do frequently offer some interesting tastings, one of which is coming up on Saturday starting at noon. A selection of Japanese green teas will be offered in a tasting, along with “ice tea, shakes, and sweets,” according to their press release. (I wonder if they’ll have maccha, the finely-powdered green tea used in the traditional tea ceremony, which breakaway cook Eric Gower mixes with salt for one of his famous “flavor blasts.”) Someone there seems to think drinking hot tea in the summer is odd, but when I was in Japan one September, cold green tea was routinely offered as refreshments in the better stores (for instance in the market in Kyoto while I was waiting to have the knife I’d just bought perfectly sharpened). No idea about the “shakes,” though.
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I’ve never seen a country with a larger variety of dairy products as Germany has (Josh has only scratched the surface with his “cream” post), and I’ve always enjoyed the wide variety of cream cheese (Frischkäse) available here. Current favorite is Exquisa’s Frischkäse des Jahres, which is Alsatian Flammekuche. If you’ve never had a Flammekuche, which is a kind of variation of pizza on a cracker-thin crust topped with cheese, onions, and/or ham and/or other stuff, you should find one immediately. Exquisa’s take on it isn’t quite as good as they make at, say, Gugelhof, but it’s good enough that it’s not only this year’s cream cheese of the year, it was last year’s, too. I say lose the dorky chef from the packaging and make it a regular.
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Like beer? Disappointed in the local take on Oktoberfest? Then you need to know about the Berlin International Beer Fest, a tradition that goes back a decade. Presented in the shadow of the magnificent Soviet-era model apartment buildings on Karl-Marx-Allee in Friedrichshain, it’s an orgy of beer drinking and eating whose sheer variety puts that Bavarian thing in the shade. After all, down in Munich they have all those crappy rides and the rules about sitting down, not to mention some of the most horrible music ever committed by Germans. Here, it’s all about the beer. True, the vast majority are German beers, but you can buy a mug and get samples at good low prices, and the snacks include excellent smoked fish along with the usual grilled Nackensteaks. Okay, there’s crappy music, too, but after a couple of Chinggis beers from Mongolia it won’t sound that bad.
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Speaking of beer, I’ve just found out that this year’s Brauerfest in Friedrichshagen will be on Sept. 1 and 2. This is not only a chance to check out Berliner Bürgerbraü’s range of beers and buy a couple of their incredibly tasteless garden gnomes, but it’s a chance to see a bit of Berlin you never knew existed. Friedrichshagen was a village until the DDR decided to annex it into the city of Berlin, and it still has, right along its main street, original Brandenburg farmhouses. The brewery is the oldest family-owned one in Berlin, and it celebrates like crazy — as does the whole town. Perched as it is on the good-sized Müggelsee, the brewery offers boat rides, and there are plenty of other events going on. It’s one of my favorite events of the year.
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Yeah, yeah, we all know Brad Pitt ate at Bandol the other night, but he was just confirming that Torstr. between Rosenthaler Platz and Oranienburger Tor is the new Restaurant Row. A select list as you walk east to west:
Lara and Ipanema at 164; Russian and Brazilian food, respectively, in the former Royal Pawnshop. The latter, at least, has a good reputation.
Bandol, 164; creepy vibe, odd menu (now posted outdoors on a tree, although frequently washed away by rain). What’s up with all the fish cassoulet?
La Grotta Azura, 171; a hidden treasure. Crazy Neapolitans cook stuff and serve it to you. The menu isn’t much help, the lady who runs the place doesn’t really speak German, and the food is excellent — and not very expensive, given its quality.
Inoshishi, 176; not open yet, the website promises “sushi and warm food.” The latter half of that proposition is of interest.
Kim Qui, 179; North Vietnamese food of very high quality, served up by a friendly couple who’ve made this a neighborhood standby.
Kusch, 182; a “Sudanese and African” imbiss, with couscous and falafel of various sorts, and the ubiquitous foul, which is beans. Good beans.
Toca Rouge, 195; needs no further publicity. You haven’t been? Try getting a table to taste this remarkable Chinese-Japanese-Martian cuisine.
Zum Alten Tor, 221; looks like it’s been there since the DDR. Only my fear of MSG in traditional German restaurants has kept me out. Anybody been?
Mali Imbiss, 224; not, as it turns out, Malian food, although proprietor Gjilizade Osmani seems to hail from there. Lava-stone-cooked burgers and steaks, pasta, and other oddities. Haven’t tried it yet because it’s just opened.
Not to forget that around each corner lurks YumMee, Friedrichstr. 116, Berlin’s only bánh mi Vietnamese sandwich shop, which completely rocks (and has an Internet cafe for those in need of one) and Good Time, the excellent Thai-Indonesian place at Chausseestr. 1.
And that’s just a smattering.
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