While some were in Berlin for the annual Berlinale film festival and others were enjoying the trendy hipster hot spots, I spent all of last week getting lost on the U-Bahn. In between trying to figure out my Mitte from my Moritzplaz, I ate. A lot. And very well, too.
I was in Berlin researching and developing an exciting project with my friend and sometime-partner-in-performance-art-crime Scottee. All that rolling around on the floor and pretending to be trees really made us work up an appetite. And when two hungry chubbsters hit mealtime, it’s take no prisoners.
The first night we dined in what can only be described as a German grandmother’s front room. The decor consisted of more net curtains than Ena Sharples could twitch in a lifetime, contrasted with some fine carpet tapestry wallhangings of Germany’s regional coats of arm. Marjellchen specialises in dishes from East Prussia, Silesia and Pomerania. Wherever….whatever….it was delicious. Scottee reluctantly agreed to share a starter with me- thick slices of moist smoked salmon with a sweet dill mustard sauce and chunks of fresh dark rye bread.
My main course nearly killed me through my own gluttony. Weiner Schnitzel- two large, thin tranches of finely breaded pork cutlets served with fistfulls of chanterelle mushrooms in a cream sauce…plus potatoes fried with bacon…well, call me Brunhilde and wheel me out the door.
Surprisingly I couldn’t face dessert. But Scottee, after his lightly roast pike, ordered a mountain of sweet Silesian dumplings made of poppy seeds. Black and grainy an topped with cream (why not?), they were more bitter than sweet but an unusual and memorable end to an extraordinary meal. And the service was excellent too.
Shopping for food was a hoot. I found this in the local corner store- it’s CHEESE shaped like FEET. Yep. Cheesy Feet. No trip to Berlin would be complete without a visit to KaDeWe food hall, which is so large and has so much to see and taste it is possible to go in a tiny toddler and come out an obese pensioner. What I love most of all about the KaDeWe food hall are the sausages; every type in Germany is represented here. If all the sausages in KaDeWe were lined up end to end I am sure we could lasso the moon. I have found where i’d like to eat my last meal on earth: Rogacki. A pleasure palais devoted to mainly fish and seafood in all its varieties (though it also stocks sausages of course) the highlight of a trip to Rogacki is lunch at the fried-fish-and-potato-salad bar. It’s priced by weight, and you can choose delicate little bowls of sauces, salads and pickled cucumber to go with your meal. There are no seats- it’s a stand up affair whether you eat in the working class fried fish area, the middle class fish soup bar, or with the upper class oysters and fizz brigade. This is Berlin at its fresh, functional, and pocket-friendly best. And the decor hasn’t changed since…ummm..I reckon 1983.
I could write about the amazing chocolate confections at Fassbender and Rausch and how the amaretto hot chocolate and tiramisu tower defeated me.
Or how the veggie burgers at Yellow Sunshine were soooo worth getting lost in a roadworks cul-de-sac in sub zero temperatures.Or how the organic burgers at Kreutzburger were some of the sloppiest, finger lickin’ meisters i’ve ever had…AND they were accompanied by crazy fries, sour cream AND all the ketchup you could desire.
Or the baumkuchen at Café Buchwald- an old-time delight of pastry layers covered in dark chocolate- not too sweet and from a long gone tradition of Prussian teatime treats
But the final word goes to the humble pretzel- or BRETZEL, as it’s called in Berlin. This classic snack - both salted and cheesy varieties- satiated us on our endless traipsing across Berlin in search of art and food….but mostly food.