80 : Germany – Part One – Brandenburg – Gustav & Gold

Apologies that these are embarassingly late. I have no excuses…

As part of the final Germanastravaganza I wanted to find restaurants in Berlin that represented the many regional faces of German cuisine. More than most other cultures, Germany suffers from a culinary misnomer of blandness and uniformity and I wanted to show that this was not fully the case.

My first opportunity to try some more modern and fresh German food was courtesy of Travelzoo who offered an excellent value dining voucher for a Berlin restaurant which took local, regional food from Brandenburg and gave it high end presentation. Gustav & Gold is a fairly new restaurant situated between Mitte and Kreuzberg which offers a small menu of delicious local food, cooked well and beautifully presented, which should be pleasing to vegetarians and meat eaters. The decor was quite classy but didn’t seem very modern or ‘Berlin’ and had a bit of a 90s elegance feel which I believe was unintended and would perhaps appeal more to their other customers who all seemed to be middle aged, middle class suburban Berliners on a rare special night out.

Our offer meant that we got to try a starter, main and dessert each for an incredible price of 55 euros including wine, a welcome cocktail and a soup. For starters Richard chose the young Mecklenburg bull tatare and I had the fried duck liver both were very delicious. This was followed by a tasty beetroot soup which was very rich, especially as I ate two portions because Richard was not a fan.

Afterwards we chose lamb rack with swede and herb crust and the whole sea bass. The lamb was pink and well cooked however the pepper in the swede was a bit dominating. Richard’s bass was really well cooked and tasty, but having a whole fish served up seemed a bit out of place with the more precise and elegant plating of the other dishes.

For dessert Richard chose the chocolate dirt cake and I had the lime mousse. They were good but not memorable as I cannot remember much about either, writing this three months later! The same goes for the wines which were okay but could have been more interesting.

I would recommend seeking out a voucher for Gustav and Gold as they seem to feature regularly on travelzoo and Groupon. The food was very tasty and for what we paid it was awesome. If I were paying full price I think I could find better places to spend my money. The concept of local Brandenburg food in Berlin is good however I think that perhaps we are not the demographic they are aiming to attract and it would be a great night out for someone whose food tastes were developed 20 years ago when a decent rack of lamb and a seabass would impress.

Price for two course meal with drinks for two persons: 70-100 euros

Rating: 7/10

Address: Stresemannstraße 48-52, 10963 Berlin

Website: https://www.gustavundgold.de/

80 – Germany – Part 4 – Gugelhof – Alsace

The region of Alsace (“Elsass” auf Deutsch) borders France and Germany and much of the border here between the two countries has been regularly redrawn especially over the last few centuries following the Franco-Prussian and First and Second World Wars. The majority of the area of Alsace is now on the French side of the border, however it is culturally still very strongly German whilst also being uniquely French. This all makes for an interesting and rich culture, history and cuisine.

Gugelhof in Prenzlauerberg is a perfect representation of this French-German melange offering German cuisine from the Elsass region with a French flair. We visited on a Saturday evening in May and we pleased to have reserved a table as it was almost full at 7pm. Unfortunately we soon realised that its popularity at this early hour was due to its family friendly nature. This is not a negative for all but was less than ideal for a childless couple wanting an intimate meal without shrieking toddlers in stereo. We asked to move tables and were given a slightly better spot but could still hear one particularly loud young chap from the other side of the restaurant.

The menu is heavy on flammkuchen which are an alsacienne speciality but also features other Franco/German staples such as schnitzel and coq au vin. For starters we chose a duck liver creme brulee and a bacon wrapped goats cheese parcel, and for mains (which we were supposed to fully share) we had a classic alsacienne flammkuche with creme fraiche, bacon and onions plus a pork knuckle with black beer sauce.

Everything was super tasty but there was a ridiculously long wait between the starter and the main and Richard ended up hogging the pork knuckle. We also tried some of the fresh white wines from the open list and enjoyed a Grauburgunder and a Riesling.

As the evening went on the families left and they were replaced by locals who seemed to be a but older than the average Berlin demographic and the atmosphere became more intimate with candles flickering on wooden tables. It was on the whole a nice experience and I would recommend to those living on that side of town but not to go out of your way to visit.

Price for two course meal with drinks for two persons: 60-80 euros

Rating: 7/10

Address: Knaackstraße 37, 10435 Berlin, Deutschland

Website: http://gugelhof.de/

 

80 – Germany – Part 3 – Black Forest – Schwarzwaldstuben

Schwartzwaldstuben is an authentic restaurant representing the Black Forest region of Germany with its Schwabische-Badischer cuisine. The restaurant is situated near Rosenthaler Platz in Mitte and is extremely popular and busy as it offers slow food in a homely and cosy environment.

The beer on tap is the extremely tasty Rothaus Tannenzäpfle Pilsner from the Schwarzwald which is famous for its happy, smiling lady on the logo. They also offer a great selection of wines by the glass as this area borders on the Rheinland which is famous for its white wines.

For food we chose to share the regional platter which featured Black Forest ham, Tête-de-Moine caramelized goat’s cheese, chutney, herb butter, lentil salad with suckling pig and smoked trout.  For a main Richard ordered “Badisches Schäufele mit Sauerkraut und Bratkartoffeln” which was a huge-old, smoked pig knuckle with roast potatoes and I had the venison maultaschen (filled dumplings) from the specials board with salad. We washed everything down with several Rothaus vom Fass.

The food was fresh and tasty and we enjoyed it, however it was pretty standard German fare and offered no suprises. I was jealous of Richard’s food as my maultaschen were quite small and not very filling. Other people were eating Flammkuchen which looked good and maybe we would try these if we went back again. I would recommend this to people as a good standard of German regional food with nice surroundings however we won’t be making a special detour to return.

Price for two course meal with drinks for two persons: 50-70 euros

Rating: 7/10

Address: Tucholskystraße 48, 10117 Berlin

Website: www.schwarzwaldstuben-berlin.com/

80 : Germany – Part Two – Bayern – Gasthaus Valentin

(Again ridiculously late – we visited here in the snow, it is now nearly the end of July)

Gasthaus Valentin which is a Bayerisch (Bavarian) restaurant on Hasenheide in Kreuzberg has a special place in our hearts as it was our neighbour when we first moved to Berlin and sublet a great place at 90 Hasenheide. Valentin offers a small, changing selection of dishes from the Bayern (Bavarian) region in a small intimate candelit setting with fresh Ausgustiner Helles and a few guest beers on tap. It is a restaurant for all seaons; in winter it is warm and cosy and in summer it offers an attractive beer garden and refreshing Bavarian beers.

On a super cold and snowy February evening we headed over to Valentin for some warming food to represent Bavaria in the blog. As it was a Sunday the menu was a bit limited but we chose some Nuremberger Würste (sausages from Nuremberg) with potato salad, then roast pork and venison stew which were served with with both potato and bread knödel (dumplings). As usual the food here was hearty, tasty and filling like all good Bavarian food should be.

Berlin has lots of great options for Bavarian food from large beer halls to small neighbourhood Gasthäuser to chose from and Valentin may not be the very best of these, but it is a great option for the North Kreuzberg area and one of our favourites.

79 : Oma Marnie’s Pies (New Zealand)

For some unknown reason the closer I get to achieving my goal of 80 cuisines, the slower I have become at visiting places and writing them up. My visit to Oma Marnie’s New Zealand pie stall was way back in November and therefore some details are a bit sketchy but the memories are warm.

 

Oma Marnie’s authentic New Zealand pie stall is based in Kreuzberg’s foodie heaven Markthalle Neun. This is a huge food hall which has permanent stalls that you can visit daily as well as a weekly streetfood market on Thursday evenings, as well as other food events such as cheese tastings and a monthly Sunday breakfast market. Oma Marnie is a permanent stall that you can visit most days and offers a delicious range of New Zealand pies. According to their facebook there is also a shop in Prenzlauerberg which is good news for North Berliners.

As a Brit the concept of a New Zealand or Aussie pie was foreign to me before moving to Berlin however I soon discovered that our Antiopedean cousins are as much fans of the filled savory pie as the British as all the pie shops in Berlin are Aussie or New Zealand owned such as Oma Marnie and Hello Good Pie. Thankfully they’ve not gone crazy with the format and have kept the essentials of a good British pie and the offerings I have seen are familiar and as yummy and comforting as a good pie should be.

This was the first visit for the blog in which I have got takeaway as it was a lunchtime and Richard was working at home so I bought the pies after German class and swiftly cycled home with them in my rucksack to keep them warm. I chose one each of salmon, braised beef, and egg & bacon for us to share, plus a New Zealand beer and a sausage roll to eat on the train for our journey to Prague the next morning. Each pie was delicious, with good pastry and generous well seasoned fillings. Three between two was more than enough and at 4 euros per pie (compared to my usual 3 euro falafel lunches), we won’t be making this a usual weekday lunch option instead visiting as a treat.

Writing this deep in the middle of winter is making me drool at the concept of returning for a lovely, warm, savoury pie but unfortunately I would have to leave the house in orderr to get them… hmmmn…

 

78 : Venezuela (Karrecho Pop-up kitchen) 

Sometimes it takes ages to find a country’s cuisine in Berlin. Othertimes one just lands in your facebook event invite inbox. Sometimes you have to travel to the far end of the city to find a restaurant. Othertimes a new place pops up virtually on your street. The Karrecho pop-up kitchen which is run by Venezuelans on Friday evenings at Lenaustrasse 5 was a happy and easy find which my husband Rich invited me to on facebook, and so we duly set out to try their Arepas back in September accompanied by my Colombian housemate and best friend Stephanie who had recently returned to Berlin (see also week 38).

Manioc chips

The menu is small and simple featuring tasty filled arepas (flat cornbread pancakes) and traditional street food snacks such as fried plantain and manioc bites. They also have rum cocktails and non-alcoholic cane sugar and lime drinks. We all took one of the latter a ‘papelon’ and tried one each of the plantain balls with cheese, manioc bites and plantain bites plus one beef & black bean arepa, and two shredded chicken and avocado arepas.

Plantain balls with cheese

The service was quick and super friendly especially as Steph spoke Spanish with them. Very soon we were given our food and drinks which we heartily tucked into with lashings of spicy salsa. Everything tasted great and was confirmed to be authentic by Stephanie. The papelons were especially good and made me want to try this at home if I can find sugar cane.


When I last checked they were still up and running in November 2016 and we hope to swing by again to get some delicious comforting South American flavours.

77 : Senegambia

I originally set myself a goal of no ‘fusion’ or pan-continental restaurants as I belive they do not give a true taste of the essence of a nation’s cuisine. However I changed my mind on the strictness of this rule after reflections concerning the Senegalese Gambian restaurant helpfully called ‘Senegambia’, which is located close to my flat on Reichenbergerstrasse. I did some research and decided that it would be valid because Senegal and Gambia are very close culturally, and for ten years back in the 1980s they actually became joined as a confederation called Senegambia. And as we all know borders in Africa can be fairly fluid as they are the result of colonial map building rather than being demarcated by distinct ethic and cultural boundaries. So there we are, number 77 Senegambia can be a valid inclusion!

wp-image-2020713607jpg.jpgMy second problem was that as soon as we decided to visit Senegambia, it closed for an uncertain period of time for renovation. Throughout the summer we called by hoping to make a local blog visit but found it always closed. Finally, on a bus journey in early September, there it was: reopened with shining bright lights, all ready for business.

wp-image-1212442894jpg.jpgWe came on a Friday evening at 7ish and we were some of the only customers. I started to wonder if this simple, imbiss-style restaurant might perhaps be a tax right-off, as surely this should be a busy time? However my wondering was brought to a halt when I noticed lots and lots of containers flying out of the door being collected by young African guys on bikes. I then realised that Senegambia must have been opened so to serve familar home treats to the many Senegalese and Gambian workers who were busy plying their illicit wares in nearby Görlitzer Park and it was indeed a going concern.

wp-image-103243997jpg.jpgWe ordered three dishes to get a varied taste of the cuisine. The fish didn’t appeal so we went for Domoda: a peanut and lamb dish with rice, a lamb Benachin or Jallof which is a mixture of spiced rice, meat and vegetables plus some accara bohnen ballchen to share, which are deep fried crispy beanflour parcels with spicy sauce. The drinks selection was small and with no alcohol so we just took a bottle of water each.

wp-image-441493138jpg.jpgThe food that came was very tasty and so filling that I ended up leaving most of my rice so that I could enjoy all the light and flavourful bean balls which resembled savory donuts. The lamb in the dishes was very good and fell apart on the fork as good lamb should. We added some hot sauce to our food but had to be extremely careful as it was mega spicy and left a tingle on the lips. I find african chillies to have a different kind of satisfying heat than asian or south american chillies and this one was moorish but lethal.With a bill of less than 20 euros and very full stomachs we were pleased with our find and will continue to visit throughout the winter for this warm, tasty and comforting food.