Well, I just got back from Berlin. Let me tell you it was so much fun. I had studied German in the past, but never really got a chance to use it. So this trip was an opportunity to put my German skills to work. And it did pretty good.
The first thing that amazed me about Berlin, is that he’s really in Eastern European City. I know it is in the east of Germany, but because half the city and belonged to West Germany, I expected the architecture to look very European. So the vibe of Berlin is similar to eastern European countries like the former Yugoslavia as well as the Czech Republic. I love it.
What was meant for the culinary scene is that the food was outstanding. It was fresh. It was warming. It reminded me of what food was like when I lived in Yugoslavia 25 years ago as well as the food I had in Prague 11 years ago on my honeymoon. It was real comfort food. Not the kind of food we normally get in American Restaurants.
This made shopping in supermarkets a real pleasure. I was able to get fresh lard, butter, eggs that looked farm fresh even though they weren’t, a wonderful array of fresh pork products, and even 10% fat yogurt. Now most people even than people who believe in being fresh foods that are full of fat, would think that eating this way would have made me gain a bunch of weight, but in fact I actually lost about 3 pounds while I was there. Pretty cool huh?
In addition to several farmer’s markets nearly every day of the week, there were lots of health food stores scattered about the city. Some were more like oversized vitamin shops with some dry goods and perhaps a few veggies, others were more like diabetic shops which really only carried some herbs and sugar-free stuff and then there were the bonafide health food shops that were like Whole Foods with less of a vegan slant.
This was kind of exciting to me as it is in any country where I find a health food store, but what was unique about this is that Germany supplies all other non-health food producing nations (like Spain) with the bulk of their organic and biodynamic products. The producers there also go the extra mile to offer little things you wouldn’t find in most American organic brands. Two things that comes to mind is organic spelt alphabet pasta and buffalo milk (yum!).
The one we frequented in central Berlin was BioCompany. It is located under the train tracks at Hackeschermarkt. It was a relatively small store, but they have just about everything you need from milk, wine, meat, dairy, and fresh veggies to ethnic foods, diapers and cosmetics.
Outside of Berlin, we were able to find another shop that was located inside of an office or apartment building (was hard to tell which it was). You’ll know it because it’s on the main road leaving the Sanssouci Park just inside the courtyard of Cafe Kiestelstein which is on the main drag. Really nice selection of foods. There’s also another Bio Company out there, but we never got to see it. I figured it would be interesting to see what another shop had to offer plus this one was on our way back to the center of town.
Anyway, I kind of have two disappointments with food on this trip. One the apple strudel was always microwaved. Who the heck would think to take a delicate, flaky pastry and stick it in that death trap to make it a soggy disgusting mess is beyond me. After the first time I ordered it, I learned to ask. And not one place heated it up in a real oven. Oh well, at least since we were staying in a Turkish neighborhood, I was able to bring home some real phyllo dough so I can make my own.
The other disappointment with food on this trip — well, not really — is that I didn’t try the currywurst. It’s basically a hot dog with a curry sauce on it. Sounds disgusting, but locals swear it’s great. After all, it’s their local food! Supposedly there are two places where you can get it best. One is called “Konnopke”, which is located in the Eastern part of the city. The other is Curry 36 in the West. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to either. So I can’t tell you if it’s really good or just as disgusting as it sounds. But maybe next time. I can tell you now that I will definitely be going back to Berlin. Curry or not.