Weekend Jaunts: Berlin

by carlyjunehaase

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Oh Berlin. Look at you shining so prettily in the sun. Such a vibrant city with such good food! Last weekend Tim and I hopped on the ICE train from Hanover to Berlin (which only takes about 1 hour 45 minutes) and the plushy ride makes it go by even faster. They also have beer on tap in the dining car if you’re into that.

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We had both been to Berlin before so this trip was more about taking in the city- and the food!- than intense sightseeing. We still managed to walk past Angela Merkel’s office, shown above. The weather wasn’t great as usual and on Saturday it rained like hell so I kept the camera snug in my purse for most of the time.We spent the afternoon window shopping (Berlin is truly the place to shop) in the city center which is full of unique boutiques and trendy shops. We even stopped by the infamous KaDeWe (the largest (FANCY) department store in Europe) where I bought a new tube of mascara at the Benefit counter after letting the stylists have their way with me for a bit. We meandered up to the top floor which has a food court that puts all the others to shame- I’m talking fine champagne and lobster tails for an afternoon snack-but we just bought a chunk of Valrhona for later and nipped out of there.

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For dinner we headed to Kreuzberg to Bar Raval, a fantastic tapas bar. It’s a little out of the way but worth the trek on the U-Bahn. We were so hungry that we fell on our tapas like starved wolves, so sadly no pictures to share. I did manage to snap a photo of the gin and tonic I ordered; being a huge gin and tonic fan I was thrilled to see the extensive gin menu available. I chose the classic Hendricks g+t, which is my favorite and as they serve it here in an impressive goblet garnished with paper thin slices of fragrant cucumber and a little (cute!) bottle of Thomas Henry tonic water on the side, I was a very happy girl.

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Dessert was a two part affair with a cheese plate to start and a molten chocolate cake to finish. Maybe it’s a little cliche but I can never have too many molten chocolate cakes. That gooey chocolate center is sinfully good and it had the tiniest trace of cinnamon, just enough to keep you wanting more. All in all I wholeheartedly recommend Bar Raval. The tapas are delicious and the gin menu and chocolate cake is enough to keep me coming back every time I’m in Berlin.

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We also spent some time in Prenzlauer Berg, a trendy district known for high rents and its fine selection of restaurants and bars. This shop (above) caught our eyes firstly because it looked like a kitchen store or maybe even a specialty foods store from the street. Not needing much more persuasion we headed in to find that it’s actually a kind of ready to go grocery store where people can buy all the ingredients they need to make a specific recipe. So for example you can decide to make this fusilli with ricotta and baby spinach, they provide you with a recipe and everything you need to turn out this restaurant quality dish in your kitchen at home. Pretty cool right? The place was packed with people buying stuff while we were there so it seems pretty successful. Tim and I kept thinking it was a cool business idea.

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On Sunday afternoon after a day spent in the Deutsches Historisches Museum and a walk in the sunshine (the rain went away!) we stopped by this Vietnamese restaurant, Monsieur Vuong, for an early dinner before taking the train back to Hanover. Normally we avoid Asian restaurants of any kind in Germany unless we’ve read some good reviews or have friends recommend a place to us because frankly we’ve had too many bad experiences.  This place had a line down the block though when we passed it on Saturday during our window shopping extravaganza and the smells emanating from the entrance were nothing short of drool-worthy. Suddenly I couldn’t get the image of a steaming bowl of pho out of my mind and we decided to come back and give it a try.

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For an appetizer we shared some spring rolls which were tasty and gobbled so fast I forgot to take a picture. I thought an empty plate wouldn’t be that interesting. I also had this bowl of passion fruit tea. Sweetened lightly with honey and infused with lime this was the perfect antidote to a cold day. It was so delicious that I keep kicking myself for not asking about where to buy the tea leaves, I would love to be able to make this at home on a rainy day….which right now is basically every day!

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For the main event we both got the wonton soup. The broth was flavorful and light but the wontons were what made this soup really special. Stuffed with a mixture of pork, beef and herbs they were incredibly filling. Tim’s favorite part of the dish were the roasted onions sprinkled on top of the soup (he’s a roast onion fanatic) and I have to admit they were pretty good. When we left to get back to our train I kept thinking how much I wish we lived down the street from this restaurant. Everything was so delicious and prices were very inexpensive for the quality. I think I could get used to having a bowl of their wonton soup every week. But then again I think if we lived in Berlin all we would do is eat!

 

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