When making my list of things to do in Berlin, one of the first things I thought of was food. I know all the specialities of southwestern German, but had no idea what the traditional dishes of Berlin were. So I checked out good old Wikipedia then made it my mission to try as many Berlin specialities as I could. But the one thing I was most determined to eat in Berlin turned out to be pretty difficult to find…
I’m sure you’ve all heard the old joke about JF Kennedy referring to himself as a jam (American: jelly) doughnut at the Berlin wall. Actually, what he said was perfectly fine. “Ich bin ein Berliner” does mean I am a Berliner in the figurative sense (saying “Ich bin Berliner” would have meant he was literally a citizen of Berlin, which he obviously wasn’t). However, although no German would have misunderstood his speech or found it in any way funny, a Berliner really is a type of jam-filled doughnut, and I desperately wanted to eat a Berliner in Berlin. Admittedly, the people of Berlin don’t actually call these goodies Berliner – they refer to them as Pfannkuchen, which means pancake and thus makes no sense whatsoever! However, to me they are Berliner no matter where in Germany I happen to find myself (unless it’s Shrove Tuesday – then they’re Faschingskrapfen). I exepcted Berliner (or Pfannkuchen) to be fairly easy to find – after all, they are fairly standard bakery items – but it took me two days to track one down! I finally discovered one at the bakery in the train station, and immediately took a photo of it in front of the Berlin Hauptbahnhof sign. Finally… my very own Berliner in Berlin!
When I wasn’t trying to track down deep-fried, jam-filled balls of dough, my diet was basically all about meat and potatoes… as traditional German dishes tend to be. Take this Schweinshaxe (roasted pork knuckle), for example. Look at the size of it! It came with fried potatoes and was placed on a bed of onions/apples, which sounds odd but honestly tasted really good. And being part of the midday menu, it only cost €5.40! (A lot of places in Germany do cheap meals at lunch time, then offer a more extensive, full price menu in the evening). I couldn’t actually finish the meat though… waaay too much!
I ate this Schweinshaxe at a small bar close to Oranienburger Tor called Gambrinus. The place is full of old photos, maps and metal adverts from days gone by – if you understand German, you could spend hours just reading the items on the walls!
Original Berliner Buletten (or Bouletten depending on whose menu you read) turned out to be just the same as Frikadellen. Disappointing that it wasn’t actually anything new, but I like Frikadellen so I didn’t mind. The Buletten came with mashed potatoes, which were delicious, and Sauerkraut, which I left. Can’t stand that stuff!
To go with my Buletten I had another Berliner speciality… the glass of red stuff is my drink and the other is Jan’s.
I know mine looks like a kid’s glass of fizzy pop (especially with the straw!) but it’s actually beer! It’s called Berliner Weisse and comes in a red variety (raspberry) and a green variety (Waldmeister – the English is Woodruff apparantly, although that brings me no closer to understanding what it is… other than weird!).
This meal was eaten at a place called Mittmann’s. It’s close to the Jannowitzbrücke underground station and if it hasdn’t been mentioned in a book that my dad bought Jan (Around Berlin in 80 Beers) I would probably never have gone in – from the outside it doesn’t look like much! The food ended up being really good though, and the few other people that were in eating lunch were workers on their lunch break – not a tourist in sight! Here’s a photo of the inside:
Another thing that had to be eaten in Berlin was Currywurst. It’s available all over Germany, but was invented in Berlin. I actually wanted to get my Currywurst from a proper snack stand (Konnopke’s is supposed to serve the best Currywurst in Berlin, although some say Curry 36 is actually better), but we never managed to make it to there, so I ended up eating some at Brauhaus Lemke instead.
At the same place, Jan took the sausage plate. I just had to take a photo of his meal as well because I was so amazed by the size of the sausages!
My final meal in Berlin was Königsberger Klotze. After failing to find them on a menu the entire time we were there, on our last evening we based our choice of restaurant solely on whether they server Klopse or not! Which is how we ended up at Mommsen-Eck am Potsdamer Platz, aka Das Haus der Hundert Biere (House of 100 Beers). Königsberger Klopse are basically boiled veal meatballs in a creamy sauce containing capers.
So, that was the food I ate. Naturally we also sampled a few beers – Berlin is in Germany after all! Here are a some of them:
There were more, but the software I was using to turn the photos the right way round has just crashed on me and I can’t be bothered to open it again…
More Berlin tales coming soon!