I hopped over to Berlin last week to do some work and found some amazing food experiences. One of my favorite things about traveling – besides getting to see all the awesome people I know scattered around the world – is discovering interesting aspects about the way people eat in various cultures – where they buy groceries, how they purchase food and where it comes from, what the restaurant culture is like, what things people snack on – and getting to eat some of it myself.
I enjoy seeing different food innovations, like this shop called Kochhaus which sprung up on my friend Thom’s old block in the year since I last visited. Although I couldn’t read any of the signage, it’s a shop that encourages and educates on cooking and ingredients and how to put together a meal. Inspiring ingredient and recipe displays are dotted around the open and airy shop with step-by-step instructions and visuals with each recipe. I’m curious how the shop is doing and whether it’s getting more people cooking. Genius, I say.
I don’t read German, but I can decipher enough to know that Tomato Bread Salad with Arugula and Passionfruit Vinaigrette sounds absolutely delicious, and I certainly wouldn’t turn down a Rinderfilet with Provencal Ratatouille and Thyme Polenta. I’m sure Rinderfilet is excellent, whatever it is.
Although pictures of good food transcend language, I still never fail to be childishly amused by certain things.
I perused the amazing photos in this German food magazine while perched on a chair outside Il Syndicato – a fantastic coffee shop in the Mitte area of Berlin. I love how just about every eating establishment in the city has some sort of outdoor dining area whether it’s an elaborate al fresco setup with blankets, coordinated cushions and umbrellas or a few battered chairs from someone’s grandmother’s attic placed by the side of the road.
I also enjoyed seeing the number of bicycles and the number of stylishly dressed small children in Berlin, both captured in the photo above. Peering around for unusual bits of the urban landscape while scouting for The Go Game, I noticed a sign for Slayer Espresso, indicating that Il Syndicato is home to a highly touted $18,000 Slayer Espresso machine. STOP. DO NOT PASS GO BEFORE CONSUMING SAID ESPRESSO.
I chatted with the nice guy behind the counter a bit about their exciting handbuilt machine and he showed me the wooden paddles that allow the barista to adjust the pressure while pulling the shot to play with the different flavors. They made this cool little video to celebrate their new toy.
The espresso – one of many I had over the next few days – was phenomenally smooth as it hit your mouth for a really pure experience of the underlying flavors. Gorgeous.
It’s been more than a few weeks now since that Berlin trip, but I’m still thinking about a few fascinating food things from the trip. First of all, the incredible, steaming, meaty, excitingly-textured ramen perfection from Cocolo.
It’s basically a hole-in-the-wall with about 15 seats, and man, is it good. Feast your eyes upon the tonkasu ramen with beautifully fatty pork belly and just the right level of soft boiled egg.
I polished off my own enormous bowl of ramen and then ate about half of my friend Elynor’s, cause she’s awesome like that. Elynor is an excellent eating partner and translator, and also joined me at Papa Pane, a recommendation from my friend Jessica, where we ate this exciting platter. Berlin does platters well, no doubt about it.
Another highlight of Berlin for foodies is the Kollwitzplatz market, right near where a bunch of friends used to live. Breads, meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, freshly grilled borek, tables piled with spices, adorable marketing baskets, and my personal highlight, a truck that appears to be called Lust For Cheese. I certainly did.
Another mandatory stop on my Berlin food tour is the shop Goldhahn & Sampson, which I stumbled upon while wandering my first time in the city, and have returned to every time since. Cookbooks and fine foods galore, obscure spices and quality chocolate and great wines stacked along every wall. Plus cooking classes and tasty snacks. It’s basically my ideal hangout. Too bad most of the cookbooks are in another language.
Next stop on my food and design tour: I’m a sucker for tea towels and adorable home goods, so obviously this design shop called Pomeranza forced me to empty my wallet in exchange for really cute egg cups and beautifully patterned dishcloths. You can never have enough tea towels. Right?
Also beautifully designed is Oberholz Cafe, which features good snacks, attractive people, and most importantly, free WiFi.
I hope to someday inhabit a house or own a restaurant with such high ceilings and a sweeping staircase from which I took this photo. Berlin has amazing restaurant design, from the more posh and trendy to the quite simple yet charming.
Berlin is really a wonderful city, with a wealth of delicious food options and examples of excellent design. Plus, you can be seduced by the late-night, Jagermeister-influenced neon glare of Das Chicken Temptation. Why did I ever leave?