Sunday, January 4, 2015

Deutschland 101: What to Eat When You're in Berlin

Strut, Momma. Strut.

Dear Readers,

when you travel, make sure you feast upon everything edible in sight. It's a motto I live by every time I globe-trotting. As a curious gastronomer, I find my motto very helpful to overcome my fear of trying something new - or, in this case, eating something I have never ate before - plus it also helps me in gaining knowledge about the background and the culture of the gourmet itself. 

On December 2013, Mom and I went for a quick getaway to Berlin, Germany. Dad couldn't join us because he got aircrafts to pilot, so it was just the two of us. Home of the Berlin Wall has got lots of delights and cuisine and, I can assure, Mom and I gained a few kilos after we roamed the city for three days. 

For those who are planning to travel to Berlin, I might have some list of the food that you must introduce to your taste buds. Most of them are budget-friendly, as they are available for you to get from the food vendors by the road, at any Christmas Markets on sight, and at small cafes at the corner of the streets. Although, there is this fancy restaurant named Maximilians that I always visit whenever I go to Germany. The food is a bit pricey, but the food is overwhelming. A definite must-try!

So, are you ready for the list? 

Hopping on the Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe

1. Bratwurst mit Brötchen
Bratwurst refers to the sausage, where brat means grilled or pan-fried and wurst means sausage, and brötchen stands for the bun. It's a german version of hotdogs. The sausages are made of either veal, pork, or beef - thicker, longer, and juicier than any other sausages I have ever eaten in my life. They are usually grilled to perfection - crispy and rubbery on the outside, but as you penetrate your canine tooth into it, you will find a sponge-like savory chunk of juicy meat and savory goodness. 

You can find Bratwurst pretty much everywhere because it is one of the most common food in Berlin. Most of them are sold on food trucks, or food carts - but I have seen a hotdog man carrying gas tank on his back and stove on the other side, grilling those juicy meat under his nose, and selling it to people. 

Don't you just want to have them for breakfast everyday? 

See, I didn't lie about the hotdog man!

2. Fisch mit Brötchen
It shares the same concept as the previous dish I mentioned before. The only thing different is the filling that they use to stuff the buns with. 

Fisch is, well, fish. This seafood hotdog can be found at any seafood stand, or Fischhaus, that you encounter. They either sell smoked seafood or deep-fried seafood, and not only you can enjoy it with rye bread, you can also indulge with potatoes and french fries. 

The type of fish that I had was an Alaska Seelach-filet, or an Alaskan Pollock. It was perfectly deep-fried, all golden brown and crispy on the outside, while you have a soft and oily white meat on the inside. Alaskan Pollock is related to Alaskan Cod, but since I am not familiar with fish, I find the meat simply delicious. 

Just look at that perfectly fried filet

3. Leberkäse
Still share the same concept as the above, Leberkäse is a traditional bavarian food that is similar to a meatloaf. Leberkäse is made from grinned corner beef, pork, bacon and onion. All of the ingredients are then placed in a bread pan, hence the shape of a loaf, and baked in an oven. I personally love this particular dish so much because the meat is very delicious and rich in flavor, especially when it has cheese fillings inside. 

Yum, my favorite!

4. Lebkuchen
Lebkuchen hearts, or heart-shaped ginger bread cookie, is an everyday sight when you visit Germany. All of the lebkuchen are decorated with colorful icing sugar, so that they will look appealing and attractive to people, when actually they don't taste as pretty as it looks. The cookies are wrapped in plastic and are attached to a string on the upper part, which is then necklaced by the buyer later on. 

Isn't it adorable?

Which one is lucky enough to be taken home by yours truly?

5. Gebrannte Mandeln
This one is one of my favorites! Gebrannte mandeln is a burnt sugar almonds, or caramelized sugar-coated almonds, that tasted super sweet. For those who are not fond of sweets and have sensitive teeth, this snack might be a pain in the butt. But, on the other hand, gebrannte mandeln is a treat for the sweet-toothed. You should definitely give the almonds a try when you bumped into one, you won't regret it!

My share of sugar-coated almonds

6. Heisse Marroni
We can enjoy this particular munchies during the winter season as they bloom and harvested within a chilly and cold climate. Roasted chestnut is one of the winter treats Mom and I love to indulge in when we have our winter gloves on. They are usually served fresh from the oven and it is a pleasure to peel the stiff and burnt skin off to enjoy the delicious insides, as the chestnuts overflows with warmth. 

Perfect during winter season

7. Christmas Market Munchies 
Christmas Markets are like the constellations in the night sky. The constellations are numerous, but the stars within in outnumber the constellation itself. The same thing goes for the booths and stands at a Christmas Market. 

During winter, numerous Christmas Markets will pop out at every corners of the street, and each Christmas Market will hold a serious number of booths to visit. Some of them sell knick knack and everyday needs, like candles and lamp shades, but most of them sell something that can fulfill a gastronomer's needs: food. So, while you are at the market, why not spend some Euros on budget-friendly, yet stomach-filling, snacks? And don't forget to eat everything in sight!

An entrance to a Christmas Market in Berlin

Chocolate-covered Banana, yum!

Flat bread topped with cheese and bacon bits

Waffles smothered in chocolate syrup

A ball of chocolate-coated cookies

8. Maximilians
Bored of eating off the street? Why not dine at Maximilians!

I recommend you to get the Knuckle Pork when you go to the restaurant because it is to die for! My Mom, who is not a big fan of eating, could finish the dish all by herself simple because it was just that good. The knuckle of the pork was as big as my calf, so you might want to be careful not to eat in when you're half full. 

The knuckle was cooked to perfection. It had crispy golden brown skin that goes crunch! crunch! when you bite into it and a tender juicy meat on the inside. The dish is served with german-style potato, or bratkartoffeln, sprinkled with greens and poured with flavorful gravy. 

When you see this statue, then you've come to the right place

The sight of the Knuckle Pork

9. Pretzel
Mandatory business, a pretzel is. Pretzel is one of the signature munchies in German. By having washing soda poured into the dough before it gets shaped and baked in the oven gives a pretzel its' signature stiff skin and flavor. I simply love pretzel for its' unique texture and funky flavor, especially when one is topped with sea salt and cheese.

It ain't German if you haven't eat Pretzel

You can buy a pretzel pretty much anywhere

10. Glühwein  
Calling all wine lovers, you ought to try this hot beverage! Glühwein is a hot beverage that you can easily find in Berlin during winter season. The ingredients to make this particular beverage is, obviously, red wine, spices, and raisins - mix them all together and serve it while it's tongue-burning hot. I'm not a big fan of wine, so I didn't quite enjoy this drink. But, Mom loves it because it warmed up her body and it tasted exquisitely fine.

A glass of mulled-wine with take-home souvenir glass

11. Paulaner Weissbier 
Mom and Dad said that if you want to enjoy a glass of beer in Germany, make sure you get yourself a Paulaner Weissbier - they believe that it is the best beer in Germany. Unfortunately, I don't like beer as much as they do. I simply dislike the bitter after taste and the annoyingly fizzy liquid, so I can't enjoy Paulaner Weissbier like my parents did. Bummer. 


12. Hot Chocolate
What's better than a cup of hot cocoa when it's cold outside? 

I always get myself a glass of hot chocolate every time we make a quick rest at a cafe. What I like the most about having a cup of cocoa abroad is that they use genuine chocolate instead of instant cocoa drink like they mostly do in Indonesia and every cafe has its' own way to make and serve their hot chocolate. I like my cocoa topped with whipped cream. No apparent reason, I just do. And it's a 50-point-plus if the cafe serves my hot beverage with cookies on the side. Don't you just love it as well when you get freebies? 

Look at all those creamy goodness on top of my cocoa

Congratulations, you are at the end of the list! So, enjoy your holiday in Berlin, I hope my list helps you get familiar with German cuisine in a way or two. Remember, feast upon everything edible in sight.

With love, Kinan L. Wirastani

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