Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Return to Berlin - Day 7

Ah, my last day in Berlin! I was so sad that we were going home the following morning but we had lots of plans for our last day and I was excited to get started.

We had a big breakfast before setting off to meet our friends at The Reichstag. We'd managed to miss seeing this last time because we didn't realise you had to apply to visit in advance. Luckily we remembered this time, although I think things have changed and you can now get permission to visit on the day, I think it's easier to guarantee a place beforehand though. It took about 7.-10 days to get online confirmation.

I really enjoyed visiting The Reichstag. I recommend getting the audio guide, it's free and gives you lots of information, points our places of interest that you can see from the building. It's an awesome building.

Afterwards we said goodbye to our friends and went to take one last look at the Christmas markets. They were a little less magical during the day but it was still fun to look round. I particularly liked looking at these festive Christmas decorations!

When we were too cold to browse any longer we went over to Kreuzberg for some lunch. My partner wanted to visit Yellow Sunshine again and I definitely wasn't going to stop him! I had a cheeseburger with a side of currywurst, which tasted great. It was a little disappointing that by the time we arrived loads of the burgers had sold out, but what we ended up with was tasty!

After Yellow Sunshine we made a final trip to Veganz as my partner wanted to stock up on daiya cheese. I picked out some presents for the lovely friends who had been looking after our cat and a few of the cheaper treats on offer there. I also bought two German cookbooks Kuchen Ohne Tiere (cooking without animals) and Susses Ohne Tiere (sweets without animals). Some of the recipes in there look amazing and I feel like I know enough German to muddle my way through!

We then decided to go to No Milk Today, which is between Kreuzberg and Neukoln. We spent ages waiting for a bus but finally found our way there. I really liked the atmosphere in this cafe, it was quiet, warm and cosy.

I picked out an apple marzipan tart and ordered a chocolate milkshake too, my partner ordered 2 cookies. Both the baked items were really tasty, I loved my tart! Unfortunately I really struggled with the milkshake, which sounds weird but it was like the soy milk they used was too beany and it overrode any other flavour. It didn't taste like chocolate at all, I tried my best but wasn't able to finish it.

I had planned to visit Vaust later that evening but my partner was tired and wanted to go back home and pack, so we decided to stop off at Denn's on the way home and get some food to cook up in our apartment. We had a nice quiet night in, eating gnocci and packing everything away.

I was really sad to be leaving the lovely apartment, the delicious food and the lovely friendly people of Berlin. I couldn't believe it had been a whole week and was all over. I have to say, that last night was my saddest night in Berlin, I wish I was still there now :(

Well, that's it for all my latest Berlin posts, I'll include all of these on a round up over the next few days, but for now I'm off to cry about all the food I can't eat now that I'm not in Germany!

Monday, 26 January 2015

Return to Berlin - Day 6

I think I woke up in a bit of a food fog on day 6. I got up and cooked a nice breakfast but started feeling really sluggish and awful afterwards. I ended up going back to bed to sleep and didn't wake up until the early afternoon. Thankfully the sleep really helped and I was ready to get out and about again when I woke up.

My partner wanted to go back to Coretex records in Kreuzberg so that's where we headed to first. We spent ages in there before checking out a few more shops in Kreuzberg. I'd heard about a veggie/vegan Chinese bakery in the area called Charlies Bakery so went off to look for it. Unfortunately the address on Happy Cow is wrong! We ended up stood in the middle of a road! Turns out Charlies Bakery is pretty much opposite Coretex! We went back the way we came and finally found it.

I was amazed when I went inside, I couldn't believe how much of the stuff in the display case was vegan! There were loads of adorable tarts topped with fresh fruit, cookies, cakes, savoury buns, cheesecakes! I was so excited, I didn't what to get. My partner went for a cookie, I think it was ginger, walnut and lemongrass? I went for a slice of fruit tart with a chocolate biscuit base.

I tried some of the cookie and it was delicious but the best by far thing was my tart. It was beautifully fresh and sweet and the fruit worked really well with the chocolate. It was way too pretty to devour quickly so I took my time with it. So good.

By the time we had finished our drinks and cakes it was getting late. We decided to check out a small Christmas Market in Kreuzberg. It wasn't too far from Freckles though, so we thought it would be best to make cake stop #2 on the way.

When we got to Freckles the door was locked and I couldn't see anyone inside. I was so desperate to try their famous cakes that I refused to believe it and sat outside for a while. Turned out a member of staff had briefly locked the doors while they went to the back so I was very happy when they came to the door and let us in.

The cakes here are beautiful, I found it really difficult to choose. I managed to convince my partner to go halves on a slice each and then asked for a slice to go. We picked the banana chocolate cake and some kind of hazelnut caramel cake if I remember right. I picked an apple speculoos cake to go.

AHMAGAHD. These cakes are fricking ace. Luckily my partner (who picked the chocolate banana cake) decided he doesn't really like banana in his cake so I got to eat most of it. The hazelnut one was incredible, one of the best cakes I've ever had. I loved it and was so sad that we didn't get a chance to get back here for a second visit.

After our sugar high wore off we went in search of the Kreuzberg Christmas Market. It was a little hidden away but we did find it. It was very small and quiet, not a huge amount there for vegans as most of it was food. I did manage to pick up an organic 100% cocoa bar for a friends Christmas present though so not a complete loss!

By the time we were done it was getting late and despite eating lots and lots of cake, I was ready for some savoury and there was something special that I wanted to visit.

Voner - vegan kebab! I loved this place when I went back in May so had to make another trip. My partner really didn't want to go but we managed to compromise when I told him that Oh La La was not too far away! Last time round I had a plate of the kebab meat with chips and peanut sauce but this time I went for the wrap and a side order of chips. My partner skipped the kebab style meat and went for nuggets.

Woah. So much food. The wrap was awesome and the best thing I've had there. So good. The chips...I was expecting just a normal side order of chips, these were something else completely. A massive plate of chips topped with the most amazing tahini sauce and sweet fried onions. Ahhhh! I love these so much! Forget chips and gravy people, this is where it's at.

I literally could not move after eating all that and I was super happy my partner enjoyed the nuggets so we didn't have to trek to Oh La La.

I couldn't believe how good that Voner experience was, it upped it's game. There's no way I can not go back on my next trip to Berlin. Proper dirty vegan junk food at its best!

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Return to Berlin - Day 5

At the time I fancied going to Berlin, a friend from work was wanting to go too, so I was super excited when we managed to plan our trips so that there was some crossover and we could hang out while we were there.

They arrived on day 4, so I booked us in for brunch at Kopps. I've heard so many great things about Kopps but it always seemed a bit expensive for dinner. Luckily brunch is really good value, it was around 12.50 euros for all you can eat, which suited me just fine! I booked the table two days beforehand and they managed to squeeze me in on the earliest slot, which suited us but if you're wanting a later brunch then definitely book ahead.

They had a huge choice. There were breads, flavoured butters, spreads, slices of vegan cheeses and meats, vegan eggs, cold salads, patties, sausages, warm vegetable dishes, pancakes, yoghurts and some really fancy desserts. I wish I'd taken a photo but at the time I felt it was too fancy to just get my camera out. In all the excitement I only remembered to take photos of my first and last plate, but this gives you a pretty good idea of what there was.

My favourites were the cheese and the vegan eggs. I loved the chocolate brownies and pancakes too, the white cream dessert had chunks of marzipan in it, which was weird but delightful! I only managed 3 plates until I was completely stuffed, so we paid up and went in search of flea markets.

It was a random bank holiday that day, so when we got to mauerpark market there wasn't too much there. We had a quick look around, but most of it was food and we were way too full to eat any more. I looked up another flea market in Friedrichshain so we went in that direction but unfortunately there was nothing there either. We sat around a little disappointed for a while until I remembered that I wanted to try and get into the abandoned amusement park, Spreepark.

It was a little far out and involved a short walk in some woods but everyone was up for it. It didn't take too long to get there and the walk was a good way of getting our huge brunch down. I'd done some research beforehand and apparently it used to be really easy to sneak into Spreepark but due to a recent fire they'd upped security and blocked some of the entrances. We weren't the only people with the idea to go, lots of people with cameras were walking around. You can see a fair bit of the park from outside the fence but we just didn't find any opportunity to sneak in, most of the huge holes under the fence were by a busy public footpath and I've heard that a lot of locals report anyone trespassing, we also saw security from inside, so there was no way we'd not get caught. Whilst I know a lot about trespass laws in the UK, I have no idea what the deal is in Germany and didn't fancy getting in trouble. There was one hole we considered but I was genuinely concerned about trying to get under it because of all the food I'd eaten for the last 5 days! In the end we just walked the whole way round and took some photos from outside. It's such a shame that a company has bought this park and hasn't really done anything with it except hired security to keep people out, apparently a few years ago you could pay to take a tour.

Giant T-Rex

After our trip round Spreepark we caught a bus back into town. It was getting pretty late but we decided to take a peek at the Ritter Sport museum that's based in one of their shops near Stadtmitte. Whilst I can eat hardly any of the selection there, I had fun reading the info and posing as a Ritter Sport dude.

They did have a make your own flavour bar but we'd missed last orders. I think if I'd picked the dark chocolate option, I could have created a few cool flavours, so I'll definitely consider checking it out some other time.

By this time it was officially evening which means officially time for dinner! My partner and I fancied going back to Zeus pizza and pizza was enough to tempt my friends too, so we all went back to Friedrichshain. I wrote about my two visits last time I went to Berlin and the pizza was still just as good. I forgot how much choice there was for vegans here. Whilst I loved the novelty of the weird flavours at Sfizy Veg, I do think Zeus is the tastiest pizza in Berlin.

We were all bursting after our food but that didn't stop my partner pointing out that we were a 5 minute walk from Oh La La....my friends were amazed that we could even consider it, but I guess out of admiration said they would accompany us to check it out. I was too bloated to remember to take a photo of the crepes but I had a Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate and an Apple Caramel Crepe. My partner tried the white chocolate which was also amazing.

Feeling really sick and pretty disgusted with myself, I decided to call it a night. We said goodbye to our friends and headed back to our apartment. I don't remember what happened that night after that, it was all a carby, sugary blur...

Friday, 23 January 2015

Return to Berlin - Day 4

After the huge amount of food I'd eaten the day before, I woke up desperate to get out of the apartment and walk about. We had some cake for breakfast (obviously) before heading out to Mauerpark. It was pretty cold but the park was nice and it had a Denn's Biomarkt opposite which was handy for stocking up on drinks and snacks.We spent the morning and early afternoon exploring the park and sitting around on swings! Woo!

I may have stuffed my face the day before but after all that slow walking around and sitting on swings, I was starting to get hungry again. Luckily for us, a completely vegan cafe, Fast Rabbit is opposite Mauerpark!

I was a little surprised when I saw the menu, it looked a lot healthier than I had expected. I thought it would be similar to Chaos Theorie. This was a relief to me really because after so much cake and sugar, I was ready to chow down on a healthy lunch. The menu consists of 'dirty rolls' which are either peanut or bbq styles of veggie wraps which can be combo'd with chips/salad or chips/salad AND soup. I was gentle on myself and just went with the peanut wrap with chips combo.

The food arrived really quickly and it was great. Despite it being healthier than I expected, it tasted pretty filthy when it was in my mouth. The wrap was bursting full of filling and flavour. It was so tasty, if it hadn't left me so stuffed, I would have been tempted to get myself another wrap to go. I was too full to try the cookies and ice cream on sale but they all looked fantastic.

I decided that it was time to do something properly touristy that afternoon, so we headed towards Checkpoint Charlie to visit Topography of Terror. It was so busy that I didn't get a chance to take any photos but this museum was definitely worth a visit, even if it was really upsetting to go through.

After the museum I needed to lighten my mood, so we popped into a shopping centre round the corner and had a browse. I found a great health store in there that stocked vegan cakes in jars and lots of Christmas treats, like Chocolate Nut Cake. I also had fun in a Berlin Merchandise shop that had a MASSIVE Berlin Bear! One day I'm hoping to buy my own Berlin Bear, but in order to do so I need to stop spending all my money on food!

After browsing the shops we decided to go check out the first night of Christmas Markets! Ah they were so fun! They still sell most of the same things that you'd find at the Manchester Christmas Markets but everything just seemed bigger and brighter! We had a very quick look around before we decided to go for burgers at Vego Foodworld.

Ah Vego, home of one of my favourite vegan chocolate bars.

I had pretty high expectations and I wasn't disappointed. I ordered a Chick'n burger and a side of Calamari. They were both awesome, exactly what I felt like eating. Junk food at its best. This was very similar to Yellow Sunshine, which I visited back in May but slightly better because it's 100% vegan.

That was pretty much it for day 4, stay tuned for more tomorrow!

Return to Berlin - Day 3

We woke up bright and early on our third day in Berlin. My back was feeling slightly better so we decided to go and explore Hackescher Hofe, which is lots of enclosed courtyards joined together. Most of them are designer shops, so we didn't spent much money there because it was expensive, but there were a few interesting places and it was fun to browse, the courtyards were really cool.

There were some cool gift shops there and I particularly liked Eat Berlin which had some great traditional foody gifts like curry wurst powder, perfect for making quick and easy veggie currywurst at home. I love the branding of the bear literally eating Berlin, I feel it represented my relationship with the city!

When we'd done enough browsing we decided to head towards Chaos Theorie but we managed to get distracted along the way. No idea what this place is called, but right by Hackescher Hof is a side street that is covered in great street art. At the end of the street is a building that has a comic/art shop that was hosting a temporary German Comic museum. We spent ages in there, the pop up museum was great and I fell in love with loads of prints in that place. We left when we couldn't deal with our hunger pains any longer.

I'd heard a lot of great stuff about Chaos Theorie so I was super excited to go. It was a lot smaller than I expected but it wasn't too busy and we had a really friendly member of staff who looked after us, which is a plus side to being in a small space.

The menu looked so frigging good and it was all completely vegan, it reminded me a lot of V Revolution in Manchester. I decided to go for a meatball toasty and a mint hot chocolate. My partner went for a ham and cheese toasted croissant and got a chocolate speculoos croissant too, which we shared.

Everything was amazing. That meatball toasty was awesome, so awesome! It wasn't just some measly toasty with a thin layer of filling, this thing was packed. I loved the cheese they used, whatever it was it was great. The chocolate speculoos croissant was also amazing, I wish I'd picked a croissant instead of bread for my savoury toasty!

When we were able to move again, we left to head over to Neukolln. I'd read about a vegetarian swedish bakery called Cafe Valentin on Happy Cow, so I wanted to go take a peek. It was pretty out of the way but luckily we had time to kill and there were loads of cool places elsewhere in Neukolln that we had plans to visit. When I got there I was a little disappointed, only because the description on Happy Cow made me think it was a proper bakery. In reality it was a small cafe that bakes lots of cakes, which is never a bad thing! We went there a little late in the day and I was lucky that they'd just finished making a vegan cake. There was only one option but I guess there could have been more earlier on in the day? I was completely stuffed from my toasties so I asked to have a slice to go. It was a vanilla sponge topped with strawberry jam. I had it for breakfast the following day, it was a simple cake but it was really delicious.

We left Cafe Valentin for Dr Pogo. I couldn't wait to get myself back there again. I wrote about my last visit, so if you'd like more details then head over to my post from last May. I love this shop, it's really great and the staff are so nice. This is definitely the vegan shop to get most excited about in Berlin.

Obviously after Dr Pogo we had to go round the corner to Cafe Vux. I was still way too full for cake but we decided to sit in and have a drink as we had time to kill before we could head over to Sfizy Veg for dinner. We ordered a few Fritz Kolas and I got some amazing cake to go. Like Dr Pogo, I've written about Cafe Vux before so check here for more details. Next time I go to Berlin I'm gonna have to try some of their savoury stuff as it sounds just as good as their cakes.

Finally it was time for dinner. We weren't super hungry but I'd heard rumours that Sfizy Veg gets really rammed so I wanted to get over there early. When we arrived the place was completely full. The person serving us was really apologetic and friendly, giving us menus while we waited for a spare table. Luckily everyone eating there was aware of the limited space so we didn't have to wait long. By the time we sat down, I knew what I wanted. Sfizy is a pizza restaurant and the choice is insane. Everything is vegan. There are more traditional pizzas like the ham and pineapple my partner ordered, margarita and salami. They also have some really weird options. Think about masala, stroganoff, avocado and even an egg bun double bacon cheese burger pizza. You heard me. Of course I had to go for the burger pizza.

Best pizza topping ever. It was a normal margarita pizza but with a burger slapped on it. The burger even had lettuce and mayo in it! It tasted so good, it was like two meals in one! Winning!!

I went back to the apartment a very happy vegan that night, although honestly, I was pretty concerned how I was going to eat the backlog of cake that was building up, especially as I had so many more places on my list. I went to sleep hoping that in the morning I'd wake up more hungry than ever!