Germany


When the Italians immigrated to Germany, yes, of course they brought their pasta. And, their gelato. But then they took it one step farther. 

 

Meet “Spaghetti Eis.” This dessert (which I bought in Dresden, but is apparently ubiquitous in Germany) is ice cream extruded through a noodle maker – to look like spaghetti. 

The Eis is piled over a mound of whipped cream — which I suspect was pre-frozen — and topped with sauces and crumbles and shreds that make it look like a real spaghetti dish. “Marinara” is usually strawberry (tomato sauce) with shredded white chocolate (Parmesan).  

 I picked “Spaghetti Carbonara” – which was covered in a vanilla sauce with walnuts, hazelnuts and amaretto cookies. 

Sounds a little weird. Tastes a lotta delicious. 

Three Eis Later




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This was my first meal in Dresden — if you don’t count the cake and coffee which is traditionally served at 4 o’clock Sunday afternoon.

 This was my choice for the menu, although it took me and my colleague sitting next to me at dinner about 10 minutes to decipher. 
 
Pike perch – I knew was a freshwater fish. Baked in egg turned out to be a fluffy coating around the perch – with a slightly crusty outside and an almost soufflé like inside. 

But what the heck is a thereto salad? Turns out it is bad translation of “on the side”. 

My first Dresden dinner was delicious. 

We are on the road — in our Mercedes-Benz bus, Abba and Beatles and the Who playing in the background — having left Berlin, now heading to Dresden. 

I am sad to see the Berlin leg of our visit end. Several of the other journalists will be returning — many of us not. 

I’m having my lunch on the bus right now – made from our hotel breakfast buffet. Cheese with little salami bits and another slice of stinky cheese. Bottled water. And a few crudités. All wrapped in plastic bags from our hotel bathrooms. 

I do have to laugh — one morning someone in our group said they were “sick of the bread.”

Really?!? They have the most incredible bread here. From hearty wheat to even sliced white. How can you get sick of this bread? I am reminded of people I knew back when I was in high school who, for one reason or the other, had the opportunity to travel to Europe (much rarer in those days of Pan Am and TWA). And they would come back 10 pounds heavier because of “all that bread!”  I understand. 

More coming for Dresden, I’m sure. More news. But also (hopefully) more bread. 

I’ve written about this before, I know, but it makes me a little crazy when I see a Starbucks in a European country, like here in Germany. 

How is it that an American coffee institution that built its business around ersatz European coffee drinks with coffee that is almost always overroasted, gains any popularity whatsoever in the actual Europe?

It is hugely popular. Always crowded. I do avoid Starbucks if I can, so I’m not entirely clear if it just draws American visitors.  I think it likely attracts locals as well.

So, when we were a little early for a lunch right inside the Brandenburg Gate in Eastern Berlin, we found ourselves in search of a cup of coffee. The only place at that particular location we could find was, yes I am sure you guessed it, a dreaded Starbucks. I dragged my feet as we neared the crowded establishment when lo and behold — immediately next door sat a German bakery and coffee establishment.

There, I got a simple and delicious cappuccino. My friend got a hot chocolate with whipped cream on the top. And to top it off — a big ol’ pretzel with mustard. 

Oh yeah!

 

Pretty much you cannot go to Berlin without getting a curry-wurst — even better with frites. My first trip here in 2013, I went to one of those simple street stalls near Checkpoint Charlie, and had my first curry-wurst experience.

This trip — while visiting the studio of the artist who first devised the idea of making one very large section of the Berlin wall, a “canvas” for 180 artists (called the East Side Gallery) — our group leader pointed out Curry 36 — allegedly (one of) the most popular curry-wurst joints in town.

So – this is what it is:

Big ol’ bratwurst, cut into small rings, sprinkled with some kind of curry powder-salt mix, topped with a high quality ketchup. Served with a tiny red plastic fork, the likes of which I would love to have the patent on those perfect little plastic tined instruments. 

You can order the wurst with or without the casing. Mit darm means with the casing. With or without French fries (“frites“) plain or with ketchup or with mayo. All, some, none. 

OH

MY 

GOD


I’ve written about foreign translations of food before – like the “fantasy of artichokes” in Sicily. But — as I sit waiting – in the charming outdoor alley of Brauhaus Lemke — for what was described to me by a colleague as “the best spaetzle in Berlin” — I notice on the German language menu (in other words: not translated) under the Schwein category – a dish called Steak “Western Art”.

But we’ll have to leave this pondering for later because OMG — the best spaetzle in Berlin was just delivered to my table. Served in a hot shallow pan, the most delicate noodles in a light cream sauce, with peppers (red, green and yellow), scallions, onions, and leeks (white and green parts) – topped with a julienne of salty, crisped ham and melted cheese. 

So incredible that even the rat that ran by several tables away didn’t spoil the mood. 


 

In these days of global cuisine, food shouldn’t necessarily be a surprise. So when I ordered a seasonal salad at my Berlin hotel with “fried” monkfish, bacon and shiitake mushrooms, I figured I knew what I was getting. 

Not. 

The vinagrette was berry-based, yes — except it was elderberry. The “fried” fish was lightly sautéed and tender: we’re not talking fish fry here!

The bacon was not “his first name is O-S-C-A-R” — if you get my drift. The shiitakes were soft to the tooth, not reconstituted and chewy. And the seasonal greens were heavy with the red of radicchio, though absolutely not bitter. 

Even the vinagrette receptacle was slightly altered: square with a delicate little spout at the corner.

Ah, yes. It is, indeed, the little things.  

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