Wednesday, November 27, 2013

To be honest, I have no idea what it feels like to be French in Berlin. I have met French people in Berlin. Usually they sound something like this:

"Oh, I thought I left France. Why are there French people everywhere?"
"Life is too short to learn German."
"Men here don't buy women drinks."

Oh, how I love the French.

Anyway, I recently took a trip out to a cute French bistro with my friend Pavel. Pavel and I know each other from Trader Joes (if you live in NY and do TJ's, you may have seen me stocking shelves), and clicked because I have this horrible obsession with people with smooth skin that I have to touch them. So that's where it all began and on this evening, it ended with a happy belly full of warm comforting food.

The place is called L'Origine du Monde and is located in Friedrichshain. The decor is very cozy: beige walls, wooden tables, and chalkboards. The menus are handwritten as well. The music bounced around classic rock to movie soundtracks.

If you look at the menu on their homepage, the items listed are quite different from what we saw. I think a lot of the items are changed daily or weekly depending on what they get. I like that because it shows a dedication to fresh ingredients but it's also unfortunate when you like something and it's not there.

Octopus Chorizo Soup

Pumpkin Risotto with Shrimp

Roasted Duck with Peach Sauce and Potato Gratin

The flavors were great and everything complimented each other on the plates. My only complaint might be the texture of the octopus and duck as both were slightly tough. Anyway, I really recommend it. The waiter was pleasant and friendly and the food came in timely manner. We were definitely stuffed after our meal.

Gubener Straße 41 Berlin
030 53155629

Being French in Berlin

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Hello beautiful people, I am back with a Share it Saturday!

A small share but I'd like to post some of my old photos from Prague. Prague is one of those European towns you dream about: great views, colorful houses, random food stalls, and clean metro stations. I've been twice and both times were great--just walking around really gets you inspired. If you haven't been, now you can see why!

These photos were taken in the Winter time. It looks warm but trust me, depending on when you go, it can get really cold!
I hope you enjoyed my post. Look forward to a more lengthy update soon!

Share it Saturdays No. 4 ft Prague

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hello guys! Sorry I've been so inactive on the blog. I am well aware I missed the Share it Saturday last Saturday. I've been feeling rubbish lately because I have painful dry skin on my face right now. It's not a lot but it's around my mouth and it burns when I try to treat it with creams and oils. I guess I'll have to make a trip to the doctor but I'm lacking health insurance so I'm a bit blue right now.

Okay but enough sad news and onto some food pics from last week/this week:

I don't know if you know this but I am all about the curry. I don't care if it's a strange interpretation of curry. If it ends in "curry", chances are it can't be that bad. Here I made some curried rice with tofu, zucchini, and onions. Super simple and yummy.

Then last Friday, Oli invited his friends over for burgers and movie night.

The next day he made more with leftover ingredients, including a mini-B.

Oli loves fast food (pizza, burgers, fries, döner kebab, you name it) and I'm always telling him he's fattening me up. So as a joke, he made a big burger for himself and a tiny burger (sandwiched between two baguette pieces) for me! Haha, I laughed it was so cute.

Then today I met up with my friend Lara and we went to Transit Restaurant in Mitte.

I wasn't feeling too hungry so I got just one of their little plates (usually you get a bunch with people and share) and a "Against Cold" tea. The tea was yummy (ginger, lemon, and honey never fails), and the squid salad was also very good! It was a daily special so not sure if you can get it if you decide to go, but I've heard the papaya salad is also top notch. The prices are average for Berlin and the waitresses are all really dolled up too (not because they have to I think but they had full-on makeup and false eyelashes, which is quite rare to see in Berlin since everyone is so bare all the time). Anyway, I recommend it and I would go again for sure!

Finally, a small purchase at Primark.

I don't shop at Primark so often but for lounge things like this, I go crazy! I have a pair of pink slip-ons but since it's getting colder, I wanted something that would cover my ankles. These are perfect because of the cushion on the bottom and the fuzzy lining, plus I love anything flannel.

So that's about it for today. Hope you enjoyed reading and have a nice Wednesday!

Transit Restaurant and Primark Booties

Monday, November 18, 2013

1. Anna Verdina Karnova Flickr
2, 3, 4. Cake Stuff Tumblr
5. Julicious Flickr 

Sweeties Galore

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hello party people, how are you today?

I'm catching up on America's Next Top Model Cycle 20. I don't watch every season but once in a while I tune into one and keep up with it. I'm not too crazy about the contestants on this cycle . . . as always there's a lot of unnecessary drama and people that get emotional way too easily. So in the case of this season, I don't really care who wins. I'm mainly in it for the fashion!

Speaking of fashion, I did take a trip out to Humana to see if anything could be added to my wardrobe. Humana is a huge thrift/second hand chain here in Berlin. There's usually one in every or most neighborhoods. The biggest one I know is at Frankfurter Tor so I took a train out to good ol' Friedrichshain to check out the selection.

Here is my morning snack!

Alpro is a company that produces plant based "dairy" products. This one is a blood orange flavored soy yogurt. They are really tasty and perfect as a snack.

I also pulled out the blue eyeshadow.

Thrift Shopping and Hefeklöße

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I love food blogs. I think it goes without saying people who blog food love to drool over other people's recipes and photos. This is how I found Alissa's blog Connoisseurus Veg.
I was on Tastespotting one day and clicked on a recipe she had posted. Since then I've been eyeing her recipes like Charlie eyeing Wonka Bars in the candy shop, except I feel less guilty because her recipes are veg and full of wholesome ingredients!
I contacted her immediately and we set off to do a collaboration. Since we're in the fall season, we decided it would be best to use an autumn ingredient. I had seen Persimmons (or Kaki as the Japanese and Germans call it) around the Farmer's Markets and thought it would be perfect!

I always associate Persimmons with Japan because as a kid, my father sometimes brought home dried persimmons which are a well known Japanese snack. I decided to go with that and instead infuse it in the batter of another one of my father's favorite sweets: Dorayaki. Except of course I put an extra spin on it and made it vegan and gluten free.

A few tips on preparing this batter:

-Keep the Dorayaki moist after cooking because the gluten free and vegan batter tends to dry a bit faster. You can either cover them or wrap them individually in plastic wrap.
-The consistency of the batter should be like pancake mix. If it's a bit thick after letting the batter set, mix in a bit more water or vegan milk.
-I find it tastes best slightly warm after making!

The Dorayaki is the perfect amount of sweetness and the persimmon gives it just the right note at the end.

Anko (Sweet Red Bean Filling)
3/4 cup of azuki beans
2 - 2 1/4 cup of water
1/2 cup sugar

Put beans and just enough water to cover the beans in a pot. Bring to a boil and then discard the water to get rid of bitterness. Now measure out new water and pour over the beans and bring to a boil once more. Once boiling, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. The beans will be soft yet firm. Drain out the excess liquid and put it back in the pot. Add the sugar and stir on medium high heat for about 10-12 minutes until it forms a chunky paste. Transfer to a bowl and let it cool.

 Vegan and Gluten Free Persimmon Dorayaki

Serves 5
1 cup gluten free flour
(I got the flour as a gift but please feel free to use any blend you're comfortable with. A recommendation would be 1/2 cup Sorghum, 1/4 Cup Tapioca, and 1/4 Cup Almond)
1/4 cup raw sugar
2 tablespoons ground flax seed + 6 tablespoons hot water
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 ripe persimmon (medium size) + 1/2 cup water

Put in a bowl the sugar, flour, and baking powder and mix it all together until it's well combined. In a small cup, mix together your ground flax seed and water to make the flax "egg". Set it aside so it has time to become gel-like. Now wash your persimmon and stick it in a blender with the water (you don't need to cut the persimmon if it's ripe enough, however I did it for show). Blend until the mixture is smooth and add it to the dry ingredients. Mix your batter and put it in the fridge for 20 minutes uncovered to rest.

Towards the end of the 20 minutes, heat your stove up to medium low heat. Make sure your pan is well heated before coating it with cooking spray or oil. Then take out your batter and make a pancake about 3 inches in diameter. Cook on one side until bubbles form (about 2-3 minutes) then flip and cook for another 2 minutes. At this point, you can check if the middle is cooked by pushing the center with your spatula and seeing if batter comes out of the sides. If it doesn't, great! If it does, just cover and let it sit for another minute or two. Transfer to a plate to cool and cover with a damp towel.

When all the pancakes are done, set up a sandwiching station. Take one pancake, put enough Anko in the center so there is about 1/2 inch around the edges, place another pancake on top, and press the sides to seal. Do the same for all and you're left with a pretty platter of Dorayaki!

Please also check out Alissa's lovely and savory take on Persimmons! She takes such lovely photos of her food and when she sent me a picture of her dish (an avocado and tempeh salad with persimmon sauce just to give you an idea), I was instantly hungry!

Happy baking and ciao everyone!

Dorayaki Recipe and Collaboration with Alissa of Connoisseurus Veg

Sunday, November 10, 2013

This week's Share it Saturday is about packaged food. Packaged food gets a bad rap from time to time. The argument is that it's not fresh and can contain preservatives and other pesky ingredients. Although it does not compare to fresh food, I find there is a place for it in our lives! The key is to check nutrition labels (I usually look at sodium levels, sugar levels, where the fat is derived from, fiber, and ingredients).

Here's just some of my few favorite products:

1. Greens Plus Bars. I used to work at Trader Joes (the affordable hipster supermarket) and I was mildly obsessed with trying out all the energy bars they had. My friend really liked these so I decided to splurge one day and get one. There's no going back once you've had it. The stats are amazing and to me they taste delicious (it reminds me of some Japanese sweet I've had before).
2. GT's Kombucha. Another item available in America but not in Germany. It's a Kombucha drink. You can find them mixed with juices or chia seeds. They are also on the pricey side so I don't buy them too often, but I find them on sale from time to time at Whole Foods.
3. Fage Yogurt. Greek Yogurt is my favorite type of yogurt because it's super creamy and feels decadent. There's usually more calories in Greek Yogurt but there are Fat Free varieties and besides, there's a lot of protein in there!
4. Garden of Life Raw Meal. I bought this huge container and again, it's not cheap (2.5 lbs for $34?) It is however some kind of a miracle. The ingredient list is ridiculous and so are the nutrients that come from everything. I will say that it tastes absolutely disgusting and there is a grainy texture but I try to mask it with some sugar fruits (ex. pineapple, bananas, mangos, etc.) in a smoothie. Really good if you want to take a bunch of greens in one go (without actually having a bunch of greens lying around).
5. Trader Joe's Hummus. I love hummus from Trader Joe's. Much like my experience with trying all the bars, I've pretty much tried all the hummus. The Cilantro Jalapeño is one of my favorites. It has a nice kick to it.
6. Green Curry Paste. I have a tub in my fridge and all I can say is that it instantly transforms dishes into something spicy, aromatic, and tasty. It's only a few simple ingredients. The only downside is that salt is included in the paste so you have no control over that.
7. Okame Natto. Natto is fermented soybeans. People that know me know I love this stuff. It's definitely an acquired taste. Just know that although it may smell bad, it doesn't taste like how it smells, so maybe you'll like it if you give it a shot.

So there is a small list of some of the products I love. I hope you can try some of these things if you've seen them around but never picked them up. Ciao everyone and happy weekend!

Share it Saturdays No. 3 ft. Packaged Foods

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

You know what is really strange? Every time I think about dining out, I always think of Anthony Bourdain's episode of the Layover in NY, and how he wraps up the Upper East Side with the Papaya King (New York's institution of hot dogs and papaya smoothies).

First of all, I am not even going to start my ridiculous fangirling over Anthony Bourdain because he would actually disapprove and I think the whole world wants to be on Bourdain's good side. I also don't want to bore you with memories of going to school near Papaya King and knowing exactly what he's talking about. Instead I want to stress the idea behind why I mentioned this particular moment in television history: the fact that eating out never has to be glamorous for it to be good.

It all started with a train delay and a cup of coffee.

Weird start to the day considering I rarely drink coffee let alone buy it out. It was okay but I much prefer espresso--one whole cup is just too much buzz for me!

The rest of the day was a blur. I think I went to the gym. I think I ate rice cakes. I think I met up with Oli and got lost in Neukölln!

Needless to say it's not a neighborhood I know like the back of my hand.

Oli's friend Piotr was waiting at the bookstore we would be eating in.

We went in and saw a room filled with books and comfy chairs. The way it works is, there's a man at the register in the front. You pay 5 euros and get a plate. When the food is done, you pick whatever you want, buffet style. 5 euros for a huge plate of home cooked goodness. Who can say no to that?


I wish my library were this extensive.

Oli's Jever beer.

Here's an example of a plate. They had meat and veg options for all, along with a ton of bread and cheese. The carrot hash was yummy. The thing I really appreciated was that not only was it made by the owner of the bookstore but the food was not overly salty so people could kind of customize it themselves if they wished.

The three of us chatted about nonsensical things as always. Then another guy joined our conversation and we ended up talking about science fiction novels/films for a veeeery long time.

A few hours later, we left and parted ways with Piotr.

Oli and I heading back to our flat and camwhoring.
One of the greatest things about Berlin is that there are always places like this where you don't have to spend a lot of money and you don't have to be a certain type of person to enjoy yourself and make friends. It can be a Papaya King or the basement of a bookstore: just sit back and take in all what the world has to offer.

Dining Out in a Bookstore