Saturday, June 29, 2013

Berlin Food Round-Up

So, I'm back from Berlin! I had a super time...or is that an uber time?

Being that I am a snack blogger, my favorite part was the food. Also time off work, pleasant weather, and exploration...but yeah, the food ranks highest. Sorry museums and historic sites, next time add some salt & a sauce or something.

I had done a little bit of research before we arrived, and there was one place I knew I'd have to go.

Fassbender & Rausch is a chocolate shop & cafe that gets high praise all over the internet, and was specifically recommended to me by Fiona on Twitter. Thank you, Fiona. I would like to buy you a chocolate for suggesting such a perfect place. Spoiler alert, I found this place totally perfect.

Not only do they serve cakes and pastries, particularly my favorite kind (mostly cream, little cake), they also have a giant chocolate shop on the ground floor. The shop has some awesome chocolate displays, like a giant chocolate Brandenburg gate & a giant bear, which seems to be the spirit animal of Berlin.

I had the Frankfurter-Kranz tortchen, which was comprised of French buttercream, a sponge base, raspberry compote, and caramelized...bits. I think they were some kind of nut, but they were more or less crunchy caramel.

My husband had the Peach Bellini, which was peach jelly, cream, and a sponge base. It was also delicious, but texturally I was a bigger fan of mine. The cream in this one felt a bit like jelly, sort of wobbly. Maybe it was more like a chilled custard, or an American style pudding.

We grabbed a box of chocolates from the shop before we left. We opted for the choose-your-own selection from the counter, which was a bit overwhelming. I should've gotten a couple photos of the counter, as there were about three or four counters worth of chocolate, separated into alcohol-including, petit-desserts, no-alcohol, and marzipan. Amazing value, too - it was about 7 euro for a box of 12. I'd definitely put the quality above Godiva and more 'high street' chocolatiers, and basically above all US-based chocolatiers I've tried, but not in the exact same tier as William Curley or Paul A. Young...but you're not paying as high of prices, either. The only issue is you'd have to go to Germany for a box.
Worth it, I think. There are a few fruity truffles, as those are the kind my husband and I both enjoy most, and two balsamic truffles that we were warned were 'quite strong'. The server at the counter must've thought we were delicate since all the rest of them are white chocolate/passionfruit/coconut/mango, et cetera. My favorite was the balsamic, though - it tasted like a sour lemon cream more than vinegar - but then again I'm crazy for vinegar tastes so it might be horrible for people who don't like punchy sour stuff. The two roughly textured white ones at the bottom were vanilla butter, which tasted like dense vanilla butter covered in buttery white chocolate. That was a close second as my favorite.

 The cream centers were all perfect, smooth and supple and naturally flavored with whichever fruit was meant to be included. Wish I could remember more specifics, but we ate these very quickly about a week ago so...sorry! But Fassbender & Rausch is a must in Berlin if you like sweets. Highly recommended!

It wasn't all sweets, however. I also discovered a new favorite junk food...currywurst.

Unfortunately we were never able to get down to Curry36, the most recommended currywurst place, instead we ate at Curry Express a few times...which I'm sure is the absolute lowest common denominator of an already pretty junky food, haha. I loved it, though. I can't wait to have nicer ones when we go back.
This went best with a Mezzo Mix, which is cola with orange. It nearly just tastes like Coke, but at the very end there is a snap of citrus. More of an after-taste than anything, but it makes it much more palette-cleansing than your usual cola. Might I also mention that the french fries in Berlin were always exactly how i like them best - thin and crispy. The sausage at Curry Express was super soft and squishy, and they offered pomme-frite sauce, as much as you like...their mistake, because I took a lot everytime, haha. It was like slightly more tangy mayo, went so nicely with the crispy fries. I really loved this place, even though I'm sure it is extra trashy and grubby. I kind of like that, though. I mean, after all, I had to be talked down from eating here:
We also went to the zoo, which was a great opportunity for me to get a huge sunburn and a Cornetto. Lucky me that there was an exotic Cornetto to be had among the mandrills and hippos. Hippos are crazy looking in real life, by the way - kind of monsterous and dinosaur-y.
This flavor translates to Buttermilk and Lemon, which took me a minute to really understand. Turns out, buttermilk is a popular pairing with citrus in Germany. Well, at least in my brief analysis which included eating this, seeing buttermilk written down on a lot of signs, and buying a box of buttermilk and lime chocolates, which were sadly scarfed before a review could be done. You'll get the gist of it by this cone, however.
The combination of buttermilk and citrus actually makes a good amount of sense, considering you can 'make' buttermilk, or at least a fair substitute, by adding lemon juice to fresh milk. Basically, it's just tangy milk with tangy fruit. This is particularly nice if you already like citrus sweets, it reminded me of a lemon cheesecake or a sweeter lemon yogurt dessert. Very refreshing for the summer, as it isn't too sweet. In the middle of the ice cream, there was an icy lemon sorbet all the way down the cone, which blended really well with the ice cream and kept the citrus taste going all the way down. Very clever, because otherwise the lemon just came from the sauce on top. I'd happily eat one of these in the UK, it is a shame it probably won't make it over here, probably because buttermilk isn't a common ingredient in...much of anything? I'm not sure, in America it is only really used in pancakes, and maybe southern style gravy? Either way, give this one a try if you're in Germany this summer. This, and any other buttermilk chocolate - it's quite similar to yogurt chocolates, just a bit more tangy.
I saved the best, or at least my favorite, for last. I brought these Halloren Kugeln back with me, kind of thinking they were just unassuming little chocolates from a WH Smith-type shop inside the train station. I was drawn to them because they seemed quite nostalgic, and I usually like anything that claims to be 'cream'. More or less, I thought they'd just be decent. How wrong was I. They were so awesome.
They look pretty unassuming out of the pack, too. Just thick, glossy buttons. I was right about them being nostalgic, these are produced by the oldest German chocolate factory, so lots of history in these. After all, as we all know, Germany is the land of chocolate.
So, inside these are split into two sections, but I couldn't really tell a huge difference. Then again, I enjoyed them as a whole so much that I never even really attempted to eat them separately...sorry snack scientific method, I failed you this time.

The filling was so dense but somehow kind of springy, and so chocolate-y. It was like eating the nicest combination of marshmallow and brownie you can imagine. Or fudge. Actually, it reminded me a lot of the kind of fudge you make using Marshmallow Fluff, except covered in sweet dark chocolate. There were a good number of them in the box, but they were eaten so quickly between the two of us they might as well have just been an outline of chocolates, or a note that said 'Sorry' with only two bitten chocolates left. What I'm saying is that we ate them as fast as Looney Tunes characters run.

I've still got a few things left from Germany that I brought back, such as a coffee banana chocolate bar, some strawberry mint truffles, and a weird (and very cheap) mixed selection of soft drink powders to combine with water. 

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