Photo Potpourri – Karneval der Kulturen

I think you have figured out by now that I love food.
My German teacher said that eating & drinking don’t count as hobbies in Germany – whatever.  Food is definitely my hobby – cooking, eating, admiring, reviewing…I love every thing about it!  So I was overjoyed when I learned that a cultural festival featuring food from around the world was happening in Berlin!  The Karneval der Kulturen (carnival of cultures) is a yearly street fair/giant party/parade that takes place in Kreuzberg over a long weekend.  The carnival highlights and celebrates the many different cultures present in Berlin.  At the parade, people put on traditional costumes from their home countries and put on a show for the crowd.  It is a hugely popular event – we read that the parade alone attracts around 1 million attendees!  Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to the parade until it was over but we did hit up the street fair a few times!  The carnival was a great way to enjoy the beautiful weather, get excited for summer, and eat a lot.

P.S. Pictures of yummy food & fun times from our trip to Bulgaria will be coming soon!  We had an amazing time and took a lot of pictures, so editing them all may take a while. 🙂  I’m also hoping to have a new layout up soon that I coded and designed myself!

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1. Empenadas and arepas!  Good Latin American food is so hard to come by here so, naturally, we were thrilled to see booths ran by actual Latin American people.  These were delicious!  I don’t think the booth was ran by a specific restaurant so we probably won’t be able to have these again until next year.

2. This Vietnamese burger from District Mot was awesome!  Between the steamed rice bun, pickled veggies, the chip, cilantro, and good beef we couldn’t get enough.  Hopefully we will make it out to their restaurant sometime enjoy another one!

3. Berlin’s finest!

4. I think this dish was called ‘Funky Chicken’ and was served at a West African booth.  Anywho, it was a crunchy fried chicken kabob sprinkled with curry powder, served w/ salad and a dressing similar to Thousand Island.  It was very tasty and matched well with the passion fruit beer I had from the same stand.

5. This may have been my favorite dish we tried at the carnival because fish is not something we eat often here.  This delicious chunk of salty smoked salmon topped with a dill sauce came from a Finnish booth – it was to die for.  The outer edges of the fish were sooo salty and sooo crispy…it was amazing.

6. This is a very small fraction of the trash that was left behind after the parade.  We ventured out at night after the parade and it felt like walking into apocalyptic ground zero.  Thousands of beer bottles lined the streets, some nicely arranged into large piles for the bottle collectors who return them for money; broken glass everywhere; paper plates & napkins drifted eerily down the street, and still the Berliners partied on!  Every so often along the 6 km parade route we stumbled upon an impromptu dance party outside of some cafe whose owners were (brilliantly) selling beer on the street and blasting dance music.  It was a strange sight to see but made for a fun night!

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Berlinburger International

As I’ve mentioned before, Berliners love burgers. Which is funny because the German word for ‘citizen’ is bürger, haha…  Anywho, we popped into a popular local burger joint in Kreuzberg called Berlinburger International (aka BBI) on a cold Thursday and left happy & very, very full.  BBI has a tiny storefront on Pannierstraße (near Hermannplatz) that often has a long line out the door.
What BBI lacks in space they more than make up for with their big burgers!

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Is your mouth watering?  In the front of the picture above is the cheeseburger with jalapeños that I ordered and in the back is the Mexican-ish burger Alex had.  Note the giant pile of guac spilling off of Alex’s burger.  That’s right, real guacamole with chunks!  This is hard to come by in Berlin.  As you can see, the burgers are loaded up with toppings, including far too much salad for any normal sized mouth.  Consequently, most people were pushing off most of the greens and eating it like a little side salad, which is definitely not a bad thing in my book.  I was also very, very happy that they gave me such a generous portion of jalapeños. 🙂

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We also had some amazing potato wedges which were good enough to rival KFC’s, especially when smothered with ketchup & mayo.  At first I thought the portion was a bit small but trying to tackle both the wedges and a burger in one meal is quite the challenge.

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Above is a picture of BBI’s tiny, tiny storefront.  I kind of like how their logo looks like it belongs to a government office.  It would be awesome if all Berlin government buildings served me delicious hamburgers to go with my inevitable long wait times.  Just an idea…hint, hint.

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Nothing pairs better with a big burger than a big bottle of a light beer!  This Augustinerbräu is a go-to bottled beer for us and it looks very beautiful against the background of BBI’s graffitied tables.  The seating arrangement at BBI isn’t the best, but considering the minuscule space they are working with the only thing they could maybe do is add more outdoor tables.  They do have a few seats inside – although you are likely to have someone in the queue rubbing up against you throughout your meal.

I don’t think I will ever be able to confidently deem a restaurant the best burgers in Berlin – there are waaay too many burger joints in this city to single out just one!  As soon as you think you’ve had the best one another juicy burger dripping in toppings comes along and makes you reconsider.  Regardless, BBI is an excellent choice for big burgers at a low price, despite the lack of seating.  For more info, check out BBI on their website and on Yelp!

Thai in the Park

Berlin is full of surprises.  It seems like every week we hear about another cool, semi-unknown, event or place in the city that blows our minds.  Our most recent discovery was the Thaiwiese (Thai meadow) market in Wilmersdorf.   The market is an unofficial event that occurs daily but the biggest turnout is on the weekend when dozens of Thai women, men, and families set up make-shift food stands in a park to sell homemade Thai classics for low prices.  For us, this is what dreams are made of.
The market is situated near the back of Preußenpark (right at the Fehrbelliner Platz U-Bahn station) and there is also a flowmarkt (flea market) at the front of the park.  At the Thai market you can find all of your favorite dishes from pad Thai to papaya salad to delicious sticky cakes wrapped in banana leaves.  The food was by far the best Thai we have had in Berlin.  Finally some real, authentic, spicy Thai food!!

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Our meal began with these chicken skewers smothered in a chunky peanut sauce.  Sweet, nutty, a little spicy – delicious!

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Next, we went for a plate of one of our very favorite Thai staples – spicy papaya salad!  I loved watching the lady crush the ingredients with a giant mortar & pestle (the kind Alex wishes we had at home) and appreciated that she asked how many chilies we wanted in the mix.  Papaya salad always puts me in a good mood. 🙂

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As our ‘entree’ we enjoyed a large plate overflowing with four kinds of Thai noodle dishes.  I’m not entirely sure what some of the dishes were but all were tasty.  I believe that the top right quadrant was some kind of Pad See Ew; to the right were glassnoodles; bottom right is of course the always popular Pad Thai; and bottom left were a denser noodle, kind of like lo mein.  It was a huge amount of noodles for only 5 euro!

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Of course we had to pair our meal with some Thai beer!

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Sadly, after the big noodle plate we were too full to try any other entrees but we could not resist getting a Thai cake dessert.  We used to buy similar cakes from the Asian markets in Virginia and they never disappoint.  I’m not sure what these are called or made from buuuut I think these kinds of cakes are usually made from rice flour, coconut, and lots of sugar!  Which is probably why they are so incredibly delicious.  They also come wrapped in a super cute banana leaf package.

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Looking at the pictures makes me want to go back again this weekend!  Just when I thought I’d be stuck eating mediocre Asian food forever, a pop-up market in a park comes along and rocks my world.  Unique finds like the Thaiwiese are what make Berlin such a fun place to live!