Day 4 of Vegan MoFo 2013 –
I hope you don’t mind but we are still focussing on Berlin. I did want to present you with a recipe today as I thought I was moving in to the housesit I am at for September (in the city of my youth!). Alas, the dates went skewed and I don’t move in until tomorrow. More hanging out time with my Mother is good, but..less time in the kitchen…..not so good. So I have a restaurant review for you, from the Berlin that captured my heart and messed with my waistline!
I was coming to the end of my time in Berlin and with such an abundance of vegan restaurants I was forced to make choices (I know, I know, what a great dilemma to have!). It was a toss up between Kopps and Viasko. I’d made my mind up for Kopps but a last minute word from a friend nudged me over to the latter.
Viasko is set in an old Berliners pub, down a few steps and across from a park. It was not easy to find. The road it is on crosses several streets and was a bit confusing. Me and my bike got there in the end though.
It was a warm evening and I was near humming with contentment. Being gluten free can be a
pain in the ass challenge but mostly it comes up trumps. I used this as an excuse to mix up the menu a bit. The chef was very obliging. I ordered the green salad with walnut pate stuffed eggplant (aubergine) rolls.
It was to be my last evening meal in Berlin. I crossed my fingers hoping it would be good. Some reviews on Happy Cow had spoken of sulky, hipster staff and bad service. I thought I’d found this to be true when the waitress first arrived at my table. But she broke into a smile and was so helpful and nice. In fact the whole place had a relaxed atmosphere. The tables outside are long and strangers mixed to sit and enjoy the company and the breeze.
I was watching waiter take plates, piled high to the other diners. They looked so good. When mine arrived you’d have thought I’d been handed the Crown Jewels. My face lit up like only a food fools does. But it looked so good! And, do you know what?, it was good. Incredible in fact. I don’t know how they made their vinaigrette but it dressed the salad couture style. The eggplant rolls almost brought a watery tear to my eyes. They were warm, roasted, silky. The stuffing was unbelievable. The seasoning was perfect pitch, and I haven’t a clue what they added to the walnut paste-type-cream inside but I’d sell my grandmother for the recipe!
I followed it with a creme caramel. I love the texture of creme caramel, cool, smooth. It was perfectly sweetened and fragrant with vanilla. Yum.
I thought I’d leave you with these two little doggie darlings. Berliners bike everywhere, I saw kids sat on handlebars driven by their dads, delivery bikers, tandem bikers, and even bikers with their cute pets. Adorable!
MoFo Day 3
If you read yesterdays post you’ll know I was flying back from Berlin. I’m back. Drowning among a month’s worth of post and a whole heap of crap I dumped at my mother’s house before high tailing it off. I’m overwhelmed. My brain is dashing around in my skull to try and compute where the bloody hell I am NOW! I’ve taken solace in a bright little cafe in St.Albans. I think this is called ‘burying my head in the sand’.
I am going to comfort myself by telling you about a fabulous gourmet vegan restaurant in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin. It’s such a pretty area. It feels so relaxed and the tree lined streets are full of gorgeous little independent shops, cafes and (not loud) bars.
Lucky Leek is run and owned by Josita Hartanto. Her restaurant motto is simple, she uses fresh, local, seasonal and ever changing dishes to delight her guests. It did delight. Josita has written a cookbook, full of gorgeous recipes with beautifully shot photos.
There were a few gluten free dishes to choose from. The staff all spoke English (THANK YOU!). The only ‘con’ to many, many ‘pros’, the waiter bring me a gazpacho soup with brochette on wheat bread but, luckily, I asked just to check and they realised their mistake and swiftly whisked it away. They brought me the potato soup instead. It was drizzled with pesto and they’d scattered over tempeh croutons (great idea..I’m stealing that one!) It was utterly delicious.
For the main course I had a beet carpacio salad with the most delicious, potato salad, it was delicate and full of flavour. The peached coloured swirly cream thing in the picture was a red pepper homous paste. It was one of those meals that takes an age to eat just because you want to saviour each flavour nuance and texture. My dining companion had a truffle pasta dish, which she enjoyed, but did confess she’d wished she’d ordered what I had.
Dessert was crazy good. So sweet. It was raw. A little pot of berry sorbet. Vegan ice cream on a raw tulle. A darling little slice of raw mango cheesecake. The base was the best raw almond base I’ve had. All perfectly executed and, in the manner of team work, all perfectly polished off by moi.
Doesn’t she look adorable?!
If you find yourself in Berlin, admid the overwhelming choice of vegan restaurants, make this a definite visit. Such a nice place to relax and linger.
OhLaLa V Tartes Cafe is located in the Friedrichschain kiez of Berlin. Two blocks from my favourite Saturday Farmers market on Boxhagener Strasse (wonderful seasonal produce, a great place to gather AND the only place I found fresh, bio organic kale).
The cafe is owned by an artfully tattooed, Parisian pastry chef, Clarissa Orsini. It began as a non-vegan cafe, serving quiches and crepes, and started offering a fully vegan, Saturday brunch, in 2011. The cozy, pink-themed cafe has minimal seating inside, and pavement dining with few tables outside so you can enjoy the sun. It’s an open kitchen so you can watch the chefs busy preparing the food to replenish the counter with breakfast items.
Everything is so dainty. So French. Tiny morsels to devour slowly.
I didn’t go on the once a month gluten free day, but I still had plenty of choice. Polenta cakes with sun dried tomato tapinade. Roasted squash, gazpacio soup in pretty little ramekin. Fresh green salad with strawberries and flaked almonds. Raw Zucchini pasta with marinara sauce (best I’ve ever eaten). Smoked tofu. I was irked that the soy based fricassee was NOT gluten free (they use soy sauce with wheat, which is surprising…just as easy these days to use tamari), it looked so good. On the day I visited they had plates of muffins with a swirl of vegan cream atop, crepes and croissants too. Sadly not gluten free.
If you tell them you are gluten free they will give you some rice cakes too if you like. I spooned over mounds of apricot jam on mine as a sweet end to brunch.
Their gluten free vegan brunch is the last Saturday of the month (check in the summer as they may be away for summer break)
The rest of the week the cafe offers quiche, stews and tarts a la Francais. Some of which are gluten free. The staff are very knowledgeable on what contains gluten and, thankfully, some speak English, so do ask.
I recommend you reserve in advance. Also, if you can be strong willed, walk past the sweet items and try the salads, ratatouille and stews first or you’ll never reach them!
ohlala had a lovely atmosphere. The air was being littered with beautiful French language. Lots of ‘merci beau coups’ passing around. agréable!
Photos fail to capture these two amuse bouche desserts, best sides. Chocolate mousse and creamy rice pudding, served on a white spoon and in a tiny little cup. I had three helpings.
Weekend brunch seems to be the thing here in Berlin. A time for all to relax, gather with friends and eat great food. You are spoilt for choice. If you are vegan, it narrows it down a little. Gluten free? further narrowing, but still plenty of choice.
If you head to Prenzlauer Berg, you’ll find Cafe Morgenrot. It is a Berlin kollectiv. They believe breakfast/brunch should be affordable for all, so they have the quirky idea of offering their buffet on a sliding scale. The idea is richer people will pay a little more so the less rich can indulge within their means.
The atmosphere is good. Background music to suit all tastes. The staff (thankfully) speak English if your German language skills are wanting (such as mine). It is all you can eat (lethal for some…me!). It is not all vegan, but the vegan options are mostly marked, so do ask to be sure. If you tell them you are celiac or gluten intolerant they will make sure you are safely guided. They offer a great selection of salads, vegan cheeses, lots of amazing spreads and dips. Cereal, yogurt, jams..of course PB.
All I tried was pretty good. Coconut marinated tofu (good but I prefer my tofu a bit more macho..I’m not a ‘silken’ fan..unless it is in a phd), green salad, veggie crudités. What had me returning for a refill? The humous was delicious. The vegan cream cheese spread was dazzling (can a cheese spread be dazzling? this was..it was light pillows of savoury mousse), and the tofu scramble, flecked with vegetables and mushrooms…so GOOD.
They were constantly refilling and took a lot of care over presentation. They obviously care about their offering and this is always a good thing to witness.
I didn’t get a photo of the soy yogurt and the chocolate cream/spread but it was devilishly good. My greedy eyes clocked a gluten free and vegan cake in the chill cabinet. Made by Eve, one of the kollectiv. Finding gluten free and vegan is not always an easy task so I take my opportunities when they present themselves. I got some to go and slowly devoured it that evening. A hazelnut base, topped with a layer of chocolate cream and then a generous layer of cherry compote. It was pretty near perfect.
So, apparently there is no Emma Pea, not an Emma, not even a woman, but two guys behind the vegan food joint, Emma Pea. The chef told me it was something to do with hip hop, or beat box, or something. I feel decidedly uncool. James, the Chef, is not from Berlin, but the West of Ireland. Does that matter? I guess not. Speaking to him briefly, it was clear to see he is passionate about food. That does matter.
The cafe is situated in-between Friedrichsain and Kreuzberg, a stones throw from the river and a long section of Berlin Wall, within the hub of Urban Spree. Emma Pea shares it’s space with climbing walls, outdoor bars, music venues and an arts space. It looks somewhat like a trailer, with steel steps up to the restaurant. It’s cozy inside and feels relaxed. Outside you can sit out on the high deck and people watch. If you are lucky, enjoy the sun too.
James, teased me about my lengthy deliberations on choosing the menu. “you’re a blogger? Jesus, how long does it take you to write?!’ Writing is easy I say, picking the food I want is a bit more complicated. I explain I may only get to eat there once. My time in Berlin being limited and with so many vegan places to eat. ‘It’s got to be right’. I say. He then asks me how I’m feeling, and it’s like food therapy. I see how ridiculous I’m being and choose the stuffed paprika. I pay, and go and sit outside in the sun. Lucky (?!) for me I’m gluten free, or I’d have been there forever deciding. Alas, not everything on the menu is suitable for the gluten intolerant among us.
The food takes just a few minutes to arrive, giving me time to relax. It looks fresh. Obvious care is taken over presentation. The paprika (red pepper) is roasted and stuffed with lentils and soft, fluffy buckwheat. Blanched green beans are pepper flecked, and sprinkled with rough chopped hazelnuts, a hint of olive oil adds richness. An abstract flash of cherry pink vinaigrette, (perhaps a little too acidic for my palate) cuts through the dish and adds a modern twist to a vegetarian favourite. I was happy with my selection.
Nice atmosphere, relaxed ‘urban’ dining. Inexpensive.
Other things on the menu – chilli with mole (27 ingredients..this guy knows his stuff). Burrito’s. Green coconut curry. Spinach & chickpea soup, to name but a few. Some gluten free options. Sadly, no gluten free cakes or treats, at this time.
I popped over the road to veganz for a slice of mud cake. The perfect end.
|TV Tower Berlin|
|Berlin Wall Art|
|Funky old scooter|
|Lucky Leek – Amazing meal. Review soon!|
|The Berlin Wall, my bike and me.|
|Boxhagener Platz Saturday Markt.|
|So excited to meet fellow blogger, Nicole. Vegan Nom Noms. She has all the skinny on Berlin Vegans. http://vegannomnoms.blogspot.de|