The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Berlin, Day 1: Dessert for Lunch, Sandwich for Snack, Schnitzel for Dinner

For an overview of my trip to Berlin that took place from April 5 to 12, check out this introductory post. I'm a total noob when it comes to Berlin and German history, and all German translations I've presented are done with Google Translate; if I've written anything that's wrong, please let me know!

I should've read the label
I should've read the label.

I chewed. And I tasted almost nothing.

Before you take any of my food recommendations seriously, let me tell you this: you probably shouldn't. When Mother Nature does that "unleashing of the pollen" business, my nasal cavity tends to respond with that "swelling and mucus-dripping" business, in turn rendering my sense of smell about as useful as that wee bit of dental floss you get when you reach the end of the spool, turning thoughts of, "Sweet, sweet interdental cleanliness is mine," to, "Noooooooooooooooo."

...Oh yeah, I recently used up a spool of floss. But I actually had a spare on hand. I really dodged a bullet there. [dramatically wipes sweat off brow]

Anyway. If you can't smell much, you can't taste much either. And thus my ability to taste stuff during the whole trip was at maybe 15 percent capacity. (I had allergies for about a month leading up to the trip as well. Makes me wonder what the last year of allergy shots has done to me, besides cost hundreds of dollaaaaaasrrrghhhohgod.) Losing most of my sense of smell gave me a much, much greater appreciation for it, especially when the flavor of something I had already swallowed only registered after I blew my nose. It was like being visited/haunted by the ghost of whatever I just ate. A ghost made of smell.

So this thing I was chewing. I bought it randomly at Kaiser's, where my first German purchase consisted of a 10-pack of tissues featuring "verwöhnbalsam," which Google translates to "pampering balm," aka stuff that gives your ragged, red nose a touch of coolness (I daresay...pampers it); a can of guava juice (you know, good ol' traditional German guava juice); a pack of Skittles (bought purely for the neat little box it came in), and this thing I was chewing, "Käsecremewaffelm Roquefortart." I didn't take a close look at the label; I just thought, "Hey, this sweet cream-filled cookie ball thing is probably a nice snack. I definitely don't need to take a closer look at the label of a snack I've never seen before. I'll just buy it without thinking. Wind, feel my caution!" If I had read the label, I would've see the words "roquefort," which isn't German at all, but French for something like "cheese funk sledgehammer." (I didn't know that "käse" means cheese, but I do now.)

I chewed some more. Even though I couldn't taste much, I could tell it wasn't sweet. I could taste the crunchy wafer shell and the thick, creamy filling. Also, that something wasn't right. And so I blew my nose. And the food ghost attacked.

"Ohhahhu...god...this tastes like...funk." It didn't taste bad; it was just...really far off from what I was expecting.

I don't know if Diana laughed at my reading comprehension fail, but I would've if I were her.

So that was the first thing I ate on German soil. Washed down with guava juice. Time: around 10 a.m.

Diana and I had landed at Tegel airport at about 7:30 a.m. It was the quickest, shortest disembarkation I've ever had from an international flight. The customs booth was about a baby's throw from the gate ("stone" may be the more common unit of throwing, but stones come in all sizes; I'm thinking of your typical lump of newborn flesh), with the baggage claim a few steps beyond that, and the airport's exit not much further. It's a surprisingly small airport for such a major city—and thus it's not surprising that Tegel and Schönefeld airports are closing next March to be replaced by the new Brandenburg Airport. (Back in April, Brandenburg was scheduled to open this June, but it's since been postponed to next March, in case you recently tried to book a ticket to Berlin and had no idea what this new airport was.) There are no trains from the airport; you take a bus to a station, or in our case, straight to the neighborhood Diana was staying in. (The modern splendor of Brandenburg is going to have a whole buttload of train connections. Easy airport-train connections fill my heart with glee.)

Since Kåre wasn't scheduled to arrive until 11:20, Diana and I roamed around aimlessly after dropping our stuff off at her hotel, Hotel-Pension Bregenz. A few sights along the way:

Sex shop #3 of the day
The third sex shop I saw that morning. Quite un-sexy.
ick koof bei lehmann
ick koof bei lehmann! I think it's an alcohol wholesale company.
Louis Vuitton, sellin those arrows or something
Oops, we've stumbled upon the Kurfürstendamm, which is probably more fun to shop on if you're Scrooge McDuck-rich.
From my trip to Berlin Cow-themed pudding Lard in Berlin Cute paper towels in Berlin
At few things at Kaiser's.
Oh, Euros...
Coins accumulated that morning.

At Diana's hotel, I dumped out the morning's accumulation of Euro coins to remind myself what the denominations were. Whenever I travel outside the US, I have to relearn how to It's like being a kid again—but in the stupid way, not the charming childlike wonder way. Euros are easy, of course; unlike American coins, they actually have numerals on 'em. (Numbers on coins! What a concept. Admittedly I'm leaving out the Presidential $1 coin because we Americans just aren't that into using dollar coins. With bills in wide circulation, there isn't much reason to. The only time I ever get dollar coins is as change out of train ticket machines.) I just have to remember that €2, 20¢, 50¢, and 2¢ coins exist. 2¢ coin? Yeah, that's useful.

We met up with Kåre at Hotel Berlin, our home for the next week. It's a monster of a hotel—the opposite of a charming Airbnb apartment—but Kåre found a 40%-off deal through and $581.82 for seven nights sounded just fine to us. A nice bed and bathroom + free wifi = HAPPY ROBYN.

Werkstatt der Süße Cakes!
Werkstatt der Süße

After parting ways with Diana, and taking a much needed nap, Kåre and I headed to Werkstatt der Süße to meet up with Annette, a TGWAE reader who was generous enough to reach out to me before my trip and offer to show us around for the day.

I added Werkstatt der Süße on my "to visit" list after one of my many "comb the Internet for stuff to do in Berlin" sessions. Thanks, Foodie in Berlin, for pointing me in Werkstatt der Süße's direction. This patisserie makes rather delicate, fancy-pants-looking desserts at very reasonable prices, in a casual-but-sophisticated setting. Definitely worth a visit if you're in the area.

Pear pistachio tart thing Pear pistachio tart thing
Pear pistachio tart

I labeled this photo "pear pistachio tart thing" (€3.60, about $4.50) because that's all I could remember about it. Sigh. Amazingly, I haven't learned by now that taking notes is, like, super important if you ever plan on writing about a vacation. (The only reason I know the prices is because I kept the receipt.) Unfortunately, this wasn't the best dessert to choose while in stuffy nose mode. Unlike the following chocolate desserts, I couldn't taste much of the tart, although I liked what I could taste, which was...crust and nutty filling. It may not be obvious from this photo, but it was a hefty tart.

Chocolate mousse cake
Chocolate mousse cake

On the opposite end of the heftiness spectrum was Kare's Manjari chocolate mousse cake (€3, about $3.80)—or not cake as much as triangular wedge. A very light, creamy wedge. A wedge I could sort of taste! Yay.

Raspberry chocolate cake
Raspberry chocolate cake

I could also sort of taste Annette's multi-layered chocolate raspberry cake (€3), which may have also had some nut action and a layer of crispy-something going on, aside from the raspberry jelly.

After the sugaring, the roaming began. A few sights:

Needs a bit of a touch up
Need a bit of a touch up.

Dilapidated facades!

kapitalismus normiert zerstörte tötet

...This building! (What Google Translate is telling me: kapitalismus = capitalism; normiert = normalized; zerstörte = destroyed; tötet = kills.)

A...giant building
Palais Veranstaltungs

The Kultuerbrauerie, a late 19th century brewery-turned-cultural center. (If you know German, you can read more about the building's history at

Art supply store

A peek into a cute art supply store.


A small grocery store where Annette suggested I get a pack of Ahoj-Brause, a old timey German powered drink mix that tastes like barely fizzy candy water flavored mostly with sugar and vaguely of orange, lemon, raspberry, or sweet woodruff (not that I can vouch for the flavor of woodruff since I didn't even know what that was until now). She didn't suggest it for its flavor, more for its ubiquitousness. After trying it, I can tell ya there's a reason eight sachets costs €1 or less. I'm guessing I'm at least 21 years older than the target audience, but I'm glad I tried it for the hell of it. My mom would never let me drink stuff like this as a kid. LOOK AT ME NOW, MOM. FEEBLY GRASPING AT WHATEVER STRANDS OF YOUTH I CAN.

Cafe Fleury Cafe Fleury
Oh, it's food time again!

At Annette's suggestion, we popped into French-style Cafe Fleury for a savory bite.

Sandwich time
Sandwich. I bet you figured that our on your own.

Annette and I split a turkey, cucumber, tomato, and mustard sandwich (€3.50), while Kåre ordered the same thing and split it between his present mouth and his mouth 10 minutes in the future. It may not look like much, but for a snacky, inexpensive sandwich, I was happy with it. Admittedly, I'm pretty happy with any sandwich as long as the bread is good; put anything (or nothing) between the halves of an adequately crusty, chewy baguette and I'm good to go. I liked the bread, along with the cafe's cuteness.

China Food
It does what it says.

If you don't come across a China Box while you're in Berlin. you'll surely come across another Chinese/Asian food take-out advertising budget chow mein-in-a-box. There are loads of 'em.

An alley of street art An alley of street art
Haus Schwarzenberg

Annette led us to Mitte's Haus Schwarzenberg (for info in English, read this article at Spotted by Locals), a backyard/courtyard home to cafes, bars (Eschschloraque), shops (Neurotitan), a movie theater (Kino Central), museums/exhibitions (Anne Frank Zentrum, Museums Blindenwerkstatt Otto Weidt), awesome street art and murals, and more, behind decrepit walls covered with graffiti, flyers, and stickers. We only took a quick peek around; if I had known more about it beforehand I would've loved to have given it more time.

Haus Schwarzenberg walk-through, by Berlin Street View.
An alley of street art An alley of street art An alley of street art
Art 'n things.
An alley of street art
The Bloch!
The Bloch in motion, from antipattern on YouTube.

You can't miss The Bloch, a moving sculpture of some sort of bloated metal bat-owl-monster-I-don't-know by Hannes Heiner, part of the Dead Chickens artist group.


Look at the ground outside the entrance of Haus Schwarzenberg and you'll see these brass plaques, made by artist Gunter Demnig to commemorate "those deported and killed by the National Socialist regime." Each plaque features the information of the victim outside where they last lived. He named these plaques stolpersteine (German for "stumbling block", "obstacle", or "something in the way") and he's mounted over 30,000 thousand of them in hundreds of European cities formerly under Nazi control.

Weinstein Interior

For dinner we headed back to Prenzlauer Berg to eat at Weinstein, a cozy wine bar and restaurant that focuses on German cuisine made with local ingredients. Head to Slow Travel Berlin for a lovely review of Weinstein that I can't improve upon. Here, I'll just foist photos upon you with insubstantial notes.

Bread basket
Bread basket
Aspic...I think

I ordered two appetizers for my meal, starting with this...this...uh, ok, I didn't write down the German description. Behold, the only notes I wrote about this in my notebook: "aspic? SOUP JELLO. w/pork, carrot bits." (My notes continued to be woefully incomplete for the rest of the trip.) I'll put that into a more composed description for you: a mini round of aspic suspended with chopped bits of pork, carrot, and onion. The out-of-focus mass of greenery in the background was a salad dressed in an intensely sharp horseradish-y dressing and topped with sunflower seeds. Since the number of times I can remember eating aspic hovers around zero, I can't tell you how this compares to others, but it was pretty refreshing for cool, savory Jell-O, with its clean flavors and lack of heat. And the salad punched my nasal passages open, which was nice, aside from my watering eyes.

Schnitzel with potato salad

Appetizer number two: "Kleines Schnitzel vom Saalower Kräuterschwein auf Steirischem Kartoffelsalat" (€7.50, about $9.30). Or a small schnitzel made of Saalower Kräuterschwein, with Styrian potato salad. Saalower Kräuterschwein is a type of pig from Saalow, a district (I'm not sure if that's the right word; it's a...something) in Brandenburg within an hour's drive south of Berlin. Wikipedia tells me the pork is only sold to nearby regions and the pigs feed on many kinds of grasses and herbs, hence the name "kräuter," which means herbs or herbal. ...Shorter description: It's a kind of local pork partially raised on herbs.

As for what a Styrian potato salad entails, according to food blog multicul(t)inarium that means the salad is made with pumpkin seed oil.

I honestly don't recall if the pork tasted any differently from a run-of-the-mill non-herbed pig, nor if the light potato-cucumber salad carried the flavor of pumpkin seed oil, but it was the most refined schnitzel presentation I'd ever seen, and it tasted great because crisp fried, breaded pork + potato salad tends to fall in the "tastes great" category. (It was also my gateway to potato and cucumber salad, which I tried to recreate at home but failed terribly at.) Even though I'd happily eat a portion three times the size, I appreciated the small plate option; I'd find out over the rest of the week that portions tend to run in the "gigantic" range (or maybe it was just the restaurants I chose).

Sundae! Caramel ice cream. I think.
A little sundae.

Kåre ordered a reasonably priced prix fixe meal that included a glass of wine and a dessert (not that I can tell you the price since I didn't write it down, uuugghhfff yeah). Methinks this little sundae was made of caramel ice cream topped with chocolate sauce and candied nuts.

Weinstein is a great dinner option in the area, more so if you're into wine, since that's their focus. It wasn't crowded when we arrived there around 8 p.m. on a Thursday night...maybe because they open at 7 (on Sundays they open at 6). Or because that's how Thursdays are. Thanks to fellow Serious Eater Caroline for recommending it to me!

And many thanks to Annette for hanging out with us for so long, up through dinner! Visiting a new city is immeasurably more pleasant and rewarding when a friendly local shows you the way. I hope I can do the same for new visitors to New York.


Lastly, for no reason besides I think it looks neat, here's an ATM. The machine itself isn't anything special, but I quite like the floating EC logo-ed box hanging next to it.


Werkstatt der Süße
Husemannstraße 25, 10435 Berlin, Germany (map)
030 3259-0157;

Cafe Fleury
Weinbergsweg 20, 10119 Berlin, Germany (map)
030 4403-4144

Haus Schwarzenberg
Rosenthaler Straße 39, 10178 Berlin, Germany (map)
030 30872573;

Lychener Straße 33, 10437 Berlin, Germany (map)
030 4411842;


cynthia / June 4, 2012 3:35 PM

Great post. I think the "stumbling blocks" were one of the most interesting things you taught me about today. :)

roboppy / June 9, 2012 12:11 AM

Cynthia, Sabrina: Thanks for reading! Glad you liked it.

Nicholas: My rule for the trip as much German/Austrian food as possible. And definitely no Chinese take-out. :P

maausi / June 9, 2012 7:51 PM

Is it weird that it makes me happy and kind of "proud" to read about you visiting Germany? ;) [I live in Germany. Yay!] And hey, I'm impressed by your translating skills - even if you used Google. :)
re: Ahoj Brause - I happen to live really close (like 10min away) from the major production plant and the kids here eat it dry, just dipping in their fingers or pouring it into their mouth. Like in this ad [], just minus the "ripping apart the packet" part.

JenMarie / June 11, 2012 9:16 AM

Lovery post!
Planet Money did an awesome podcast about the U.S. Presidential dollar coin program (and how effed up it is):
I once tried to tip a delivery guy with dollar coins and he definitely thought I was giving him a big ol' handful of worthless.

Meagan @ Scarletta Bakes / June 13, 2012 1:58 PM

I loved, loved, LOVED reading this post!! I LOLed at your photo of the unsexy sex shop and shopping with Scrooge McDuck-rich. And I drooled out loud at your photo of the minischnitzel. Being German, you made me miss my roots. Fantastic!!!

roboppy / June 14, 2012 3:12 AM

maausi: I'm happy you're happy! I don't think it's weird for you to feel that way. And...I'm guessing this means I didn't butcher your culture. :) Phewww YES EVERYONE'S A WINNER!

Thanks for the link to the video! I hadn't thought of eating it dry.

JenMarie: Thanks for reading and sharing the link! Listening to the podcast now.

Meagan: Thanks for reading! Glad I could conjure up some good feelings about Germany. :) There's more coming!...if I live through writing all these posts...

Clare / August 7, 2012 5:35 PM

Hey Robyn,

I suffer(ed) through all the same insane sneezy fit attacks that you do, especially after leaving dry Los Angeles for damp, muggy Ireland. I read your posts and I nod my head thinking, "Yep, yep, yep!!" Anyway I just had sinus surgery last Monday, because apparently a simple nasal spray would (for normal people) be enough to keep me from my sneezefests, but because my sinuses were so blocked from tons of sneezing/sinus infections they didn't work.

It's been just over one week and I'm CONVERTED on the whole sinus surgery thing. I can taste and smell so much better, also my coworkers are amazed at my changed voice (read: I do not sound constantly STUFFED UP). BTW I do not work for any kind of sinus surgery doctor, just wanted to share as I totally relate to what you're going through. My nasal spray works and though I still sneeze a bit it is NOTHING compared to usual.

Looks like a fun trip, btw!!

roboppy / August 9, 2012 11:21 PM

Clare: Whoa, sinus surgery!..I had never thought about that. Glad to hear that worked for you! My nose is much better now, but I dread when I'm inevitably back to my Berlin-stuffed self. If it gets super bad, at least I know there's a solution...;_;

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