The time has finally come! The time for me to eat Berlin's most beloved doner kebap! All I've gotta do is mosey up to Mustafa's and...
The line doesn't look very long—it's not as daunting as Shake Shack on a sun-soaked summer's day—but at the much smaller Mustafa's, this line (perhaps lengthened by people off work for the Easter holiday) is about an hour's wait. Which would normally be okay on vacation...if Kåre and I hadn't done the seemingly responsible thing of already buying timed tickets to the Pergamon for 3:15 p.m. to avoid the Pergamon-visiting fail we encountered two days prior.
Sigh. Let's try that again.
The time has finally come! The time for me to eat one of Berlin's most beloved currywursts! All I've gotta do is mosey up to Curry 36 and...
Actually, this mobscene of ketchup-slathered-meatlog-hungry people is perfectly manageable. Unlike at the neighboring Mustafa's where each sandwich takes a few steps to assemble—carving the meat, stuffing the meat into bread, adding the multiple toppings, doing everything fairly neatly—currywurst assembly kind of just goes plop (meat log), plop (ketchup), sprinkle (cayenne/curry powder?). By the time I receive my food at Curry 36, Kåre—who's been holding down the fort at Mustafa's—has covered about the same distance as a lethargic inchworm would in the same timespan.
We ate the goods while waiting in line. I wondered why everyone else waiting for Mustafa's wasn't doing this. Maybe they didn't like currywurst. Maybe they weren't gluttons. I'd say attempting to eat from two food stands at the same time is just good time management, ignoring that we only successfully ate at one, and that if we were truly good at time management we would've woken up earlier and/or already visited the Pergamon. ...Nevermind.
First up, two orders of currywurst ohne darm (without skin; €1.50 per order). Currywurst consists of pork sausages that are steamed, then fried, then smothered in mildly spiced ketchup. From what I saw at Curry 36, the sausages are griddle fried and seem to be cut from some mega-long meat log, seeing as the ends aren't tapered, but I have no idea.
I don't remember much about the currywurst besides that I liked it. The sausages don't have much character—they're soft and ...soft and...juicy, with a bit of crisp around the outside—but they taste good because salty meatstuffs tend to taste good. And better with curried ketchup.
My immediate affinity for currywurst may also have to do with it being paired with fries. (I think this may also be why I like steak tartare. I'll gladly eat it, but more gladly with the standard accompaniment of fries.) More exciting than the existence of fries is that mayonnaise is a common topping. MAYONNAISE, NOW AND FOREVER. Ketchup may be king in the US, but I prefer thick, creamy dollops of emulsified egg and oil with my fried potato sticks, and Curry 36 delivered those dollops.
I ordered fries with ketchup (€1.40) along with mayo (€1.50), which was overkill even for two of us. But when I'm on vacation, I'm all about throwing out good judgement and eating like a drunk frat boy. Watch me, world. Watch me eat too many french fries.
Because I wasn't sure if I had ordered enough food (...I had), I also got a mustard-topped rostbratwurst (€1.60) tucked into an ill-fitting roll (although I guess the roll just acts as a handle for the sausage, not something you need in every bite). The nicely charred sausage has a fantastic snap from the casing and alone has more flavor than currywurst sausage. But they're different beasts, both good in their own ways. I recommend both.
Two orders of currywurst, two orders of fries, and a rostbratwurst is plenty of food for two people and only sets you back €7.50. Win.
We left the Mustafa's line probably 10 to 15 minutes shy of reaching the front before heading to the Pergamon. FFFFF....but no worries; we'd returned a few days later.
The huge water tower-looking thing in front of the museum's entrance (or "forecourt" to be more precise) contains a 25-meter tall, 103-meter wide 360° panorama by panorama artist Yadegar Asisi depicting the ancient Greek city of Pergamon in 129 AD. Since I stupidly had no idea the giant cylinder in front of the museum held an epic panorama, my first impression when walking onto the viewing platform was, "...Huh? Is this it?" It didn't take long for me to realize "it" was "a fucking huge photorealistic panorama" designed to be viewed from a top-down perspective, complete with immersive lighting and sound/music to mimic day turning into night (turning into day turning into night; repeat). Sure, you know you're looking at a 2-D picture, but an incredibly detailed one that completely surrounds you. Asasi's bio says, "The panorama not only provides a moment of peace, but slows down the pace of the world for a while." And now I can nod my head in agreement.
Here are a bunch of photos from inside the museum with mostly unhelpful captions:
- Red and black set the "look at these ancient Greek sculptures" mood.
- Allatus III, king of Pergamon from 138-133 B.C.
- Dramatic suicide pose?
- Headless, limbless—but would you look at that muscle tone.
- Greek mythology family tree.
- Looking up at the mirrored ceiling. Yup, that's one cool room.
- GUYS, IT'S AGAMEMNON!
VIDEO INTERRUPTION TO SEE IF OUR WEIRDNESSES ALIGN
If the word "Agamemnon" makes you think of the video below, you get a gold star:
Kåre and I are both big fans of Rather Good, who I can't thank enough for giving me the permanent association of Agamemnon with a grotesque singing leg of lamb(non). It's these commonalities in our interests that remind me what a good match Kåre and I are for each other. ...Also, who else would have us? [GRABS BELLY, ENTERS SPASTIC BOUT OF HEARTY GUFFAWING]
Okay, back to photos.
- Fill in the blanks.
- Excavation timeline?
- Reconstruction of the western side of the Great Altar of Pergamon. If this were a building outside, I'd be like, "Whoa," but it's inside, so I'm like, "Whoaaaaauuuhhh."
- Frieze close up.
- The other side of the room is less enthralling.
- I wonder how many people have tripped on these stairs. I'm relieved they didn't kill me.
- I took this photo because a distractingly attractive, stylishly dressed family walked by and I briefly thought, "I need photographic proof of this distractingly attractive family"(in case someone ever asked me if I've ever seen a distractingly attractive family in a museum before), and then I soon realized that didn't fall under my list of needs. Or anyone's list. Anyhoo, they're not in this photo.
- A cool face.
- A room...with...old...things.
- Gold threads.
- Neat design in a book.
- The Market Gate of Miletus
- Ishtar Gate
- Mshatta Facade
- Photo opportunity.
We saw a good amount of exhibits in two and a half hours, but you could easily spend a whole day...or days...or forever in there.
For dinner, we met up with Diana at Die Feinbäckerei The slogan: "Schwäbisch und mehr" (Swabian and more). I can't tell you about the "more" but I can tell you about the Swabian because my dinner was something like Swabian Cuisine 101 in pile form.
The Schwabenplatte (€16.50) is like one of those appetizer sample platters you get at TGIChilibee's where mozzarella sticks, buffalo wings, spinach dip, tortilla chips, potato skins, and more acceptably comprise a single monstrous platter teeming with fat and starch, except instead of America's Greatest Hits you've got Swabia's Greatest Hits teeming with fat and starch, special enough to demand its own warming plate. Here are the goods:
- Käs'spätzle: small worm-like pasta nubbins with cheese; like mac and cheese
- Kräuterkäs'spätzle: small worm-like pasta nubbins with parsley, fried onions, and button mushrooms
- Maultaschen: pasta square filled with meat and spinach; Swabian ravioli
- Schupfnudeln: finger-shaped potato dumplings
- Sauerkraut: ...sauerkraut
- Linsen: lentils
- Rostbratwürstchen: beef sausage
It also came with a side salad (one for Kåre, one for me), for the sake of eating something that wasn't a shade of brown.
Along with a boat of creamy mushroom sauce. To undo the salad.
Considering I have very little experience eating Swabian food, I can't tell you how these dishes rank in all of Swabian cuisine. I was pretty overwhelmed by the quantity (the menu says its for two, but it could comfortably feed three, perhaps four if no one's starving) and due to my lack of self-control, I kept shoveling everything in my mouth rather thoughtlessly, aside from the thoughts that were "shouting in all caps." CHEESE-LADEN SPÅTZLE WITH CRISPY CHEESE BITS! THE OTHER SPÅTZLE WITH THE CREAMY STUFF! THE DOUGH BLOBS! THE MEAT LOGS! THE STUFF THAT ISN'T WHEAT NOR MEAT! ...MUSHROOM SAUCE ON EVERYTHING!
- Aftermath. This was after Kåre and I ate well more than we should've. And right before we felt like passing out.
Of course, I enjoyed it. I could've gone without the maultaschen, and the schupfnudeln wasn't all that memorable aside from being a thick dough mass, but I'd happily eat everything else again. Spätzle, lentils, sausages, and sauerkraut—that's my jam. For only €16.50 (about $20), it's an great deal.
But if you don't want to eat a pile of food, or maybe you don't have anyone to share with (TRAGIC), at least try one of their spätzle dishes. Those seem to be the main deal, and like the sampler platter, the spätzle portions are huge. Diana's Kräuterkäs'spätzle (€7.20, with side salad) was almost enough for two people.
And then...we ordered dessert, because testing the elasticity and fortitude of your stomach is what being on vacation is all about. Kåre ordered some sort of booze-laden sundae (€4.80) that made my taste buds cry
Oh yeah, for those of you who don't know me well, just about anything with the flavor of alcohol makes my taste buds cry. For whatever reason my taste buds interpret the flavor of alcohol as straight-up poison. So if you noticed that I have yet to drink any beer in Germany—which seems to be the opposite of what 99% of people do when visiting Germany—now you know why.
But at least I can drink the looks-alcoholic-but-isn't fassbrause (€1.70 / €2.90), a sweet, fruit-flavored (apple, in this case), fizzy German drink (and a specialty of Berlin) made from fruit, spices, and malt extract. ROBYN APPROVED. Definitely try it if you like soda and are visiting Germany. Before my visit, I had never heard of it. I'm guessing I can't buy it in NYC.
Diana and I shared a small chunk of apple strudel/apfelstrudel (€3.50), a pastry filled with chopped apples and raisins (this is a terrible description; perhaps just think of it as pie log), sitting in a moat of crème anglaise and encircled (or more like ensquared) by dollops of whipped cream and a scoop of ice cream. I barely remember anything about eating this. Probably because I was crazy full.
I'd be a happy camper if I lived near a place like Die Feinbäckerei. A low-key, low-frills, comfortable spot with comfort food to match, and friendly service. Thanks to TGWAE reader Sasha for the recommendation!
On our walk to the metro station, we passed Heinrich von Kleist-Park, the entrance of which features the Königskolonnaden (King's Colonnades), a pair of colonnades built in 1780 by Carl von Gontard, the same architect behind the domes of the Französischer Dom and the Deutscher Dom.
Unfortunately, there's a bit of lame graffiti on the walls.
- Me 'n Kåre. Holy hell, I am short. Photograph by Diana.
You'd be best off visiting the park when the sun is out, thus allowing you to actually, like, see the park, but going at night affords some unique photo opportunities.
Here's that time we were at a U-Bahn station by our lonesome. Bülowstrasse, not the most happening place on a Monday night.
And here's that time Diana and I tried a peach bubble tea from a bubble tea shop near my hotel and it tasted like sugary regret interjected with semi-chewy pellets of...tapioca.
But it was an enjoyable ending to a very good day.
Berlin, Day 1: Dessert for Lunch, Sandwich for Snack, Schnitzel for Dinner
Berlin, Day 2: Three-Hour Guided Tour, Ice Cream at Fräulein Frost, and Dinner at Hasir
Berlin, Day 3: Computer Game Museum, Ostpaket, Humboldt Box, Berlin's Oldest Restaurant, DDR Museum
Berlin, Day 4, Part I: Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp
Berlin, Day 4, Part II: German Tapas, Schnitzel, and Chipped Pancakes at Schnitzelei