August 16, 2012

Berlin, Day 5: Curry 36, Pergamon Museum, and Swabian Food Overload at Die Feinbäckerei

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!

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...

Line at Mustafa's
Post-Easter line.

AHHHHHHHHhhhhrrrrgg

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...

Curry 36
Curry 36 crowd.

BLLLUUURRGgggghhuuh

Curry-wurst Wurst Counter
Meat logs galore.

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.

Currywurst
Currywurst!

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.

Fries with mayo
Fries with mayo.

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.

Rostbratwurst on a roll
Rostbratwurst on a roll.

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.

Curry 36 lunch
The full spread.

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.

Pergamon Museum

Pergamon
Panorama, inside.

The current special exhibition at the Pergamon Museum is, appropriately, Pergamon: Panorama of the Ancient Metropolis, running until the end of September.

Photography wasn't allowed. This video gives you a look inside.

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:

Pergamon Museum
Red and black set the "look at these ancient Greek sculptures" mood.
Pergamon Museum
Allatus III, king of Pergamon from 138-133 B.C.
Dramatic
Dramatic suicide pose?
Pergamon Museum
Headless, limbless—but would you look at that muscle tone.
Family tree
Greek mythology family tree.
Looking up
Looking up at the mirrored ceiling. Yup, that's one cool room.
Agamemnon
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.

Something's missing.
Fill in the blanks.
Pergamon Museum
Excavation timeline?
That is...huge
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."
Pergamon Museum
Frieze close up.
Pergamon Museum
The other side of the room is less enthralling.
Pergamon Museum
I wonder how many people have tripped on these stairs. I'm relieved they didn't kill me.
Stairs
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.
Pergamon Museum
A cool face.
Pergamon Museum
A room...with...old...things.
Gold threads
Gold threads.
Pergamon Museum
Neat design in a book.
Pergamon Museum
The Market Gate of Miletus
Pergamon Museum
Ishtar Gate
Pergamon Museum
Mshatta Facade
Pergamon Museum
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.

Die Feinbäckerei

Die Feinbäckerei
Die Feinbäckerei

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.

Schwabenplatte (Swabian sampler for two) Schwabenplatte
Schwabenplatte

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:

Salad
Salad.

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.

Mushroom sauce to go with platter
Mushroom sauce.

Along with a boat of creamy mushroom sauce. To undo the salad.

Little bits
Round one of...many rounds.

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!

What was left
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.

Kräuterkäs'spätzle
Kräuterkäs'spätzle

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.

Sundae
Sundae...boozy sundae.

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.

Fassbrause
Fassbrause

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.

Apfelstrudel
Apfelstrudel

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!

A building
And then these columns popped up.

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.

A building
Diana, shooting some photos.

Unfortunately, there's a bit of lame graffiti on the walls.

Robyn and Kare
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.

Empty station
Empty.

Here's that time we were at a U-Bahn station by our lonesome. Bülowstrasse, not the most happening place on a Monday night.

Bubble tea
Bluhbble tea.

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.

Addresses

Curry 36
Mehringdamm 36, 10961 Berlin, Germany (map)
030 2517368; curry36.de

Pergamon Museum
Am Kupfergraben 5, 10117 Berlin, Germany (map)
030 266424242; smb.museum

Die Feinbäckerei
Vorbergstraße 2, 10823 Berlin, Germany (map)
030 81494240; feinbaeck.de

Related

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

Posted by roboppy at 3:18 AM

Tags: berlin, curry 36, diana, die feinbackerei, germany, kare, museums, pergamon

Comments

Mmm, I didn't actually eat at Curry 36, but I loved Mustafas Gemüsekebap in Berlin. Holy shit, man.

Posted by: Sabrina at August 16, 2012 11:11 AM [#]

Sabrina: OH GOD I LOVED IT SO MUCH. That doner kebap was my fave food during the trip. Kåre and I both got the same thing, but on retrospect we should've shared one of everything. What the heck was I thinking? FFFFFFffffffsob.

Posted by: roboppy at August 16, 2012 12:09 PM [#]

Looks like a fun time. YAY WORMY NOODLES!!

Posted by: Jason at August 19, 2012 9:49 PM [#]

the photo of you two is so cute!

re: small bread. that's how i would like every hot dog/sausage. the meat:bun ratio is perfect!

Posted by: kristina at August 24, 2012 4:18 PM [#]

Me, being the shrewd Asian sausage eater that I am, went to Mustafa's and Curry 36 at 10:30 AM. By the time I finished my currywurst, it was 11:00AM and Mustafa's was opening. Yes. That was my whole day.

Posted by: Nicholas at August 26, 2012 12:10 AM [#]

OMG, really want the rostbratwurst! Also, the pic of you and Kare is so damn cute!!!

Posted by: bionicgrrrl at August 27, 2012 2:05 AM [#]

happy birthday favorite food bloggeur!! :D I'm glad that you went to Berllliiin! Berlin is AWESOME.

Posted by: Joanne at August 27, 2012 3:31 PM [#]

Waah I forgot to respond to these sooner, sorry!

Jason: Yay for pretty much all noodles!

Kristina: Thanks!

Nicholas: That's a good way to spend your day.

bionicgrrrl: Thanks!

Joanne: Thanks! I wish I could've stayed longer in Berlin.

Posted by: roboppy at September 4, 2012 10:27 AM [#]

A good dinner night! And, yes, the mysterious sugar bubble tea that turned out to be... peach after my failed attempt to communicate with non-Cantonese-English speaking Chinese people, haha.

Posted by: eatyourheartout at September 10, 2012 11:18 AM [#]

I laughed at the comment about about eating something that wasn't a shade of brown, because when my boyfriend and I were traveling, we didn't get much greens. I was a happy camper albeit a less healthier one. I must commend your eating abilities. How do you do it Robyn?! :)

Posted by: Anna at September 12, 2012 10:03 PM [#]

eatyourheartout: It was like playing a game of "WHAT FLAVOR DRINK IS THIS" and then failing cos I couldn't tell it was peach. Oops.

Anna: So little green food on this trip. So very little. I think the human body is capable of enduring a lot of crap in its early years, but soon I will hit the turning point and just go straight to cancer. :C BUT UNTIL THEN [stuffs face with brown food].

Posted by: roboppy at September 20, 2012 12:06 AM [#]

Thanks so much for all your Berlin posts. Went there with a friend, and we did some of the same things because we saw them on your blog and were not disappointed. Feinbackerei and DDR museum were the best parts of our trip. Also, I have never seen so many headless statues in one place except for the Pergamon museum... pfew... oh yeah...

Curryworst + pommes rules! Check out the place at the Gesundbrunnen U-bahn for anyone still going to Berlin.

Posted by: G at September 21, 2012 12:07 PM [#]

Thanks so much for all your Berlin posts. Went there with a friend, and we did some of the same things because we saw them on your blog and were not disappointed. Feinbackerei and DDR museum were the best parts of our trip. Also, I have never seen so many headless statues in one place except for the Pergamon museum... pfew... oh yeah...

Curryworst + pommes rules! Check out the place at the Gesundbrunnen U-bahn for anyone still going to Berlin.

Posted by: gijsyo at September 21, 2012 12:08 PM [#]

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