Saturday, June 10, 2006

Hey, good day mates!

Well, I am back in the States, hanging out at the ancestral home in Wellesley, MA, and blogger is finally working for me. My trip was great, full of a lot of really meaningful moments, but you will have to call me and probably tell me some personal stuff about yourself to make me feel comfortable if you want to hear about that. Here are some notes about my eating experience in central Europe (Zurich, Vienna, Budapest, and Berlin):

KaDeWe. KaDeWe is this enormous high-end department store in Berlin, and the top floor is a pretty well-known gourmet grocery store with little booths at the different departments where they will cook for you. It's basically a better Whole Foods. They had a special table with fruits from Thailand (I hope you are reading KSWH) and I got to try some different kinds of lychees and my first mangosteen. Mangosteens are these crazy fruit which look pretty fake and the meat inside looks kind of like a brain and they are very sweet and tasty. I also had an unbelievable bratwurst (apparently you can get over 1000 kinds of sausages here), some mushroom tortellini, and some satay.

Asparagus. Asparagus (both green and white) were in season and they were everywhere. I would say I had asparagus almost everyday and most of it was really delicious. It seems as if white asparagus is pretty good even when a bit overcooked. I ate at the hotel I stayed at in Berlin and they had advertisements all over the hotel for a crazy asparagus feast for 99 euros (the rest of the menu was really cheap weirdly) and bunch of other separate asparagus things. I ordered one appetizer portion of asparagus at 7 pm and they informed me that they were out of asparagus. This restaurant was terrible. Also, strawberries were in season, but the local strawberries I had in Budapest were frankly not as a good as the hormone infused stuff we get over here.

Beer. Germany has a lot of great beer and it is reasonably priced (it was mostly between 2 and 3 euros for .5 liters which I guess is 1.056682 pints). We don't get very much German beer here in the US, about 80% of German made beer is consumed in Germany. I didn't care very much for the pilsners I had (I tend to find pilsners boring though), but I did have some great schwarzbier (dark and bottom fermented according to Lonely Planet), dunkel bock (another kind of dark lager), and weissbier (white beer). I also drank a bunch of Rieslings, some of which were not great and too sweet, some of which were really nice.

What Lions Eat. Lions in Berlin eat big chunks of completely raw meat right on the bone.

Margaux. Margaux was the one really nice restaurant I went to (in Berlin). It had one Michelin star and was really terrific. One of the best things about the meal was the butter -- in Europe they eat cultured butter which is more acidic and fruitier than the butter we have here. I had some marinated fois gras which was incredible. Three slices with slightly different flavors, each with its own accompaniments (hazelnut oil and date for example) and brioche. I have pretty mixed feelings about ordering fois gras. On the one hand, I think it is pretty awful what they do to those birds and I am glad that it will probably be outlawed in the US in the near future. On the other hand, it is really amazing and a food with a particular place in culture and it will probably be outlawed in the US in the near future, so I should probably eat it now if I get the chance. I also had John Dory poached in olive oil with a Riesling foam, white asparagus, and a warm herb and radish salad. This was a treat.

Wurst. They eat a lot of sausages over there. The bratwurst I had at KaDeWe, served with a warm roll and great mustard, was a highlight. I also had currywurst in Berlin. This is a popular food in Berlin which I guess was created when all of the Turkish and Middle Eastern immigrants added curry to wurst. It is a somewhat spicy sausage in a curry and ketchup sauce. It is good, but basically it is a hotdog. In Zurich, a bunch of people were eating long sausages coiled in circle. These looked a lot like a pile of poop and I didn't want any.

Airplane Food. I thought Swiss Air was great and the food was honestly pretty good considering expectations.. They gave me a bunch of personal sized bottles of wine and I had an awesome microwaved calzone and movenpick chocolate ice cream for lunch on the way home. You can also watch the feed from a camera mounted on the nose of the plane and underneath the plane just to make sure that you feel nauseated the entire trip.

I guess in general, this is not an area you go to for the food experience. It's not that there isn't any good food around, but most of it, in my short experience, was cooked poorly, unhealthy, and not very interesting. There are a lot of cream sauces, fried things, and big heavy meals. I like sausage pretty well, but it's hard to forget that it's basically all of the grossest, most useless parts of the animal disguised with spices and put in a pretty unappetizing container. Anyway, it was a great trip and I can't wait to show everyone pictures and hear all about how you guys are doing and do some serious catch up. Maybe we can grab a cup of coffee or take a walk or something.


Blogger Jack said...

Everyone post their favorite thing that Pod ate!

Jack: three kinds of marinated foie gras with varying accompaniments. That's a great thing to eat! Marinating foie gras? What a country!

1:52 AM  
Blogger suebell said...

Even their butter is more cultured over there!

10:32 AM  
Blogger SC said...

what will you eat in Wellesly? Have you been to Blue Ginger?

12:52 PM  

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