Berlin: Restaurant Asteria: Greek & Mediterranean Cuisine

So, yesterday, I decided to join some friends and go to a greek restaurant with them.  I love greek food.  I love it even more after my trip to greece.  So many wonderful memories are from that trip.  The food and the people from my trip to greece were fabulous.  The question is, would this greek restaurant live up to it?

 

The restaurant is located right near Eberswalder Strasse, a U-bahn stop on the U2 line. We saw that the outside dining area was very full, and were worried that without reservations, the 8 of us would not be able to eat there.  The inside had plenty of room.  We sat down at nice big table and looked at the menu.

 

The atmosphere was wonderful.

 

 

 

 

 

The menu looked a more bit expensive than I thought it would be. Entrees range from €9 to €15. Moussaka was €11.80 euros. I decided to go with a mixed grill platter (€12.80).  The grill platter consisted of gyros, souvlaki, tzatziki and a salad.  We also ordered tap water.  We were given glasses and a pitcher of water which we had refilled multiple times throughout the meal.

After we ordered, one of the waiters came around and gave the 8 of us, a tray with 8 complementary shots of ouzo.  Now, ouzo is the traditional spirit drunk in greece.  It is clear.  When mixed with water, it turns to a milky white.   It tastes like liquorice.    These shots, were this milky white color, so we knew that they were watered down.  We raised our glasses high, “yamas,” and then drank the liquorice-flavored milky-looking liquid.

Our salads arrived.  Normally, when an entree comes with salad in the description, it is not an entire course.  The salad was made of iceberg lettuce, shredded carrots and shredded cabbage.  It was so filling, I could not finish it.

 

After the salad course, our ouzo glasses were refilled.  “Yamas!”  They refilled our ouzo glasses about 30 seconds after our previous toast.

 

 

We talked and chatted.  After a while, our food came out.  The food was served with fresh, still warm bread.  There was a bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and another Balsamic vinegar on every table.  I poured these onto a little plate and dipped the bread in it.

 

The platters were incredibly large. This is a bad photo pf what I ordered, but the plate was a foot and a half wide.  The gyros (front right) was made of pieces of meat that had been skewered, cooked and then sliced.  The souvlaki (back right) was huge.  The balls of rice in the back must have been a 1/2 a cup each.

 

 

The person across from me ordered the scampi salad.  IT was huge.  This plate was also fuge.   You can get a sense of the size from the person sitting behind it.  The bowl was very deep and a 1 1/2 or more feet across.  That giant chuck of feta cheese was about 6 inches long.

 




 

 

I ate as much as I could, and this was what I was left with…

 

 

I still had more than a full meal left over, so I had it wrapped up.  After that, they brought out another complementary course for dessert: fresh fruit!

 

 

 

By this time, we were all so full.  They insisted in filling our ouzo glasses.  As the night had progressed, out ouzo went from a milky white to a clear color.  Throughout the entire meal, they kept on trying to give us more ouzo. It was not shady or anything like that.  It was very nice and festive.  It felt like a party.

 

 

 

 

I definitely recommend this place.  You will pay around €15-€20/per person after tip.  You will be so full, have enough food for 1-2 more meals, and you will have ingested as much or as little ouzo as you have wanted.  In the course of the night, I think they refilled our ouzo glasses about 5 times, but we had to restrain ourselves and them in order to drink that few.  If you do not want any more ouzo, just leave your glass full of it.  When you want more again, just drink it, and it will be refilled within the minute.  On some nights, there are two men with guitars that play and sing greek music.  That is when it turns into a real party.  It was too hot when we went for them to have the musicians that night.

 

 

Restauraunt Asteria

Griechisch Mediterran

Schoenhauser Allee 143

10435 Berlin

 

+030 400 53 571

12:00-24:00

 

http://www.asteria_berlin.de

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Berlin: KaDeWe or Kaufhaus des Westens

KaDeWe is something I stumbled into.  On the first floor, there is very high end jewelry, handbags, and then the usual cosmetics, perfumes, etc. For an example of high-end jewelry, they had Tiffany’s, Chanel, etc.

It reminded me a bit of Bloomingdales in NYC. It did not just sell clothes, but many other things:

I walked through rows and rows of beautiful, incredibly expensive foods.

One of my favorite sections in a really nice department store is their socks and tights section.

Sock heaven!  If I could afford these socks, I would totally wear them.


I accidentally stumbled into the childrens section.  Below are some normal preppy clothes, but for little boys.  The photo does not show it well because it is really hard to see the scaling.

This is a little boys mannequin wearing the most precious clothes.  I do not think I have seen a sports coat that small.

I would recommend visiting it if you want to see a very high-end department store.  The best part, is the restaurant and the Gourmet Level, but that is a separate post.

Address:

Tauentzienstr. 21-24

10789 Berlin Schöneberg

Berlin: Markthalle IX: Street Food Thursday

Markthalle IX or Market House 9 is an indoor market located near the U1 U-bahn station Gorlitzer.  To get there, you walk through a little park that has a church in it.

After you get to the end of the park, there is a lovely colorful setting of chairs, bikes and people enjoying food from a cafe.

After one more block, you are there! The bikes of the people inside are lined up along the streets.

You enter a stone building with a great big arch.   Depending on when you go, it could be completely packed, or you could have plenty of room to breath.  There are red and white striped tents that the different vendors have. Strings of Christmas lights are hung around the tents and over them to create a festive and almost-outdoor-market feel.

There are plenty of places to sit down and eat inside.  Sometimes it gets too crowded and people enjoy their food outside.

There is even a little playground inside for children.  This photo was taken when it was really busy, so it is hard to see.

After you get a feel for the atmosphere, it is time to walk around and figure out what to eat.  I recommend just walking around (multiple time)  to see what food options are available.

There are several vendors that sell cheeses, others sell meats, and even more sell wine, beer, mixed drinks, tea and coffee.  One vendor in particular sells tapas.  You get a tray with pieces of cured meats, cheeses, fish, and olives.

Each vendor sells something different.  For meals, there are plenty of assembled meals to buy.  For vegans, this is paradise.  There are multiple food stations dedicated to vegan food.

Mediterranean Street Food Platters from a Vendor

Meat eaters, do not despair, there is plenty for you to eat.  There is a vendor that sells fish (menu below)  There is also a supposedly amazing bbq vendor.  They have baked potatoes, beef brisket, pork belly and other barbequed meats.





After that, there are plenty of asian food vendors.  This is one particular Taiwanese vendor that served Taiwanese burgers.

I decided to order one of the burgers.  They have an original with pork belly, and a “skinny” version with chicken.  When I was there, they had already sold out of the chicken.  So, being on the pork belly!

After assembling it for me, it was time to get what was mine.

The final product.  It was soooo good. It is hard to tell what it is from the photo because they put on a lot of cilantro, just the way I like it.  This was definitely fabulous.  I would recommend it to anyone.  The pork belly was fabulous, and incredibly tender.  I am sure the chicken version would be very good as well.  And as a bonus, if you order the chicken version, your belly will not look like a pig’s belly!

That was not the only kind of exotic food that was there.  There was also a korean place that sold kimchi.

There was some latin american food as well.

There was also an African food vendor.  In addition to that, there were two vendors that sold pies.  Now, by pies, I do not mean american pies, like apple pie.  I mean pies from the United Kingdom:  Steak and ale pies, apple and pork pies, and more.  If anyone is missing there British food, hop on down and get some good old hardy pies.

There was this place that served cups of food.  There layout always looks so nice.  The photos below are of the same vendor, but on different nights.

My friend and I both got a cup from this vendor.  The savory cups were 3 euros while the sweet cups were 3.5 euros.  Below is a photo of another friend holding the cups we got.  The savory cup has potatoes and herbs in the bottom, with speck in the middle and a pumpkin puree on top.  This was then garnished with a potato chip.

For dessert, there were plenty of other options.  From pastries and cookies, to mango lassies, to mint-lemon iced tea and cucumber ginger ale, to apple cobbler and cheese cake, to sorbet, ice cream and gelato, you can hardly go wrong.

Below is the stand that sold the Lemon-mint iced tea, and some apple crumble.

Overall, it was a fabulous market.  I definitely recommend it.  It would be good for friends to hand out.  It is also a perfect place for a date.

This market is every Thursday from 5-10pm or as the Europeans like to say, 17:00 to 22:00.  There are other markets located at this place.  This information is specific to the street food market.  Have fun!!

Hours: 17:00-22:00

Address:  Eisenbahnstraße 42, 10997 Berlin

Berlin: KaDeWe or Kaufhaus des Westens: The Gourmet Floor

KaDeWe or Kaufhaus des Westens is a very high-end department store in Berlin.   I entered it and wandered around.  I saw that there was a food level titled: The Gourmet Floor.  I decided I had to see it.   This is what I found.

The 6th floor of KaDeWe is heaven for a foodie.  They have fabulous selections of just about everything.

They had an entire section devoted to eggs,  EGGS!!

You will not miss out on cheese here.

They have a section dedicated to Champagne.  I took a photo of this champagne, because when I was in Reims, Champagne, France, I visited the Taittinger champagne caves and took a tour of the place.

They even have a section dedicated to asian food.

Right in the center of this section is a little place to order some thai food.

They had plenty of  different types of dried fruit.  In fact, they had a whole counter dedicated to it.


Do not get me started on all the beautiful fruit!

 

Inside the fruit section, they had a counter dedicated to exotic fruit!!

Of course, they had an excellent selection of veggies, including root veggies.

Their wine selection was fabulous as well!

What impressed me more than their wine selection, was there jam selection.  Look at all those shelves filled with jam…

But, I did get upset when I got to the “American” section.  Their selection was horrible.  A lot of the section was filled with pop tarts, EZ-cheese, campbell’s soup, barbeque sauces and lots and lots of soda.

After this section, a man who worked there very rudely told me to not take photos. You see, I was wearing shorts, sandals, a t-shirt and had my backpack on my back.  It was about 87 degrees that day, and I was not planning on going into a high-end department store after work, but an outdoor market in the sun.  I know that he would not have dared to speak to me in that manner if I was older, or if I was with my parents or grandparents.  He must have thought I was a poor person wandering around who could not afford anything.

I would have taken photos of the fabulous tea selection they had, or the cured meats, etc.  They had a fabulous chocolate section too.  They had a counter of Teuscher Chocolates, one of my favorites.  They also had Mozartkugel.  I would have bought some Teuscher and Mozartkugel, but after one of the employees was so rude, I decided not to.

My other blog post about KaDeWe:

https://andersonbettyk.wordpress.com/2013/07/13/berlin-kadewe-or-kaufhaus-des-westens/

Address:

Tauentzienstr. 21-24

10789 Berlin Schöneberg

A photo gallery of all the photos in this post:

Please click on the images to bring up a viewer

Berlin: My Desk and Roses

So, for all my friends and family who are reading this, this is a little bit about my room, or more specifically, my desk.

My favorite thing about my room is how white it is.  The walls are white, my desk is white, the bed frame is white, my sheets are white and the curtains are white.  This makes it a very bright room.

Having a job means that I do not have to do homework outside of the office.  This means that my desk can be whatever I want it to be.  Hopefully, you can gleam a little insight on what my life is right now by my desk and what I tack above it.

There are no books there.  This is because my books are not on my desk but in another location.

I also have a painting that I purchased in Skala, Kefalonia, Greece when I was there in May of this year, 2013.

Roses are not something I keep.  I do not have enough money to spare right now to keep roses in my room.  You see, I would rather take the money I could spend on flowers and spend it exploring Berlin, especially since I spend very little time in my room.  These flowers were a gift.  I was given 14 white roses by someone who says he likes me, but does not speak English.  I tried to refuse them, but he would not let me.   But roses are roses, and after I took them, I might as well enjoy them.  They really are beautiful.

(Do not worry, the man who gave them to me will not read this.  He does not know my name.)

I put them in a vase and put them in my desk.  They looked so pretty there.  It does make you feel special when you get roses, regardless of the circumstances.

The next thing I had to do was add all the opera tickets and stuff to my desk.  You see, each thing pinned to my desk represents something.

  • The rainbow flag was actually something I picked up off the street after an LBGTQ Pride Festival.  I did not go to the festival, but I saw it and decided to hang it up in my wall.  The colors are beautiful.  Rainbows represent rebirth and new beginnings.  Berlin is all about rebirth and new beginnings.
  • The Opern Chore leaflet is the program from a concert I went to at the Berlin Philharmonic.
  • The ice cream postcard was from the Turkish Market.
  • The green and white ticket is from the Opera Lohengrin performed by the Welsh National Opera.
  • The very small white and gold ticket is from The Great Gatsby.  I saw it in Berlin when I went out with soon-to-be friends for the first time.
  • The Blue card at the bottom with the hearts and the french and german flag is from the French and German Festival, that I still need to write a blog post on.
  • The black and grey schedule is a running schedule that I am trying to keep to.
  • The painting I purchased in greece as I explained above.
  • The fortune cookie fortune reads “YOU’LL HAVE A LOT OF FUN NEXT WEEKEND.”  The fortunes many not be great in Germany, but at least the fortune was in English.
  • The ten red and white tickets are tickets to operas at the Komische Oper in Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin.

 

 

Maybe this will give you more insight into my life in Berlin, maybe it will not.  Oh, well, if the latter is the case, sorry for wasting your time.

Berlin: Street Art on a Car

So, I saw this when I was walking, and I just had to stop and take photos.  This is the type of street art that I love.  It is interesting, cute, amusing, and it does not property damage (I am assuming that the person who did it did it with the consent of the cars owner.)  I just had to share this.  It just made me smile.

 

So, anyways, I am walking down the street and I see this old car parked on the side of the road, like any other car.  Then, I see little figurines painted on the car.   It just made me laugh!

 

Look at some of them.  You have a broken down car painted on the front of a car.  The tire is busted, the car has been jacked up and one person is replacing the tire while the other is looking under the hood of the car.

 

The person front center is standing on his head and seems to be having a really good time, while on one side, a person looks like he has a headache and is kneeling while the person on the other side is just chilling.

 

 

Take your time and look closely at all of these little images.  The closer you look, the more interesting and amusing they are.

 

It is the little things of a city that give the city its character.  Things like this just make me love Berlin.

 

Berlin: Thai Market

So, this market is a little unusual.  It started around 1990.  It is located near a large Thai population and people would gather on the weekends in the park, bring picnics, and eat thai food.  People started trading and selling goods and foods until eventually, it grew into what it is today.

It is located in Pressen Park, near the U7 U-bahn Konstanzer Strasse.  Upon entry to the park, you can see this sign. It says it is illegal to have coolers that have more food than a family can eat, one is not allowed to sell food and that several other things.  The text on this sign is written in English, German and Thai.  You can read the text if you open up the full sized version.  You see, the local counsel is trying to shut the market down.

Now, why would they want to shut this down?  Well, the answer can be seen below.  If you can read German, you will see why.  The counsel has been paying 20,000 euros per year to clean up the trash in the park.  The counsel is no longer willing to pay this, so they hope that you will carry your own trash out.  Hopefully, people will carry their trash out and the market will not be shut down.

If you do visit, please bring a plastic bag to put your trash in.  If you want to be really good, then carry it with you until you get to the nearest non-park garbage can.  If you are going home via the U-bahn station, you have to carry it only a tenth of a mile.

This thai market is every Saturday and Sunday, although there are more vendors and people on Sunday.  About half of the people are there by noon and by two o’clock, the last of the vendors are setting up.

They tend to form a horseshoe shape, but there are outliers here and there.  Each vendor sits in approximately the same place every time.

The vendors tend to be little old Thai ladies.  They set up on mats on the ground, put umbrellas up for shade, but their coolers beside them and have portable burners to cook stuff on.  A lot of the vendors sell fried food that they will fry up in front of you.  Some of the most common fried foods are thai chicken wings, spring rolls, chicken, pork or fish skewers served with cucumber and peanut satay sauce, fried potato patties, fried whole fish, etc.

Other vendors sell drinks.  One vendor sold mojitos.  Now, mojitos are not thai in origin.  But honestly, with the mint and the lime in them, I can only imagine that it would be a good combo.  They also sell thai iced coffee, thai iced tea and other thai drinks.  You can find several vendors that sell cans of soda, sugary drinks, water and beer.

You see, this would not be allowed to exist in the United States.   It would violate too many food safety regulations.  You see, some of the women do not wear gloves, while others wear a glove on just one hand.  Often times, there is only one person working, while other people are sitting and chatting on mats close by to take over should the worker need to run to the bathroom or trade off shifts.  This means that the same person handles and the food.

I should have been nervous eating here the first time, and I was.  I had read up on it, and knew that people went here on a frequent basis, it was well established and it was on many lists of things to do in Berlin.  So I figured, of one vendor made people sick, then no one would buy from them.  Also, my first trip, I ate a fried spring roll and soup that had been boiling when it left the pot.  I figured that any bacteria would have died when the food was being fried or boiled.

Another great thing about this market is the clientele.  This is why I believe it is authentic Thai food.   Lots of Thai people purchase and eat the food from the vendors. Families go to this market and eat the food.  They spread their mats out and spend the day eating, socializing, napping and playing.  Plenty of non-Thai locals do this too.   It is a perfect thing to do on a Saturday or Sunday.

The adults can socialize while the children play.

The first and second time I visited, I had soup.  It was a clear broth with vermicelli (rice noodles), greens, pork and these meat balls, bean sprouts and peanuts.  It came in reusable bowls with the chinese spoon and chopsticks.  You could help yourself to the condiments including sugar, pickled peppers, fish sauce (nước mắm in Vietnamese, nam pla in Thai), chili powder and ground chilies in oil.

The second time I came, I had the same soup above and I tried a spring roll.  I accidentally dropped my first one, but the lady saw and was nice enough to replace it for free.  The spring roll had some corn in it.  It was very good and still tasted traditional.

We also ordered chicken satay with a peanut satay sauce and cucumber.  After that, I tried some meat on a stick and some Thai iced tea.

On my third visit, I was more adventurous.  Well, maybe it was because the people I was with were more adventurous that I was.  When I was in Greece, I had octopus and squid, and it was fabulous.  I had been craving it ever since.  I pointed the squid out to the people I was with and told them I had not had the guts to get it. Their response was, well, lets try it now.  Okay.

After we ordered it, she put the squid back in the pan to cook it some more and make sure it was nice and hot.  After that, she asked me in German if I wanted sauce on it (at least I think she did) and I said yes.  The sauce she poured over it was a hot chili sauce with a flavorful but liquidy base.  It was served with some thinly sliced lettuce and a lime wedge.  I had it in hand and was ready to eat it!

It was fabulous.  After that, we moved on to other foods.  One lady was selling food wrapped in leaves.  She said that one was banana and the other was taro.   When we opened them, we found that they were sticky coconut rice balls filled with banana and taro that had been fired.  The taro one was a triangle, and the banana one was in the shape of a cylinder.  You can see the toothpick that was used to hold the thing together when firing.  The charred edges seem to indicate that very high temperatures were used.

The banana one had beans in it as well.  You can see them below.

They were so good.  After that, we purchased a tray of 4 summer rolls and sat down to ate them.  One of them was shrimp, another was tofu and then there was a chicken one and a pork one.

From them on, one person would get up, buy the group some food and then bring it back.

The first round of that, we had fried vegetable patties, fried, breaded shrimp, and fried breaded sardines, all smothered in sweet thai chili sauce.   The photo below shows the sardines and the shrimp.  We had already eaten the patties when this photo was taken.

The next round of food was brought to us and it was more of the sardines, shrimp, and patties.  In addition to that, we each had a skewer of chicken and pork, smothered in peanut satay sauce, and served with cucumber.  After we ate that, we were almost full, but it was my turn to get the food.  I got one big pork bun, some fried bananas with sesame seeds and a Thai iced tea and a thai iced coffee.  I figured if we were getting full, we should finish up with dessert.

After that, we walked around the park for a while and then headed home.

So, on my fourth visit, I went alone.  I had just finished my run, and had not eaten that day.  I decided to boost my sugar quickly and get some more of those fired coconut rice balls with banana and taro wrapped in leaves.  Because I did not find the other vendor I we bought them from before, I tried out a new vendor.

Since they were a euro each, I got one of each.  The first one I ate I honestly have no idea of what it is.  It was coconut something surrounding something that was amazing, but nonetheless a mystery.  I think it was a type of fruit, but other than that, I have no idea.

The second one however, was exactly like I thought it would be.  Rice made sticky with coconut milk with a banana in the center.  I think I prefered the banana and taro rice things that I had the previous visit.  The taro and the mystery thing above were the best.

After that lovely start, I decided to try another place for the main course.  I found this vendor who cooked whatever you want to order.  The meal was 5 euros.

I watched her make what looked like Pad Thai.  Then she made a stir fry with chicken and bamboo shoots and served it over rice.

Then she made Pad See Ew.

It looked so good, I decided to order it for myself.  I could have had any meat I wanted to, but I decided to stick with tofu.

Viola! The final product.  See that red stuff in the bottom?  That is chili powder to make it very spicy.  I mixed all of it in and ate it.  It was really good and really hot.