I went to Germany to talk Jew food with Nosh Berlin!
“Nosh Berlin is Berlin’s first ever Jewish food week. Drawing locally and from abroad, it will be a wonderful week of Jewish cooking from across Berlin and across the diaspora. Taking place at locations around the city, this will be a week of cooking classes, meals, markets, demos from amaaaaazing chefs (editor note: that’s me!), film showings, music, shabbat dinners, and more. Nosh Berlin is about both embracing traditional food and showcasing contemporary Jewish cooking in Berlin. It’s about stuffing ourselves, teaching ourselves, sharing ourselves, and, generally, having a good nosh in the home of a growing Jewish food scene.”
I was so honored to be a part of the inaugural year along with the amazing Jeff, Molly, Adeena and others. Pretty good company! My layover to Berlin was in Dublin. On St. Paddy’s Day. At 5 AM. My breakfast was chosen for me. You know I wasn’t the only one drinking a Guinness in the airport! Not even close. Note to self: go back to Dublin.
A few hours later I was finally in Berlin! And straight to Fine Bagels for a …wait for it…bagel! And a super strong much-needed coffee. It was so fun seeing Fine Bagels in person after
stalking following Laurel and co on Instagram for so long! The bagels (and horseradish beet schmear) lived up to expectations! (And they were high.)
I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the East Berlin area of Neukölln where I was staying for the week. I concluded I wasn’t hipster cool enough, and needed more body art stat, but enjoyed the frolicking!
Just a typical neighborhood bar. Quaint, don’t you think?
Dim lighting, lots of wine, amazing food (all the carbs) and company. When people ask, and sometimes when they don’t, I always say that my favorite part of having a blog is meeting so many amazing people I never would have had the opportunity to, and I really felt that at this dinner of global power ladies and their +1’s. So much love at this meal! That could have been the wine or lack of sleep speaking, but I still feel warm and fuzzy thinking about it weeks later as I sit on my couch and watch HGTV. (Plus, as a bonus, apparently the guitarist for Rammstein lives across the street!)
I got back to my flat and realized I had been awake for 30 hours and was sort of delirious but it seemed like a good time to play with Snapchat filters and snap all my friends back in the USA.
I slept like a rock and the next morning walked over in the dreary weather (fun fact: I walked at least 10 miles each day!) to Markt Halle Neun for the Jewish breakfast market! I was slightly overwhelmed and did a few laps before narrowing down my food options. Most of the vendors had Jewish inspired food for the event: lox avocado Benedict, kugel, cholent, blini with vegan lox (aka magical carrots), Israeli salads, kimchi latkes, lox quesadillas, hummus, pita, Reubens, bagels, rugelach, shakshuka, OMG! The stress was real.
Luckily I had Molly to help me decide!
Look it’s Sweet Noshings!
When I saw the Hummus Burrito at Bone Berlin, I didn’t need to look any further. Hummus, sour cream, pickles, beets, pomegranate and parsley, with the “option” to add a fried egg. Pro tip: always add the fried egg. The Texan in me wanted hot sauce but this was delicious.
We also shared hummus and bourekas from Gordon.
I would come here every weekend if I lived in Berlin! Meaty. Rugelach from Fine Bagels!
The next day I had some time to explore on my own. #tourist. I’ve traveled a bunch over the years for work and play but this was the first time I had been in a foreign country for a whole week by myself/with Internet friends so not totally by myself but you know what I mean! I played third wheel with Molly and her Eggboy a few days (thanks, guys!) but I really enjoyed exploring by myself too. I walked a lot, talked to some strangers, and took my time.
Berlin is a big city with a ton of history. Recent history. The city weighs a bit heavy with memories of the Holocaust, The Cold War, The Berlin Wall. It’s a lot. So some alone time to reflect was welcome for sure.
The Jewish Museum. Check out how huge it is.
Checkpoint Charlie; the former Berlin wall crossing point.
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. A controversial memorial, one that has been the subject of articles as recently as last week. But I found it quite moving. As you weave through the vast maze of slabs, you slowly become lost, disoriented. The unmarked stelae seemed to mirror how the the Nazis treated the millions of Jewish bodies. One complaint is that people regularly climb the memorial like a jungle gym, but I saw no one laughing or playing the day I visited, only a few fellow tourists paying respect.
That night, we heard from the JCC of Krakow. Many young people there are just finding out that they are Jewish as their parents and grandparents hid it for many years. There were hints, in hindsight. Growing up without pork, or not mixing milk with meat for no apparent reason. Now they are curious to learn about their roots and the JCC gets to help with that. They have weekly Shabbat dinners, a Jewish culture festival and more activities.
What we think of as Jewish food and what is known as Polish food is verrry similar. Blintzes, kishke, chicken soup, gefilte fish and potato kugel. Who did it first? Even on Christmas a sweet carp called Jewish style carp is served.
Herring and pickled eggs on rye! Latkes! Hamantaschen!
Followed by an evening of klezmer. Obviously.
The next day was my event! First I went to Papilles, where I started nearly every morning. I highly recommend it for delicious food, coffee, a huge carafe of water all for you (kind of a big deal in Europe), and super friendly service. Like I was actually sad to leave everyone at the end of the week! The avocado toast was amazing. I even returned for dinner one night- there is no set menu, they just come over and chat with you about your options, but you can’t go wrong. I had sous vide chicken with homemade kimchi and a delicious glass of 5 euro wine to pair with it. And complementary schnapps for dessert. Say hi to Anthony for me if you go!
I stopped by Cafe Creperie Melt (Eat Crepes Not Crap is their motto. And now my life motto) for lunch. My crepe with pesto, tomatoes, goat cheese, egg, honey and hazelnuts was unreal. A side note, Berlin is a mostly cash city. Even at nice restaurants or museums, it’s mostly cash. My crepe and espresso was 8 Euro and I only had 7.50 or 50, and the waiter happily took the 7.50 over providing change. Huh!
Passed this on the way to my session. A good sign!
When I told people I was going to Berlin to talk about Jewish food, the reaction was usually the same mix of confusion and curiosity. You’re going where? To talk about what? There has been a wave of Israelis and Americans moving to Berlin, and my session was a mix of these groups along with German Jews and non-Jews too. You could feel the rebirth of Jewish food in Berlin.
I made Flourless Chocolate Orange Cupcakes with Beet Frosting from Sweet Noshings, Vegetable Kugel with Caramelized Leeks, and Pickled Beet Deviled Eggs. And Manischwitz Sangria too!
The event went great! People stayed after and chatted for awhile, and my jokes all translated. Whew.
I played tourist again the next day, with stops to the Berlin Wall Memorial.
The New Synagogue. (A reconstruction because the original was so badly damaged in WWII.)
For lunch I dined on pastrami on rye at Mogg in Mitte- housed in a former Jewish girl’s school. It was delicious.
I didn’t dare venture inside here… not sure what they were selling, but I ain’t buying.
Berlin and I have a lot in common.
Museum Island, slightly under construction like much of the rest of Berlin.
Berlin Cathedral- super impressive.
This coffee shop reminded me of Sprockets, the Mike Myers skit from SNL from the 90’s. Anyone else? (I’m as happy as a little girl!)
After that caffeine break, it was time to see Molly speak (and eat all the challah) at Hallesches Haus!
I LOLed as she told Luisa how how she snuck candy into Jew camp in tampon boxes. So true!
And then we noshed on Scallion Pancake Challah from Molly on the Range and Marzipan Challah Hedgehogs!! (!!)
Followed by dinner (and plenty of Arac) at Yafo with Meike, Adeena and Jeff.
The next day I gladly joined Molly and Eggboy on a bakery crawl of Berlin. Arm twisted.
This German version of a krembo (aka schhkokuss) was amazzzzing.
Lunch was these AMAZING German ravioli aka Schwäbische Maultaschen topped with sauerkraut.
Which we promptly walked off, as we discussed some of our favorite under-rated cities and the value of people-watching.
Yes those are bullet holes! Most of Berlin’s center was destroyed during WWII and there is evidence of it everywhere.
That night, the Gefilte Ball! Jeffrey chatted all things Ashkenazi and gefilte fish.
And then there was klezmer and dancing. Duh.
And shots! Dill and horseradish vodka with a beetroot chaser and pickle.
And after, das bier.
The next day I explored West Berlin with Molly and Eggboy on a hunt for marzipan for Molly, rainbow metallic silverware (!!) for me, and Slivowitz Marzipan (for real!) for both. We dined at the cutest Wintergarten Cafe at Literaturhaus.
And finished the day with quiche and coffee.Last night in Berlin was Yemenite Shabbat dinner with famed cook-book author Adeena Sussman and beloved Israel chef Gil Hovav. Check out Adeena’s Instagram for lots more behind the scenes photos.
- Eggplant Salad
- Kubaneh Bread (overnight yeast-risen bread with hard boiled eggs) <—– THIS
- Yemenite Fish Soup
- Resek (Tomato Puree)
- Schug (Yemenite Hot Sauce)
- Chilbeh (whipped fenugreek spread)
- Simple Hand-Held Salad
- Ja’aleh (dried fruits and nuts, in the Yemenite style)
- Cafe Lavan (Yemenite “White Coffee”)
And of course, Arak and grapefruit cocktails.
And Slivovitz (it exists!) for dessert.
Next stop: PRAGUE! I was going to put it all in one post, but my two days in Prague needs its own post.