Do NOT Disturb A Hungry Man

I like this fellow Patrick Stäbler. He’s a journalist. He likes food. He’s adventurous. In these points we have a lot in common. However, his curiosity has taken him somewhere I haven’t been yet. Namely through Germany. Patrick, who is quite the gourmet, has realized that he eats Sushi more often than he does Schweinhaxe. So he goes on a journey to eat obscure regional dishes from each of Germany’s 16 states.

So to make the trip a whole lot more difficult and interesting, he decides to hitchhike to his destinations and crash at people’s apartments along the way. He wrote a blog, and found himself a publisher. The book, Speisende Soll Man Nicht Aufhalten, has a double meaning in German. You could translate it like I have in the title, or as “Do NOT Stop for a Hungry Man.” Then his trip became part of the Leipzig “Iss Was!?” exhibit, which is how I decided to stop by the gift shop to get the book.

In between bites of funny-sounding unheard-of specialties like Dibbelabbes or Schnüsch, he eats other, more popular regional specialties like Döner and Currywurst. And he meets a motley crew of people along the way, like the chic Russian nurse who commutes from Germany to Luxembourg, to the neo-Nazi who took him to Berlin.

The book is funny and well-written, I feel that he tries too hard at some places,  but that is okay, since his earnestness is winning. Like most blog turned books, the book has a chronological narrative, and can seem boring at times, especially when he describes the days when he could not get anyone to pick him up.

It was strange to read Patrick rhapsodize about German dishes. Maybe it’s just Thuringia, but I do not experience a vielfalt of flavor when I eat German food. It has basically three different flavors: sweet, salty, and fatty. Maybe sour if you eat Sauerkraut or Sauerbraten. Let’s just say that while I like a good Braten, the taste palette is sehr begrenzt.

In general, I would recommend this book for people who want to prepare obscure German dishes (the recipes are in the book), for immigrants who want to learn more about Germany (provided that your German is at a B1-B2 Level), or for anybody who likes German food in general. I hope that it’ll be successful enough to warrant an English translation. And if you are ever in Berlin, the best Döner I’ve ever had was right across the road from the Zoobahnhof. Alas, I think it doesn’t exist anymore.

Christoffel

Erfurt is a town that has an intact city center that dates back to the middle ages. Walking through its cobblestoned streets, it is not hard to imagine what it was like before there were cars, the internet, or the invention of the deodorant.

But I digress. What is a medieval town without a hokey medieval restaurant? I’ve been to Christoffel a couple of times, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience, as long as you don’t take anything too seriously. From the court jesters to the use of faux olde Deytsche, Christoffel is a fun place to spend an evening.

The portions are huge, and I’ve never been disappointed by any of the grilled meats that they have served. The photo above is a platter of eat-all-you-can ribs, and I was so stuffed that I had to take home two of them.

This is the place to take an American visiting Erfurt. It has a very Disneyland/Ren Faire vibe to it, and be forewarned none of the dishes are authentic medieval (gasp!). If it were, we should be eating turnips and horsebread. Although sometimes I do wonder if the guests actually buy that. I get the impression that they do.

Wirtshaus Christoffel

Michaelisstraße 41

99084 Erfurt

Suki

What does the word suki mean? For a person who runs a household, everything.

Suki is a Filipino word, which in German, translates to Stammkunde, or a regular customer of a particular shop.

Gaumenfreude in Erfurt is a pop-up shop that sells their own mustard mixes, jams, condiments, and sauces. They also sell preserves from the region, things like Sauerkraut and pickles made the old fashioned way–without any vinegar used to preserve them!

I always buy their Bärlauch Senf or mustard. Bärlauch, a wild relative of leeks, is a German obsession in the spring. They collect them when they can find them in woods and parks everywhere. Of course they were going to pair it up with mustard, Germany’s favorite condiment.  I love this particular mustard so much I use it on everything! Dips, sauces, and as a seasoning for stewed meat.

Gaumenfreude’s stall can usually be found at the Erfurt farmer’s market on Saturdays or whenever there is a festival in the Erfurt-Weimar area. The man at the shop recognizes me already, and always gives me something to nibble on as a thank you. Last time we saw each other, he wanted to give me a cherry. But since I love me some pickles, I asked for one. 😀 The perks of a suki.

The Mommy Files–ACE Water Spa

One of my favorite things to do in Germany is to go to the local swimming hall (Spaßbad) with my son, and spend the day swimming indoors, in warm water, especially when it’s cold out.

I was very happy to find out that this is also possible in the Philippines, with the opening of ACE Water Spa. It costs about 550 Php, or about 10 euros entrance. It is basically the same price in Germany, with the same facilities. They also provide a swim cap, probably to protect the filter system of the water, which you have to give back at the end of your 4-hour stay.

They also have a sauna, which many people unfortunately don’t know how to use. Scented pools, massage whirlpools, and a swimming pool. I was very impressed by the facilities. Unfortunately, no photos allowed inside, so all I have is a blurry picture of the spa from the viewing window.

They also have a restaurant and hotel, but it looks pricey, from what I gather from their website.

So if you are stuck in Manila during the rainy season, ACE Water Spa seems to be a good place to take your kids. Although at this moment, Manileños are enjoying (?) the summer heat. What I would not give for a glass of halo-halo!

Ace Water Spa

United St. cor. Brixton St. near Pioneer, Pasig City

and 399 Del Monte Avenue (near cor. Banaue St.) SFDM, Quezon City

Open from 6 AM to 10 PM (weekdays) or 11 PM (weekends)

Entrance 550 Php Adults, 250 Php for children under 4 ft.

 

Eat Your Heart Out in Berlin!

Unlike my last few visits to Berlin, which could be described as pit stops rather than visits, I finally had more time to explore Berlin and visit places that I’ve been meaning to do for some time now. and That Queer Expatriate’s Adam was a very gracious host and toured me around the best eats in his ‘hood or Kiez.

One of the first things I did upon landing in Berlin was make a beeline for Pan, the only Filipino restaurant in Berlin. I ordered Sinigang, a traditional Philippine sour soup/stew that is eaten with rice. It can be filled with pork, fish, and shrimps. Although souring agents for sinigang nowadays comes from a packet, it is traditionally soured with unripe tomatoes, kamias, sampaloc (tamarind), or other sour fruits.

Ok, it was not exactly his turf, but Berlin was freezing, and I needed comfort food. Does it hit the spot? I dont’ know what to make of it. It smelled Pinoy, it looked Pinoy, but there was   something different about the texture of the veggies. It wasn’t cooked to death!

Saturday was jam-packed with activities. Adam and I woke up early to get to the Schöneberg Winterfeld Market. It was freezing cold in Berlin, I thought I was gonna freeze my toes off, despite my winter shoes. It didn’t stop us from eating this wonderful, luxuriously covered Tiramisu from an Italian street vendor.

I would’ve lingered over this tiramisu if it weren’t so damned cold out. It wasn’t cloyingly sweet, and the mild cherry amaretto wasn’t alcoholy-tasting at all! It really tasted like cherry.

I was looking for earrings, so Adam bought me food-themed ones (thanks Adam!) and then he went over to a stall to buy freshly-made spaghetti and other produce straight from Italy.

I would’ve bought a load of food from the stall if I hadn’t just come from Italy. Oh well, maybe next summer.

After a quick brunch at a Cafe, where Adam played around with his fancy new camera toy, I left to attend a conference. I already had planned to eat Ethiopian that evening, but the weather and Adam’s ketchup-stained shirt had other plans for us.

A trip to Berlin for me would never be complete without a stop at my favorite Asian supermarket in Berlin, which we did Saturday evening. Because Adam’s pants were too thin for the cold weather, we decided to eat at Chay Village, a vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant in his Kiez.

Now, I’m skeptical of vegetarian Vietnamese dishes. Vietnamese food has a lot of vegetarian dishes, but I was in the mood for soup in a very cold winter day. I couldn’t imagine eating Pho without beef broth. I was pleasantly surprised by this restaurant. I was first baffled by the sauce they served us with the dimsum. I thought it looked like apple cider vinegar, but it wasn’t sour enough to be that. I thought it could be fish sauce, but it wasn’t salty enough to be that, either. It turned out to be home-made soy sauce!

And the Pho had fried Tofu, mushrooms, and scrambled egg strips in it. It tasted just like normal Pho. Yum!

After that we just stayed home and watched Magic Mike. Thoroughly enjoyable film.

I gorged myself full on Dunkin’ Donuts while waiting for the bus that would take me home.

I would like to thank Adam for so graciously hosting me!