Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Next Supper!

The email's been sent to the list, and here's what it said:
Hey supper clubbers!
Last week's supper was a fun one! I hope everyone enjoyed as much as I did.
Those of you who attended will recall some uncertainty about the next supper stemming from Celia and my respective holiday travel plans. Good news, however: we will be holding one more dinner in 2009, on Thursday December 10th!
Since Celia will still be in the States, we have recruited a guest chef, Mary Dellenbaugh. Mary is a photographer and all-around awesome chick, also from the US, who has actually worked in restaurants before (gasp!). She has very graciously agreed to let me cook with her in Celia's absence!
Since Mary is a vegetarian, her menu will be as well. Yum!
Here is the tentative menu plan (subject to change):
as Mary says, "nice & hearty & warm for December"
Parmesan-garlic-artichoke dip, various cheeses & olives with crackers for starters
Pumpkin curry soup with figs & crostini
Vegetable tarts (kind of like pot pie) on a bed of greens with balsamic reduction
mini lemon cremes for dessert (Mary sez: "something light to end all that good heavy stuff!")
+ of course wine.
I ask you, does that not sound delicious?!?
So email me back if you want to attend on Thursday, December 10th! We can only accommodate 10 people in addition to the two of us, so it will be first come, first served. If you need to cancel, please let us know at least 24 hours in advance for shopping purposes! And don't forget to bring your APPETITE and whatever donation you would like to give to cover our costs.
Let us know about any dietary restrictions as well.
And please feel free to pass this on to friends who may be interested!
This will be our last official supper club dinner until the New Year, though we will be cooking Christmas dinner if anyone is going to be lonely and hungry on Christmas Day :)
Hope to see you soon!

If you would like to RSVP and/or get on the mailing list, let us know at cdsupperclub@gmail.com.

Recipe: Mango Salsa

Much like my guac, my mango salsa is improvised and not closely measured.
What you need:
*lime juice
What you do:
Cut the mango into chunks and combine in a bowl with finely chopped cilantro and onion. Squeeze a couple limes over the mixture and stir. Voila, there you have it. A delicious side, condiment, or dip. The lime juice brings out the mango flavor and the cilantro and onion give it a kick to match the sweetness. Mmmm!

Recipe: California Guacamole

The proportions in this recipe are not precise. In the California hippy tradition, I just go by what feels right, haha.
What you need:
*lime juice
What you do:
Cut the avocado and tomato into smallish chunks and chop the onion finely (you should have more avocado than tomato and onion, though anything goes really). Combine in a bowl with finely chopped cilantro. Add lime juice and salt&pepper to taste. And it's that simple!
You can mash the mixture if you prefer a smoother guac, but for my part I find that a good stirring usually gives my preferred consistency, especially if the avos are ripe enough.

Recipe: Lime-Spiked Black Bean Dip

Courtesy of myrecipes.com.

* 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
* 1 cup grated carrot
* 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
* 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
* 1 teaspoon minced garlic
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

Place beans in a food processor, and pulse until almost smooth [we used a potato masher]. Combine the beans, carrot, and the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring until well blended. Let stand 30 minutes. Serve with baked tortilla chips [we used whole wheat pita].

Mmm delicious!

Supper the Second

Well! Last week we successfully survived the second supper club. Exactly a week ago, in fact. Sorry it's taken so long to post on it.
The fact of the matter is, I totally forgot to use my camera until the dinner was basically over. D'oh! You'll just have to imagine what I describe.
The photos I have are of the aftermath.
The decimated guac and mango salsa:

The usual kitchen disaster zone:

A burn on my hand (accidentally touched the inside of the oven):

And Celia classin' it up (haha):

The menu was:
Black bean dip with pita
Grilled salmon
California-style guacamole (that means chunky, none of this creamy creme fraiche-spiked stuff the Germans try to pass off as guac)
Mango salsa
Roasted rosemary potatoes
Fresh green salad
Flourless chocolate cake with warm raspberries in mint syrup
Since it was a work day for me, I did not have quite enough cooking time and ended up madly whipping egg whites for the cake when the guests had already arrived! But I think (I hope!) everyone enjoyed the wine and bean dip, so the delay wasn't too bad. We had mostly newcomers: Mai, Michelle, Daniel, Charlie, Christina, Linda, Junitta and Jan were all first-time supper clubbers (welcome, guys!). Kate came back, and my roomie Josh also joined us again. It was a lively crowd, and at 12 my bedroom-turned-dining-room was at full capacity! That's what made it fun though :)
Stay tuned...the next dinner is in the works!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Qype: Restaurant 44 im Swissôtel in Berlin

Berlin - Eating & Drinking - Restaurants - Gourmet

This meal will go down as one of the absolute best I have ever had the good fortune to enjoy.
I made a reservation for me, my aunt and my uncle at 9:30pm on a Friday night, the latest they will seat. The staff was the epitome of courteous and welcoming, speaking perfect English for the benefit of my non-Deutsch-speaking relatives. We were seated at a corner table overlooking the Ku'Damm's night lights. The tables were very generously spaced and we felt very well looked after.
We decided on the four course menu. I had artichoke, tuna, lamb, and a selection of cheese. My aunt had artichoke, king prawn, venison, and valrhona chocolate cake, and my uncle had quail, king prawn, coalfish, and chocolate cake as well.
Everything was innovatively prepared with creative uses of ingredients and beautifully plated.
The artichoke was served with little bits of heavenly creamy smoked mozzarella, chunks of tomato and slices of dessicated tomato (surprisingly sweet and chewy), some greens and a scoop of olive oil sorbet.
The tuna came in little perfectly seared cubes, served with brussel sprouts, shallot cream and duck pastrami (see what I mean about creative combinations?)
The crusted lamb saddle was the most flavorful and tender lamb I have ever tasted. I almost orgasmed when I tasted it. It came with two beautiful pastry tubes filled with creamy goat cheese and some veggies.
If that description didn't make you drool, you must be crazy.
Yes this place is expensive, but it is worth every penny. I recommend it highly for your next special occasion meal.

Check out my review of Restaurant 44 im Swissôtel - I am insizlane - on Qype

Qype: CUPCAKE in Berlin

Berlin - Eating & Drinking - Cafes & Coffee Shops - Cafes - Shopping - Food & Drink - Bakeries - Eating & Drinking - Restaurants - American

Huge. Moist. Delicious. Cupcakes.
It was reeeeally hard to choose, but on my inaugural visit to Cupcake, we selected one carrot cake and one Oreo cream.
I fuckin' love carrot cake. And this cupcake, with its creamy, copious cream cheese frosting, did not disappoint.
The Oreo cream was equally moist and creamy, though a bit plain. Next time, I want to try the mint.
Actually who am I kidding. I want to eat the whole store.

Check out my review of CUPCAKE - I am insizlane - on Qype

Qype: Kurhaus Korsakow in Berlin

Berlin - Eating & Drinking - Restaurants - Eastern European - Eating & Drinking - Restaurants - German

So far my favorite brunch buffet! The hot offerings are what I expect from a breakfast buffet: scrambled eggs, baked beans (mmm), and some kind of meat (the first time I went it was scrumptious little sausages, last time it was Jägerschnitzel patties). The cold offerings consist of a huge spread of lovely salads, including egg salad; a big platter of smoked salmon; a basket of fresh and often warm-from-the-oven bread; a big platter of seriously quality cheese (dear god, I ate a ton of it); various cold meats; and the usual muesli/cereal/yogurt, including some delectable chocolate pudding. You can have unlimited access to this smorgasbord of delight for a mere 7.90eur. If you want a big glass of OJ and a cup of coffee or tea, it'll run you 9.90eur. For a whole pot of coffee or tea along with your OJ and breakfast, it is a mere 11.90eur. Trust me, this is a steal for the quality of the buffet. Not to mention, it is right by the Boxhagener Platz Sunday flea market, and I've never found it overcrowded. Next time you want a quality brunch, give this joint a try!

Check out my review of Kurhaus Korsakow - I am insizlane - on Qype

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pie Adventures

Last week I had some leftover crumbled cinnamon cookies and I thought it would be fun to use them for a pie crust. I knew just the pie I wanted to make: my mother's French Silk Chocolate Pie. I got the recipe and it is pretty simple (and decadent): sugar, eggs, butter and melted chocolate, poured into a pie crust and refrigerated for a few hours to set. Since I had some leftover mint as well, I thought I'd add my own twist and try making a mint syrup to mix into the pie filling. The pie usually sets pretty hard, so I thought the extra liquid wouldn't ruin the pie's texture.
Sounds simple, no? But this post isn't called pie adventures for nothing. Hahaha.
First hiccup: burnt the crust. I have a habit of burning things that only have to be in the oven a short time. I get distracted too easily. See: burning 4 rounds of pine nuts to top last supper club's couscous before finally getting it right (whoops).
Second hiccup: burnt the new crust I constructed from the un-burnt bits of the original one and the leftover cookie crumbs. Oh well. Burned crust it is. Maybe the pie will have a nice smoky flavor?
Third hiccup: My roomie shopped for me and got 90% dark chocolate which is very bitter. But I happen to like dark chocolate and besides, there's more than enough sugar in the recipe, especially with the added mint syrup. It did make the filling look different than when my mom makes it though.
Fourth hiccup: My mother's recipe is designed for a smaller pie crust so the filling spread quite thinly over my larger pie tin.
So how did it turn out?

Well, the crust didn't hold together well, and it didn't set as hard as it usually does, so it wasn't really pie so much as pudding with crusty burnt bits. And the mint flavor was nonexistant. But you can't really go wrong with eggs, sugar, butter and chocolate, so I still ate it :)
Not all my kitchen forays turn out well!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Qype: Cafe Morgenrot in Berlin

Berlin - Eating & Drinking - Pubs & Bars - Pubs - Eating & Drinking - Cafes & Coffee Shops - Cafes - Eating & Drinking - Restaurants - Vegetarian - Eating & Drinking - Restaurants

Came here for brunch right as they opened at 11am on a Sunday. The buffet seemed small at first, but really they just put out small amounts of everything, and refill constantly. The bread was warm and soft, the extremely varied sweet and savory spreads delicious. I also loved the bean salad and caprese (mozzarella, tomato, and basil, one of my favorite combos of all food-dom). The best part, however, was the CHEESE. Little wedges of creamy beautiful bleu cheese and brie; slices of flavorful gouda, swiss, and more; and an amazingly tangy and wonderful gorgonzola spread. Paired with the bread and some fresh sliced tomato, it was heavenly. The only weird thing was the vegan scrambled eggs--huh? It looked like bright yellow couscous.
We also tried the vegan chocolate cake and it was pretty darn good for something without eggs and butter.
The price is anything between 4 and 8 euro, you what you think you owe.
I will definitely be back--the perfect pre-Mauerpark brunch spot!

Check out my review of Cafe Morgenrot - I am insizlane - on Qype

Qype: Kinocafé Intimes in Berlin

Berlin - Eating & Drinking - Cafes & Coffee Shops - Cafes

At first I was kind of resistant to the idea of Berlin brunch. A cold buffet? C'mon, just give me some eggs benedict dammit! But I've been won over (thanks in no small part to my complete and total adoration of cheese). The brunch here is HUGE--a big long table of cold salads, meats, and cheeses; cereals, yogurts, and a delectable tiramisu (which goes fast and is not replaced, so grab it early!); and a couple hot plates (pasta, when I went). Given that I had a pretty legit hangover and was hella hungry, I was happy for the variety and had two big plates of food and two helpings of tiramisu. Since I ate so much, the price of 8.5eur was reasonable, but it seems a bit steep for brunch in general. I've been to places that charged half that for a similar buffet. Having paid that much for the food, I didn't want to pay for a drink, so I can't comment on their beverages. The regular menu, however, looked quite good, and I wouldn't be surprised if I end up back here again.

Check out my review of Kinocafé Intimes - I am insizlane - on Qype

Qype: marienBurger in Berlin

Berlin - Eating & Drinking - Restaurants - American

Whew. I need a nap after eating that monster burger. But it was so worth it.
I got a regular cheeseburger and an order of wedge fries. The burger was HUGE and hot and delicious with all the basic toppings: tomato, lettuce, onions, pickles, plus special sauce. Mmmm.
To the people who complain about the cheese--honestly, I have a soft spot in my heart for processed cheese slices, especially because they MELT the best, which is what I want on my burger--gooey creamy deliciousness.
The wedges were good, covered in spices of some kind (which tasted sort of vaguely Asian for some reason), crispy on the outside, warm and soft on the inside.
I sat at the counter and read the free magazines while I waited. I didn't wait long, especially considering I went at noon on the dot and it was made fresh to order.
And all this for only 5.10eur? Color me satisfied.
One weird thing--everyone else there was eating their burgers with forks and knives. Um? I felt like a weirdo grabbing the burger and gettin messy with cheese and dripping juice all over my hands. But as far as I'm concerned, that's how a burger should be eaten. A couple construction workers sitting at the outside table were the only other ones using their hands. They had double burgers as well, which seemed to contain more meat than anyone needs in a single sitting, haha.
The rest of the menu looked good. I'm not vegetarian but I'd try that mozzarella burger any day.
But next time? I think it has to be the baby burger for me. I am waaay too full right now.

Check out my review of marienBurger - I am insizlane - on Qype