A cat, a bridge and lots of Fizzers

Welcome to my new category Life in Berlin where I will blab about different bits and bobs of what life is like in Berlin, tell you what I’ve been getting myself up to and even write some local product’s reviews. Sometimes I might even give you a peek into my life beyond food!

Today I will start by sharing something really special: our visit to the Azalea and Rhododendron Park in Kromlau, a two hour drive from Berlin. When you look at the bridge, it will probably look familiar, you might have seen it umpteen times online. It’s such a spectacular looking location that people are having their wedding pictures taken there (actual anecdote from our visit!). What most people don’t know, is the following:

  • it’s fairly easy to go there with a car
  • there’s a lot more than just the bridge to see there

We packed some water and snacks – read Fizzers galore, recently shipped via personal butler all the way from Switzerland – and left Berlin around 9am and made it just before 11am (no pit stops, my small bladder is proud to say), and at that time there were only a few cars other than ours. But, believe me, when we left a few hours after the car park was half full! I guess in the last few years it has grown more and more popular thanks to this wondrous thing called The Internet.

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Most well known perspective of the Rakotzbrücke

The first thing you might want to know is that the car park is very close to the actual bridge, a short 5-10 minutes walk. There are signs all the way, and after you’ve seen the beauty of the main attraction, it does pay off to follow the rest of the signs to see the park.

As we were making our way from the most well known side of the bridge to the back through a little archway in the stone, we heard a voice saying “Watch out for the cat!”. I looked at G and he looked at me questioningly, and all of a sudden there He was, the Majestic Cat of the Rakotzbrücke, apparently quite the famous celebrity in these parts. Him and I quickly became friends, as everyone knows I love cats and they love me. G, not so much…

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He posed for me

These are some of my impressions from the rest of the park:

If you have a car, Google Maps will help you get there. If you don’t, Deutsche Bahn will help you instead.

A special mention goes to the cozy Cafe Azalee where we hid away from the nagging cold for a bit, and were welcomed by a huge variety of ice cream flavours, homemade cakes and various hot and cold beverages. We shared a slice of Donauwelle cake and another of almond cake, and overheard different languages coming from the other occupied tables.

Bunyols de vent – Mallorquin sweet puffs

In Mallorca, this time of the year we celebrate St. Ursula (21st October) or mostly known as the Virgins’ Day. The story behind is quite gruesome, involving St. Ursula and 11000 virgins’ pilgrimage to Rome through Germany, where they were killed by the huns as they didn’t accept their sexual advances. The current tradition, however, is much nicer. A girl can receive a carnation and a serenade from a boy who shows interest in her, and in return she’ll invite him to these traditional puffs or fritters.

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This is one of those recipes that everyone’s grandmother knows how to make, and of course everyone’s grandmother makes the best without a shred of doubt. It is fortunately a simple enough recipe, just quite messy and slightly time consuming. But once you pop just one of these into your mouth and it dissolves into sugary goodness, all the work is well worth it, I promise you this much.

  • 2 eggs
  • 500g / 2 cups boiled potatoes, mashed
  • 250g / 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp dry yeast
  • a few tbsp water
  • vegetable oil for deep frying
  • powder sugar (you can also use normal sugar)
  1. Mix the yeast with the water and let sit for about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well until it forms a soft dough, and allow to rise for at least half an hour.
  3. Put a deep pot on medium heat and add enough oil for deep frying.
  4. This is the tricky part. You’ll need to have wet hands for this, the bowl with the dough on one side and the pot with the hot oil on the other. Wet your hand, take a small amount of dough and poke it to make a small hole. Then the wet hand drops the dough into the oil. Do only a few puffs at a time so you don’t overcrowd the pot.
  5. Allow each puff to brown on one side, then use a skimmer to gently flip the puff to cook on the other side. Once brown on both sides, scoop out and onto a serving plate with some absorbent paper on it.
  6. Sprinkle some sugar on the puffs and enjoy! Don’t forget to breathe in between helpings, these are so good I won’t be held responsible for anyone choking up on too many!

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BONUS TIPS:

  • You can also make them with sweet potato. You can either substitute the entire amount of potato for sweet potato, or do half and half.

Salted caramel mulled cider

Here in Germany you can hear Christmas around the corner (I won’t mention the fact that all the stores carry the typical seasonal crap since already weeks ago…). It’s beautifully autumnal right now, the yellow and red leaves are scattered everywhere and it just feels so cozy that all I want to do is curl up with a book, a nice blanket and a hot drink. So I believe the season of warm alcoholic drinks should be officially inaugurated!

This recipe is perfect to give you all the autumn feels:

  • 2l / 8 1/2 cups cider
  • 250ml / 1 cup cloudy apple juice
  • 4 tbsp salted caramel sauce
  • 1 vanilla pod, halved
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  1. Mix salted caramel together with cider and reserve.
  2. Put a tall pot on low heat, and pour the apple juice, vanilla pod and cinnamon. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Add cider to the simmering pot and allow to bring to a boil. Take off the heat immediately and serve.

BONUS TIPS:

  • Top with whipped cream and some more salted caramel.
  • Add a scoop of ice cream: vanilla, salted caramel, cheesecake… the possibilities are endless!
  • Obviously you can also use salted caramel from a different source than my own recipe, I just think that most homemade things are much better.

Curry butternut squash soup

I’ve always loved pumpkin, likely because it used to be kind of exotic where I grew up (obviously nowadays is a different story). It’s always fascinated me how there can be so many different types, and their colour and shapes are simply the epitome of autumn. And when I moved to Germany, where autumn is one of the most beautiful seasons, it felt like everything was coming together. If you don’t believe me, have a look at these autumnal shots I took on one of my most recent walks with G.

 

I’ve been a fan of Jamie Oliver since what feels like always. I love his style of cooking, so laid back, fun and enjoyable; it’s something I can very much relate to. So when I found his recipe for butternut squash soup with sage it automatically became a staple in my kitchen. However, as I’m ever-expanding my cooking skills and recipe book, I came up with this slightly time consuming but very much worth the trouble butternut squash soup.

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Lovely roasted garlic

This should be enough for 2 hungry people:

  • butternut squash
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 medium sized onion, sliced
  • 1 heaped tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp honey
  • handful of fresh coriander
  • pinch of cumin
  • 3 tsp curry powder
  • 1l / 4 1/4 cups vegetable stock
  • sweet paprika powder
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  1. Start by washing the butternut squash and halving it, take out and discard the seeds. Drizzle with olive oil and some salt and put it chopped side down in the oven for at least an hour at 200ºC. I do it in the morning as soon as I wake up, as it takes me roughly an hour to get ready for work. That way, right before I leave, I turn the oven off and leave it until I get back. You can also do it the night before you plan to make the soup. The longer you roast it, the better it will taste.
  2. Once the squash is roasted, take it out of the oven and allow to cool enough to handle. Then peel it and leave it to rest.
  3. Heat up a pan on low, throw in a heaped tablespoon of butter and drizzle some olive oil until it starts to sizzle. Then add the onion and caramelize for about 20 minutes. Once it’s transparent and very soft, add the honey and leave to caramelize for another 10 minutes.
  4. Blend the fresh coriander, the curry powder and the cumin with the stock.
  5. In a big pot (not hot!) throw the squash and add some of the stock. Blend and keep adding stock until you reach the desired consistency.
  6. Add salt, pepper and sweet paprika powder to taste, the fresh ginger and blend again. Heat it and gobble up!

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BONUS TIPS:

  • Extra chopped coriander and/or lemon juice add an extra zest to this already amazing soup.
  • Substitute half of the vegetable stock for coconut milk, for extra silkiness.
  • Zingy creme frâiche is also a good addition. I do love me some creme frâiche!
  • If you’re a garlic lover like me: roast some garlic in the oven with a bit of olive oil and blend in as well!