Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Vegetarian Gluttony in Friedrichshain, Berlin

the park next to our Friedrichshain apartment. overwhelming hipness.
Friedrichshain is too hip for me. Everyone is young and cool and wearing interesting clothes and riding a bike while carrying a guitar and drinking a helles from a stubby. The apartment we rented for a month lent one of its building walls to a street art park, so the landscape would change overnight. Over the course of the month we stayed there, our fa├žade started white and ended completely covered in a mural of Marlene Dietrich, Jimmy Hendrix, and Arnold Bocklin.

our welcoming committee
Berlin, and Friedrichshain in particular, is perfect for vegetarians and vegans. You can stuff yourself cheaply, which is basically my idea of heaven. So go to the corner store, buy a 1€ beer, have them open it with the bottle opener they keep at every cash register in this eminently reasonable and enjoyable city, and take a long stroll through this lively young part of town. (You can’t do this all in one day unless you eat like Michael Phelps, so choose wisely.)


cuteness matters
Go to Silo. Order the Master Wolf Cold Brew, which is served in a crystal rocks glass with one giant ice cube, like good scotch. Have the Avocado Smashed Toast with manchego and poached eggs (give the bacon to a friend and watch them suddenly become a better friend. It’s one of the magical powers that come with vegetarianism.) Read your book, absorb the hipness.

Go to Aunt Benny. Have the iced Americano, which is made with coffee ice cubes so your drink doesn’t get diluted. Have a toasted bagel with jalapeno red onion cream cheese. Sit outside, be impressed with the cool young parents who just strap their kids to their bikes and still manage to look insouciant.


vegan + doner = voner. VERY CLEVER
Go to Voner. Doners are huge in Berlin—and I mean that they are both very popular and enormous. Voner makes one so big that I would split it with my 200+ pound husband and we’d both be full. And it’s vegan, so even though you are stuffed, somehow you will still have room to feel smug. There’s even a Bikram yoga studio around the corner, so I guess you could do that first, though after a few classes I decided Bikram is the Emperor’s New Clothes of workouts, except instead of being naked I was just really sweaty and couldn’t stop thinking about how much I could have accomplished in 90 minutes in a weight room.
the end of our street, aka the view on the way to Voner
Go to Hot Dog Soup. Hot Dog Soup is a genius establishment that is the size of the interior of a Peugeot. I’ll give you two guesses what they serve. You can feed two for under 10€, including beer. They have vegan hot dogs, and several of their daily soups are also always meat-free. We can order any sort of food at any time of day in New York and have it delivered to our door, but you would not believe how often I say to Jared, “Man, I’m really in the mood for Hot Dog Soup,” and then get sad that this weird little anomaly is so far away.

Go to Lemongrass. The best Thai food I’ve had outside of Thailand is in Berlin. Good Thai food is light and zingy, and while there’s a time and place for the greasy, heavy sponge of American Thai takeout (like, around noon after a night on the town in the dead of winter, while sitting on the couch in your pajamas watching a DVRed episode of the Amazing Race), Lemongrass has the delicate, aromatic curries that remind you that Thai can be a warm-weather cuisine. Also, it goes really well with Hefeweisse, so Thai in Berlin just makes sense.

Go to Spatzel & Knodel. While Berlin is great for vegetarians, German food is full of meat. Spatzel & Knodel is your classic dark-wood paneled German haunt where you can get giant plates of spatzel (little noodle-like dumplings, usually with cheese and caramelized onion) or my personal favorite German vegetarian option, the Huge Bread Ball (technical name: Semmelknodel.) They are literally made of old bread soaked in milk, squished up into a ball, sauted in butter, and covered in gravy. If you’re looking to murder someone, dump them in a river, and have them sink straight to the bottom, no need to encase their feet in cement. Just feed them a Semmelknodel and a couple of pints of Dunkelweisse. This is winter food, so save it for one of those chilly Berlin nights.

sometimes for fun we match our beers to our hair colors
Go to Hops and Barley. It’s basically next door to Spatzel & Knodel, and it’s a raucous microbrewery that also makes an awesome cider, in case you need a break from German beer.

Go to Caramello. I am not a sweets person, but I became obsessed with this ice cream shop because of its huge variety of vegan ice creams in occasionally offbeat flavors (sesame was my favorite). I made Jared go so often that it started embarrassing him and he stopped making eye contact with the proprietor. Like, at least 20 of the 30 nights we lived there often. Sorry, Jared! (But not really because it was delicious.)

I know you feel fat after doing this, but tomorrow you can rent a bike and do a few laps of the Tiergarten. Or go on a city-wide search for matching Birkenstocks with your husband.
how do you say "drinking the kool aid" in German?

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