We kicked off our trip in a big way with our first meal being Sunday Roast at The Princess of Shoreditch with my former coworker Coco. You can't get a proper Sunday Roast in New York (at least not from my knowledge), so after a 6-hour flight and 2 hours of sleep, I could not wait to devour a hearty meal of meat, potatoes and those awesomely pouffy Yorkshire puddings. Coco, Sean and I ordered our own roasts of different proteins. I ordered the mix (beef, chicken, pork), Sean the sirloin and Coco the Lamb. And upon Coco's suggestion, we ended the meal with a very British Toffee Pudding.
On our last morning in London, we walked up the block from our AirBnb flat in Bethnal Green to the adorable Hackney City Farm which had a cafe. Sean and I each ordered a Farmer's Breakfast, but sadly it did not come with baked beans (or blood sausage) to be a complete English Breakfast; however, the ingredients--scrambled eggs, tomato, mushroom, pork and chive sausage, bacon and toast-- while simple was fresh and very satisfying.
After breakfast, we took a long walk along the Regent's Canal--a seemingly infinite street art show--to the very end in Hackney Wick (where the 2012 Olympic Park was) that led us to CRATE Brewery for pizza and drinks.
Now, we're in BERLIN! Our first meal in the heavily Turkish neighborhood of Kreuzberg was Lebanese at Maroush. We had a hard time reading the German menu so Sean went safe and ordered the Maroush Teller (it was a platter with everything in it) and I chose the Haloumi Teller. Everything tasted so fresh: the pickled cabbage salad, fresh herbs, tomatoes, hummus...
The next day we had breakfast at Restaurant Bastard and both ordered an open face toast with poached eggs, prosciutto and a variety of greens. The best part was the side of barbecue sauce, housemade pickle and strawberry. Don't question it.
In need of a break in the city center, we stopped at well-known Weihenstephan for a bite of pork roast, spätzle and some beers.
You can't visit Berlin without getting Currywurst and apparently Curry 36, a place two blocks from where we were staying in Kreuzberg, is one of the best. Just thinking about it is making me drool. The trick to their currywurst is they make slits along the sausage and let it cook in its own fat so the outside casing gets crispy. When you order it they slice up the sausage, douse it with curry powder and then smother it with curry ketchup. See, you're probably drooling now too.
THE BEST THING WE ATE? IT WOULD BE MUSTAFA'S. What can we say about Mustafa's except that we ate it twice and thought about going back again. For 3.20 euros (roughly $5) and a 20 minute wait, we would get these Hanchen Doners--a pita like bread pocket smothered in three different sauces: one white, one peachy and the other red, then stuffed with an array of salads consisting of cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, parsley, dill and then packed in the strips of chicken that's mixed with fried potato chunks, zucchini chunks, eggplant chunks, sprinkle some feta cheese and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice on top. Wah-lah, that's mothertruckin Mustafa's.
At the Mauer Park Flea Market we bought a whole grilled mackerel with a loaf of fresh bread and freshly made German potato salad for 8 euros. It was topped off with a garnish of lemon, red onions, horseradish, tartar sauce and parsley.
We decided to get some traditional German food and found Max & Moritz on Yelp. We should have paid attention to reviewers when they said the portions were huge but being on vacation, we went ahead and ordered the Schlachteplatte (a platter that can comfortably feed a whole Chinese family) and Sauerbraten (beef steeped in red wine with potato dumplings and red cabbage). As you already know, we didn't finish.
Now, we're in Prague! Our favorite stop was the Strahov Brewery located in a monastery on a hill near the Prague Castle with panoramic views of the city. Sean and I decided to be true Americans and ordered the 3 liter pitcher of the Strahov Amber Ale which showed up in a pewter-looking pitcher that took me two arms to lift even when empty. Needless to say, we finished the 3 liters like champs (chugging was possibly involved), chowed on good 'ole Goulash soup, fried cheese and potatoes and a grilled vegetable and goat cheese platter. That was a good day.
Continuing on in our careless caloric endeavors, we made a pit stop at Parlament Restaurant and Pub after we visited the New Jewish Cemetery and the Vinohrady neighborhood. We had perfectly temperatured Staropramen brews, beef tartare, beet salad and crispy duck with more potato dumplings.
Knowing that I had less than a week left in Eastern Europe, I continued my crazed consumption of potato products and ordered a spätzle pasta at Prague's renowned Cafe Louvre. Sean had potato dumplings with salmon. The best part of the cafe was playing a few rounds of billiards after lunch.
Oh, Vienna. Our first meal at the last stop of our trip was breakfast at the beautiful Cafe Gloriette which sits on top of a hill overlooking the Schönbrunn Palace and the city. The tall windows and ornate high ceilings filled the cafe with soft bright light, which was a nice way to slowly wake up from our sleeper train ride earlier the night before.
I'm a sucker for gelato or sorbet so when I saw a massive line of locals for Eis-Greissler, an organic ice cream shop, I had to try it. They had some interesting flavors like garlic and poppy seed, but I went with raspberry and pear. I felt like I needed some fruit to feel healthy.
The Saturday Naschmarkt reminded me of a more exotic farmer's market with spices, sauerkraut, block soft cheeses, pickles, bread and Turkish delights. I convinced Sean to share a crispy pork knuckle with me which was 3.90 euros. It tasted like a turkey leg, which tastes like ham, but the best part was the fatty, crispy pork skin.
I was told I had to get Schnitzel in Vienna, so I went to Schnitzelwirt and ordered their garlic Schnitzel. They gave me four large pieces of Schnitzel the size of my face which took me 3 days to finish my leftovers and gave me permanent garlic breath. I loved it, Sean not so much.
More Sausage? Yes, this time "cheese-filled" Kaisekreiner sausages from Wurstelstand.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST, the chocolate cake of all chocolate cakes; the chocolate cake that convinced me to like chocolate cake; the second favorite thing I ate (after Mustafa's) on my trip is Cafe Sacher's Original Sacher Torte. The balance of the fluffy whip cream with the dark chocolate frosting and citrusy moist cake was heaven. It explains why Cafe Sacher is packed to the brim at every second and every person who steps in the cafe orders a Sacher Torte. It was so good, Sean and I had it twice.
It's safe to say, Sean and I won't be eating sausages until Independence day--and sadly, when that time comes we'll likely be disappointed because nothing can compare to London's bangers, Berlin's currywurst and Vienna's cheese-bursting sausages. Yep, I said that.