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Berlin: a culinary capital

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Berlin continues to amaze. Not only is Germany’s capital a city of ever new interesting museums, but it has become one of Europe’s leading culinary centers as well. Whether a diner seeks typical German food, sophisticated vegetarian, an American-style deli, French or Italian bistros, it’s all available.

The “hot spot” in Berlin just now is Cookies Cream (Behrenstrasse 55), named for its young chef, Stephan Hentschel, called “Cookie” by his friends. It’s a vegetarian restaurant unlike any other. The chef uses fresh ingredients, often unusual ones, to create dishes that look like jewels. The restaurant is located in an alley between the Westin Hotel and the Komische Oper (Comic Opera) in an old industrial building. It’s informal yet elegant, and the food is unique.

At the other end of the spectrum is Mogg & Meltzer Delicatessen (Augustrasse 11-13), located in what was once the Jewish School for Girls. The school functioned from the late nineteenth century until 1942, when the Nazi government ordered it closed. Thereafter, it was used as a military hospital. Today, it is a center for art and food. The Delicatessen is an American style New York deli that serves real pastrami sandwiches for homesick Americans.

Hotels have good dining rooms as well. In the Ritz Carlton (Potsdammer Platz 3), the Brasserie Desbrosses looks, feels and prepares French bistro food, but with addition of certain dishes -- such as Wiener schnitzel -- that reflect the restaurant’s location in the heart of Berlin. Excellent salads, artichokes vinaigrette, pastas, brook trout and seasonal meats are all good choices.

The Adlon Hotel’s (Unter den Linden 77) Lorenz Adlon Esszimmer (Dining Room) offers a combination of classic dishes, such as filet of sole and pressed duck, and contemporary cuisine. The restaurant has two Michelin stars and its chef, Hendrik Otto, was named cook of the year 2013. As it was when the hotel opened in 1907, the restaurant is one of the city’s best -- and also most expensive.

Museums offer dining opportunities ranging from snacks to full meals. At the Jewish Museum, for example, hungry visitors have a choice of soups, salads, sandwiches and pastries.

During the month of December, the Christmas markets that sprout throughout the city all have booths selling sausages - short fat ones, long skinny ones and everything in between. The aroma of the grilling meat fills the air, and it is hard to resist spending 3 or 4 euros for one of them, served with mustard in a crunchy bun. During the rest of the year, there is no shortage of stands selling Berlin’s trademark, the ubiquitous currywurst, an odd combination of a large sausage with curry laced ketchup. It’s curious, but it’s quite delicious, albeit on the bland side.

The city’s remarkable department store, the KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westens, or Department Store of the West) in what was the western section of the city, has a full floor devoted to food. It also has a section for dining in and everything is delicious.

Wherever you may find ourself in this fascinating city, there is no shortage of good food.



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