Sunday, April 10, 2016

Brunching in Berlin: Roamers

Berlin is a hidden treasure trove when it comes to brunch spots. My friend Niyousha and I found the prettiest, most tumblr-esque cafe in Berlin at Roamers. They don't even have a website, just a gorgeous Tumblr page with photos of hanging greenery and berries sprinkled over beautiful cakes. Self-described as having "farm house charm with a breeze of California, woody & rustic, stuffed with plants & country music, handcrafted food adorned with a fistful of love", Roamers is what the love child of Brooklyn, Soho, and LA would be after a dreamy affair in a field of succulents. Okay, I'm getting carried away but honestly Roamers is such an artistic and aesthetically pleasing little cafe- my photos definitely don't do this place any justice at all. 

There's greenery everywhere- plants hanging from the ceiling, growing across the walls- it's a sight to behold.

I forget what Niyousha ordered but it was amazing, just look at that skillet. The food here was as delicious as it was artisanal. I'm not really a coffee person so I don't have the best knowledge of what good coffee is but the ones at Roamers tasted pretty amazing. The food was obviously very, very good, and the presentation very much on point.

I ordered the French toast, something I haven't had in years because I always choose to go with a savory brunch over a sweet one but since this was our second brunch of the day (lol) (it still counts as brunch oKAY) I wanted to switch it up. The bread was cut in thick slices that were teetering right between being crunchy and soft and was sprinkled with powdered sugar. There was an artful handful of berries arranged next to the French toast which accompanied the sweetness of the toast perfectly. Ugh, I'm getting hungry just writing about it.

I tried a bite of Niyousha's entree, something with a poached egg in a skillet with tomatoes and red peppers- it was full of flavor and warmed my belly. The salad that came on the side was also fresh and drizzled with a light vinaigrette of some kind that tasted spectacular. If I ever get the chance to return to Berlin, I'm heading to Roamers to order this.

Roamers also has wooden platters covered in rustic, beautiful cakes. All of the cakes are decorated with sprigs of greenery and have berries strewn artfully across and around them. We came with every intent of devouring a slice of the carrot cake but tragically were too full (a fatal downfall) and I really wish we had been able to because they looked so, so delicious.

Roamers is an artsy Tumblr brought to life in cafe/brunch form and I'm in love with it. If you get the chance to be in Berlin, I highly recommend swinging by this rustically artsy brunch spot. It's tiny and very reminiscent of the crowded cafes in SoHo so there may be a line but trust me, Roamers is worth the wait.

Hurrah! My second (and last) brunch post from Berlin is now complete! It's so weird to be writing about a place I was weeks ago but it's been hard to try and keep up while still traveling. I'm actually currently sitting at a Joe & The Juice (the coffee shake is to die for) in an airport in Iceland, of all places. Don't worry, I'll be writing about Iceland soon enough. But first, I've still got to cover Venice, Florence, and Nice. What can I say? Spring break was the trip of a lifetime.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Brunching in Berlin: Datscha

My favorite discovery over spring break was finding out that Berlin is more of a brunch hotspot than I ever expected it to be. Although Niyousha and I's original 'brunching in Berlin' plan was to try Silo Coffee, a popular cafe dominating Berlin food bloggers' Instagrams, we ended up at Datscha, a quirky Russian eatery in Friedrichshain.  Silo Coffee was apparently having issues with its pipes and water the one day we wanted to try their photogenic brunch entrees. Starving and a bit sleep deprived, I needed food desperately. The other restaurants we had researched online were in the opposite direction we'd just come from and it felt silly to walk back when there were plenty of other eateries around us. After scanning the many menus tacked to the restaurants' walls and attempting to gauge the atmosphere, we ended up at Datscha. And oh boy oh boy, it might've been the best brunch of my life. 

While our empty stomachs were definitely a factor in why Datscha was so delicious and fulfilling, I still think Datscha had amazing food and I wish I could go back immediately. We ordered two entrees, including the Datscha (chicken filet backed with tomato and cheese, scrambled eggs, homemade Russian ham, Jamon Serrano with honey melon, beetroot carpaccio with parmesan butter and a breadbasket) and the Blintschiki (Russian pancakes with homemade jam, fruit, and sour cream). We also ordered Russian dumplings, I forget the exact kind and it's not available on the menu online but I assure you they were absolutely heavenly. 

Our brunch at Datscha was basically our second meal in Berlin and away from London and it did not disappoint (British food really gets to you after awhile). The restaurant itself was interesting, with quips about communism/socialism in the menu (lol) and colorful glassware stacked against the windows. If Datscha was in New York, it would have a line out the door every weekend, and you'd 100% find me in that line.

My tastebuds are getting sad just remembering how scrumptious the dumplings were and how perfectly thin yet filling the blini were- I was also super excited about finally trying blini because some of my favorite historical fiction novels are about Russian royalty and ALL of them have mentioned blini at some point. There's a funny quote in a book about Anastasia from the Romanov sisters joking that Anastasia was going to turn into blini if she ate anymore. Blini is buttery and soft and you can spread jam across it, you can add fruit, you can roll it up, you can literally do whatever you want with it and it tastes amazing. I wish I could turn into blini. Just look at those perfect folds. Ugh.

Now I've got just one more 'brunching in Berlin' post to write! I'm currently stranded at the airport (it's a long story) (ok it's actually a short story but it's embarrassing to explain so let's just leave it at that) (I'm shaking my head at myself, I promise) so I definitely have the time to keep writing. HOWEVER, I also have three (!!!) episodes of Grey's Anatomy AND How to Get Away With Murder to catch up on. I've also got limited battery power, since I wasn't expecting to need a plug adapter at the airport. It's true, I'm a bit of a mess but to be honest, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Guten Tag y'all! 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Spring Break 2016 Travel Diary: Berlin

Berlin was freakin' BEAUTIFUL and AMAZING and DELICIOUS. I really didn't expect to like Berlin as much as I did- I mean I figured I'd try some schnitzel and get a photo in front of the East Side Gallery and then just hang around until flying to the place I really wanted to go: Italy. Instead, I found myself surrounded by pastel rows of rainbow houses and enjoying some of the best food I've had since studying abroad (sorry @London). I spent my spring break traveling with a lovely Kappa sister and friend, Niyousha, and we later met up with other Kappas in Florence and Nice. Berlin was really only on our itinerary for visa reasons but ended up being one of my favorite cities in Europe. 

The people were almost excessively friendly and we had a relatively easy time navigating the cobblestoned streets. And the food, my God, it was all so cheap and delicious! It's no secret that London is pricey and while I'm not super picky about what I eat, let's just say the food in London has had me forgetting that flavor exists. We had two amazing brunches in addition to multiple trips to Scheers Schnitzel (thank you Liza for telling us to get schnitzel with mushroom sauce, THE MUSHROOM SAUCE IS MY LIFE), I loved the brunch spots in Berlin so much there'll be separate posts covering them both. I really felt like we got to explore our corner of Berlin thoroughly- we had no schedule or plans, we would basically pick a place to eat and see what we would run into during our journey to food. A few of my favorite sights included this river we randomly found and ended up walking along both before and after we ate- just look at those colors, ugh.

I think I thought Berlin would be a lot grittier and darker than it actually turned out to be. Everything was surprisingly bright and even delicate- there was a lot of graffiti and wall art but most of the ones we found were the eye-catching kind Instagram addicts in New York flock to take photos in front of (we were no exception in Berlin). I'm pretty sure we took more photos in Berlin than anywhere else we travelled to during Spring Break. Our catch phrase in Berlin was 'soft grunge' because for us, nothing captured Berlin more thoroughly than those two words. It was also fun to say.

I'm still obsessed with the colorful buildings dotting the streets of Berlin. Full disclosure, I'm probably going to be instagramming my photos from Berlin/ spring break in general for the rest of the semester, THERE'S TOO MANY GOOD ONES I AM SORRY. 

Another place we accidentally stumbled upon in Berlin was an open market set up in what we swear was an abandoned lot just 2 hours ago when we first walked by. I think it was called Urban Spree, there were a few signs hanging around the area. The stalls had your typical flea market wares as well as some cool jewelry stands. I loved these wooden plates displaying delicate rings placed in white grains of rice- I was tempted to pick up a few trinkets for friends but was worried about running out of Euros before I was even halfway through spring break (sorry friends). 

I think my favorite memory from Berlin aside from the two amazing brunches Niyousha and i enjoyed was having a glass of wine on a boat. While heading to the East Side Gallery, we were checking out the water when we realized there was a bar located on a boat right in front of us. After ordering a drink each, we found seats next to the railing and in the sunlight. I love rivers and oceans and any form of water, really, so drinking next to the sparkling river was something I really enjoyed. A friend from home recently asked me how my spring break was, and after joking that "it was great, I never want to do it again" (traveling is tiring yo), I talked a lot about how I felt more grounded. Okay, okay I know the whole 'traveling to find yourself' is a an overplayed cliche but honestly, these past 10 days had me feeling a lot more like my old self, a self that was at peace and trusted that everything would always work out. Leaving for London and being away has had me feeling unbelievably happy and spring break was both a reminder of how much I've grown as well as a realization of how much longer I've got to go.

(I made a new friend in Berlin)

I've been avoiding using the phrase "I'm having the time of my life" because that definitely doesn't accurately depict my experience of studying abroad in London. When it comes to spring break though, it's the first thing that comes to mind. Don't get me wrong- spring break wasn't always perfect or mind blowing every second of every day. It was stressful keeping track of flights/train schedules and exhausting waking up early, I've also become (or maybe I've always been) the type of person who likes to do most things alone so it was tough to try to balance that desire to be alone with traveling with a friend as best as I could. For me, spring break was equally challenging and enjoyable. Most importantly, my travels were unbelievably full of moments that took my breath away and instilled an absolute sense of gratitude for being alive and being able to experience everything I was. There's a quote I love, "Do you ever realize how badly you're going to miss a moment while you're living it? Like wow, these are the good days. I am here and I am happy and I feel alive", I'm not sure who the author is, I've just seen it floating around on Tumblr, but it essentially sums up how I felt during spring break, beginning in Berlin. If you've read this far down, thank you for letting my share my thoughts with you- I think this is one of my lengthiest posts. Alright, I'm going to get started on writing those brunch posts I keep promising are on their way. Happy hump day and Auf Wiedersehen!