Pretty little Pancakes at Quchnia (Berlin, Germany)



A few years back, I really was not a big fan of pancakes. They seem to be just plain doughy cakes with very sweet syrup... However, while living in the US I did not get around trying pancakes for brunch. And I have to admit - pancakes are far from being boring :)

Sure, you can eat them plain and simple with some butter and maple syrup, but you can also add some interesting flavors to mix it up - some berries and fruits, nuts, other flavored syrups... Now, I am actually a big fan of those fluffy pancakes :)

Quchnia's Pancakes

While I have eaten some really great pancakes over the time, Quchnia had so far the most colorful and pretty ones. They serve a stack of little pancakes with a warm berry compote, fresh fruit, a dab of cream cheese, a sprinkle of bright green crushed pistachios, and a side of maple syrup.

Quchnia - Brunch with a View

Quchnia is a little quaint restaurant and brunch place in downtown Berlin, right at the Gendarmenmarkt square with view of the French Dom. Of course, for such a top location, the price of the dishes are a little steep, but still ok.

What's for Brunch?

As mentioned, Quchnia's pancakes were my favorite. However, they also serve a variety of other common brunch dishes such different egg dishes including poached eggs and scrambled eggs, avocado bread, bagels, granola, yoghurt, acai bowl, french toast, and also the Geman style meat and cheese platter.

I also tried the "Jakob's" which is a sourdough bread with avocado smear, scrambled eggs and crispy bacon. It tasted great as well :)

They do also serve lunch dishes (such as the German classic "Flammkuchen") and cakes.









The real "Wiener Schnitzel" at Figlmueller (Vienna, Austria)

Wiener Schnitzel

When in Vienna, then you do not get around eating a real Wiener Schnitzel. What makes it "real"? You use veal instead of pork as meat... Also, a good Wiener Schnitzel is thin, large and with those air bubbles in the crispy coating.

Figlmüller - Home of the Schnitzel

"Figlmüller" is said to serve the best Schnitzel in Vienna. It has two restaurants and several connected Figlmüller group restaurants. The flagship restaurant is right behind the St. Stephen's Cathedral.

And indeed, their Wiener Schnitzel is delicious. It is pricy, but it is pricy everywhere in Vienna and here, you at least get two large pieces. You could actually share one portion... They do use special breadcrumps for the coating made from Austrian Emperor Rolls. Also, they use 3 frying pans with a mix of vegetable oil and clarified butter of different temperatures for frying...

Their famous pork Wiener Schnitzel

However, funny thing is that Figlmüller's most famous schnitzel is not the veal Wiener Schnitzel, but the pork Wiener Schnitzel... They are serving it for over 100 years. They serve only one piece, but with its 30cm in diameter it is larger than the average, and it is larger than the serving plate. The reason: They use a special cut of pork, the rose or tenderloin, a choice back piece which hardly puffs during frying and results in a thinner and larger piece.

Erdäpfel Vogerl Salat

The "Erdäpfel - Vogerl" salad is also delicious and a perfect side (better than french fries or parsley potatoes that are also common). It is a potato salad and a field salad combined in one, with a oil-vinegar dressing. As a special ingredient, they also dripple some drops of a black earthy and nutty pumpkin seed oil on top.













Viennese Coffeehouses (Vienna, Austria)


While in Vienna, I tried to visit several of the famous coffee houses. The Viennese coffee houses used to be a meeting place for groups of poets, philosophers and revolutionairies. Today, we like to try the mouth-watering culinary creations, cakes and sweet treats of their patisserie.

Here is a list of the ones I visited in order of liking:

My favorite -

Café Gerstner K. u. K. Hofzuckerbäckerei

This came like a surprise to me... I did not plan on visiting Café Gerstner, it was a last minute decision. Also, there was a line for the first floor and it seemed loud and crowded and did not really please me.

However, the waitress told me to just go up to the second floor. No one was waiting there and that was a whole different world. It was elegant, beautiful and not too crowded. It was also right across from the State Opera in a very good location.

I tried a walnut cake, a peach bellini and my earl grey tea. Everything tasted just delicious. The cake was moist and light. While they did not offer a huge variety of tea, they did serve loose tea of very good quality. 

Fazit: 
This place convinced me with everything, the atmosphere, the location, the cakes. It is my number 1 favorite and I will definetly return.

 


 

The famous Café Central

Café Central is the most famous Café in Vienna. There is also always a line in front of it. However, it moves quite quickly and you also have the option of making a reservation. The café is located inside the "Palais Ferstel" which is a platial mansion house inspired by Venetian Trecento-era architecture. It looks really nice, old school, and in addition, the waiters and waitresses wear nice fitting old-style uniforms. 

And the best thing - the sweet treats of their in-house patisserie. They offer not just cakes but a lot of different little pastries and sweet treats. And they tast delicious, very light, flavorful and so fresh. Best patisserie ever!

I do not like puff pastry too much, therefore I did not try the famous Austrian apple strudel, but I did try their "Autumn Kiss" which was puff pastry with cream and plum. I also tried the "Trio de Petit Fours" including a "Nutty kiss", "Lemon Kiss", "Fruit Bowl".

Fazit: 
This café is very nice and should be visited at least once. I would definitely return for those beautiful patisserie, however, it is very crowded and loud, so don't expect a quite tea time.

 



 

And more - Café Schwarzenberg and Café Demel

Another nice coffee house was the Café Schwarzenberg. They had a very nice tea (Marille Ginseng green tea) and the cake selection did look appetising as well. And even though the athmosphere was quite dark, I did like the seating on the wall benches and  at the window. They also offered live music (piano and violine).

My first coffee house was actually my least favorite - the famous Café Demel. After the good reviews and their famous reputation, I though I would be blown away by their patisserie. However, it definetly was not my favorite. I was not a big fan of the cakes they offered. Also, I did not like the atmosphere and the seating areas.

Fazit: 
I may visit Café Schwarzenberg again on a rainy day, for the tea and the quiet atmosphere, but not Café Demel. For the perfect patisserie, I would chose Café Central ;)


Café Schwarzenberg


Pivovar Starobrno - Tapping and Tasting Czech Beer

Brno - Czech Republic

This year, our annual ESADA (European Sleep Apnea Database) meeting took place in Brno, the second largest city after Prague in the Czech Republic. After flying in to Vienna, we took the bus to Brno.

We did not have much time for sightseeing but one night after dinner we went up the Petrov hill to have a quick look at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul which medival looks are quite dominant in the cityscape and were visible throughout the town and from our hotel. We also strolled around the city center, the market square and the vegetable market with the Parnas fountain.



Pivovar Starobrno - A Czech Brewery

We had the pleasure to participate in a brewery tour of "Pivovar Starobrno" and afterwards, have dinner and Czech beer at their Restaurant.

The Brewery

The Story of the Starbrno Brewery goes back to the Old Brno brewery which was connected to a Cistercian Convent in 1325. While this brewery burned down and was restored several times during the following war times, the convent was closed in 1782. Later, during the second half of the 19th centuary, a new brewery opened with the former brewing buildings used as a malt-house - the Pivovar Starobrno.

In 2009, the brewery merged with the Dutch "Heineken Group", one of the most important brewery companies in Middle Europe. At that time, Pivovar Starobrno produced more than one million hectoliters of beer for the first time in their history.

The Brewery Tour

As part of our Brewery Tour, we visited the brewhouse and saw the cylindrical tanks of beer fermentation flow. We also saw up from the gallery the line for blowing, filling and packing PET bottles. Afterwards, we went to the Brewery Restaurant for dinner and beer tasting :)




The Brewery Restaurant

The Dinner and a Czech Cream Puff

The Brewery Restaurant served us a huge buffet style dinner with lots of warm options with traditional and vegetarian choices (including ribs, chicken wings, pork knuckle, breaded chicken tenders, red cabbage, vegatarian green curry) and fresh salads.

They also offered everything needed for a traditional Czech bread board including an array of fresh pickles and pickled peppers, home-made breads, deli meats and chesses, and lots of condiments and dips (including horseradish, garlic dip and different mustards).

As dessert we had a very nice chocolate cake and also, a Czech pastry specialty: the traditional Czech caramel cream puff / profiterole (called a "větrník").

The beer we tasted included the Starobrno Medium, Dark, and Unfiltered. They even served a mixed two-layered beer of Medium and Dark. Lots of their dishes, condiments and even desserts had a dash of beer into it as well :)

Tapping Beer

As a special treat for us, the brewing master taught us how to tap the Starbrno beer. We also got a certificate for it :)











My Mom's "Zwiebelkartoffeln" (onion potaotes)


I love potatoes and this is a really tasty side dish. Of course, you can also get an extra big portion and eat it as a main dish ;) The buttery and partly crunchy onions give the potatoes a nice flavor. I just cannot get enough of those potatoes when my Mom cooks them...

Ingredients:

  • 5 big potatoes (waxy, low-starch)
  • 2 l water
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 2 onions
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt (to taste)

Preparation:

Prepare the potatoes

Choose waxy, low-starch potatoes such as Yukon Gold. Other potatoes might fall apart too much and turn the dish into a mush. Put the potatoes unpeeled in cold salted water and bring to a boil. Cook for about 15-20 minutes till potatoes are soft. Potatoes should not fall apart, but a fork should go in and out smoothly. Drain potatoes, quench with cold water. Peel potatoes and slice them.

Finish the onion potatoes

Heat oil and butter in a frying pan. Add the chopped onions and fry till they are translucent and start to slightly turn brown. Add the sliced potatoes and add salt. Stir and break down the potato slices a little bit with a wooden spoon. Heat up. Stir carefully and not too strongly to not completly mash the potatoes. Also, let the bottom layer of the potatos-onion mix get a tiny bit stuck to the bottom. When you scrape it out later, it adds a crispy part to the dish.

Serving

When serving the potatoes, scrape from the bottom to get the crispy parts. Those onion potatoes go well with deep fried fish / fishsticks and a side salad.





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    My Mom's "Grünkohl"- slow cooked kale with cured sausage and oven roasted potatoes



    Kale does not hit everyone's tastebuds, it actually is an acquired taste as kale can be quite bitter. However, I do love my Mom's slow cooked kale. It is seasoned with veggie broth, slow cooked and not at all bitter. The slow cooking actually takes away the bitterness and soften up the tough leaves. Together with the cured sausage and the oven roasted potatoes it actually is a delight and one of my favorite childhood dishes :)

    Purple Kale

    My Mom uses frozen kale. During my stay in the US, I had to use fresh kale as I couldn't find frozen or unseasoned cut kale. Here, I discovered purple kale. When you cook it, you actually cannot differ between green and purple kale. But its flavor is a bit stronger than the green kale and I enjoyed it a lot.

    German "Bauernbratwurst"

    For the cured sausage, I always used the German "Bauernbratwurst". It usually hangs out to dry and you eat it as a hard sausage similar to salami. When cooking with it, it adds a nice flavor. You can use the original Bauernbratwurst or the Paprika Bauernbratwurst which gives it a bit of spice. We also use the cured sausage for My Mom's "Kartoffelsuppe" (potato soup).


    Ingredients:

    • 30g lard
    • 1 onion - finely diced
    • 2 cured sausages - they are called "Bauernbratwurst"
    • 450g kale - frozen or fresh and coarsly chopped
    • 2 cubes of veggie broth
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
    • 1/2 teaspoon pepper (more to taste)
    • 1 liter water  
    • 2 tablespoon flour and 2 tablespoon water - for thickening
    • 2 tablespoon oil
    • 5 potatos - cut in big cubes (ca. 2 inch)
    • 2 tablespoon lard
    • salt
    • caraway seeds

    Preparation:

    Slow cook the kale

    • Heat up the lard. Add the onions and fry for 2-4 minutes. Add the sausages and keep frying till the onions are translucent.
    • Take the pot from the heat. Add the kale, season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the broth cubes on top. Fill up the pot with water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 1 - 1.5h. Keep adding water, so that the kale is covered.
    • Season and thicken the kale. Mix the flour with the water. Add a bit at a time to the kale, stir and bring to a boil. Wait a bit. If it doesn't thicken up enough, add more flour/water mix. 

    Prepare the oven roasted potatoes

    • Preheat the oven at 200 degree Celsius.
    • Oil the roasting pan. Add the potato cubes. Sprinkle with salt and caraway seeds. Add flocks of lard on some of the potatoes.
    • Roast the potatoes for 45 minutes to 1 hour till soft. You do not need to flip them, you want a crispy bottom.








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