Hello, Reader! Did my post last week about Berlin’s Imbiss food whet your appetite or give you Wanderlust? I hope you’re ready for more of Berlin’s culinary culture because this week I’ve got some tips on finding sweeter things (“Süß” is German for “sweet”) when you’re in Berlin.
Let’s start off with two cafes. Caras is a local coffee shop chain with five Berlin locations and a sixth opening in the fall. I almost wish I didn’t know about the new location because it will be right down the street from where I went to school and I would’ve been so happy had it been there two years ago. My favorite location is the one at Potsdamer Platz. This is a great place for people-watching, with big floor to ceiling windows that look out onto one of Berlin’s busy centers. Potsdamer Platz stood empty throughout the Cold War up until 1997–the Berlin Wall ran right through what used to be a big inner-city hub. Since the first buildings went up in 1997, tons of Berliners and tourists pass through Potsdamer Platz every day. The atmosphere at Caras is very calm, making it the perfect place to recharge between sights or catch up with a friend. It’s a little like a Starbucks without being a Starbucks. Their menu is slightly limited, but they’ve got high-quality teas, fancy coffee drinks, and hot chocolate, along with a selection of bottled beverages and baked goods.
If you’re looking instead for someplace with a more home-y feel and don’t mind leaving the city center, head out to Berlin-Kreuzberg and stop at Cafe BilderBuch at Akazienstraße 28. CaBiBu (as the cafe sometimes calls itself) has a front room with small tables perfect for groups of two and three as well as a back room with more small tables and lots of couches and easy chairs. The walls of the back room are lined with bookshelves (“Bilderbuch” is German for “picture book”). The cafe also has free WiFi and a decent number of outlets. It’s the kind of cafe that is fine for chatting or working on a laptop. It’s part of this special breed of German eatery establishments that goes from cafe to restaurant and also serves alcohol. Like any good German cafe, Bilderbuch has a large selection of delicious desserts. I’ve never eaten lunch or dinner there, but every time I’ve watched others being served meals, they look fabulous!
Remember the Turkish Market? Besides gözleme, you can also get a traditional Turkish sweet: tulumba tatlisi. Tulumba tatlisi is fried dough coated in honey. Personally, I find it a little too sweet, but I thought I’d give it a quick mention because I have many friends who really enjoy them. You can buy them on the streets in Istanbul, too, sometimes in big rings instead of in bite-size pieces.
To wrap up today’s post, I’ve got two recommendations for shops to visit. These two chocolate shops are located just a few blocks away from each other, so there is no reason not to hit both! Let’s start with the RitterSport Bunte Schokowelt. If you aren’t familiar with RitterSport chocolate, it’s a German chocolate brand that costs about 89 Euro cents for a 100 gram bar in Germany but at least twice that if you buy it at, say, Target in the U.S. It’s not your best quality chocolate brand, but it’s certainly better than Hershey’s. They’ve got a wide assortment of flavors, including bases of white, milk, and dark chocolates. Some of my favorite flavors include espresso, hazelnut, 73% dark, and marzipan. They’ve also got flavors that I never would’ve thought to make, like strawberry yogurt and cornflakes. And not to wax poetic about the variety BUT they a also have a line of Fair Trade chocolate bars and a line of lactose-free chocolates. While you can buy RitterSport in any grocery store, there are a few special things about their shop at Französische Straße 24. Not only is their full selection of chocolate bar varieties available for purchase, you can also mix your own bag of miniature RitterSport bars or pick up a giant grab bag to take back home to share. You can visit the RitterSport cafe and eat wonderful looking chocolate desserts. Above the shop is a room that has displays showing how chocolate is made and old advertisements. But perhaps the best part is the you can make your own chocolate bar. I should qualify this by saying it’s very hands-off: you tell the man or woman behind the counter what you want and they do the actual preparation. For the price of €3,90 you simply choose dark or milk chocolate and up to three add-ins and, voila, your own special bar. Mine had raspberry pieces, cacao nibs, and chili. So good!
Lastly, just around the corner at Charlottenstraße 60 is the main shop of family-owned chocolatier Fassbender & Rausch. Fassbender & Rausch is much fancier than Ritter, complete with intricate displays and a Reichstag building made of chocolate. There is also a cafe and restaurant on the premises, though I’ve never so much as peeked in. But the shop itself offers plenty for the senses. You can buy packaged chocolate bars, cream-filled truffles, cookies, and baking chocolate. If you want something more unique, check out the gourmet truffles behind the glass counter. Some of my favorite things to buy are the Walnuss-Butter truffle (walnut cream in a dark chocolate shell) and the dark chocolate Täfelchen (wafer thin squares of 70% cacao chocolate)!
Now, I’d love to know, Reader, how important food is to you when you travel. How big of a role does it play in planning each day when you’re exploring a new city? I like to take afternoon cafe snack-breaks for the chance to recharge as I find it makes traveling more enjoyable! And I always try to eat some of the local specialties!