Tuesday, January 29, 2013

{ ramen }

Dear Friends & Family,

Monday through Thursday John is at work while I play housewife keeping our home clean and going to the store for food and water. Our kitchen is small and our fridge tiny. Dishes easily start to stack, and our counter lacks space. I'm much more organized cooking in my small kitchen now than when I first started . I'm also more easily frustrated when I run out of space. Each night I cook is a learning experience, and last night I was most successful without any stress. I organized my menu and listed out the order I needed to prepare the dinner. I made Maggi butter chicken with rice, tomatoes, and cucumbers. I also made crispy Brussels sprouts with a garlic aioli. John made the rice. By the time dinner was prepared there were no dirty dishes and what little counter space I had was wiped down and clean.

With that being my weekday routine, I look forward to the weekends. John and I get to take advantage of the whole day and explore the city. We've been going to a different museum every week, and I've taken lots of pictures. Once I organize all the photos I'll be able to post an entry.

Last Sunday we went to Alexanderplatz to check out a new museum. We prefer museums on Fridays than Saturday or Sunday because they're less crowded. When we explored Pergamon there was hardly anybody there. After the museum we planned on checking out the Ramen place we had seen when we went to the Moroccan restaurant with John's coworker two weeks ago.
{ in front of the altes museum adjacent to the neus museum }

Cocolo  is only a few stops away from Alexanderplatz in Mitte. Mitte means center, so it's the center of Berlin. We got there before they opened at 6pm, so we back tracked the street to a small bar and got some beers to warm us up.
{pilsner in pilsner glasses}

We arrived at Cocolo just after 6, and there were already a few people inside sitting. We grabbed a table in the back and didn't sit very long before the place filled up.
{ neon sign next to their partner sushi restaurant }

{ their ramen menu }

{ anxiously waiting for ramen }

John and I love ramen in LA. We used to go to Mitsuwa down the street from our apartment in Venice on rainy days to get ramen. We branched out to Ramen Yamadaya off Washngton Blvd in Culver City and explored Sawtelle to find our favorite, Tsujita, where they serve tonkotsu & tsukemen. If you're ever in that area you should check it out.

Cocolo has a variety of ramen and they have kakuni, which is pork belly-our favorite. So we ordered tonkotsu, kakuni, and gyoza, and all three were exactly what we hoped for. We found our ramen place! Unfortunately it's about an hour from our home taking 3 different lines to get there. More reasons why John and I are looking for an apartment more in the center of everywhere we want to be.
{ the set-up }

{ appetizer & beverage menu }

{ tonkotsu ramen }

This week I get to take a little break from the kitchen. John's coworkers are all getting together for their bi-weekly dinner on Wednesday. We are going to a Russian restaurant, and it will be my first time having Russian food. Tonight we are meeting up with Cat and trying a new Mexican restaurant in Xberg off Kottbusser Tor. I am looking forward to both places and will write about them next week. The weather has warmed up since last week. And I now consider "warm" to be high 30s-40s. Yesterday I didn't have to wear gloves when I went to the store! It's raining today though, and it's supposed to snow again this week. All that means is time to make another trip back to Cocolo for some ramen. 

The Prindles.
{ we love the sun }

Friday, January 25, 2013

{ adventures in eating }

Dear Friends & Family,

Last week we planned on meeting Cat for dinner and a movie at the Sony Center in Potsdamer Platz. John and I had visited the Brandenburg Gate on New Year's day just north of there. We were told that Sony Center plays movies in their original language, and Django had just come out (Jan. 17). Cat also wanted to take us to an Italian restaurant she raved about. So we met in front of the theater only to find out the movie was sold out at the time we wanted. Bummer.
{ inside sony center }

So we walked a couple of blocks to Vapiano. They have a few locations on the East Coast. They're actually a huge chain. They have over 50 locations in Germany, and they're all over the map from Austria to Taipei. So maybe you heard of it?

Their concept is unique to me. When you enter, the host/cashier hands each person a card that gets swiped after you order to keep track of your total. It's self seating, so we found a table for John to guard as we went to get the food. Everything is made to order and is set up in stations. They have a pizza station that takes the longest, so they hand you a pager that buzzes when your order is ready. I stood in line at the pasta station and ordered spaghetti carbonara and penne pomodoro fresco e basilico (penne with cherry tomatoes and basil). Everything was made in front of me. Once we had our food, we went to our table where they have your usual salt & pepper, chili oil, olive oil & balsamic vinegar. But what I really loved was that each table had fresh herbs. Of course the food was absolutely amazing, and I know John was really happy to find another great Italian place.

{ pasta station set up }

{ pastas are portioned in brown bags where the order is written on }

{ more than enough for three people }

Once we finished we went to the front to pay. I'm not sure how they keep track of all the people with all the cards. The BBQ place at Markthalle also runs on an honor system. John and I went back on Saturday and got our pork belly sandwiches. They don't seem to have a system to when you pay for your food before or after you receive it. First time we visited we paid before. But we went back to get our beers and they told us to pay after we finished. Saturday they didn't seem to worry when we paid for our meal. They were very relaxed about the whole payment thing. 

{ we got there right when it was ready }

{ preparing the sandwich }

{ pork belly sandwich }

{ corner of markthalle }

{center of markthalle }

{ opposite corner of markthalle }

We enjoying coming to Markthalle because it's indoor, and they have fresh produce. It's also in Kreuzberg, and John and I are starting to look for apartments in that area. We've been to a few different subway stops all in Xberg, and we love all the stores and restaurants. I think every place I've written about has been in Xberg. We will keep you updated about that when it happens! Until then, hope everyone enjoys our adventures in eating.

The Prindles

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

{ adjusting }

Dear Friends & Family,

It's still snowing in Berlin. Two days ago it looked like it was starting to clear up, but then it snowed again. The streets and cars are covered, and I fear I will never see the sun. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but it's rare when we do see sun, and it's only for a short period of time. Remind you, we only have eight hours of "sun" here. Right now the sun rises at 8am and sets at 4:30pm. Today it's 19F. Brrrrrrrr.

Yesterday it snowed all morning, so it took me longer to get myself out of the house to go to the store. I'm trying to work my way out today. It's not snowing like yesterday, but they're more like flurries, and I repeat, its 19F. To make it sound colder I can say it's -7C.

Okay, enough cold talk.

Last week was busy for us. John has been fortunate to work with people who are very friendly helping us adjust to our new home. His co-workers suggest restaurants for us to go to, and every two weeks they all get together for dinner trying new restaurants in different neighborhoods of Berlin. Wednesday we went to a Moroccan Restaurant called Kasbah. In German, Moroccan is Marokkanisches. Other than having couscous, I don't think I've ever had Moroccan food before. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed everything. The meat was very tender and the vegetables were seasoned and cooked perfectly. John and I shared their lamb couscous with chickpeas, steamed zucchini, daikon, and tomatoes. They serve it with a side of spicy paste in oil, and a broth like sauce they suggest you to pour over your dish.

We were in the neighborhood of Mitte, and next door to Kasbah I found a ramen place that served Tonkotsu ramen, which is with a pork bone broth. John and I loved our ramen in LA, so finding one in Berlin was put to the top of the list of things to do here.

With us being fortunate for John's co-workers, we also have been fortunate to have a friend living here whom we've known from California. Cat is German and speaks fluently. She's been able to help us adjust and translate for us. She took us to a large supermarket to explain different varieties of food, and she recommended her favorites that she misses when she's away. I was even able to find Jameson; The first time I've seen it since we've been here. When we were checking out, the cashier spoke to Cat and they were having a full conversation as I stood there waiting to pay. The cashier said first glance I didn't look old enough. The legal age is 18. Cat told her my age, and the cashier said we all looked young, but we also looked our age now that she knew.

Last week was a great week. We love exploring and trying new things. Cat has given us a little history lesson through the neighborhoods we visit. We are becoming more familiar with the subways and which neighborhoods we like to visit. We have also been looking at different apartments that are closer to the neighborhoods we like. We are being given lots of recommendations from John's co-worker, and Cat has also invited us to stay with her family over the weekend in Dresden which is a two hour drive from Berlin. Thanks to our new friends, we are adjusting quite nicely.

The Prindles.

Monday, January 14, 2013

{ on my own }

Dear Friends & Family,

Today was John's first official day at work. He went in to talk to Ulman who returned from vacation. He's the man that hired John. They discussed what John will be doing and who he will be working with. He has to travel to Frankfurt about once a month, and the work he will be doing there is similar to what he did at USC. Technically, John's been working since last week. He's been getting acquainted with Tim's work whom he shares an office with, and he's been helping Andreas (Andy for short) with his work.

My plan today was to leave the house and go into town without John for the first time. Of course that plan was delayed a bit when it was snowing. I brought three pairs of boots with me to Berlin, two being waterproof with run down heels, and one a suede like material that does not keep my feet dry when it's wet outside. Of course the two that are waterproof  were in better condition when I first arrived. The gravel they put on the sidewalk to give traction from the snow is what killed my boots. I plan on shopping tomorrow for a new pair (crossing my fingers I'll find a pair I like).

...I got sidetracked a bit.

It stopped snowing, so I walked to town. I decided to wander further down the street past the market where there are more shops and delis. We have a Woolworth here. Never seen one in California, but I've been told the store exists in some states. To me it's like a cross between a Ross and a Walgreens. Sort of. I got coffee at a random coffee shop that shares it's store with what looks like a small section of Brookstone built into it. I was proud of myself for ordering in German, "Ein latte machiatto, bitte." Latte machiattos are popular here.

Our fridge is mini fridge tiny, so we have to go to the store often to keep it stocked. We usually go to Kaisers, our local grocery store. There's also a Lidl which is a discount grocery store, and there's Bio Company that is like a Whole Foods. I went to Bio Company to get a few things before going to Kaisers to get the rest of my list. Still having trouble getting some items because there's so many variations and the differences are all in German. Until then, I've been adding to my spices and condiments collection. Starting your kitchen over is hard when you know you have all your kitchen appliances and tools in storage, and you gave away all your spices and sauces away. And everything is in German. Garlic in German is knoblauch. 

I'm loving the variety of chocolate though. If you're familiar with the brand Ritter Sport, they have more than the two I always see at Pavilions or Albertsons.  Today I got Rum Trauben Nuss which is pretty much rum raisin. I like the Häagen-Dazs version that my step-mother always had in the freezer. This I can just keep in my purse. Also, they had an ad warning people not to drive if they ate more than 23. 

Anyone familiar with the brand Haribo? Gummy bears, gummy cola, gummy fruit rings? They have a whole side of the grocery store aisle with nothing but Haribo gummy candy. A plethora of gummy candy if you will.

So that was my day today without John. It's still crazy that we live here. This is our home for the next two years, and we've been here less than three weeks. Thanks again for reading our updates. You know what we've been up to, we would love to hear how our friends & family are doing too! Please send us emails, or leave us a comment! We love hearing from you. 

The Prindles. 

{ snowing outside when i woke up }

{ rum raisin }

{ one whole side of the aisle }

{ i haven't even seen what other kinds they have }

{ people watching }

{ notice the gravel on the floor? }

Friday, January 11, 2013

{ success--part two }

Dear Friends & Family,

John suggested we explore Alexanderplatz today. We were going to check out TV Tower and walk around Museum Island. When we walked up from the U-Bahn we were in the center of a large plaza in front of Galeria Kaufhof. We headed towards the main street and walked in the direction of the museums. We wanted to check the area out for future reference and look into their annuals passes. John and I had LACMA passes that we enjoyed using whenever we had free time, and we knew that 40 euros would give us access to all the museums on Museum Island. The best news was that the pass gives us access to other museums in Berlin that we are not aware of (yet).

So as we are walking we come across a beautiful church that gives us insight to how much history and art Berlin has to offer. We got a great view of TV Tower, and we come across a fountain that's emptiness matched the cold weather we were experiencing.

One day is not enough to soak in everything that Alexanderplatz has to offer. We're excited to return and explore more of the area.
{ center of plaza with view of tv tower }

{ clearer view }

{ church tower }

{ chandeliers }

{ side iron door }

{ can't wait to see this in the spring }

{ wish i had a panoramic camera }

{ berliner dom }

{ bridge to bode-museum }

{ entry hallway }

{ entry stairs }

{ details }

{ description }

{ enchanting }

{ haunting }

{ loved the mug on his face }

{ silhouette }

{ opposite side }

{ snowy road }

{ along the canal }

{ cold day for a swim }

I hope you enjoyed our day through the lens of my iPhone. Once we're more familiar with the area we visit, and the weather is a little warmer, we plan on bringing our DSLR out to capture all the beauties we come across.

The Prindles.