Time for a German Flat White

I was staying in Berlin for a few days attending a conference. The last time I had been to Germany was in 1985 staying for a couple of days in Munich on the way back from a camp in Yugoslavia. This was my first visit to Berlin and the first visit to a unified Germany.

I had various meals and snacks while I was there in Berlin. Though when it came to coffee I usually used the coffee machine in the hotel, but I did have a nice flat white at a branch of Einstein Kaffee. I was out and about walking around Berlin and did quite fancy a coffee. I had seen a Starbucks, but I hadn’t travelled to the heart of Europe for an American style coffee. I had seen a fair few branches of Einstein Kaffee across Berlin, so when I came across a branch I headed in and ordered a flat white.

I did think about having a cake, but nothing took my fancy and they all looked quite expensive. So, in the end I ordered just the coffee.

The place was quite busy, but I found a stool and sat down to drink my coffee.

It was a nice coffee. 

Time for a German Breakfast

I was staying in Berlin for a few days attending a conference. The last time I had been to Germany was in 1985 staying for a couple of days in Munich on the way back from a camp in Yugoslavia. This was my first visit to Berlin and the first visit to a unified Germany. I was staying at the NH Collection Mitte ‘Checkpoint Charlie’ in the heart of what was East Berlin.

I had breakfast in the hotel and I did find it interesting what was on offer and what I could have. I had never had breakfast before at a German hotel.

So once I got my coffee and a (disappointing) orange juice, I headed to the service area to choose something for breakfast.

There was a kitchen that cooked omelettes and fried eggs to order. On the hot plates were Nuremberg sausage or Nürnberger Rostbratwurst. These were small grilled sausages with a distinctive flavour. There was also scrambled egg, which was nothing to shout about. I quite liked the cheese covered grilled tomato, the cheese certainly enhanced that tomato. The streaky bacon was overcooked for my liking. I guess if you like crispy bacon then you would enjoy this streaky bacon, personally I prefer my bacon cooked, but still soft. Though initially a little apprehensive, I did quite enjoy the mushrooms in a cream sauce. 

There was a wide range of breakfast items available. I did expect to see cheeses and cold meats, but was a little surprised to see fresh salad alongside. That felt a lot more like lunch than breakfast. Next to the salad was a lovely selection of fresh fruit. Elsewhere there was yoghurts and cereal.

I really loved the bread selection, as well as a range of bread rolls, there was a great range of loaves which you could cut slices from. There was white bread, seeded bread and wholemeal bread. Along with the bread was pastries and croissant.

There was also a pancake machine, which you could use to make your own pancakes, to which you could add maple syrup.

This was a splendid selection of breakfast items and I really enjoyed eating breakfast at the hotel. 

Truffled Potato Cream Soup

I was staying in Berlin for a few days attending a conference. The last time I had been to Germany was in 1985 staying for a couple of days in Munich on the way back from a camp in Yugoslavia. This was my first visit to Berlin and the first visit to a unified Germany.

I had various meals and snacks while I was there. One dish I really enjoyed was the Truffled Potato Cream Soup from Vapiano.

I did feel a little guilty going to an Italian restaurant while staying in Germany, but when you realise that Vapiano is a German restaurant franchise company headquartered in Cologne. The chain’s restaurants offer Italian food adhering to the fast-casual principle, it certainly has some German food credentials.

The service was simple, in that you ordered from a screen, took a buzzer and then collected your food from the kitchen. So when my buzzer buzzed, I headed to pick up the soup.

The truffled potato cream soup, was seasoned with oregano and nutmeg garnished with fresh spring onions and croutons.  This was a pimped up simple soup for the Christmas market. The soup came with a couple slices of bread.

It was a really nice soup, which I really enjoyed eating. I was tempted to have another bowl.

At the airport, time for a terrible coffee

I had been on a visit to Scotland and was making my way home via Edinburgh Airport. Having flown through security (for once) and mooching around the shops I decided to go for a coffee. I chose Caffe Nero as I usually get a decent coffee there and across their different branches at least a level of consistency.

I ordered a double macchiato, which is different to my usual flat white. It was served in a paper cup, despite the fact I was sitting in. I prefer my coffee in a real cup, and actually will make the time for a coffee, rather than do take out. I was reminded how nice it was to get a proper coffee at Bristol Airport on my way out, not just coffee in a cup, but also table service.

So I sat down with my cardboard cup and took the lid off. Was I impressed, no I wasn’t!

Now as far as I am aware a macchiato is an espresso coffee with some milk foam on top. What I got was an espresso coffee with milk! Not what I wanted and certainly not what I ordered.

I know I should have taken it back, but there was a huge queue and I didn’t really have the time.

Sometimes I have had to explain what a macchiato is to the barista I am ordering from, makes me wonder why they have it on the menu if they don’t know how to make it. 

Next time I will probably just order an espresso or a flat white and be done with it.

Greek time at the Cranside Kitchen

Having enjoyed my previous meal at the Cranside Kitchen, I went there again for dinner the next night.

I was staying in a hotel in Glasgow close to the SECC where I was attending a conference. I had planned to just eat in the hotel restaurant, but found that the restaurant wasn’t open. Well that wasn’t helpful. I had a look around the area on Google Maps and found that, apart from other hotel restaurants there wasn’t much choice close by. I could have walked up to Argyle Street, but it was dark and cold, and to be honest I didn’t fancy walking back.

When I had looked at the Cranside Kitchen the previous day, from the outside it looked like it was now an Italian place called Romano’s. I wasn’t sure if I wanted Italian, so walked around the area a bit more. In the end I went to Cranside Kitchen. I found out then it was a little more than an Italian place. You scanned the QR code on the table and placed your order online. As well as the Italian menu, there was also Chinese, Thai and Japanese.

On my next visit I found that on that that evening there was a Greek option. Well quite liked the idea of Greek so went with that choice.

I had three dishes, the crispy calamari, chicken souvlaki, and a Greek salad.

The crispy calamari was battered squid rings with a garlic dip. 

As calamari goes it was okay, I have had better (and I have had worse). I do think as I have it quite often, that I find it a good benchmark to compare places.

The chicken souvlaki comprised two skewers of grilled chicken on a rather sad and limp salad. The chicken was quite tasty.

The Greek salad was cucumber, tomato, pepper, onion, olives and feta cheese.

The olives hadn’t been stoned, and the feta cheese was rather bland and lacked flavour.

Overall the meal was just okay, nothing special and nothing outstanding. Compared to the previous meal I had at the Cranside Kitchen it was a little disappointing.

Eating at the Cranside Kitchen

Cranside Kitchen

I was staying in a hotel in Glasgow close to the SECC where I was attending a conference. I had planned to just eat in the hotel restaurant, but found that the restaurant wasn’t open. Well that wasn’t helpful. I had a look around the area on Google Maps and found that, apart from other hotel restaurants there wasn’t much choice close by. I could have walked up to Argyle Street, but it was dark and cold, and to be honest I didn’t fancy walking back.

I did though went for a walk and looked at the Cranside Kitchen, from the outside it looked like it was now an Italian place called Romano’s. I wasn’t sure if I wanted Italian, so walked around the area a bit more, but didn’t find anywhere else apart from some hotel restaurants.

In the end I went to Cranside Kitchen. I found out then it was a little more than an Italian place. You scanned the QR code on the table and placed your order online. As well as the Italian menu, there was also Chinese, Thai and Japanese. So I discovered I had a wider choice of what I could eat.

Cranside Kitchen menu

I actually prefer proper restaurant service, but I can see the advantages of this kind of system. You can order from different places so if you were in a group you could order what everyone wants. It makes splitting the bill simpler, as people can order and pay for their own food and drinks. It is also easy to add stuff to the order as well. I spent some time looking over the menu before choosing what I wanted to eat. It was quite a challenge as there were quite a few choices that I liked the sound of.

In the end I went with the Seafood Cha Han, this was Japanese style wok fried rice topped with mayo and mix sesame.

Seafood Cha Han

I really liked this dish, it was fresh, full of flavour,  and really delicious. 

I also ordered some Bao Bun Box. You had to order a minimum of two buns, I decided to order three. I went with the chicken karaage, aromatic duck and enoki mushroom.

When the bamboo box arrived I was a little surprised by the size of the buns, they were bigger than I expected (and have had at other places). I think I could have got away with just two buns.

Bao Bun Box

The aromatic duck was my least favourite of the three, it was cooked duck in hoisin sauce. The chicken karaage was deep fried battered marinated chicken in a spicy sauce. The enoki mushroom was surprising, it was also battered and deep fried. The mushroom bao bun was my favourite.

As I had paid when I ordered, I could leave the restaurant when I had finished and wanted to. 

Time for a breakfast or two

I was staying at the Campanile Hotel in Glasgow close to the SECC where I was attending a conference. I was there for a couple of nights and had breakfast twice in the hotel. When I went down for breakfast it was quite cold in the dining room, I was glad I was wearing a sweater. The hotel wasn’t that busy so as a result they didn’t have a hot buffet breakfast, they made the breakfast to order. Actually I kind of preferred that over helping myself. At least the poached eggs (which I usually order) would arrive with the breakfast. The breakfast on both days was very similar, however on the first day the bacon was overcooked for my liking.

The second day they did a better job on the mushrooms cooking them to order, though I am not sure deep frying them was the best way to cook them (they were also very hot). 

I was a little disappointed (and just a little disappointed) that there were no Scottish aspects to the breakfast, such as Lorne sausage or tattie scones.  

Alongside the cooked breakfast, there were the usual breakfast items, such as croissant, cereal, orange juice and fruit. I did like the fact I could have a double espresso with my breakfast, as opposed to the standard filter coffee I had the last time I was staying in a hotel.

Overall it was a nice breakfast and set me up for the two days I was in Glasgow.

Time for Fish Tacos

I was staying in a hotel in Glasgow close to the SECC where I was attending a conference. Having arrived around lunchtime, I went for a walk to get some air and find somewhere for lunch. I headed up to Argyle Street with every intention of eating at the Crabshakk. However when I got there I wasn’t quite sure it was the kind of place for a quick lunch. I did also quite like the idea of the Ox and Finch, but for lunch it looked rather expensive! Maybe another time. In the end I went to Number 1082.

I started off with a double espresso, well it had been a fair few hours since my last coffee at Bristol Airport. I looked over the menu, having perused it outside, I was thinking tacos. I ordered some fish tacos and a side order of skinny fries.

On two warm tacos there was some sliced fried fish with slaw, guacamole and mayonnaise.

They were very nice, though not as good as the fish tacos I had had in London back in May.

My recipe for Bolognese

spaghetti bolognese
Image by -Rita-👩‍🍳 und 📷 mit ❤ from Pixabay

This is my recipe for making Bolognese sauce for serving with spaghetti or other pasta.

500g minced beef, I try and get 5% or 10% fat mince, otherwise the end result can be a bit greasy

Splash of olive oil

One onion, diced

One carrot, finely diced. The carrot is there to add some veg to the dish as well as flavour

One red pepper, diced

Handful of mushrooms, chopped

Splash of balsamic vinegar

Knorr beef stockpot

Dried Italian herbs

Tin of tomatoes

Tomato purée

I usually use a big pan for cooking this dish. I heat the pan add the olive oil and then brown off the mince until it is all done. If you have excess fat in the pan then drain the cooked mince and discard the excess oil and fat.

Add the onion, carrot and pepper. You can add extra vegetables at this point, or extra pepper. After a few minutes add the mushrooms. 

Once the onion is soft and cooked, add the tin of tomatoes, the herbs, the tomato purée and the balsamic vinegar.

Cook for at least 20 minutes on a low heat, though longer would ensure that the beef is tender.

Serve with spaghetti or a pasta of your choice. Add freshly grated Parmesan to taste.

At the airport, time for a quick lunch

I had been on a visit to Scotland and was making my way home. I really didn’t fancy eating on the plane, it was a short flight, but it was over lunchtime. So having time at Edinburgh airport I went to All-Bar-One for a quick small lunch. I did in fact fancy tacos from Bar Burrirto, but the airport branch didn’t sell them. The branch of Yo! Sushi, which I had visited before, had closed down in 2020. Liking the idea of small plates I went to All-Bar-One. I ordered two small plates which arrived promptly. This is kind of important in an airport situation as you are often time constrained.

The calamari was excellent and it was a good sized portion for a small plate dish. 

The squid was tender and the batter was crispy. It was served with a sweet chilli sauce. I really enjoyed the squid and would have it again, if I ever fly from Edinburgh.

The prawns in panko breadcrumbs was though slightly disappointing. When it arrived I actually thought they had bought me the wrong dish. What I got was in fact a skewer of prawns, which was then covered in panko breadcrumbs. 

I felt that this was a difficult small plate to eat (and would be difficult to share). The dish lacked flavour and I couldn’t really taste the prawns. 

My gate number was called, so it was time to pay the bill and head to the plane.