I was staying in Berlin in December, 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 various meals and snacks while I was there in Berlin.
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. Looking over the menu, I initially decided I wouldn’t have pasta or pizza, but would probably go with a risotto.
I did though look over the pasta menu, I liked the idea of choosing your own type of pasta, and it was fresh pasta. So, I changed my mind and went with the Filetto di Manzo e Rucola, or Beef Fillet and Rocket.
The menu could be accessed in English, so the description of Rinderfilet, Weißwein, Karotten, Zucchini, Champignons, Lauchzwiebeln, Zwiebeln, Rucola, could be translated to beef fillet, white wine, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, spring onions, onions, rocket.Saw I could add “brot” for free, so I did. Well, my Grade 4 CSE German comes in handy when I remember that ‘brot’ is German for bread and it was a free extra to my food.
When my buzzer buzzed, I went to the kitchen to collect my food. The dish looked great.
It also tasted great. It was fresh and delicious. The steak was tender and I liked the addition of the rocket to the dish. The rest of the ingredients in the dish added to the flavours and textures.
I really enjoyed the pasta dish. The bread was nice as well.
Though I had intended to have the Bruschetta as a starter, because of the process of ordering through a screen meant that the Bruschetta and the pasta arrived at the same time. The Bruschetta was toasted bread with fresh tomatoes, onion, and rocket.
It was a great combination of textures and flavours. The tomato was nice, fresh, and it was well seasoned.
Tasty. Though another time I think I would order my starter first and then order the main course.
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.
I was staying at the Doubletree Hilton in Ealing and was eating in the hotel restaurant.
I decided to go for a salad for dinner. I chose the heritage beetroot salad with caramelised walnuts, lime juice honey dressing, rocket and grilled halloumi.
I have to say that this was an excellent salad. I liked the thin slices of beetroot and the lime juice honey dressing added sweetness and sharpness. The caramelised walnuts were probably a little over caramelised for my liking, but added crunch and sweetness. The grilled halloumi wasn’t great and I have had better halloumi in other salads. Having said that the overall combination of the salty halloumi, sweet walnuts and dressing and beetroot was really tasty. The different slices of heritage beetroot were great, the candy tripe beetroot having a different flavour to the traditional purple beetroot. The only thing I would say was that for a main course salad it was smaller that I expected. I would probably have added more mixed leaves to bulk it out.
Alongside I had some freshly oven baked bread.
I expected to get a couple of rolls, but was impressed with the quantity and variety of breads in the basket. It was supposed to come with some olive oil and balsamic glaze, but all I got was the butter. I didn’t managed to ask about this, but I was happy with the butter. Most of the bread was tasty.
I did enjoy this meal, salad and bread are two things I really like.
We were up at Cribbs Causeway doing some shopping and we stopped at Patisserie Valerie for a coffee and a snack. There are quite a few places you can have a coffee at Cribbs, but what I like about Patisserie Valerie is that it is table service. So we sat at our table and looked over the menu. The place was busy, but the service was excellent, and we didn’t have to wait long to order.
Whilst my son went with the traditional breakfast, my first choice was an apricot danish, however they had run out. So I went with my second choice, which wasn’t a pastry, but Valerie’s Welsh Rarebit. Our food arrived promptly, which was nice, especially as the place was quite full of diners. Valerie’s Welsh Rarebit was toasted bloomer bread topped with a poached egg, tomato chutney, cheddar, mustard & served with a side salad.
I don’t think I have ever had Rarebit before, so I was interested to see what it was going to be like. This was a nice cheesy toast dish, the mustard was subtle and added warmth. The poached egg was perfectly cooked. I liked the tomato chutney, which was on the side, I did think it was a little too sweet for me. Overall it was a really nice light meal.
I think one of the reasons I hadn’t ordered or had this dish before, was that usually I am looking for cake, or a full meal. Valerie’s Welsh Rarebit for me is more of a snack, or a light meal.
Alongside I had a flat white, not the best flat white in the world, but it was a good coffee.
As a child I would often eat cheese on toast, these days not so much. Back then we even had a Breville sandwich toaster, which was a bit of a fad in the 1980s, but you can still buy them today.
I remember when a panini was something you would only find in Italy, then they were available everywhere.
These days I will avoid having sandwiches for lunch, and I can’t remember the last time I had a panini. One thing I have had a few times are toasted sandwiches, usually cheese and mushroom.
The other day we were up at the Mall and I needed a break to rest, so we decided to get some coffee and a quick snack. We eventually decided on the Soho Coffee Company, not one of my first choices for coffee, but it wasn’t too crowded. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to eat, I didn’t really want a cake, nor did I want a sandwich, so in the end I chose the mushroom & swiss cheese sourdough toastie. This was described as roasted mushrooms with garlic & black pepper. Swiss cheese & SOHO toastie sauce. Topped with even more Swiss cheese for extra ooziness! Though when it arrived I think the topping of Swiss cheese had been missed off. Still it was rather nice, crunchy bread, melted cheese and nice mushrooms.
So at home and wanting some lunch, I did think about what I wanted and I thought to myself I might create my own grilled cheese toastie.
I had some M&S San Francisco sourdough bread, which I added some butter to the inside, a slice of Gouda (I had no Swiss cheese), some grated cheddar cheese and a slice of Serrano ham.
In a frying pan I added some olive oil and some butter and once the butter was melted I added the (what was then) sourdough sandwich. I put a lid on the frying pan, so that the heat would be retained and melt the cheese. I then removed the lid so that the final part of cooking would crisp up the bread.
This was then put on a plate and served. The bread was lovely and crunchy on the outside, but still soft on the inside. The cheese had melted and was oozing out of the sandwich and the ham added an element of saltiness.
It was really nice, so much so I did think about making myself another one, but I resisted temptation.
I have had a few attempts in the past at making gluten free dough balls. I have made a bread dough using gluten free bread flour, however these were rather heavy and heavy. Not quite the Italian dough ball experience I was looking for.
I had used this mix in the past to bake focaccia bread with some success. However I have found that it works well for dough balls as well.
I follow the instructions on the back of the pack, however I don’t use the dried garlic or rosemary. I added 7g of fast acting yeast to the dry mix and then add 300ml of warm water and 30ml of olive oil. Mix until smooth. Leave for two minutes and then mix again vigorously for a further minute.
The end result is a smooth batter.
Then onto baking trays lined with baking parchment add separate desert sized spoonfuls of batter onto the trays.
If possible leave in a warm place for 30 minutes to rise, but I’ve not always needed to do this (sometimes didn’t have the time).
I baked the dough balls in a hot oven, 220°C (200°C fan assisted) for about 15-20 minutes. They should be light, crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.
Remove from the baking tray and serve hot with garlic butter or olive oil or other dips.
One of the things I find continually disappointing about the bakery at my local Waitrose is how little freshly baked bread they have in stock. I initially thought this was because I went at the end of the day, but despite going at different times of day I find the shelves empty of bread. It’s not like that all the time, but I would say 90% of the time I visit, there is virtually no fresh bread.
On my most recent visit I wasn’t expecting to find any fresh bread, I hoped I would, but no there was only a few rolls. Well ni surprise there then. However I needed some bread for breakfast so off to the pre-packed stuff.
Looking over the selection I found Farina Pugliese toasting bread.
This Italian bread is made from durum wheat, giving it thick crust and a golden crumb.
The packaging says that the bread is for toasting and it does need toasting, otherwise it can be a bit dry.
So I mentioned a couple of days ago that I had never been to Hart’s Bakery. I had heard of Harts Bakery in Bristol, but assumed it was in the middle of nowhere (i.e. Clifton or Gloucester Road) so challenging to get to when working in the centre of Bristol. So was surprised to find out that it’s underneath the arches (at Bristol Temple Meads).
I bought a malted and sunflower seed sourdough loaf, which looked great. The bread itself was delicious, nice firm crust, soft fluffy bread, and full of flavour. You could taste the malt and the sunflower seeds added both flavour and a nice seeded crunch.
Nice with just some butter, just as nice toasted with butter. So definitely will be going again, and will see what else they do.
Only found out about Hart’s Bakery last week. I had heard of Harts Bakery in Bristol, but assumed it was in the middle of nowhere (i.e. Clifton or Gloucester Road) so challenging to get to when working in the centre of Bristol. So was surprised to find out that it’s underneath the arches (at Bristol Temple Meads). Today, third time lucky, it was open and I managed to buy a really nice looking malted and sunflower seed sourdough. Looks tasty and not bad value for artisan bread at £2.
It felt and looked really nice. Not tasted the bread yet…
Why third time lucky? First time I went, it was just after work (having missed a train) and I went to find it, but the opening hours are 7am to 3pm, so a place to go first thing in the morning (or at lunchtime). Second time I went was yesterday, and found that it was only open from Tuesday to Saturday (should have noted that the first time I found it). So third time, today, it was open and busy. As well as selling bread, they also do coffee and cake.