Eurotrip 2012 Food: Berlin

The first stop on our 12-day European adventure was Berlin.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the trip there was off to a rough start, but we made it eventually. If we want to get technical, my first meal of the trip was a shared black bean Smash Burger before boarding the plane (for the first time – we had to deplane for a bit before finally taking off).

Since it was an evening/overnight flight, we were served dinner, and I opted for the vegetarian selection. I assumed it was either going to be a bunch of bland steamed vegetables or a variation of pasta primavera, but I’m happy to report I was pleasantly surprised; it included some chana masala, basmati rice, and palak paneer. While it wasn’t the prettiest of meals, it was much more than I expected for in-flight food – I’m used to just a bag of mixed nuts and my choice of soda. It was surprisingly flavorful, and despite it’s own questionable appearance, looked a lot better than the chicken or beef options.

Once we arrived in Berlin, (even though it was the middle of the night at home) we got down to business and set out on foot to do some sightseeing. We checked out the Berliner Dom, and just wandered around for a bit to try and get a baring of where we were. Our first meal in the city was at Maximilian’s, where we learned the hard way that you seat yourself in Germany. We walked into the restaurant and stood there like deer in headlights as waiters and waitresses walked past us as though we didn’t exist. After realizing we were supposed to seat ourselves, I cursed myself for not looking up dining etiquette prior to the trip. I quickly Googled the information (thanks to my husband buying a cheap data plan once we landed), and learned that in addition to seating yourself, ordering a glass of “still water” is frowned upon. I usually drink water with my meals, so this was a bit of a disappointment. I supplemented the water with a liter of weissbeir, as any logical person would.

Knowing a little bit about the food culture of each city prior to visiting, I knew right away what I was going to order – currywurst! It’s a big deal in Berlin, and they have little shops and street vendors selling it everywhere. I like curry, and I like wurst, so I had no doubt I’d enjoy the concoction. It was served with pomme frites, and I ate it like a true European – knife in my right hand and fork in my left! My husband ordered their version of meatloaf which is nothing like what your mother makes – it tasted more like a delicious ham steak to me, and he devoured every last bite.

For breakfast on our first full day, we went to Chipps at the recommendation of a friend who had visited Berlin a few months earlier. They have a lot of really delicious vegetarian and vegan options, which in a city that loves their meat is appreciated by someone like me. Everything on the menu sounded delicious, but I eventually settled for some scrambled eggs with baked beans, veggie bacon, toast, and a mixed salad.

It was the perfect fuel for a day full of sightseeing, including an amazing walking tour that highlighted all the notables in the city. We actually got really lucky and had a tour guide that was a history Ph.D student at Humboldt University; I learned SO much, and the tour was completely free! As a side note to all the food, I would definitely recommend checking out these tours if you are thinking about traveling abroad. But back to the food…

While our dinner the second night was far from traditional (I wound up ordering a burger and my husband had sliders), it was enjoyed at a table that provided us our very own beer tap at The Pub. That’s right – Paulaner weissbeer was right at our fingertips; we had glasses, could fill them up on our own, and paid per liter. The even cooler part was that the ordering of food and getting the waiter/waitress’ attention was also done through the computer attached to the tap. I’m all for the “experience” of dining out, but sometimes it’s nice to not be asked how I’m doing right as I take a giant bite of food, or equally as annoying be unable to get the waiter or waitress’ attention when you need them.

The rest of our mornings were spent at Starbucks for a few reasons – there was one on every corner (no different from around here!) and they had free wi-fi, which allowed us to plot out our day’s plan of attack. While it isn’t a glamorous sidewalk café, one of those Starbucks does happen to be right across the street from the hotel where Michael Jackson dangled his baby out a window, a mere stones throw away from the US and French embassies. Go figure.

For dinner on our last night, we headed to Jedermann where I enjoyed some super creamy and delicious spätzle while the hubs had weinerschnitzel; I figured it was necessary to end the trip with a more traditional dinner.

We had an evening flight from Berlin to Copenhagen, so we had a pretty full last day. I made sure to take a trip to Fassbender & Rausch for some much needed German chocolate, and some really delicious Indian food at Amrit. It was the perfect end to an awesome four days.

By the time we were ready to part ways with Berlin, I felt as though I was really getting a handle on the city. I was able to differentiate between East and West Germany, I could generally navigate to the larger landmarks, and I was getting the hang of pronouncing different things (like the ß letter is pronounced as a double S, so straße is strasse – the word for street!), and it felt like a city I could live in.

There is no way I could do any of the sights we saw justice in a recap – there is just SO much history in the city – it’s a pretty great place, so that’s why I decided to just stick to the food. You’ll have to go check it out for yourself to see all the amazing sites and learn the history!

Have you ever been to Berlin? 


Filed under Beer, Restaurant, Travel

Euro Success

I know you’ve all been chomping at the bit to see another post from me – and you need not wait any longer (do you feel the sarcasm oozing on you screen?)! We returned from our European adventure late yesterday morning, and I spent the rest of the day trying to figure out what time it was, doing laundry, and playing with our extremely needy, but angry for leaving them, cats.

Aside from our yearly Disney World trips, my husband and I wanted to do something different as well this year, and figured a trip outside the US would do the trick. So, after scouring the Internet and trying to come up with all the places we want to visit (pretty much everywhere), the most affordable and doable trip for us this time around was to spend a few days each in Berlin, Copenhagen, and Stockholm. While I plan on doing a full foodie recap of each city, I figured I would break the radio silence to give you a few fun tidbits from the trip.

We left on 4th of July after rocking our 4 mile race, and were met with an oh-so-fun delay thanks to a mechanical issue on our United flight. This wound up putting us behind hours, almost  completely losing a day in Berlin. Thankfully we were able to make up for lost time, and really only missed out on a few stops that were planned originally. Initially we were supposed to fly from Newark to Geneva, and then to Berlin. In order to get us there as soon as possible, though, we wound up taking a detour to Zurich first, and then made our way to Berlin. So we took three planes just to get to Germany! But we made it safe and sound, and that’s all that really matters. Another plane took us from Berlin to Copenhagen, and a sleeper train the size of my closet took us from there to Stockholm. Good ‘ole United took us straight back to Newark yesterday.

While I didn’t get in nearly as much running as planned (a measly 15 miles over 12 days), we walked at least 5 miles every day, which I like to think counts for something. I also scored myself plenty of extra poundage, thanks to phenomenal food, liters of beer, and everything being served with pomme frites. I’m bummed to be back home because that means things like work, responsibility, and traffic, but it also means things I like – running, cooking, being a crazy cat lady… and so on. So stay tuned for the city recaps – Berlin is up first!


Filed under Travel

Friday Favorites

While I was running on Monday thinking about how awesome my new Oiselle tank top is, I thought to myself, “I always like to know when people think products are awesome (and aren’t being compensated for saying so), and can never find enough reviews of things online.” I’ve recently started doing my best to review products I get where they have the option online, but I also appreciate when I stumble upon people’s blogs doing the same. So I figured why not share with you what I’m loving (McDonalds didn’t make the list… this time).

Lululemon’s Dart and Dash shorts. These bad boys are awesome. I have a few pairs of spandex shorts, and I find myself tugging at them during most runs afraid I’m showing off a little cheek. Most of the longer pairs I find are a bit too long and border on bike shorts, so when I saw these I figured I’d give them a try. Yes, they’re more expensive than I would like to pay for some spandex, but I’ve been more than happy with them, making it worth the money. They have two little pockets on the inside (as most running shorts have), as well as two on the either side on the outside of the short (which are cool, but look awkward when something thicker than say a small Gu is in there), and my favorite part is the rubber material also on the outside of the shorts to help your shirt from rising up. Because I have a small waist and larger hips, I find that most running shirts that are on the more fitted side like to turn into belly shirts, which is not cute. So this helps keep them in place, and reminds me of my old racing suits that had the same material on the inside to keep it snug on your leg while swimming. So, the bottom line is despite the high price tag, I absolutely recommend these shorts to anyone looking for a little more coverage than your average spandex booty short.

Oiselle’s Aero Tank. I paid zero dollars for this tank thanks to winning a Twitter contest, and received the tank just in time for my birthday (fate, I tell you!). I’m not usually a fan of sleeveless shirts (I prefer either racerback tank tops or short sleeve shirts, nothing in between), but am happy to report I love this one. The real kicker for me is that there is a little side pocket with a zipper, perfect for a set of keys or a Gu. I actually brought some keys with me on my test run with the shirt, and had no problems with it. Not only do I love how into running Oiselle is and the support they provide the running community, but they make great gear, too! I’ve heard wonderful things about their shorts, and who doesn’t love the rundies?

Send the Trend. This is a new-to-me website, and I’m obsessed. You sign up, and can then get adorable accessories for $29 – always (bags are usually $39). They were having a sale a few weeks ago and I scored two awesome necklaces (one seen above), and a set of bangles. For anyone that’s looking for affordable on-trend accessories, this is definitely the place! I also appreciate that there isn’t any pressure to buy, since I’ve found so many of those “you’re guaranteed a price” sites require you to spend X amount each month, etc. Their shipping is also incredibly fast – I ordered something Thursday morning, and had it at my doorstep Saturday.

Big Ass Salads. I’m not usually one to order a salad when I’m out at a restaurant, but lately with the temperatures being so high, they’re the perfect filling refreshment. I’ve found that diner salads are my favorite, because they’re HUGE, and have a ton of stuff in them. Plus, when I make them at home they’re super easy and require little to no cooking, keeping the house cool. I also like the tortilla shells, and make them at home by baking a burrito sized tortilla in a glass bowl (yes, I realize that requires the oven, but I don’t make them all the time), which makes the salad a little more fun… because let’s be honest, just lettuce is boring.

While the things I mentioned may seem to be a little random, they pretty much show who I am – someone that loves running, fashion, and food. RFF? FRF? RFF? Either way, these are the things I’m currently obsessing over.

So, have any of you used/tried these products? What are your thoughts?
Or, do you have others that you just love and want to share?


Filed under Life, Running

Snap, Crackle, Pop

Because a title like “Baby, you’re a firework” just wasn’t going to happen.

Wednesday morning marked my fourth year running Cranford’s Fire Cracker Four Miler. When I ran the race for the first time in 2009, it was my very first road race. I look back and laugh at how much of a novice runner I was; I rocked a pair of Nike Shox that were almost a year old, and somehow thought it was a good idea to wear a cotton swimming t-shirt to run 4 miles in July. The race went well because I had no expectations, and I finished in just over 36 minutes. The second year I knocked off another 2 minutes, and was again pleased with my time considering I was still on the early road to considering myself a “runner.” Then last year, the race marked the first day of official marathon training, and my husband ran with me. Somehow, I shaved off another 2 minutes, leaving me with a Firecracker PR of 32 minutes.

Throughout half marathon training this Spring, the majority of my 4 mile training runs were about 32-33 minutes. Sometimes, I even hit closer to low 31. So, I figured that as long as I didn’t fall, break a leg, or pass-out, I’d be able to PR again. Considering the apparent tradition of running 2 minutes faster each year, I was aiming for around 30 minutes. This race actually has categories you can sign up for, one of them being a spouse category (technically it’s labeled husband/wife, but I prefer to simply call it the spouse group). So, I thought it would be fun to sign up as a couple, and see how we would place. We looked up the results from last year, and we figured if I could keep around a 7:30 pace, we’d have a chance at placing in the top 3 for that category. Somehow, that’s just what I did.

Even though I started taking new medicine on Monday night, it hasn’t quite kicked in yet, and I was worried I’d need to make a pit stop on the course. Thankfully everything worked out and I was able to keep a 7:33 pace, crossing the line in 30:11. While my ultimate goal was to go under 30, I’m more than happy with the 30. I was able to keep my tradition of PRing by 2 minutes each year and scored 4th place in my age group, and the 28th woman overall! And, my husband ran it in 26 minutes, so combined we finished in 56 minutes – enough for a W in the husband/wife category! We scored ourselves a sweet medal, and two t-shirts (not quite sure what I’m supposed to do with the XL size shirt, though).

After waiting around for about an hour to get our medal, we went back to my parent’s house to down some bagels and coffee. It was the perfect way to start the 4th of July!


Filed under Running

The Results

Can you think of a better way to spend part of your birthday than a trip to the doctor (specifically the gastroenterologist)? Clearly I can’t, because that’s exactly what I did on Thursday afternoon. This was just a follow-up to all the tests I had back at the end of May/beginning of June, but it was a trip to the doctor on my birthday, nonetheless. Thankfully after blood work, an endoscopy, colonoscopy, and HIDA scan, my doctor had some rather good news for me, which I told him better be the case since it was my birthday and all.

Birthday brownies from co-workers… good thing I’m not lactose or gluten intolerant!

The appointment started as they always do, sitting in his amazingly fancy office making small talk while he reviewed my file. He began by reading off the results; no lactose intolerance, no celiacs, no colitis… the list continued, and I started to worry. Of course, not having any of these issues was great news, but at the same time I started to fear he was going to tell me that he couldn’t find anything, and I was out of luck. But then we got to my gallbladder. Turns out my eye isn’t the only lazy body part I’ve got, and my gallbladder functions just on the cusp of being considered active and normal – basically, it gets the job done, but not well.

A little anatomy lesson for you

So what does this mean? For me, my lazy gallbladder likes to leak out some of the bile it creates to help breakdown my food, in turn acting as a laxative. There’s no need for me to go into more detail than that, because I know you’re all smarty-pants. Also, my B12 and Vitamin D are a little low, and I have a bit of a hiatal hernia. It basically just causes heartburn every now and then – nothing a Pepcid AC can’t cure! As for the gallbladder condition, it’s called Habba Syndrome, and can be managed by simply taking a pill before I eat a meal (i.e. breakfast, lunch, or dinner). I was also told to stay away from rich and heavy foods, which I already do for the most part, but may need to indulge here and there. If for some reason this doesn’t help (though my doctor is confident this is the issue), we’ll do one more test to confirm I don’t have Crohn’s (which we had thought it was a few months back).

My prescription was filled yesterday, and I had my first set of pills last night. I have to play around with the dosages to see what works best, but I’ve got my fingers crossed that this will help alleviate my “issues,” as I like to call them. In the meantime, I’m going to continue guzzling all the fro-yo and cheese I can.


Filed under Life