Samadhi Vegetarian Restaurant, Berlin

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This wasn’t the friendliest place but the food was good. We already knew that there was a vegetarian restaurant called Samadhi around the area but I noticed their sign on our way to Brandenburg Gate. So, we popped in on the way back to have lunch (late lunch).

We ordered a mix starter plate (below). It was the right amount of food and was quite delicious too.

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When we came back to Samadhi for the second time, we had these two dishes below. Normally, I take notes at the time of ordering the food. If not, then I match my photos with the menu online based on the description of the dishes. Although their website has an English interface, they only have samples from their menu under the name of “Specialties” and it is not helpful. The second photo looks like a sweet and sour dish and that’s all I have to say about that. Then again, the food here is good.

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Samadhi Vegetarian Restaurant
Wilhelm Strasse 77
D-10117
Berlin

Viasko Vegan Restaurant, Berlin

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I must admit, Viasko was close to fiasco. The area was bad; we didn’t feel safe there. We had to walk for quite some time to get to the restaurant after taking the bus.

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Our waitress was very much like a walking catalog of a tattoo and piercing parlor and it wasn’t a good first impression. The décor was dull and pretty much everything had this “cheaply done” kind of look.

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In my opinion, the only good thing going for the place is the book nook (below).

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Viasko is a fully vegan restaurant so you expect some compromise in taste but it was more compromise than we would have like to have. Food was actually average.

As a starter we shared Antipasti (olives, hummus and sun-dried tomatoes) which came with a small basket of bread. €3.90

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Hummus was thick, sun-dried tomatoes tasted like they came out of a jar and the olives weren’t even marinated.

As for the mains we had:

Breaded soy medallions with white asparagus, baked cherry tomatoes, arugula and steamed potatoes. €15.90

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Breaded soy medallions were dry.

Cheese “spätzle” with onion rings and cucumber salad in dill cream dressing. €11.90

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Onion rings were not covered with the batter properly, cheese “spätzle” was just okay and dill cream salad dressing had the taste of moisture.

If you really must go, Viasko can be found at this address below:

Viasko Vegan Restaurant
Erkelenzdamm 49,
10999 Berlin
Website

Sacher Café, Vienna

Café Sacher is known for its chocolate cake: Sacher-Torte. It was the creation of Chef Franz Sacher who was asked to make a desert for a party in 1832 when he was only 16 years old. The reputation of the Sacher’s cake quickly spread and an overwhelming number of orders made his family very rich. Later on, Sacher’s son Ed opened the Sacher Hotel and Café in 1876. When he died 16 years later his wife Anna took over. This famous cake with a secret recipe is still around. So is Hotel Sacher and Café.

When in Rome do what Romans do. When in Vienna, go and have a slice of rich Sacher-Torte and don’t just stop there: have Vienna style coffee, too.

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Famous Sacher-Torte (above). It’s soft, rich and something quite special. It just melts in your mouth and yet the taste lingers for some time. Just divine.

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A little bit about Viennese style of coffee: It is a cream-based coffee made of strong black coffee and whipped cream. Unfortunately, mine was lukewarm.

Café Sacher
Philharmonikerstrasse 4,
A-1010 Vienna
Phone: +43 (0)1 – 51 456 661

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Upper Belvedere, Vienna.

Maitrea Vegetarian Restaurant, Prague – Czech Republic

When we arrived in Prague train station, we needed a taxi straight away but the taxi situation was scary. The signs led us to a wrong spot and the real taxi rank had a long queue already. We rang the guy who rented us an apartment in Old Town Square (Thomas) and asked what to do. He sent us a taxi immediately and we helped two ladies from California to call their hotel for their own transportation by allowing them to use our phone. It was all sorted in the end, however, we couldn’t help but thinking where the hell are were?

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Astronomical Clock, Old Town Square, Prague – Czech Republic.

When we got to the apartment, Thomas was waiting for us. We took over the keys to the apartment and after a brief orientation to the place we asked the ultimate question of vegetarian places to eat in Prague. The answer was brief: Maitrea. He said: “You can’t go wrong with Maitrea. Besides, it’s just around the corner.” And he showed us the exact location on our city map.

I did a little research around Czech food at the time of planning for this trip and was hoping to find some interesting Jewish vegetarian dishes around town. When you think about the number of Jews living in Prague, there’s bound to be some restaurants but we didn’t need any of that in the end. Because, Maitrea was enough and it really was “just around the corner” as we spotted the place when we were out and about for the first time.

The place looks like a dark cave decorated with Zen principles -check out the water feature video which was right next to our table. It is even darker downstairs (check out the photos taken downstairs) but it feels cozy because of it.

The menu at Maitrea is quite international. However, on our first night, we decided to try some original Czech dishes which have been vegetarianised. Here’s what we had on our first visit to Maitrea:

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Czech special: Spicy goulash with vegetarian “meat” pieces, served with wholemeal dumplings/or baked potatoes 175 CZK The seitan in this dish was exquisite; the size, texture and flavour were like no other seitan I have ever had in my life. Apparently, they make their own.

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Another Czech special: Traditional “Svíčková“ – vegetarian “meat” slices seitan with a tangy vegetable cream sauce, served with wholemeal dumplings, lime, whipped cream, and cranberries 170 CZK

The second time we visited Maitrea, we tried Paella a la Barcelona (it was by far the best vegetarian paella we have ever had!) and Meatless “chicken“and mushroom balls.

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Paella a la Barcelona with sun-dried tomatoes, champignons, and shiitake mushrooms, onion, stir-fry sauce, vegetarian “chicken” pieces and parmesan. 175 CZK

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Meatless “chicken“and mushroom balls with oven-roasted vegetables, basil pesto and homemade tofunnaise 175 CZK

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Maitrea Vegetarian Restaurant
Týnská ulička 1064/6,
110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic

Maitrea has a complete spiritual center right next door with a bookstore. If you are interested in books and workshops in spirituality, you might like to check it out too. Their working hours are different to the restaurant, though.

Corn Omelette with Tomato and Cucumber Salad

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Corn Omelette with Tomato and Cucumber Salad is perfect lunch for 2. I make this omelette in an electric non-stick pan, then cut it in half. Serving an omelette with a little bit of salad lightens things up a great deal. It is also nice with a dollop of mayonnaise mixed with Dijon mustard on the side.

Corn Omelette with Tomato and Cucumber Salad
Ingredients:

4 eggs
½ cup frozen corn kernels
1 spring onion
2 twigs continental parsley
1 tbsp or 2 vegetable oil
Salt
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
A pinch black pepper

For Tomato and Cucumber Salad:
6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cucumber (Lebanese), chopped
2 twigs fresh dill, chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
Salt to taste

Method:
• To make the salad: Mix together the tomatoes, cucumber and dill. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar and salt and drizzle over the salad.
• Cook corn kernels in a small pot. Remove from the heat and rinse under cold water. Drain well and set aside.
• In a bowl, lightly whisk eggs with a pinch of salt. Add sweet paprika and black pepper. Add chopped spring onion and parsley.
• Heat the oil in a pan. Whisk the egg mixture one more time and add it to your pan. Swirl it around for even distribution. Sprinkle the cooked corn around and make sure they are submerged in the mixture well.
• When one side of your omelette is browned well, flip it over –you might like to use 2 spatulas for the job. Once it is all browned well, cut it into two with one of the spatulas in the frying pan. Serve immediately with the salad.

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Tabouleh, VegFusion style

Since spring is just around the corner, I thought this salad would freshen things up a little.

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This is a sharp and refreshing salad which makes a good side dish to falafels. My version of is slightly different. It is more on the kısır side than tabouleh. Hope you enjoy it.

Tabouleh, VegFusion style
Ingredients:
½ cup fine bulghur (bulgar)
1 spring onion (scallion), thinly sliced
½ Lebanese cucumber, diced
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
½ cup fresh mint, chopped
1 small tomato, chopped
Salt and pepper

Dressing:
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ lemon, squeezed

Method:
• To prepare bulgur: Place bulgur in a bowl and add boiled water just enough to cover it all. Put a flat place on top the bowl and let it swell for a while. Fluff it up with a fork.
• Whisk together olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
• Mix dressing with bulgur and chill overnight.
• Stir in chopped tomatoes, cucumber, fresh mint and parsley immediately before serving.

Macéo, Paris

A postcard from Paris. Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre.

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Macéo was one of the greatest culinary experiences we had in Europe. It is a place I would go back in a heartbeat. Although it is not a fully vegetarian restaurant, they have many interesting vegetarian starters as well as main dishes on their menu. But first –Willi’s Wine Bar.

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Here, we had the best wine before dinner.  Willi’s Wine Bar is Macéo’s sister place. Apparently it is the hip and edgy thing to do although Macéo have one of the best wine lists. Actually, I’m hoping that one day John will write about wine in general here. Is that too subtle?

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When we arrived it was quiet but soon it started to fill up. Parisians are like Sydneysiders; they eat late. We had the nicest waitress, Dana, who is studying hospitality and doing her apprenticeship at Macéo at the same time. She was just lovely. I wish I took a photo of her.

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And the food… Mind-Blowing in a very classy way. Here’s what we had:

Starters:
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Asparagus were in season at the time and they are nothing like what we get here in Australia. John has become a huge fan. I personally like the wild asparagus which are more delicate both in shape and taste department. Here’s a grocery store scene for you from Montmartre (below).

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As a starter I had Caviar of Smoked Baby Broad Beans, Seasonal Vegetables Bouquet. I love the artistic presentation.

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Mains:

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Berlingots meuniere caramelised in Xeres, pears, roquette and radish. This was basically pan-fried gnocchi with lightly cooked pears and fresh wild roquette (arugula) and radish.

Desserts:

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Poached Pear Façon

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Guanaja Mousse & Coco Snap, Pistachio Ice Cream

Macéo
15 rue des Petits Champs
75001, Paris
Website

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Prinz Myshkin, Munich

A postcard from Munich. Rathaus (town hall) minus the rats.

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This place was recommended by two girls (really nice girls) we met on the train from Paris to Munich. We thought it was worth checking out. We did drop in for a late lunch after taking a few photos around Altstadt and doing some shopping but we didn’t get lunch because we were late. Their pedantic waiter said they stopped serving lunch although they had plenty of food in their buffet. It was weird not being able to get lunch while they had so much food on display (photo below).

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In the end, we decided to have a slice of cake to keep us going and book a table for dinner while we were there. Well, the cakes were nice but the attitude wasn’t.

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We thought we might have better luck when we came back for dinner, hoping that Mr Pedantic wouldn’t be there but he was. He gave us the menu in English with a slimy smirk on his face as if to say “I remember you” but luckily we had someone else to serve us for the night. And she was nicer. After we deliberately broke the ice, though.

Here’s what we had, considering:

I had Nansei (stir-fried vegetables with oyster mushrooms, bamboo shoots, carrots, scallions, broccoli and smoked tofu in teriyaki sauce)

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John had Koh Samui (wok-roasted peppers, mushrooms, scallions, bean sprouts, snow peas, pineapple and banana in a Thai coconut-curry-lemongrass sauce)

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These two mains we ordered are served with either white or brown Basmati rice but we weren’t told that. So, we ended up with white rice (below).

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I didn’t have a dessert but John had Crème Brulee (below).

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We had high hopes for this place as it is one of the best vegetarian restaurants of Munich. The food was OK; nothing special but the service was unfriendly and a little hostile. If you still want to go, here’s the details:
Prinz Myshkin
Hackenstraße 2, 80331
München, Germany

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Le Potager du Marais, revisited

We were at Le Potager du Marais in 2007 and it was a tiny little, long and narrow place back then. They seem to have moved next door which is bigger. It is still recommended to book before you go though.

For those of you who didn’t read my 2007 review, Le Potager du Marias is a Parisian vegan restaurant located on Rambuteau Street in an area called Marais. It was a vegetarian restaurant back when we were in Paris in 2007, now it is fully vegan. They do vegan versions of French dishes however, they have other international ones on their menu too. And yes Peoples, this is the place where Anne Hathaway was seen in 2013.

Now, let’s talk about food, shall we?

Starters

Pate Forestier (mushroom pate)
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Tartare d’algues (seaweed tartare)
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Main
As for the main, we both had Bourguignon de Seitan which is seitan stew with red wine and mushrooms served with mashed potatoes and garlic olive oil.

Main courses are served with a choice of:

  • Brown rice with almonds
  • Buckwheat or mashed potatoes with garlic olive oil

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Bourguignon de Seitan (seitan stew with red wine and mushrooms with mashed potatoes and garlic olive oil)

Desserts

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Crumble aux Fruits Rouge (red berry crumble with chestnut flour)

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Crème Brulee au Gingembre (crème brulee with ginger)

Wine
We a small flask of their house wine and I must admit, it wasn’t all that memorable.

One thing that hasn’t changed here is you still wind up talking to people sitting next to you. We ended up talking to a really nice guy, Reginald, from the US and exchanged a few words with a teacher and her student too.

Le Potager du Marais
24 Rue Rambuteau
Paris
Website

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Turkish Coffee Machine

Every time I go back to Turkey, I bring back cooking magazines, my favourite authors’ new books, cookbooks and kitchen gadgets I cannot get in Australia. One of the kitchen gadgets I brought back with me this time around is a Turkish coffee maker.

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I actually had the intention of buying a cezve-style one which is also an electric Turkish coffee maker, just smaller and more compact. However, my friends in Istanbul convinced me to buy this one instead. I noticed that this style and this brand was what everyone is using over there these days. After the decision was made, all I had to do was to pick a colour.

I experimented with a pack of coffee I was given by Uğur Atik from Galeri Set after I got back but the machine itself came with a pack too. At some stage I will have to go out and hunt for real Turkish coffee though.

This coffee machine is a darling. You just put your coffee, your sugar and water in it and press the button and go and save the world if you want while you’re coffee is being made. It beeps when it’s all done and you have a cup of foamy Turkish coffee, just like Ottomans intended!

How to make Turkish coffee with Turkish coffee machine

Ingredients:
1 level coffee spoon Turkish coffee (measuring spoon comes with the machine)
1 level tsp sugar
1 cup of water (the same Turkish coffee cup)

Method:
• Place the sugar and coffee in your cezve (it comes with the machine and it is the red thing in the photo with a handle) part of the machine, add water and stir.
• Place the cezve  on top of the circle. It should go all the way in otherwise the machine will not start.
• Press the button on top. It’ll automatically switches itself off when the coffee is ready.
• Once you hear the beep, pour it into your cup and afiyet olsun (enjoy in Turkish).

Note: Turkish coffee is served with rose flavoured Turkish delight and a glass of water. You drink the water to cleanse your palate and have your coffee with the Turkish delight. This is the Ottoman way Peoples.

Here’s the sugar levels in Turkish coffee making business:
• Şekersiz or sade: no sugar at all
• Az şekerli: with little sugar (½ Turkish teaspoon)
• Orta şekerli: medium (1 Turkish teaspoon)
• Şekerli: 2 Turkish teaspoon

Note: 1 Turkish teaspoon equals 1 level teaspoon.

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I was also given a nice set of coffee cups by a dear friend of mine (the one in the photo above) which makes my coffee experience more special.

Note: I promised this post to our hairdresser Nathan Yazbek from Salon Yazbek long time ago. Sorry for the delay, Nathan :)