Dinner and cocktails at Solar, Berlin

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On the plane from London to Berlin I asked the woman in the seat next to recommend a nice bar in to me, and thanks to her Emma and I ended up in this fabulous restaurant and sky lounge in Kreuzberg.

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The restaurant was really nice and although we had booked a late table (that was all that s available) they could fit us in around 7.30pm, which was great as we were already starving.

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After ordering prosecco we received this lovely bread basket with thick still warm slices of dark and white bread, a grassy olive oil and a sweet potato crème.

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Emma loved her cod with chickpeas, leek, pickled lemons and smoked fish broth and a side of creamed spinach.

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I had fregola pasta, which I’ve never had before. It’s little pearls of pasta from Sicily that looks very much like giant couscous but is a little chewier. It was prepared like a risotto and was served with coppa ham, salted almond’s, olives, lamb’s lettuce and soft goat’s cheese. Delicious!

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After dinner we walked up to the sky bar with great views over the city and had cocktails and prosecco.

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Solar, Stresemanstrasse 76, 109 63 Berlin, Germany 

Crab tarlets with chives, red chilli and lime

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These wonderful tartlets came about when a colleague was asking me for a recipe for a crab tartlet. I didn’t know a nice one so she used a recipe by Mary Berry that she raved about afterwards. So of course I had to try it. But for some reason I wasn’t in the mood for full on Thai flavours in the filling like the recipe suggests so I made my own filling with chives, red chilli and lime instead.

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It turned out really well. Less full on flavours, but it complemented the crab perfectly and the crab taste came through more. It’s perfect as a light lunch or a starter.

I only made two tartlets but made one full batch of the dough (for eight) as I like having pastry in the freezer. It’s just fiddly to make a small batch anyway.

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Crab tarlets with chives, red chilli and lime, makes 2 small tartlets

I made the dough using Mary Berry’s recioe while the filling is my own

Pastry (freeze what you don’t use):

175 g plain flour

1 tsp Coleman’s mustard powder

75 g butter, cut into cubes

50 g parmesan, finely grated

1 egg, beaten

Filling:

100 g crab meat

1/2 röd chilli, finely chopped 

1/2 lime, zest only

3 tbsp chopped chives

1 beaten egg

100 ml cream

salt, white pepper

Preheat the oven and a baking tray to 200C. 

Start with the dough; mix flour, butter and mustard powder in a food processor until you have crumbs. Add the egg and the parmesan and run the food processor until the dough comes together. 

Press out (or roll if you prefer) the dough into two small dishes with a fluted edge. Freeze the remaining dough. 

Mix crab meat, lime zest, chilli and chives in a bowl. Divide between the tartlets. Beat eggs and cream, season well and fill up the tartlets. 

Place the tartlets on the now hot baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the filling is set. Leave to cool a little and serve with a salad. 

Lunch at Lutter & Wegner, Berlin, Germany

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After a long walk through a sunny Berlin on Saturday, Emma and I were ravenous by the time we saw some restaurants near Gendarmenmarkt. Most other cities have restaurants and cafés scattered everywhere but in Berlin they were a little harder to find if you wanted to avoid the real tourist traps. But around Gendarmenmarkt and off of Kurfürstendamm here are a few clusters of restaurants, so we’re glad we found them.

I had read about Lutter & Wegner while doing my research and it lived up to its expectations. The menu is German with some other influences. The service was great, the interior is cosy and the food really good.

Emma had a Caesar salad with large prawns which was nice and substantial and looked really fresh. I went a bit more local with a Wienerschnitzel serves with potato and cucumber salad. The schnitzel was huge but very flat and tender and the salad was delicious too. We both had a glass of wine each with our lunch, both matched with our food by our knowledgeable waiter and the recommendations were spot on. After having refuelled in such a nice way we were ready to continue our long walk in the sun.

Lutter & Wegner, Charlottenstraße 56, 10117 Berlin, Germany

Berlin in pictures

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Berlin was quite different to what I expected, but Emma and I had a fabulous time. We enjoyed good food (restaurant reviews in separate posts), laughed A LOT and walked lots taking in the sights.

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On the Saturday we started the day at the Berlin Wall museum for some contemporary history. It was very educational and well worth a visit. After that we walked around for the rest of the day exploring Berlin. The city is a fun fix of old and new, pretty and ugly.

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Emma at The Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe.

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An obligatory tourist picture by Brandenburger Tor.

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Strasse des 17. Juni by Brandenburger Tor.

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Reichstag (the Parliament).

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Modern architecture.

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The river Spree.

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Brandenburger Tor.

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Gendarmenmarkt (Cavalry square) with pretty old buildings.

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Den iconic green man; a little chubbier than the regular one.

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A typical Berlin view; old meets new.

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Die Fernsehenturm (Television tower) which you can spot from anywhere in the city.

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The River Spree.

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Graffiti.

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The Lipstick and the Powder Compact by Kurfürstendamm.

 

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A walking talking sausage stand. I didn’t buy any but they looked and smelled great!

Tasting menu at Harwood Arms, Fulham

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I celebrated Valentine’s day with my fellow foodie friend Caroline at Harwood Arms, amongst a few couples but we enjoyed the food too much to notice it much. I’ve only had their a ‘la carte before and was a little worried that the tasting menu portions would be huge as the portions here are very generous, but it was just the right amount.

Shortly after having received water, bread and wine at the table the first course arrived; beetroot poached salmon with yellow beets and smoked sourcream. It was a very fresh dis and the smoked sourcream was a fun twist.

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Next we had a rabbit terrine with almond praline, turnip, endive and yoghurt. Also really nice!

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Thereafter turbot with smoked bone marrow and parsley root. Another nice dish with a fun twist. It was the first time I’ve had bone marrow paired with fish!

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The best dish was without a doubt the last savoury one; perfectly cooked fillet of veal with velvety garlic potato purée with jus and toasted garlic. A-ma-zing!

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After that high, the puddings were quite a blur. I prefer savoury over sweet any day and was really content after the first four courses. It was nice to have something sweet to finish off the meal but I’m afraid, to me, the puddings weren’t that memorable.

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But they were just the right size to round off the meal nicely, and especially the mousse-topped shortbread with ice cream was really nice, even though it didn’t top the veal.

Harwood Arms, Walham Grove, London SW6 1QP

Panforte di Siena

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This cake dates back to the 13th century in Siena, Italy and because the cake has been around for so long there are lots of different recipes around. I settled for Jamie Oliver’s as I thought it sounded nice with figs in it, and it was really nice. It’s a dense and quite hard cake consisting mainly of fruits and nuts (and sugar) so a small piece is enough. I totally forgot to buy rice paper for my cake but it worked well without.

Panforte di Siena, makes 20 pieces

Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s recipe.

(rice paper) spapper 

300 g nuts, I used almonds, pistachios and hazelnuts 

200 g mixed candied peel

75 g plain flour

175 g dried figs

1-2 tbsp sherry or vin santo

6 tbsp honey

150 g golden caster sugar

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp cardamom

grated nutmeg

a pinch ground cloves

icing sugar

Cover a 22cm springform with rice paper. Toast the nuts in a dry pan and mix with the mixed peel and flour.

Pre-heat the oven to 150C. Mix the figs into a paste using a food processor. Transfer the paste to a saucepan and add 1 tbsp sherry/vin santo, honey, sugar and all the spices and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5-8 minutes and then add it to the nut mixture. Mix well and add another tbsp sherry/vin santo if the mixture is dry. 

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 30 minutes. Carefully press down a layer of rice paper on top of the cake and bake for another 10 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin. 

Dust with plenty of icing sugar, cut into thin slices and serve.

Molten chocolate cake

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This pudding is such a crowd pleaser. I mean, who doesn’t like a warm gooey chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream?! You can prepare the batter ahead of time, just put them in the oven half-way through the main course and they’re ready when you are.

Chocolate fondant, serves 4

Translated from Pickipicki‘s recipe.

75 g butter (I prefer salted)
100 g dark chocolate (70 %), broken into pieces
2 eggs
4 tbsp caster sugar

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the chocolate pieces. Let it melt on low heat while stirring. Beat eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy and fold it into the chocolate mixture. Divide between four buttered ramekins. Bake in 175C, in the lower part of the oven for 10-15 minutes. The fondant needs to be cooked on the outside but still liquid inside. Serve with vanilla ice cream.