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Europe

Berlin Beer Week 2017

Berlin Beer Week

“Why does Berlin not have a beer week? It was a simple question Tiffany Herrington asked Stefan Krueger back in 2015. That question turned into a conversation, which then became an event, when they connected with Dirk Hoplitschek to form the dream team becoming the official founders of Berlin’s most famous craft beer festival, Berlin Beer Week.”

The ethos of Berlin Beer Week is to bring together a select group of local and international artisanal brewers to run events at various locations around Berlin. The locations range from restaurants, brewpubs, beer bars, bottle shops and educational institutions. With the underlying mission to promote local businesses and people producing great beer!

Berlin Beer Week

Berlin Beer Week is now in its third iteration. The event has gotten bigger year-on-year, evinced in the number of breweries and partners for this year’s events.
Timing plays a part in the success of Berlin Beer Week, with an increasing number of expats and localschallenging the traditional Pilsners and Bavarian staples. It is however, primarily due to the passion of the co-founders, which has driven Berlin Beer Week forward.
Tiffany Herrington Berlin Beer Week
Tiffany Herrington

Tiffany is originally from California; a lawyer by trade, but discovered her love for beer while living in Seattle. From an initial curiosity, mixed in with European city hopping, and a beer drinking sabbatical – she was reborn a brewer.

Stephan Krueger Berlin Beer Week
Stephan Krueger

Stefan is a Berliner and serial entrepreneur, discovered “good beer” after a life-changing trip in America, when he met Gregg Koch, co-founder of the legendary Stone Brewing Company and had his first every Stone IPA. After returning to Berlin and noticing how dire the selection of beers was at the supermarkets, he decided to get into distribution and even launched his own pop-up craft beer bar, which was one of the first in Berlin.

Dirk Hoplitschek Berlin Beer Week
Dirk Hoplitschek

Dirk is a Berlin native and self-taught beer enthusiast. His introduction to craft beer was through trying anything that didn’t look generic at the speciality beverage stores. These experiences lead to Dirk co-founding Bier-Index.de, a beer-reviewing platform. He also works as a beer writer for Mixology Magazine, and is part of the Bierlinie distribution team.

In combination, the founders have a ton of energy, knowledge and passion for beer. Along with the connections and entrepreneurial mind-set they have scaled Berlin Beer Week to what it is today.

Berlin Beer Week

Craft Beer has taken a bit of time to reach Germany, primarily due to local resistance and the nationalistic approach towards Reinhetsgebot, the purity law that has defined beer in Germany for centuries. In a way this tradition has been hijacked by larger industrial beer markers to create a very large barrier of entry for independent breweries, by producing mass scale, low priced beer. This makes it very hard for smaller producers to compete with the economies of scale.

Luckily for us in Berlin there has been a massive wave of craft beer bars opening across the city, thanks to rising demand from consumers wanting to pay a bit more for quality and originality. It is however, a long road ahead before we start seeing more craft beer in people’s homes in Berlin, but the potential is huge and thus we are fortunate to have Tifanny, Stefan and Dirk as flag bearers for artisanal and independent beer makers.

The Kick-off Party of Berlin Beer Week is on July 21st and there will be a craft beer cruise, equipped with over 40 beers from more than 40 local, national and international breweries.

It will be craft beer heaven for 4 hours as you cruise through the centre of Berlin. It will be one party you do not want to miss. Tickets are limited and you can buy them here: Kick-off Party Tickets

Berlin Beer Week 2017 Quick facts

A ten-day, multi-venue celebration of craft beer culture and
community with numerous events taking place throughout the capital.

Dates: July 21 – 30

Website: http://www.berlinbeerweek.com

*Image Credits: Berlin Beer Week & Berlin Loves You

House of Small Wonder – American Brunch meets Japan

Brunch is an institution for me…which has been stamped into my DNA during my 8 year stint in New York. No weekend is perfect, with out having a lazy afternoon with friends over eggs, sandwiches, coffee, and of course cocktails!

That last bit of cocktails is even more important, if I had a big night out and need something for that hangover, which I am hiding under baseball hat and sunglasses!

Since I have moved to this awesome city, I am constantly on the hunt to find the Top Berlin Brunch spots. I was fortunate enough to come across House of Small Wonder and without knowing anything about its origins, I thought I had to check it out.

House of Small WonderBerlin Brunch

Now when you try to go there for the first time, you will find the location a bit of mystery, because there is not a whole lot going on Johannistrasse, especially with the all the construction happening on the street right now. And with the location being right of Friedchstrasse with new glass building next to it, it’s not the most exciting place in Berlin to visit.

This entire feeling changes as soon as you walk into the ground floor entrance and when you see that staircase for the first time.

Berlin Brunch

Surrounded by potted plants and greenery, with tons of natural light, makes it one my favourite places to wait for a table upstairs! And yes unfortunately there will be wait to get spot, because it is very popular and judging by the number of Instagram posts on just the staircase, most people don’t seem mind the wait either 🙂

House of Small Wonder

Once you make your way up the winding staircase, this room, with large ceilings welcomes you, with really cool hipster décor, lots of wood and tons of natural light. This to me was so Brooklyn, when I first saw it!

House of Small WonderTop Brunch spot in Berlin

The food was simple but with a strong Japanese influence. Everything sounded fresh and there were a couple of things that just caught our eyes, which we had to try!

Homemade Biscuit Benedict

Homemade yogurt-scone with ham, soft cooked organic egg and wasabi hollandaise sauce

Eggs Benedict Berlin - House of Small Wonder

Kakuni Sandwich

Apple-fed pork belly kakuni on a wheat roll served with iceberg lettuce, tomato, sweet soy sauce and mustard mayonnaise. Served with spinach salad

Pork Belly Sandwich BerlinPork Belly Sandwich Berlin

Croque Madame

Ham and gruyere cheese sandwich griller with béchamel sauce and scrambled organic eggs

House of Small Wonder

I have been to House of Small wonder over four times since I have moved to Berlin and when I decided to write about the place, I discovered the co-founders, Mokoto Watanabe and Shaul Margulies created the first House of Small Wonder in Williamsburg, Brooklyn the summer of 2010! Ha! A month before I left New York to London! So clearly it was destiny for me to find this place and to be in my Top Berlin Brunch list!

 

TookTook Tips
  • Try to avoid the weekends, unfortunately this has hit a lot of the tourist lists and tends to be quite packed.
  • Get the Orange Juice, its super fresh!

  • if you only pick one thing, I would def pick between the pork belly sandwich and the house benedict. With my preference going to the sandwich, it is probably one of the best pork belly sandwiches you can get in Berlin right now!

 

Website: House of Small Wonder
Address:  Johannisstraße 20, 10117 Berlin
Price: €€
Hours:
Friday 9AM–5PM
Saturday 9AM–5PM
Sunday 9AM–5PM
Monday 9AM–5PM
Tuesday 9AM–5PM
Wednesday 9AM–5PM
Thursday 9AM–5PM

 

Zweistrom – Shawarma & Falafel Heaven

I grew up in the Middle East in the 80’s and early 90’s. Fast food options were very limited. I still remember, when the first McDonald’s opened up in Saudi Arabia, the lines were insane! A three-story building packed with 100’s of golden arch groupies and the drive through lines that were already 50 cars deep, when you pulled in. Looking back at that today, it seems insane, because we are just talking about McDonald’s!

Luckily, despite the clear lack of options, before the explosion of restaurants, there was one undisputed king of all fast foods – The Shawarma!

The key for a good shawarma, regardless if it is chicken, beef or lamb, is the layering of the meat on the spit. It is the alternating patterns of meat and fat, rotating under even heat that gives the meat the right textures of burnt tips and tender pieces. The other key ingredients are pickled turnips, garlic mayo and amba (dipping sauce made of mangoes, vinegar, salt, mustard, turmeric, chilli and fenugreek).

All of which combines to give the perfect flavours. I did not know the word to describe it back then, but today I would call it pure Umami. Every single bite offered something interesting. The sour crunch of the pickled radish, in particular was my personal favourite

zweistrom berlin

There are not a lot of great shawarma places in Berlin. There two main reasons behind this. One – Arab immigrants are very new to Berlin. Two – This is still very much a doner city, so when you are looking for meat on a stick, most people head that direction.

I discovered Zweistrom in Prenzlauer Berg, when I recently moved to Berlin. The place is renowned for their falafels, which is how I found it.

zweistrom berlin

On first impressions, the place is super basic. With limited indoor seating and on good weather days, there are plenty of seats outdoors.

zweistrom berlin

The menu is basic with mixture of various tellers (plates) and with some options to get it in brot (bread) – the taboon bread is typically served across the Middle East and is the perfect carb base for shawarmas. This bread is an option as well with the tellers.

After the seeing the menu for the first time, I decided to try the mixed platter, in order to try everything Zweistrom has to offer. And boy I was not disappointed!

zweistrom berlin

Every single bite was fascinating and offered everything you want from the food! It was pure bliss and it felt like being in a time machine and transporting me back to those childhood moments of pure satisfaction!

I have been to Zweistrom, eating at the restaurant inside and outside. And I have also done take away. It is right up there for some of the best comfort food in town for me. It is also a treat to see their plates when you eat there, because they are truly a work of art! With a price of under 7.50 euros, this is one of the best value for money places in town!

zweistrom berlin

And as for as the reason for my first visit…I have to say….yes the falafels are good as well 🙂

 

TookTook Tips

  • Get the mix teller if you are super hungry. It is a lot of food!
  • I would recommend eating in over take away

 

Address: Kollwitzstraße 104, 10435 Berlin, Germany

Price:
Hours:

Thursday 12PM–2AM
Friday 12PM–2AM
Saturday 12PM–3AM
Sunday 12PM–3AM
Monday 12PM–2AM
Tuesday 12PM–2AM
Wednesday 12PM–2AM:

Dumplings in Barcelona

It is awesome when a new place opens up in the neighborhood. This is the feeling we had when Dip Dumpling joined Gracia towards the end of last year. It is not one of those places that screams out calling for you, but once you go there you will love it. We love its identity, its purity. Also you must like dumplings, because that is the main attraction on their menu.

Ana and Eduardo, have brought their experiences from New York and China, along with their team back to Barcelona.

The place is simple, clean and minimally decorated. It is a very relaxed environment with just enough space to seat around 12 people. It feels like the feng shui is spot on.

Furthermore, the menu is just as simple and intentionally limited as the decor. At Dip Dumpling they use the best and freshest ingredients. Not only that, they painstakingly do everything by hand, even aspects of the cooking and preparation a machine could easily do. Luckily, for us, we get to taste the love and effort that goes into preparing the food.

We usually start off with some greens, edamame, bok choy and broccoli. We are also served a little cup of kimchi to open up our appetite.

For drinks as they do not serve any alcohol (and you won’t even need it here), we usually get the ginger or green juices.

Next, you can select between the beef, pork, shrimp, and vegetable dumplings. We have a bit of everything but our favorite are the beef dumplings.

Finally, we end up having the apple pie dumplings for dessert. They are so light and not super sweet.

The meal is satisfyingly filling, but maintains a sense of lightness. Overall, it’s just a healthy, soothing and yummy experience.

TookTook Tips:

  • Get the Bok Choy it’s just so fresh and succulent
  • Have a juice
  • Get an assortment of dumplings – our favorite is the beef
  • They do not serve alcohol
  • Small groups should be easier to serve
  • Closed on Monday’s
Phone: +34 932 10 79 46
Price:
Hours:
Tuesday 7–11PM
Wednesday 7–11PM
Thursday 7–11PM
Friday 7–11PM
Saturday 7–11PM
Sunday 7–11PM
Monday Closed


From,

The Tooktook Tem

Burgermeister – The most famous burger joint in Berlin

I love burgers! There are very few things in world that can satisfy the taste buds, like a well-prepared beef patty, crispy bacon, and basic condiments, in between a slightly crispy but soft bun.

And as simple as it sounds, it is very easy to screw it up. I have written about Tommi’s Burger Joint as one of those places that gets it right And while I would rank Tommi’s higher in terms of quality. There is however, no doubt in mind Burgermeister wins hands down in terms of originality and experience. Not to mention for under 5 euros for the regular burgers, you get the best value for money. And deserves to be in the exclusive club of high quality burger joints in Berlin!

Located right in the middle of Schlesisches Tor under the beautifully constructed train tracks of the U1 leading to and from Schlesisches Tor Ubahn station. The station itself is rooted in history as it is named after one of the former 18TH century city gates.

A further fun fact making this a truly unique venue is that the King of Berlin Burgers is located in what used to be a public toilette! Don’t worry, there is very little of that left apart from the signage!

The go to burger to get is the house burger the ‘Meisterburger’! It is simple affair, just the way I like it, a well cooked juicy patty with fried onions, mustard, bacon and bbq sauce in a bun. It is not too big or messy. Every bite is delicious and fills you up perfectly.

The fries and sauces are decent but nothing to shout about. Though if your part of the 1am-3am crowd, the enhanced craving for greasy food from a night out, will make the chili cheese fries seem outstanding!

At the end of the day, Burgermeister is the people’s burger. It is one of those few places in Berlin, where you will see all sections of society, together; enjoying the simplicity of what a burger should be all about!

 

TookTook Tips

  • Prepare for a long line during peak lunch hours and early mornings on the weekends.
  • The burgers are not huge, so if you are going for the regular burgers, get a side or another burger! If you are really hungry!
  • The Meisterburger is the go to burger of choice!

 

Address: U1 Schlesisches Tor, Oberbaumstraße 8, 10997, Berlin

Phone: +49 30 23883840

Website: Burgermeister

Hours:

Tuesday 11am–3am
Wednesday 11am–3am
Thursday 11am–3am
Friday 11am–4am
Saturday 12pm–4am
Sunday 12pm–3am
Monday 11am–3am

Price: €

N.A.P. Barcelona’s Best Pizza

There is one food that just may unite everyone. Whether you are traveling through or want some comfort food most would agree that pizza is such a great option. There are so many good places to eat in Barcelona from tapas to steaks, from burgers to sushi, but for some reason a good ol’ pizza will always hit the spot.

You can grow tired with the myriad of choices a city has on offer, so it is important to really have a great pizza place for that crucial moment of when you are in doubt. For us, our go to, when in doubt, all else fails, pizza place in Barcelona is Neapolitan Authentic Pizza, aka N.A.P.

N.A.P. is delicious, authentic, and it just happens to be super value-for-money. The location is tucked in close by a busy area of the city. The restaurant is small and spacing is intimate, the noise levels are on the up. Really has relaxed, authentic all is good feel.

For starters it serves up tasty variations of bruschetta, a fresh super milky bufala mozzarella , and a hot cheesy eggplant lasagna.

Eggplant Lasagna

 

On to the main event. There are a handful of choices for pizza. The pizzas are made right in front of you. The freshest dough rolled and flattened then topped with the freshest ingredients. As you enter the restaurant the brick oven is cooking that dough, melting that cheese, cooking those ingredients right before your eyes. It is absolutely mouth watering.

Diavola
Regina

 

For dessert we end up having the Tiramisu, followed by Limoncello and an Espresso.

There is no other to top off an authentic Italian meal.

It’s always a fulfilling experience.

TookTook Tips:

  • Get a bottle of wine, the experience is so much better
  • Vegetarian choice, the Regina
  • Love the Tiramisu
  • This place gets packed so get there early.
  • Great place for a relaxed date with a small but conversation friendly atmosphere
  • You can reserve at the second location and it has space for bigger groups
Price: €

Hours:

Tuesday 1:30–4:30PM, 8PM–12AM
Wednesday 1:30–4:30PM, 8PM–12AM
Thursday 1:30–4:30PM, 8PM–12AM
Friday 1:30–4:30PM, 8PM–12AM
Saturday 1:30PM–12AM
Sunday 1:30PM–12AM
Monday 1:30–4:30PM, 8PM–12AM
Signing out,

The Tooktook Team

ABC – Allan’s Breakfast Club & Wine Bar

Breakfast aka Frühstück is very popular in Berlin and there are plenty of places to go to, if you are looking for the traditional German breakfast of fresh fruits, delicious bread, a variety of cheese, butter and boiled eggs. There are also ample cafés doing their hipster bit of making versions of eggs benedict with ‘artisanal bread’ – the type where you need a steak knife to cut through it or they serve massive bowls of muesli – which have enough yogurt to feed a family of four!

Unfortunately outside these two genres, there is very little out there for folks looking for an American style greasy affair to soak in all the booze from the night before. The things I dream of are hash browns, streaky bacon, corn beef hash, tatar tots, Biscuits and Gravy. The type of options you get in places like New York and London.

Luckily, it’s not all doom and gloom, as there are a few folks trying to break out of the vanilla brunch offerings and do things with care rather than trying too hard to stand out. And the leading light in this endeavour is Allan’s Breakfast Club (ABC).

Allan is the French owner and Head Chef. After spending a few years in Australia, and working in Berlin food scene, he started ABC, fusing the relaxed Aussie brunch culture with French elements – To create one of Berlin’s hottest Brunch spots.

I have been to visit Allan and his lovely staff, more than 6 times since I moved to Berlin. I have sampled most things on the menu and I have to give them high marks for friendly staff and making simple dishes with high quality ingredients.

While I am fan of their Eggs Benedict, I am even bigger fan of their bread bases dishes.

The French toast is genius with the nutella yogurt spread on the side.

The banana bread is just amazing! It’s perfectly baked and tastes amazingly fresh.

The Croque Monsieur may be the best one I have had so far in Berlin!

And if you are really hungry folks you can go for the ABC tasting plate to get the full spread of what the place can offer.

And of course if you got a hair of the dog moment, there is nothing like a strong bloody mary to help your weekend day along!

ABC is currently my go to comfort spot for a weekend meal and if you decide to go later in the evening, post 7:30pm, you also get to experience a vibrant wine bar with that same chill vibe you get for brunch.

 

TookTook Tips:

  • Make sure to get reservations for the weekend if you have a group. You can call a couple of days in advance usually and get a booking.

Address: Rykestraße 13, 10405 Berlin

Phone: +49 30 23925134

Website: ABC – Allans Breakfast Club & Wine Bar

Hours:

Tuesday Closed
Wednesday Closed
Thursday 10AM–3PM, 6PM–12AM
Friday 10AM–3PM, 6PM–12AM
Saturday 10AM–4PM, 6PM–12AM
Sunday 10AM–4PM
Monday 10AM–3PM

Price: €€

Nobook Barcelona

One night we were looking to try out a new place for diner in Barcelona and it needed to be quite central. We heard about Nobook.

As the name suggests, you cannot make a reservation/booking, hence the name Nobook. You can really feel this place is different and has an identity of its own.

From the moment you enter, you see chairs hanging on the wall ready to be brought into effect for extra seating, orange-themed decor, open plan kitchen, but the best is the staff are dressed up in orange jumpsuits as if they were prisoners in a corrections facility.

A bit shocking, the colors and the outfits at first, you get used to it, especially the team is so welcoming and enjoying their own environment. The closest thing to a literal version of Orange is the New Black.

 

The cocktails here are very creative and well presented. Do try one or two throughout your meal.

Like the cocktails, the dishes are creative as well. They touch upon various cuisines from around the world and are great for sharing amongst each other.

Do check out what we ate.

 

Ceviche
Gua Bao with Peking Duck
img_5773
General Tso Chicken
Scallops

Over and above the main menu, there a few surprise dishes that are served from off the menu so be sure to try those as well.

After a lovely meal of a variety of flavors and there was no dessert or coffee or coffe on offer because their cocktails are supposed to take care of your post meal cravings. The night we went there was a band and it kept the energy flowing throughout the night.

You’ll be walking away from Nobook with good vibes.

TookTook Tips:

  • Make sure you know how much you are ordering as quantities vary per dish
  • Try some of their amazing cocktails
  • Find out what is on their unwritten menu
Menu: nobook.es
Phone: At Nobook you can’t book so…No Phone
Price: €€€

Hours:

Tuesday 7:30–11:30PM
Wednesday 7:30–11:30PM
Thursday 1–3:30PM, 7:30PM–12AM
Friday 1–3:30PM, 7:30PM–12AM
Saturday 1–3:30PM, 7:30PM–12AM
Sunday: Closed
Monday 7:30–11:30PM

Signing out,

The Tooktook Team

El Portal – The Gastronomic Taberna of Alicante

The Taberna & Wines Portal

El Portal is a restaurant that is famous in Alicante for a variety of reasons.

  1. It is the epicentre of fine dining in Alicante.
  2. They have an Incredible wine list and serve stunning cocktails.
  3. It is stylish and a place to be seen.
  4. And it is rated highly by the folks at Michelin

El Portal Taberna & Wines

None of these things, usually gets us excited but based on recommendations from locals tellings us to go to Portal, we thought, why not, lets give it a shot!

We arrived on a Friday afternoon and tried to walk in, which was an automatic fail, because the whole place was booked out and not only booked out for the rest of Friday, but for the entire weekend. The lovely maître d however told us to come the next day at 1pm, when the place opens and we could get a spot at the bar.

The Taberna & Wines Portal

So the next day that is exactly what we did and we walked in as one of the first folks for lunch (1pm is clearly too early for Spanish lunch time!). We were given a seats at the bar and because it was relatively quiet, the bar tender was able to chat with us and give us recommendations on what to order.

sardines-and-chips

We ordered 10 dishes covering a variety of things, such as Mollejas de cordero (lamb with sweet bread), Patatas Bravas ( baked potato with aioli sauce), and Verdura Gastromercat ( mozzarella and tomato).

verdura-gastromercat

patatas-bravas

mollejas-de-cordero

The highlight however were:

Turron de Foie turron-de-foie

Turron or nougat, are made with honey, sugar, and egg white, with toasted almonds. Almonds are indigenous to the region, so you know your getting some one the best turrons in Spain here. And when you combine that nutty paste with the soft consistency of Foie Gras, you are creating an explosion of flavour, like we have never had before.

Vieiras Asadas vieiras-asadas

The roasted scallops in a buttery cream sauce and  topped with bacon!! We just loved this dish. I mean anything with bacon, just makes things better ha! But in all seriousness this is dish, executed to perfection.

Berengena Asadaberengena-asada

Roasted Aubergine was spectacular. It was tender, packed with a lot of flavour. The upper bread crumbled crust, give this dish an amazing contrast between the braised flavours of the aubergine and crispy flavours of the crumble.

Tuna Tataki

tuna-tataki

This was the highlight of what we eat. This dish was at par with anything you would eat in Japan. The Sashimi was tender, almost buttery and was literally melting in our mouths. We highly recommend, getting this dish if you are good with seafood!

seafood

The other dish highly recommended, was the snow crab, which we did not have any space our stomachs to get to, but the bar tender could not stop raving about it!

We are highly impressed by Portal and our experience. Carlos Bosch and his partner and Chef Sergio Sierra have done an incredible job putting Alicante on the map with their restaurant.

TookTook Tips:

  • Make sure to get reservations, Portal is extremely popular with locals and visitors.
  • Book a table for a late lunch on Saturday, we recommend around 2pm and  stick around for drinks! The atmosphere is electric, fuelled by the amazing cocktails.
  • Try the Olive oil that they serve, it is amazing!
    copacopa-vino

Address: Calle Bilbao, 2, 03001 Alicante

Phone: +34 965 14 32 69

Website: El Portal

Hours: Open every day· 1pm–1:30am

Price: €€€

To-Bar – An Alicantino Meal to Remember 

Imagine walking into a restaurant not knowing what you’re going to eat, how much you’re going to pay, how much you’re going to get to eat, or what kind of cuisine it is. We walked into To-bar in Alicante under those circumstances.

Completely overwhelmed by the lack of control over the situation we were wondering if this was turning out to be a good idea in the first place. The waiter with great confidence and jubilation told us we are in good hands and have very little to worry about. We decided to go with the flow.

Bread, water, wine, salad, a host of appetizers, freshly caught shrimp ready to peel, first plate of meat and a second plate of fish, dessert, coffee, digestifs were all included. This turned out to be truly a local, authentic, Alicantino meal.

 

By the end of the meal we had no more space. No more wiggle room to move. We held our breath for the bill not knowing the damage to our wallets. How much was this experience really worth?

€ 17.50 per head! Our jaws dropped, we couldn’t believe it. For that price this meal was outstanding and worth every penny. Probably, one of the most value-for-money moments ever in our lives.

The atmosphere is great here, like a rustic tavern. Whether you are two people or twenty this place can accommodate any occasion.

Tooktook Tips:

  • Be sure to make a reservation as such an experience is in great demand for visitors and locals alike.

 

Address: Calle Músico José Torregrosa, 28, 03112 Alicante
Phone: 645 46 18 36
Website: tabernatobar.com
Hours: Open every day· 12–4PM | Friday and Saturday 9–11PM | Sunday Closed

Price: €

From the Tooktook Team