God, I'm so behind the times with this it's embarrassing! I actually opened a restaurant in December, in collaboration with my friends Sean & Joe of Cannon & Cannon fame. I guess if you've been following me or the restaurant on twitter, then you're pretty up to date with it all anyway.
If not, well come and check it out! Find us upstairs at 18 Market Row, Brixton, SW9 8LD.
Call 020 7501 9152 or email email@example.com to book
Not often you get to see the switching of a shawarma stick mid-service. But I guess when you're as busy as Mustafa's - my top tip for Berlin street food - this could come about anytime. The queue says it all...
So busy they got the next shawarma lined up outside the kiosk. Here it is, complete with trolley.
I just got back from Berlin. It was pretty awesome. When I told people I was going to Germany to research döners, kebabs and Middle Eastern street food, lots of them wondered why not go to Istanbul? Well Istanbul is next on the list, and with a lot of the Middle East out of bounds at the minute, Berlin, with the highest concentration of Turkish people outside of Turkey, seemed like a sensible choice. Plus I also needed to let off some steam after a busy summer, and Berghain / Panorama Bar on a Sunday morning is probably the best place in the world to do just that.
It's claimed that the döner was invented in Berlin, at a place called Hasir in Kreuzberg - the centre of Berlin's Turkish community. From there came the genius of wrapping the meat, sauce and salad in a flatbread, and rolling it around itself to create the portable meal that is now enjoyed by drunk people from Wellington, New Zealand to Welling Garden City, Hertfordshire. Hasir, we owe you. Big time.
So nowadays kebabs - or kebaps, as they say there - are all over Berlin and there's a Middle Eastern takeaway on every corner, plus a few more on every block for good measure.
The main thing that struck me was how different each product was. No two döners, falafels or shawarmas were the same. The regional variations in spicing, sauces and garnish were extremely apparent. A bit of cardamom here. Peanut sauce instead of hummus there. Pickled vegetables sometimes in place of salad. Foccacia bread or flatbread. The variations were endless, and damn tasty.
So here's my top three Middle Eastern takeaways in Berlin.
Mo's Kleiner Imbiss. Gräefstraße 9, Kreuzberg
This place calls itself "The king of falafel", and they do rightly lay a claim. The falafel balls are huge, and the sandwiches are served with loads of salad and a splodge of nicely hot and sour chilli sauce. The thing that make's Mo's standout, though, is the walnut paste they smear all over the bread. That and the cute little old lady that's running the show. The queen of falafel, clearly.
Dada Falafel. Linienstraße 132, Mitte
In at number two is Dada's. It's a bit more up market than some of the places we visited. It's a slick operation, fitting of it's high end surroundings in Mitte. The prices are a little higher, and the portions are a little smaller, but it's made up for by the quality of the food (and cleanliness of the shop). Veal shawarma was dripping with meaty juices, grilled aubergine had a sour hint of sumac and the falafel had the added depth of cardamom. Spicing and seasoning in general was spot on. Check this one out.
Mustafa's Gemüsekebap. Mehringdamm, West Kreuzberg
Ok, this is the one. Mustafa's is simply the bomb. They have a kiosk on the street just up from Curry 36, outside a hostel, and next to an off license. That could be your weekend right there. Mustafa's do chicken shawarma with fried vegetables, or fried vegetables for the veggies. You get the choice of durüm (flatbread) or pocket (pictured), or plate. The durüm wraps were huge, and packed with juicy meat, crisp salad and fresh herbs. We got there about 7pm, and there was already a long queue forming. It's well worth the wait though. Grab a beer from the liquor store, and settle in for a serious dose of street food. Exceptional.
Also on the Kebalfe trail were a few non-Middle Eastern joints that are worth a look. This was my fifth trip to Berlin, and it's taken me til now to get around to visiting Curry 36 (just down the road from Mustafa's). It's a sloppy and saucy and bit fake-tasting (in a good way..?), but an institution none the less. Sausage fans, go take a look. And while we're on the quick and dirty theme, Burgermeister, housed in an old public toilet, is also pretty damn tasty. Burgers hit the spot, but are let down slightly by the bun. The fries on the other hand... Whoa. Try chilli, bacon & jalepeno.
Curry 36. Mehringdamm, West Kreuzberg
Burgermeister. Oberbaumstraße 9, Kreuzberg
This lot may seem a bit South East-centric, but if you're elsewhere in Berlin, fear not. The Kebalfe has got that covered. In fact, I even made a Googlemap... Just click on the image below. Have a look and go get exploring!
Earlier in the month I did a dinner at my buddies' Sean & Joe's deli in Brixton, Cannon & Cannon. I meant to write about it at the time, but I never got around to it. It seems a bit late now, but it do go really well, was a lot of fun, and got loads of props from the guests who came - If you follow me on twitter, you might have seen all my retweets bigging myself up after the event! So I thought I should make a bit of a record of it on here.
The menu was built around the products that Sean & Joe sell at the deli, with some well-sourced, interesting & seasonal ingredients, plus a few bits I foraged for myself. I thought it all worked together really well. Thanks to everyone who came, and sorry for those who didn't manage to get a ticket. Next time!
I'll be doing some more stuff at Cannon & Cannon in the future, so watch this space...
Doing some rarebit testing here at Love To Eat HQ. I always thought calling fancy cheese on toast a rarebit was a bit strange actually. Throw in the Welsh bit - to give it it's full name, and it starts to get really confusing. I've just done about two and a half minutes research into the name (thanks Google), and it turns out the origins are pretty unclear anyway. Basically it's to do with it being poor man's food, and the Welsh being poor, and the English not liking the Welsh. This is all back in 1742, of course. Nowadays, a poor man wouldn't be bothering to make a cheese sauce to pour over his bread. And the Welsh and English are more or less as poor as each other.
So I made a mutant version yesterday, not based on historical archives, or what I just read on Wikipedia, or the BBC, or even Delia, but on what was available in my local corner shop. The cheddar looked dull as dishwater, but there was a slab of West Indian-style processed cheese which ended up in the basket along with a bottle of Guiness. Add a slosh of jerk sauce in place of Worcestershire, and there you have it. I guess you might call it a Deptford Rarebit.
The Deptford Rarebit
Big knob of butter
Small handful of flour
Splash of Guiness (from a bottle to be really authentic)
Some jerk sauce
West Indian processed cheese e.g. Dunns River
Another cheese that actually has some flavour (I used Parmesan)
Heat the grill and lightly toast your bread. In a sauce pan, make a roux by melting the butter, and stirring in the flour until fully combined. Gradually add the Guiness a dribble at a time, stirring as you go, until it's a thick sauce. Add the jerk sauce and stir. Add the two grated cheeses, reserving a bit of the strong tasting one for now - I used a ratio of about 70:30 processed to real. When it all looks like a big thick cheesey sauce, pour over the bread. Sprinkle the remains of the strong tasting cheese on top, and grill until bubbling and starting to brown.