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Vegan in Berlin: Part 2

October 21, 2010

I just submitted my dissertation proposal, which means two things:

1) I have to wait to hear back from my frightening committee members, and most likely revise the proposal a few times;

2) I get to resume reminiscing about food adventures!

So, here you are: my two favorite places to eat in Berlin.

The truth is, I have no idea which one of these places is better–each one has a very different purpose and, I would say, serves its purpose just as well as the other. So, the following order is arbitrary.

2. La Mano Verde

This is where Graham and I went for our 1-year anniversary dinner.

There we are, in rainy Berlin, just a few hours before our big dinner.

La Mano Verde is a very nice vegan (and 50% raw) fusion restaurant on the North side of Berlin. It’s a little off the beaten path, and you may have to walk a bit to find it, but it’s worth it.

(As a side note: before going here, I had heard some complaints about getting excessively expensive, small servings at La Mano Verde. I now suspect, however, that this has to do with the different expectations of restaurants in different countries. If you’re from the US, or perhaps from Germany, then La Mano Verde may be relatively expensive. However, if you’re coming from, say, Paris, La Mano Verde is a veritable steal–you can get a three-course, gourmet vegan meal for one for less than 40 euros! That’s about what you might pay at a mid-range run-of-the-mill restaurant in Paris. And now you understand why I cook so much, and eat so much falafel!)

Now, a confession: I’m not a big fan of raw food. I think this is because I had one experience, in particular, when I ate some extremely tasty raw food, but then felt quite bad later (like I had eaten my weight in salt). However, many of the things on the menu at La Mano Verde that sounded best to me were raw, so I decided to give it another shot. I think I can say that La Mano Verde got me to give up my raw food prejudices.

As an appetizer, I got some raw ravioli, stuffed with cashew cheese and cilantro, and served on a bed of gingery beets.

There was also a very mild green sauce drizzled on top, and it came garnished with some perfect pear slices.

Graham, for an appetizer, got some stuffed and fried wontons served with dark, savory lentils. (And perhaps a kind of fruit compote? My memory is failing me. But give me a break–this was almost a month ago!)

For a main dish, I ordered raw cannolini. They were made out of soaked zucchini slices, which were stuffed with several different kinds of creamy filling (spinach and tomato, I believe).

It came with a yellow pepper puree, raw tomato pate, and beautiful red sprouts.

Graham, for his main dish, got a stack of melt-in-your-mouth tempeh slices, served on a bed of pureed vegetables with a tart berry sauce.

And for dessert, I got some intense (baked) chocolate cake,

and Graham got some raw tiramisu.

Although the tiramisu was good, I think my chocolate festival was stupendous.

I can’t think of a better way to have celebrated our first anniversary–we love eating new, interesting food, and the dishes at La Mano Verde are both creative and delicious.

1. Cafe Vux

Vux is an adorable vegan cafe near Karl Marx Platz. Graham and I managed to go here twice, even though they’re only open Wednesday-Sunday. I think that if I were to ever try to open any sort of restaurant, my goal would be to develop one like Vux–it’s just so pleasant and comfortable, with food that’s both affordable and delicious.

On Wednesday-Saturday, Vux has its normal selection of coffee drinks (and hot chocolate–see below), tea, smoothies, and deli-style bagel sandwiches.

But what really makes Vux stand out on those days are its spectacularly delicious home-made vegan cakes. Here are the ones we managed to try, on the few occasions we went there.

This was a chocolate raspberry cake:

It was a simple, dark chocolate cake, filled with raspberry compote and topped with nice, fluffy, not-too-sweet butter cream frosting.

Here was the spicy chocolate torte that Graham tried:

a delicious, fudgy chocolate torte with a hint of cayenne.

The last time we went there, however, I discovered the best of all possible cakes: lavender peach cake with nougat filling.

I couldn’t believe how good this was: a lightly lavender-scented white layer cake, filled with peach slices and some slightly nutty frosting. Absolutely delicious.

So, that’s the sort of thing you can get on a typical day at Vux. However, on Sundays, Vux does an incredible vegan brunch, during which they scrap the bagel menu in favor of some more exciting savory dishes. Fortunately for us, we managed to go on a Sunday. (But get there early! It’s very popular, and you could easily have to wait.)

Since we showed up at Vux quite cold and quite hungry, we each decided to order two things from their brunch menu. Graham got some sweet potato pear soup,

and a slice of cranberry, walnut, and smoked tofu quiche.

I also got a slice of quiche, although I opted for broccoli.

And I also got the one thing you *have* to get if you go to Vux on a Sunday: the best vegan waffle ever.

It had been a really long time since I had had a waffle. Of course, it’s not as if vegan waffles are hard to make, but I never seemed to come across a waffle-maker at Goodwill, at least not when I was hoping to find one. Hopefully I’ll have better luck when we go back to Indiana.

I have a theory about how they made a waffle this good, sans oeufs. I suspect that they may have used a yeast-based dough. I’ve heard of people having very good luck making yeast-based pancakes, and if that works I don’t see why yeast waffles wouldn’t. I suspect this because these waffles had the same sort of fluffiness and tearing-properties that many yeast breads have. I’ll need to do some research.

So, if you find yourself in Berlin, try to make your way to at least one of these delightful spots.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Stephanie permalink
    October 21, 2010 6:11 pm

    Fist — So glad to hear you’re giving up your raw prejudices! Raw is delicious!!

    Second — This is the recipe I use for pancakes when I want something overly decadent and sweet and fluffy but still whole whea. I designed it for use in a waffle maker.

    2+1/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
    2t baking powder
    1t baking soda
    1/2t salt
    1/2t cinnamon
    1+3/4 c nondairy milk
    1/4 c water
    1/2 c nondairy yogurt
    1/4c maple syrup
    1t vanilla
    2t apple cider vinegar
    1/4c oil

    Mix/sift together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, & cinnamon).
    Stir together wet ingredients (nondairy milk, water, nondairy yogurt, maple syrup, vanilla, apple cider vinegar, oil)
    Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together.
    Make waffles according to the waffle maker’s directions, or pancakes like you normally would.

    • October 22, 2010 7:17 am

      Sounds great! This sounds a little silly, but I was recently looking into how to make different sorts of vegan pancakes–so I’ll have to try your recipe. I usually use a binder-free recipe (from Moskowitz) which works well, but I’m curious about whether using some sort of binder, like yogurt, might make it even better. Thanks for the recipe!

      • Stephanie permalink
        October 31, 2010 4:24 pm

        It’s funny, I don’t really think of yogurt as a binder. More of a thickener. But I suppose it does bind. I think of the vinegar + baking powder & soda as the “egg,” if I think of anything as an egg. (I just thought that was interesting)

        For the record, when I make these, I’m usually using homemade almond milk & homemade yogurt and this morning i just put the ingredients for both in my blender and let it whir a bit longer, since i didn’t have any on hand. turned out great.

        Also, for some reason I haven’t made these with oat or buckwheat or all-purpose gluten free flours yet. I’d like to sometime if only to have another gluten free trick up my sleeve…

    • October 31, 2010 4:42 pm

      That’s true–it probably is the vinegar and baking powder that’s doing most of the binding in your recipe. The Moskowitz recipe just involves baking powder, no vinegar, which always surprises me.

      I really haven’t done much at all with gluten-free baking. “Specialty” ingredients are unbelievably pricey around here, and so, since I have no need to avoid gluten, I just use regular flours. Do you avoid gluten for health reasons, or so that you can share your baked things with people with gluten-intolerance?

  2. Stephanie permalink
    October 21, 2010 6:12 pm

    Also! Reading your blog makes me wish I were back in Europe, but this time with vegans.

  3. Erin Fields permalink
    October 22, 2010 6:34 am

    Two things:

    1. YAYAYAYAY for turning in your dissertation proposal. I say that is an event and something to be celebrated in itself, whatever other work it may entail later.

    2. The pancake/waffle recipe Stephanie gave above is AMAZING!!! Seriously. Make them. You’ll not be sorry. 🙂 Though I’m not sure why you would be sorry you made pancakes/waffles anyway.

  4. adriana brown permalink
    October 22, 2010 3:38 pm

    I’ll be very curious to see this ‘picture’ of vegan in Berlin. You realize I lived there for +- 15 of my youthful years??? If you have time and you are still in Berlin: look up Rheinbabenallee 18, Dahlem (buses 19 and 29 go to end of Rheinbabenallee = Roseneck) it is a Dutch house with broad windows and brick (now it’s embassy of Kuweit I think – so they stare you away!!)
    Good luck,Adriana

    • October 22, 2010 4:04 pm

      I didn’t realize you lived in Berlin for so long! Unfortunately, we had to leave Berlin after a few days. But if we manage to go back, we’ll be sure to find that house–was it yours?

  5. October 28, 2010 12:38 pm

    What was your dissertation on? Seeing all this food makes me wonder why you’d do anything but open up your own restaurant.

    • October 28, 2010 12:54 pm

      Ha! That’s sweet of you to say. I have to admit that (when school is tough) I often fantasize about opening some sort of cafe. However, I’ve never worked in a restaurant, and have no business sense, so I think running a restaurant might be just as hard for me as graduate school is!

      I haven’t yet completed my dissertation–it will take a while–but the topic of my dissertation is in ethics. More specifically, I’m writing about moral principles: what they are, whether they’re ever really true, and whether people should ever use them when making decisions. Fortunately, the more I dig into the topic, the more interesting I find it!

    • October 28, 2010 1:02 pm

      Also: I really enjoy looking at your food pictures! I hadn’t thought of replacing potatoes with green bananas before–what a fantastic idea!

  6. Caroline Brooks permalink
    November 3, 2010 2:28 pm

    What beautiful food! I admit, while we ate very well in France, the only food we had that came close to being this gorgeous was in the Loire. I think it must have been the price differential – we can’t afford beautiful food in Paris! ha You sure are living the dream! 🙂

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