Sunday, August 2, 2015

Germany: Berlin, A Fantastic Sunday Picnic in "Thai Park"

Location today:  Pittsburgh, PA
What I am cooking today:  Ham and Cheese Quiche, Spanish Gazpacho, Basil Pesto (to freeze)
Upcoming recipe on Thursday:  Fried Green Tomatoes and/or Green Tomato Gratin

     Our recent trip to Berlin was work related for Dear Husband but food related for myself and Dear Daughter.  Almost everyday, we had planned a "foodie" experience.  My Nike Fuelband was registering anywhere from 25,000-27,000 steps per day so we were not too worried about the caloric intake.  Small breakfasts and dinners allowed us to splurge at lunch.  This wasn't about just eating; this was about obtaining a memorable (and hopefully, positive) food experience.  We had already found a fantastic Michelin starred restaurant with a rocking chef, rode around town on a Fat Tire Food/Bike Tour (totally cool), and found the best place in town for sushi (ate there twice!).  On a beautiful Sunday with clear blue skies and a slight breeze, I was itching for a picnic (surprise, surprise).  We found one and instanteously  stepped outside of Germany and into Thailand.
     During my foodie Internet research of Berlin prior to the trip, I had come across a few posts related to a place called Thai Park.   For more than twenty years, the local Thai community has descended upon Pruessen Park in the Wilmersdorf neighborhood of Berlin every Sunday afternoon.  Ok, so what is the big deal, you ask?  Well, they do not go there to EAT food.  They go there to MAKE food...and to SELL it.  Spread across this circular park are hundreds of men and women sitting under beach umbrellas and crouched over small makeshift kitchens creating and then selling the most incredible, fresh, authentic Thai cuisine for practically pennies.  I knew at once that I had to go.
     I didn't have too much trouble convincing Dear Daughter to come along. At the mere mention of food, she was immediately bobbing her head up and down and practically running out the door.  Two trains and five stops later and we exited the Metro only to question which direction to take.  "Mom, just follow them," D2 pointed out.  Sure enough, there was a steady stream of people (mainly Asian) heading in one direction. We walked briefly along a tree-lined path that opened up to food utopia!
We did get a bit more ambitious with our selections but these Spring Rolls were delicious!

For every umbrella, there is a fantastic cook!

Venturing out for the second course!  Which umbrella do we go to?

     "Let's just walk around a bit and get our bearings and see what this is all about," I offered to D2. She nodded in agreement but less than a minute later, we were finding a bench and settling down to the most flavourful pork bun we had ever tasted. Then came the fresh spring rolls!  Finishing our "first course", we vowed to take the second round more slowly. It was not to be. We could not resist the chicken on a stick. It sounds so unappetizing but it was so, so delicious.  We managed delicate shrimp tempura and a mango smoothie before deciding that our stomachs were full.  Had we had a blanket, I think we could have spent the entire afternoon eating, resting, eating, resting, eating (you get the pattern).  A few days later when we were on our Bike Food Tour, our tour guide was amazed that we knew of Thai Park.  So I think we found a local, hidden treasure. You always know that you have hit the mark with Dear Daughter, when she starts to express food related sentiments such as, "I wish we could come here every Sunday."
     It is a quiet Sunday at home back in Pittsburgh.  Dear Daughter's best friend, who lives in Italy and made her first U.S. trip just to see us, has returned home after her 15-day visit.  The house seems a bit quiet and D2 is occupying herself by organizing her closets (no, really, she is).  Brunch was an easy affair on the deck with a fruit salad, consisting of our wonderful CSA watermelon and cantaloupe, smoked salmon, foie gras and Spanish Cava.   Dinner will be equally easy with Zucchini Carpaccio, Cantaloupe with Prosciutto San Daniele and Burrata with Tomatoes and Basil.  If the weather holds, we will transport everything to the lake, kayak a bit and then settle down to a simple Sunday evening picnic.  

This week's CSA bag contained:  Green Tomatoes, Zucchini, Basil, Pole Beans, Watermelon and Canteloupe, Cubanella Peppers

This week's CSA plan:  
Pole Beans are history...blanched them last night for dinner although we probably could have eaten them uncooked.  They were that good.
Green Tomatoes:  Two of them were fried last night for a simple appetizer of Fried Green Tomatoes with Remoulade Sauce.  Last one will go into a gratin tomorrow accompanying a Sirloin Tip Roast.
Basil:  In a few minutes, I will be making Basil Pesto to freeze.  Dear Daughter's Best Friend, a native of Italy, indicated that my pasta was just ok but my pesto rivaled what she gets at home!
Cubanella Peppers:  I purchased a huge basket of tomatoes from an Amish farm near Lancaster, PA over the week when we were traveling.  We have been eating tomatoes with almost every meal but a few are getting overly ripe so I am going to make a simple gazpacho using these tomatoes and the peppers plus a leftover cucumber from last week's delivery.
Zucchini:  This will become carpaccio for this evening's meal...light and flavorful when Spanish Olive Oil and shaved Padana Grana and Parmesan are added, plus freshly ground black pepper.
Watermelon and Cantaloupe:  We just eat...and need for anything fancy!

Traveling this week but hope to bring you photos of our other Green Tomato experiences...


1 comment:

  1. What a find that Tai Park! I'll remember it for my next trip.
    Looking forward tot the green tomatoe regime.