Thursday, July 28, 2016

Get ready for your mouth to water....

Hi All!!

For those of you who do not follow me on Instagram (you should!  There is a blue button on the top right hand side of my blog page that will connect you right away to my Instagram) or Facebook, then you likely have not seen my food photos/creations as of late.  Without further ado, I thought I would share them, as I have found a lot of joy, passion and fun in these edible projects lately.
Yes, I made all of the food myself from scratch, and took all of the photographs myself.

Enjoy the eye-candy!!! :-D  Hope this will give you some cooking/eating inspiration and ideas....

Self explanatory ;-).  Only the best brunch dish ever.

Sugar free brownies with cream cheese frosting.

Matcha Cheesecake (low sugar) with Greek yogurt swirled on top.

Desserts are the best <3

Czech pastry called a Kolache.

Pancakes made with coconut milk, oats, cinnamon and lavender.  Delicious.

Ginger honey cookies with Matcha cream cheese frosting.

Swedish Visiting Cake.

Bienenstich cake, my favorite German dessert.  Decided to try my hand at making one.

Summer vegetable quiche.

Brookies!!!!  My dessert namesake ;-)  A brownie and a cookie put together, hence, a Brookie.

This cake was my one fail.  It looks lovely, but the cake itself was a tad too hard.  It didn't come out right.  Attempt #2 is in the works.

Hands down one of the best recipes in my arsenal.  Pumpkin and lavender pancakes topped with homemade sugar free whipped cream and blueberries.  To. Die. For.

Strawberry shortcakes made with brown sugar and lavender.  Yes, I am having a lavender moment :-D

Bienenstich or "bee sting" cake (that's the English translation).

Watermelon salad with feta, walnuts, mint and balsamic.

Gnocchi with rosemary, pears and Gorgonzola.  Mmmmmmm.

Homemade whipped cream with honey guessed it, lavender.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Two Badass Days in Berlin

Berlin!!!!  One of my favorite European cities for sure.  Berlin is edgy, ultra hipster, grungy, nearly too cool and ahead of the game, happening and just totally buzzing with exciting energy.  Its an utterly unique city.  I have never been in another one like it, within Europe.  Some cities, you can compare with one another.  Such as Budapest and Paris which have similar architecture (ornate, towering, eye catching, classic, beautiful).  Spain and Portugal have similar vibes.  But Berlin is a city apart from the others.

Its a huge one, in terms of comparison with somewhere like Frankfurt regarding its size.  And the city is a smorgasbord of variety.  One can turn a corner and find themselves on a charming, quiet street, the buildings ornate and classic, greenery lining the sidewalks, inviting little cafes dotting the street sides.  Or, one might turn a corner and be equally as likely to stumble upon an explosion of faded graffiti, a mural overtaking an entire building side, a gathering of people who can be none other than Berliners (artsy, laid back, ultra cool vibes radiating off them).

My sister, Lexie and I arrived in Berlin on Tuesday morning, about 10am.  Groggy, in fact half awake having caught a 6am train from Frankfurt.  The arrival in Berlin energized me though.  As the train wound its way between towering monuments, architectural feats that loomed well over the train tracks causing me to crane my neck upwards, streets bustling with activity, I felt excited.  Berlin is a happening place, no question.   

First, we explored the oldest area of Berlin known as Nikolaiviertel.  I love this part.  Its small, the streets are winding and cobbled, lots of red brick or smooth pastels make up the building facades.  The shops are small, charming and cozy.  A few cafes dot the perimeter.  Its picturesque and lovely.

So naturally, a sisters photo shoot commenced within Nikolaiviertel ;-)

After lots of laughter and posing for photos, both silly and sweet, I led Lexie to a little cupcake shop that I had discovered back on my first trip to Berlin with Judith.  This place is the bomb, serving up teenie tiny sweet treats that are moist and totally delicious.  Usually when I have sampled cupcakes in Europe, they are not nearly as moist, tasty and luscious as the ones served up in the US.  They tend to be slightly dried, not as sweet or as rich.  These fit the bill and delivered.  We choose a smattering of flavors to sample, as each one is merely a single bite.

Enjoy the little things ;-)

Lexie loves this photo of me.  She thinks its "classic/typical Brooke."  Chowing down on a delectable sweet ;-p

The aftermath.

Size comparison.  Look at the people on the stairs!!!!  This was HUUUUUGE.  Literally monstrous.  It dominated the skyline.  This is part of "Museum alley."

Tea and coffee break.  Lexie was losing some steam, so we decided to rest and try to renew our energy!

This is what I love about Berlin.  Surprises waiting behind every corner.  We discovered this secret-like little cafe/bar tucked down an alleyway, totally Berlin, just covered in graffiti, slightly faded and crumbling, brightly colored, ultra funky and awesome.

This shot, to me, is Berlin.  Sums up the vibe/feel/look/personality of the city really well :-D

A light and delicious dinner at Factory Girl restaurant, after reading great reviews online.

On Wednesday, I excitedly woke Lexie so we could move off towards the brunch I had been awaiting.  I discovered this place on my last visit to Berlin, in February of this year.  I haven't been the same since.  It changed the way I brunch.  Their french toast has been permanently burned into my breakfast and dessert dreams.  Easily one of the best brunches I have ever had, in one of the coolest atmospheres.

Initially Lexie joked that I was hyping the place up a lot, seeming uncertain and doubtful as to whether it could possibly be THAT good.  After our meal??  Lexie didn't dispute it even remotely.  She agreed enthusiastically it was absolutely awesome.

Our visit to the Berlin Wall (aka East Side Gallery).

After the Berlin wall, we went to hang in a way cool cafe for a couple of hours.  We had a snack, I did some reading and writing, she had fun with her phone, we had a great time.

After our cafe break, we went a-strolling.  See below for the photos of our explorations.  We walked around randomly, with no destination in mind.  Lexie discovered what she claimed was "the best smoothie of her life," and I found a tiny Middle Eastern shop that sold DELICIOUS almonds covered in cocoa powder, cinnamon and coconut (three different varieties, not all as one ha-ha).  I bought a small bag, super yummy.

Uhhhhh....does anyone else notice what the writing on that van says!??!  Lexie pointed it out to me!!!  Only in Berlin ;-p

Check. Out. This. Bookstore that we stumbled upon.  My God.

This is the face one makes when, having been a bookworm, passionate writer and avid reader for nearly their entire life, they stumble upon a shop that looks like THIS.

Prater Beer garden after dinner!!!  Apparently its a super famous one in Berlin, THE beer garden to go to.  We both loved it.  The atmosphere was jovial, totally happening, open, summery and fun.  Lights were strung between the buildings, the tables were full, families, couples, people of all ages laughing, chatting and eating.  Even a playground was set in the back for kids!  Really cool spot.

The next morning, Lexie departed from Berlin at 5am.  I elected to stay until 2pm, so I awoke and headed...where else?  Roamers.  One more bombastic brunch before I headed off.  Naturally I ordered the french toast.  Especially since the day prior, I had tried something different (one of their egg/cheese/vegetable platters, which was phenomenal as well).

The french toast was all I remembered, and more ;-) looooooooove it.

And now....stay tuned.  I am off to Paris TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Monday morning :-D

A blog entry will follow upon my return, Friday, July 29.