Monday, January 27, 2014
Last weekend a few of my friends and I went to Berlin for a quick little getaway. Our friends Natalie and Christian are doing an exchange there, so we wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to hang out with them there and use their insider knowledge of the city. Getting cheap red eye flights meant that we could dash down there for a bit and not even have to miss any school (I actually got to school early Monday morning, after heading there straight from the airport, ugh). This was my fourth time to Berlin, but every time I find it's almost like visiting a new city. There is so much to see that I always just barely scratch the surface. And coming from Copenhagen, it's a breath of fresh air (although freezing cold fresh air in January) to be in a place with such a different, more relaxed vibe. I thought I would round up some of the places we went, if you happen to be visiting and in need of a few recommendations. Natalie also just wrote a great post for S Magazine about architecture in Berlin that is definitely worth a read too.
1. Dada Falafel - This was one of the first things we did, and one on the top of my list. I was dying to have some halloumi, since I love it and it's hard to find in Copenhagen. There is no shortage of good falafel places in Berlin, but this was some of the best I've tried. Really fresh and full of herbs and spices. Plus, halloumi. Enough said. (image source)
2. Boros Collection - This is a private collection of contemporary art housed in a converted bunker. I think it's one of the many semi-secret things in Berlin - it's not clearly advertised and you have to make an appointment to see the collection at least 6 weeks or so in advance of your visit. That being said, it was one of the highlights of the weekend and one of the best collections I've seen in a while. The tour guide was also so great, and knew a lot of background stories about the artists and the works that really added to seeing them. Plus, the architectural history of the bunker was fascinating. Really recommended! (Image source and more photos of the collection)
3. Monsieur Vuong's - For dinner we went to Monsieur Vuong's, which is a great Vietnamese place. They are pretty busy but they are super fast so it doesn't take too long to get a table. They had a nicely small and simple menu and everything changes often so each time you go you can try something new. Berlin has such an amazing selection of international food, and it's so cheap (especially relatively to Copenhagen) to eat out there. I had the biggest bowl of vermicelli noodle salad and ate the entire thing. So good. (Image source)
4. Tier - It was a happy accident that we stumbled upon this cocktail bar on Saturday night looking for a place that had space for us all. It was the perfect mix of a casual atmosphere and really, really good drinks. Plus, they had an old black and white tv behind the bar playing a close up video of a Persian cat being pet for hours. I complemented the bartender on it and he said he played it because it relaxed him when things got busy. (Image source)
5. Flea markets - On Sunday we went for brunch and then went to a flea market, which is the perfect thing to do in Berlin. I can't remember which one we went to, but there are so many that you can pretty much just wander around until you find something you like. Here is a more detailed list. There are also a lot of really nice food markets that you can check out too. You really can't visit Berlin without going to some of the markets, even if it's really cold out and you decide to buy a salt crystal lamp that weighs a ton and that you have to drag around with you all day, which may have happened.
6. Datscha - This place was amazing! It's a modern Russian restaurant, and the interior is has a nice old house/cabin vibe without being kitsch. Plus, the menu is pretty much different kinds of pierogi (dumplings) which, being Canadian, are my favourite ever. I got the tasting plate pictured, which had potato dumplings and tons of different pickled vegetables and salads to go with them. Yum.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
As part of our resolutions to get out of the house more (and after hibernating for the rest of the weekend after an intense week back to school), Nicola and I took a Sunday trip to the Glypotek. I realized while putting this together, that I had done on a similar post almost exactly two years ago (the photos are from my old blog format, so click to see them in the right sizing). I still think it's the perfect place to have a cup of tea and stroll around on a cold, grey day. This time we went to see the temporary exhibition, 'Mellemrum' (which literally translates to the space in between) by Anita Jørgensen. I loved the idea of having modern sculpture interact with classic sculpture, and really liked some of the more architectural and neon light pieces. Unfortunately I forgot my camera at home and my iPhone didn't capture the works well enough. I think the curators could have worked more with the interplay between the permanent collection and the sculptures (some of the busts where just shoved along the sides, and a few were even covered with sheets which we found kind of funny), but I still think this museum pushes the envelope nicely considering they have a pretty traditional collection overall. Plus, the building is just so beautiful. It gets me every time.
And this goes against my other resolution to read more and watch less tv, but there have been so many good movies to watch lately! With the Oscars coming up, I feel like all the good films get piled up into a month or two stretch. But it's not a bad time of year to have lots of films to watch, so I'm not complaining. I especially loved Her, I think it would have to be my favourite of the year. Amazing art direction and a surprisingly touching storyline. Any other good films or exhibitions you guys have seen lately? Or book recommendations? I've started to get up early in the morning so I have some time to make tea and read for a while before school.
Saturday, January 11, 2014
I know, these don't look super nice and chickpeas in brownies sounds weird. But trust, these are so good. My good friend Juliet first introduced me to the idea of beans in brownies, and I've been experimenting since. I've mainly adapted mine from this recipe, which I told everyone and their dog about. I've been trying to eat less sugar though, because I've been finding that my body really reacts to it and apparently it's super toxic and all that. I've also found that I prefer using chickpeas to black beans or kidney beans, as it results in a fluffier texture. And since it's that post-holiday time where everyone is trying to eat a little bit cleaner, I thought I would share my version of these. Because treats are still (always) a good thing.
- 15 Medjool dates, soaked in hot water for ten minutes then drained
- 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 2 eggs (replace with flax seed eggs for vegan version)
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Lightly grease a pan (I used 7 x 11 inch)
3. Pulse the dates with the coconut oil until smooth
4. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix for a few minutes, scraping down the sides if needed
5. Spoon into pan (it should be a bit thicker than regular brownie batter)
6. Bake for 30 minutes, or until top is dry
7. Let cool before cutting into squares and removing from pan. They are a bit crumbly, so don't skip this step like I always do.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
It was so nice being back home in Canada for the holidays with Mark. The thing we miss the most (besides our loved ones, of course!) is the nature there, so we knew we wanted to get outside as much as possible. There is really nowhere like the Pacific Northwest, no matter what time of year. And since we knew our time there was also going to be filled with parties and family gatherings, which we loved, we also wanted to schedule in some quiet time to be alone together. So we took a vacation within a vacation to Point No Point, a cluster of private cabins, walking trails, and a restaurant about an hour an a half drive up the coast from Victoria. It's been around since the 1950's so the cabins are still fairly rustic but really luxurious at the same time. The best part is the hot tub on the balcony overlooking the ocean. It was so nice taking some rum and (almond) eggnog in there to watch the fog rolling in after going on a hike in one of the National Parks close by. Definitely recommended if you happen to be on Vancouver Island and want a cozy, West Coast experience! We also realized how much Canadians love puns after so many people said "There's no point in that!", after we mentioned that where we were going to stay there. Oh, Canada.
Rachel took some gorgeous photos of her at stay Point No Point a couple of years ago here, and just generally has a lovely blog that will make you want to go to all of the places she's been.
Friday, January 3, 2014
I love the new year, with it's fresh slate and time for reflections and aspirations. The last few years I've started a new tradition of going for a long walk on New Year's Day, then sitting with a cup of tea and a notebook to write down goals and ideas for the year ahead. I tend to get over enthusiastic and come up with pages of things I'd like to do. So this year instead I'd like to focus on a single guiding concept. I want this year to be one of balance. I want to move more to counter all the hours sitting at my desk working on projects, I want to get outside more instead of choosing to cozy up at home most of the time, I want to read more instead of watching tv to unwind, I want to put down my phone and stop scrolling through Instagram and Facebook to write more letters and have more coffee dates with friends. I want to do more, but I also want to slow down and savour things - little and big. More mindful, less mindless. Happy New Year, my friends, I hope it's a great one.