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What an amazingly beautiful day it has been yesterday and the city was full of locals, students, tourists, and shopaholics alike soaking up the sun and roaming the streets of Freiburg, filling them like ants. We were right in the middle of it and completely lost track of time until our stomachs started growling to let us know a lunch was way overdue. It was lunch madness and almost every place around the Bermuda Dreieck (= Bermuda Triangle; a corner area in Freiburg) was packed with customers and some fast food joints even had queues oozing out their doors. Thankfully I had done my homework so we didn’t have to go on another hangry food quest and just around the corner, nestled between a garage something and another restaurant, Burger Chalet awaited us. As the name tells it’s a popular little burger joint and luckily the queue was sort of short and two lovely ladies allowed us to join them at their table for one of the rare options to sit outside enjoying the sun today.

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Burger of the Month: Himmel & Ääd Burger (Heaven & Earth)

Beforehand I had made plans to get my grub on with that ‘Alpenfeuer’ (Fire of the Alps) burger that comes with a chili-cheese-sauce, firy jalapeños and a homemade chili powder. Well, plans are great, but then life happens and as so often I did let another menu special item distract me and lead me off my  destined path. Without even thinking I heard myself ordering a medium grilled burger of the month, the ‘Himmel & Ääd’ (Heaven & Earth). Himmel & Ääd or Himmel & Erde is a popular and regional german dish, which is mostly common in the Rhineland, Westphalia, and Lower Saxony. In it’s purest version it consists of blood pudding, mashed potatoes, fried onions and apple sauce and actually so did this burger. Together with that juicy beef patty and wedged between two appropriately sized and perfectly toasted buns this just worked. All these very different textures and flavors merged together wonderfully and created something new and delicious. My favorite, besides the remarkable standard items of the burger, was the thin slice of tangy blood pudding, that added a spicy, almost creamy component on top of the patty. The tart and sweet apple chutney gave some fruity notes and the onions, being sweetish as well convinced with a light smokiness. The only thing that didn’t do too much for the whole concept and the flavor palette was the mashed potatoes, and frankly, it made it all just a bit more difficult to eat. I do get it though, it completes the transition of the traditional plated dish to a hands-on inventive burger. Fries were good.

Additionally to the fact that they know how to cook their stuff it’s worthy to mention that they are sourcing most of their ingredients locally, aren’t using any additives, the meat is freshly ground every day and they are making all their sauces themselves and from scratch as well. A lot of craft and thought goes into every burger here and the entire menu is also available with an in-house made vegetable patty for the vegetarians out there. The shop is small and cozily set up for a quick meal in a relaxing atmosphere, however, the glass barrier in front of the grill can’t save you entirely from all the food smell, so don’t mind taking a bit of burger scent home with you. The staff seems to enjoy themselves, is friendly and the guy  behind the counter was particularly fun to chat to. I was super full and happily content when we left and already have the next visit scheduled in my head. This time hopefully trying my original choice of burger and those fabulous looking rosemary potatoes. Thanks for the great grub.

Get Your Grub On!

Burger Chalet (closed on Sundays and public holidays)
Niemenstraße 9
79098 Freiburg im Breisgau
Germany
p: +49 761 278 382
http://www.burger-chalet.de/

Schnitzel Haven.

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The Schnitzel (these are two ‘small’ portions of breaded pork schnitzel)

M has been raving about ‘Zum Ochsen’ and their ridiculously awesome and huge schnitzels, so this had to happen eventually. We were quite lucky as we made our booking rather spontaneous and therefore, had to show up at point 6 p.m. to be done by 7:30 p.m. when the guests for the proper evening reservation arrived. Inside and outside you can see and feel the history of this old Freiburg institution that until today has no written menu. The waiter introduced us to the few dishes of the day with schnitzel having a permanent gig besides more seasonal dishes like venison sausage and vegetarian mushroom pancakes. Since M ordered the ‘small’ portion of schnitzel which included two huge slaps of thin and crispy breaded pork escalope, I knew I was getting a taste of it. That, and not having one in ages played a role in me ordering the cordon bleu instead.

First up came the default sharing bowl of green salad. You don’t get to see this serving style very often nowadays, it was huge and the best was that the dressing was made in good old grandpa style. Nice one. Since the menu is so small and an estimated 75% of all customers going for the schnitzel, the kitchen was pretty streamlined and food came out reasonably fast. My cordon bleu was absolutely delicious. The excess oil was nicely drained, the crust was crispy and the inside juicy and very well seasoned. The ham and cheese gave extra flavor but didn’t overpower the main act. It was pretty fantastic, sufficient and at Eur15 tolerably priced. Sneaking a couple of pieces of that famed schnitzel though I already knew what my order was gonna look like next time. Super thin and still having strong flavors going on with another thin layer of crispness blanking it all wonderfully. The potato sides also did the job with the brägele  (roasted potatoes) being full of nice and crunchy baked bits and the potato salad being pretty good as well .

If you’re in Freiburg and love a good schnitzel you should definitely come and check this place out. If you’re bringing an even bigger appetite you can go for the large portion that comes with an extra (third) schnitzel so you should be all set. And in case you shouldn’t be able to finish up, the friendly waiter will be more than happy to supply you with enough tinfoil to doggy bag it all home. I for one will be back as soon as I feel like a solid meaty schnitzel meal again. Can’t be long.

Get Your Grub On!

Zum Ochsen (closed Wednesday)
Zähringer Str. 363
79108 Freiburg im Breisgau
p: +49 761 553860
Germany

Too many tacos? No such thing.

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Trio of Tacos: Al Pastor, Pollo Ranchero, Birria

Freiburg seems to be secretly working on becoming the Mexican food capital of Germany as yet another taqueria has opened its’ doors very recently at Merianstraße just outside the border of the old town. Yepa Yepa is a cozy little mission style food place offering standing or bar table seating only. They carry a small selection of tacos and quesadillas on their standing menu plus some special items once in a while. Unfortunately, we just missed Tamales Week, which I didn’t have since Casa Latina closed its’ doors in Singapore a couple of years back.

Pretty much a freaking bummer, but trying not to be too devastated I swiftly ordered a trio of their tacos with corn tortillas, filled with all the different meats and every available salsa on the menu. I always try to build up to the part of the dish, which I reckon will be the most amazing, so I went with the Pollo Ranchero first. Not because it didn’t look good, but because I thought it would have the lightest flavors. The tortillas were nicely crisp on the edges and held up all the way but the chicken, even though soft and moist, tasted a bit bland together with the corn rice. Thankfully the pico de gallo was here to save the day and add some smack to it all. Great filling for a light lunch burrito, I thought. Second in line was the Al Pastor with the Salsa Taquera, which overall was my favorite flavor combo of them all, with that delicious pork in a slightly cinnamony gravy, some fresh coriander, a pungent pineapple relish as well as that fantastic smokey salsa. This worked outstandingly well together and danced right to my taste buds. Last up was the Birria, a, in chili broth slow cooked and pulled beef filling with beans, fresh onions and coriander topped with a lovely fruity-ish tomatillo salsa verde. This was the most delicate of the meats here for sure, but flavorwise Al Pastor was still my top 1 hands down.

Except the cheese and soft drinks, they make everything themselves here, from the crispy tortillas to the last tangy salsa and the ingredients are mainly regionally sourced. Yepa Yepa is a nice place, where nice people, service you delicious food. Due to the setup, though, it’s not a place to spend too much time in, relax and maybe have a nice evening and drinks with your friends. However I think that’s not their mission anyway, so I’m just happy we are getting more and more options for tasty, authentic (I actually don’t like that word) Mexican food in the area.

Get Your Grub On!

Yepa Yepa (closed Sundays)
Merianstraße 30
79104 Freiburg
Germany
http://www.mexikanisch-essen-freiburg.de/

Sitting in the park, waiting for you.

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Bacon Cheeseburger & Crinkle Cut Fries

One of the things I had to do whilst in New York was finally hitting Shake Shack. We arrived after the big lunch crowd so the queue wasn’t too bad and it took us just 15 minutes to reach the front and another 10 minutes for them to get our orders out. I must have mixed up something when placing my order as we did get the burgers without the lettuce, tomatoes and all. Just plain bacon cheeseburgers and unfortunately, I realized it a little too late to change it back.

It was a decent tasty burger, nicely sized and grilled. The buns were proper, didn’t dampen the flavours and overall held their part of the deal. The meat, however tasty, was a bit underseasoned for my liking. I know they take special pride in the natural flavours of their beef, but I just wished for a pinch of extra salt and maybe some pepper. The cheese was nice and tart and the bacon added some very welcome saltiness but could’ve been crunchier. Because of the missing freshness of the vegetables, this felt a bit greasy so I’ll have to make sure to order all the works next time. Reading this back actually doesn’t sound too flattering but I still really liked that burger, it just wasn’t what I had expected. The famous crinkle cut fries were good too but actually could’ve used a bit of salt as well.

I like their whole sourcing approach and how they try keeping things as natural and healthy as it is possible  when it comes to burgers and fries. Also, this branch must be fabulous to get out for a relaxing lunch if you’re working in the area as Madison Square Park provides enough shade and a relaxing atmosphere to get a nice break in between your day. One of the nicest fast food joints I have been too.

Get Your Grub On!

Shake Shack (open daily)
Madison Avenue and East 23rd Street
New York
NY 10010
United States of America
p: +1 646 474 2606
https://www.shakeshack.com/home

Momofuku Tour – Part 2.

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Cold Beef Ramen (Seasonal Special)

After our delicious fried-chicken-sandwich-stopover at Fuku we went just a few doors down to Momofuku Noodle Bar to have some of those tasty sounding chashu buns, our friends had been raving about while eating their crispy chicken; I love these foodies. Unfortunately, they were just about to close for their afternoon break before dinner service so we checked, when they’ll be open again and went for a little bar in the area to bridge the waiting time with some happy hour drinks. We were back at the door like 20-30minutes after they had re-opened and the place was already full and bustling with people. I must say, I came here with high hopes but very low expectations. You never really know how these hyped places turn out to be. So let’s see.

We started with a couple of beers, a few glasses of sake and some dishes to share. The spicy cucumbers were nicely done and slightly different from how I know them. Someone smashed the hell out of them and they seemed a little bit fermented, covered in that red Japanese chili pepper mix (togarashi) and some crushed almonds. Pretty nice actually. The chashu buns, the actual reason we came here for, were great. Finally, someone got that meat to bun ratio right. Two thick slices of beautifully and soft pork belly with some crunchy lightly cured cucumbers and a sticky hoisin sauce. That’s the stuff and I still regret not having tried the brisket buns too. Then came the first real surprise of the evening. I was wondering why my friend had ordered the rice cakes here and reckoned it would just take up unnecessary space in my stomach, that was reserved for that big bowl of ramen we had coming but oh my gawd, I’ll be eternally thankful to him for doing that. I don’t know how they created this texture, fry or maybe pan fry them until literally rice-crispy-crisp on the outside and teeth-sticking chewy on the inside. Then they all lay around in an absolutely insane and hard-to-define cream sauce, that was wonderfully savoury with a sweetish touch, that reminded me a bit of okonimyaki sauce. I really have to work on my palette again to become better in identifying single flavours, but for now, it was good enough for me just eating and enjoying that amazing dish. The kitchen had added even more layers of texture and flavor by sprinkling scallions, bonito flakes and tobiko over it all. The only ingredient I was indifferent about was the chicken. Anyhow, best rice cakes ever.

After this, my low expectations rose into the sky and thankfully I had the best yet coming. For the bowl, I ordered one of their seasonal summer items, a cold beef ramen dish that sounded just right for a hot day like today. The looks instantly brought back memories of Matador, with its’ perfectly rose slices of roasted beef. The meat was delicious just a bit hard to bite off from, so I ended up eating it by slice and mouthfuls. Not that I cared. The chilled or rather cold broth was light with some citrusy flavors like yuzu or ponzu. This was so refreshing that I would have actually preferred to take it outside to the street and eat it in the warm summer sun. The noodles had proper bite and bounce that reminded me of Korean Naengmyeon not only because that’s a cold dish too. Just the egg, however perfectly made, somehow felt a bit out of place to me. I loved everything about this, the unique aromas and the innovative approach of taking something traditional and transforming it into something entirely new without losing the slightest bit of awesomeness. A dish definitely in my top 3 for the year and one that makes me want to live here and see what else they come up with next.

To the Noodle Bar itself, it’s a rather simplistic and minimalist setup, with light colored wood and mainly long sharing tables, like a bar exactly. On our table getting in and out of my seat was a bit of a hassle though, climbing over other people’s bags and stuff and I also found it a bit too cold inside (having a coolish dish as well). This places is crowded and the air is bustling of chatter from a cool mixed crowd hanging around before heading out to town. Thankfully there are many more Momofuku shops and concepts for me to try out during my next trip to New York but this one’s a definite keeper. Thanks, your food made me smile today.

Get Your Grub On!

Momofuku Noodles Bar (open ever day)
171 First Avenue
New York
NY 10003
United States of America
http://momofuku.com/new-york/noodle-bar/