Berlin hummus special, part II
After a week in Berlin, without real hummus, I was ready to go a long way – literally – to eat my favorite dish. Finally, after some scary experiences, I got what seemed like a second best: a great Falafel.
In the second week of our current visit to Berlin, we met David, a former Israeli who lives in Berlin for many years now.
David was very sympathetic to our sad story about not being able to find good hummus in the city. He suggested we go to Casalot, a Palestinian place in the Mitte quarter, serving traditional Arab dishes (here’s their German site).
David did admit the hummus wasn’t his cup of tea, and that the pitas are a bit strange (too thin and dry). And true, the owner – a former Nazareth resident, who spoke fluent Hebrew with a heavy German accent – was a charming person. But the hummus (and falafel) was mediocre, at best. In fact, we felt the flavors were over-adjusted to the German taste, and therefore far from being authentic.
The bright side: the hummus did contain tahini, for a change. This had led me to hope that we should find REAL hummus SOMEWHERE in this hugh metropolis.
Hummus with Nasrallah
On our way back from Potsdam, two days later, we came across Udi. An Israeli student at Potsdam’s University who seemed like a great guy. A few hours and a substantial amount of beer later, I begged him for an answer: were can I find good hummus?
Udi replied that the best hummus in town can be eaten at a place called Baba, residing at the Tiergarten quarter, in a neighborhood called Moabit. He explained how we can get there and added that he hope we don’t have a problem eating under a large photo of Hassan Nasrallah - because the place is owned by Lebanese, who aren’t very fond of Israel.
(We all agreed this is understandable, giving the fact that it’s only a year since Israel bombed Lebanon – a misfortunate did of a government we don’t think highly of, BTW.)
I thought that good hummus is worth the inconvenience – especially since I had never tasted Lebanese hummus before. Yonit, on the other hand, seemed ambivalent, and when we finally got to the neighborhood and had problems finding the place, she lost her patience, grabbed me by the arm and got me the hell out of there as quickly as she could.
“Did you see how many signs in Arab they had there?”, she asked.
“So what”, I replied, “Where you afraid?”.
“Lets put it this way:”, she said “I don’t think we were nice enough to this people in the recent past to expect them to be happy about us coming to eat their hummus”. So we didn’t.
The best falafel in the world
Ironically, only when we came back from Berlin, I was told by one of this blogs’ readers that there’s a place in the Kreuzberg quarter called Azam, where he tasted both good hummus and mesabbha.
It’s said to on Sonnenallee st., near Hermanplatz U-Bahn station, less than a 10 minute walk from the Rissani restaurant which I mentioned in the first post about hummus in Berlin.
These tiny place near Oranienburger Tor, serves Falafel which is not only the best in Berlin, but maybe the best I ever had – and I had many.
Dada’s owner is an artist, an the places is named after Dadaism - in case you wondered. And the crispy, accurately spiced falafel balls, served in a huge pita bread with baba ganoush, hummus, tahini and a great salad, were heavenly good.
This was not a one-to-one substitute to what we are used to, but it was of great comfort to us.
The most expensive tahini on earth
To conclude our search for middle-eastern delicacies, we tried to find raw tahini in the sixth floor of the KaDeWe department store. This place is known for having the most exotic foods, carefully chosen and imported from anywhere in the world.
5.98 Euros. This is what they charged for a 480ml container of Jerusalem Tahini, which I know well from Israel. That’s about 3 time the price here, so of course we didn’t buy, but it was heart-warming to see these friendly face and think how in a few days we’ll be back in the place where where tahini, hummus and falafel could be found virtually anywhere.