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Till The Cows Come Home

Prenzlauer Berg has been blessed by a new veggie eatery, TTCCH (Schönhauser Allee 9). This white-washed spot is housed inside a container next to the Platoon Kunsthalle.

I visited a sunny Sunday, after a birthday binge that had left me sleep-deprived and slightly delirious with happiness. I mean, I got to enjoy vegan gourmet breakfast with my lovely friend Lois (someone who’s known me for over twenty years and somehow still is my friend!), and Augusto, an awesome man I’ve only known for a little more than two months, but already is falling madly and deeply in love with.

We sat on the patio, shaded by a leafy tree and dark sunglasses.

The proprietress was both friendly and helpful, and everything we ordered was tasty, if a tad pricey. The coffee is made french-press style and there’s almond milk instead of soy. The detox juices where desperately needed and the bread our sandwiches came on was baked by Sironi, the Italian baker in Markthalle Neun.

My only wish is they would go all vegan. I mean, the cows wanna come home, right? Not be raped of the milk they produce for their babies …

libutron:

The Extravagant Black Bat flower
The unusual Black Bat flower, Tacca chantrieri (Dioscoreales - Dioscoreaceae), is quite distinctive by the strange, unique, near black flowers. The flowers, which can grow up to 25 cm long, have four large, dark-purple bracts and long bracteoles, giving the inflorescence a striking appearance that superficially resemble a flying bat, a sinister face, or a mean tiger with whiskers.
Tacca chantrieri is an endangered species that occurs in tropical regions of SE Asia including Thailand, Malaysia, and southern China, particularly Yunnan Province.
The features of these flowers have been assumed to function as a ‘‘deceit syndrome’’ in which reproductive structures resemble decaying organic material attracting flies that facilitate cross-pollination (sapromyiophily). However, a study on pollination and mating in Tacca chantrieri populations from SW China, has shown that despite considerable investment in extravagant display, populations of this species are predominantly selfing and that flowers have several traits that promote autonomous self-pollination.
Reference: [1]
Photo credit: ©Stephanie Lichlyter 
Locality: Cultivated (Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California, US)

It’s a (plant-based) Wrap!

I remember the early days — my youth — living in NYC in the nineties and thinking about going vegan and every now and then making a pathetic attempt to. I would last for an average of three days and then give up because I ended up hungry in a café and succumbed to a cheese sandwich. Yeah, I was a lazy bastard pescatarian, who enjoyed the gorgeous plant-based offerings at Angelica’s Kitchen, and the vegan pizza slice at Two Boots.

These days it’s hard to make similar excuses. At least if you live in Berlin. The vegan scene is expanding quickly, and if you are in the ‘right’ neighbourhoods, nearly every café/restaurant offer something for us to eat. Gone are the days when I became euphoric just because a café offered soy  instead of cow milk for the espresso drinks.

Yesterday, on my way back from teaching at Soundcloud’s new swell office digs, The Factory, I decided to try lunch at Fast Rabbit (Eberswalder Straße 1). The place is cute and cosy, with local art on the wall, and the typical Berlin second-hand slightly mis-matched furniture. The Rabbit specialises in wraps, but there are also soups, fries and other snack-y things on the menu, as well as desserts. I decided on the Mexican roll (€4.50), stuffed with beans, rice, guacamole, coconut chutney and salsa. It was definitely quite tasty, and the wrap bread was much better than the average.

But did it blow me away? No. I’d much prefer a big bowl of Vietnamese curry, or a falafel teller. But that’s just me. Wraps and sandwiches are not my favourite thing, especially not now, when I’ve figured out that gluten seems to be my enemy. But I welcome and applaud every new vegan venture. We need to get the world on our side.

Vegan bicycle seat from Brooks!

Since I am way more into checking out cute bicycles and dogs than boys, I am very excited that classic bike accessory company Brooks England

Finally started producing a vegan bike seat, Cambium. I was super-tempted to put it on my credit card this morning, as my old vintage Selle Italia Turbo leather seat is crumbling apart, and little pieces of foam are leaking everywhere. But the €150 price tag was a bit too hefty for a poor freelancing freelancer like myself, so I settled for another used leather seat.

No wonder the chicken is angry

Yesterday I had lunch at Angry Chicken (Oranienstraße 16). The place specializes in Korean Fried Chicken — something that should make every vegan wanting to stay far, far away. But I was sleep-deprived, and when that happens I have an insatiable appetite for fried foods. A and I both got the Vegan Burger Menu with fries. The vegan burger was composed of a fist-sized polenta-tofu-kimchi patty, topped with baby spinach, grilled onions, wasabi mayo and served on weird orange, but really tasty bun. It was hard to fit the thing in between my lips to take a bite,  but when I managed I was pretty damn pleased. Had I not been on my way to teach yoga, I would have tried a Soju Pop in a bag. I have heard about this strange thing before — a soju (Korean booze) cocktail served in a cardboard package. Easily brought into places where no alcohol should go. Like a yoga studio ;)

A cold rain sprinkled down upon us as we sat there, keeping Heinrichsplatz under surveillance. I became very preoccupied with this chubby beggar who always hangs out on the corner, in front of the Bio Laden. He appeared to have come across a sweet spot. Every other person, it seemed, had something for him. Coins or cigarettes. At least a smile. It made me think of my previous home town, cold, stiff and conformist Stockholm, and how few people even has a smile to offer a human asking for change on the street or in a train station.

Oh Baby! Burrito Baby!

Although I don’t have the ‘if-it-ain’t-broke-why-fix-it?’-mentality (I love to try NEW places and the LATEST!), I also stay loyal to the places I love. Burrito Baby (Pflüger Straße 11) is one such gem. This tiny place decked out with a couple of blue booths (my favorite restaurant seating arrangement), and some outdoor tables, serves ‘Mextralian’ food. Meaning, Australian veggie takes of Tex-Mex classics, such as burritos, tacos, nachos, guacamole and so on.

It will surely disappoint Mexicans and Americans used to more authentic offerings, but it sure as hell satisfies my palate, especially when I’m hungover.

I’m especially partial to the Al Junior tacos; marinated soy meat, guacamole, salsa and cashew sour cream. Paired with lots of hot sauce and a Rhabarberschorle, it makes me very, very content.

Insects or plants?

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I just returned from a strangely sunny Stockholm to a gray and rainy Berlin. Still, I feel so much lighter here. Sweden gives me existential anxiety. Most everyone I know there lives increasingly more ordinary lives. The rebellion of the youth is fading fast, and everyone seems to do what’s expected of them. When you do the same things as everyone else, how do you know that you have chosen your own life?When you keep eating meat, consuming endlessly at all the hollow depressing malls and then putting new life onto this dying earth? Did you choose to make interior design the meaning of your life or did someone force-feed you the desire for yet a new kitchen table?

One of my Swede friends, who is a free thinker and an awesome oddball, just turned me onto Vali Meyers, an Australian artist, animal lover and style icon I’m now obsessed with. Watching a documentary on her makes me feel deep inside that my path leads into the forest …

Just listening to the Swedish radio where they keep talking about how we need to stop eating animals. And how can we find a replacement for the protein we need? Previous discussions have included growing meat in laboratories. Now they talk about eating insects. Why do we need any of that when millions of people live well (way better!) on a hundred percent plant-based diet? Good for you, for the animals and for the planet. Why not take the plunge?

In Stockholm I ate at a new, sweet raw spot in über-hisper-y SoFo, Matapoteket Kram (Bondegatan 6). My friend Camilla and I ordered the tapas plate with dessert. Out of the three dishes on the lunch plate, the Brazil nut pie was awesome, the corn chips and salsa good, but not that exciting and the cole slaw bland and uninspired. The cake was to die for though. I could easily have eaten about three more pieces. The staff was sweet and I liked that they wore nurses’ uniforms. Food can be the cure, is the cure! The tiny spot is really and live things grow everywhere. I’ll be back for sure!

NIGHT WARRIOR II

swanmountainyoga:

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The next edition of the black light/yoga/dj extravaganza. New and improved! Drinks and chill session afterwards!

Saturday May 31st, 21:00-23:00

OSHO Studio (Schlesische Straße 38, Kreuzberg)

€20/€15 pre-booking

email me to sign up: swanmountainyoga@googlemail.com

Fist-eating!

It’s almost summer, it seems, but as crazy as the weather is these days I know that a backlash may come, will come and I’ll need my mittens and fleece socks again. But right now it’s glorious!

I celebrated with dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant, Langano (Kohlfurther Straße 44) near the Ufer last night. I love love love Ethiopian food, but haven’t had any since I moved to Berlin. My friend and amazing yoga teacher colleague Kirileigh,knew about this sweet little spot, just off Kottbusser Damm, near the canal.

We ordered the vegetarian plate for two (€18.50, just ask for it without cheese). It came out in one of those big woven basket-things with a Sombrero-looking lid. A huge slab of spongy Injera-bread loaded with different fragrant bean and lentil stews, salad, pickled beets and curried potatoes.

The sweet mango bier served in a coconut shell is a perfectly complimentary drink.

I can’t wait to eat here again!

Let it be sweet and Ahimsa!

On Friday night I met up with my friend Rebecca at Let It Be (Treptower Straße 95). It’s a new vegan Creperie in Neukölln, just a few doors down from Sfizy Veg, the vegan Pizzeria, a staple on the Berlin plant-based culinary scene. Which BTW, is the only culinary scene that counts, the rest is just for vultures. 

Let it Be, is a quirky, kind of Portlandia-esque Texas-fetishising little spot, with loads of kitschy decorations.

It was hard to decide, as the Erykah Badu also looked awesome, but I settled for the Woody Harrelson Ham&Cheese galette with a side salad. I inhaled it — it was just the  junk-y, comfort food I craved. I was sweaty and starving after teaching three yoga classes and thinking about the ‘We Own the Night’ -race I will run in May.

After, we pigged out on a moist carrot cake drenched in a thick layer of fatty, tangy frosting.

Just coming up for air, and tummies swelling in our skinny hipster-jeans, the waiter brought us a freebie, the Frida Kahlo chocolate desert crepe.

Later, I got lost in Treptow on my way home to Prenzlauer Berg. Lucky for me I had enough fuel in my belly.

Amma’s Ashram

Set in a gorgeous location, sandwiched in between the coconut palm tree-lined Kerala backwaters and the sea, Amma’s pink ashram, a tray of cupcakes, left me both disenchanted and a little crazed.

My plan was to stay for week, but on Day 5 the mantra music that seemed to be playing everywhere, from early morning to way past nightfall had started to pulverize my brain and my ribcage, and the kooky followers made me both sad and disgusted. So I bailed one day earlier. Fled to the white beaches of Varkala.

I am generally a skeptical person, but I’m also curious. I wanted to see what the hype was all about. Does Amma really have some magical healing powers in her chubby arms than pull you onto her quite significant bosom for three seconds before her helpers drag you away? Could she heal my hurts? Coming there I still harbored a sliver of a hope that the answer to both of those questions would be yes. There’s still a possibility, of course, that she can or has tapped into some sort of higher energy, but i didn’t feel it. She made my hurts hurt more. I left wondering if there’s anything pure in this world at all?

For anyone that goes to Amritapuri, it will become quite clear that it’s a big business. You can buy Amma rings, keychains, t-shirts, posters, Cds, passport-sized photos of her feet, Amma incense and chocolate. Sure, she does charity work, but does she also pocket some?

The guru game in India and everywhere else is a very male-dominated business (because, yes, I think it’s a business). I am impressed that Amma, a woman from a poor fisher-family, has thousands upon thousands of men literally bowing down at her lotus feet.

I won’t be searching for a guru anytime soon though.

You could almost eat from the floor of Prema

This restaurant is spic and span. The service is fast, fierce and fair. At the counter you can buy Spirulina (which I did), Masala spice mix (check!), raw vanilla bean, cashew nuts and other goodies.

The only drawback is the absence of a bathroom, something that is pretty common here. When the diarrhea strikes (about every other day) I must slide into my flipflops (at Prema shoes must be left by the door) and run through the blazing hot sunshine, to the bathroom facilities on the dirty town beach.

The food is solid. The fresh fruit salad with nuts, raisins, juicy papaya and freshly grated young sweet coconut is a classic. Today I also had toast with cashew butter and a black masala tea.

Classy vegan breakfast!

Tonight I’ll leave Gokarna. I’m heading to Kerala and Amma’s ashram. I’ll read Osho on the way.

Over & Out!

Dhatu Organics in Mysore

is a swanky health food store with attached eatery. Lots of ashtanga yogis hang out here (and yeah, they look a little cookie cutter and talk a little cookie cutter). There are plenty of gluten-free and vegan options, all clearly marked on the menu, which, BTW, is brimming over with options. Smoothies, Dosas (I’m gonna have to make a dosa post soon as I’m officially a dosa addict now!), herbal teas, vegan ice cream (!!!) and salad. I love Indian food, but green salads is not something you see that often.

I ordered this beauty twice. Sweet and tender baby bananas with amaranth, cabbage, cherry tomatoes, sultanas and virgin olive oil.

Food heaven yet again <3

Blood-letting and nose-piercing in Mysore

I’ve been in India for a week now, and despite my messy stomach and bouts of diarrhea, right now I feel like I don’t ever want to return to Berlin.

The weird phantom pains I had in my left leg have evaporated and the nose piercing I had done at the hospital yesterday seems to be healing perfectly. Yeah, Meena, the sweetest lady who owns Silver Nest, a popular Gokulam jewelery shop, told us that we need to go to the hospital to get our noses pierced. I’m not so sure how kosher it is for two healthy vegan yogis to clog up an Indian hospital to get gold rings in our noses, but that’s what happened. We received anesthesia and the doctor was singing Indian show-tunes while we lay down on the stretcher with a gorgeous nurse hovering above and blowing hair from our eyes and caressing our sweaty arms. Mine went through easily with minimal blood, while Victorien’s kept on bleeding so they kept us there for almost an hour.

The doctor then prescribed a load of medicines for us: super Vitamin C, antibiotics (!?!!), anti-bacterial cream, painkillers (sadly sans the really good stuff) and then we were off to lunch, Victorien with a bandaged nose.

More about the delicious vegan, gluten-free and organic food later.