SEVEN FISH FEAST: SUSHI ON XMAS EVE

My family has our own version of the seven fishes tradition for Xmas Eve, we make a pilgrimage to Mitsua Mart in Edgewater, New Jersey and then make our own sushi at home. 

The tradition started one Christmas Eve years ago when, as a family, we missed a flight and then, disappointed and confused with no plans for Christmas eve dinner, we stumbled on Blue Ribbon Sushi as one of the only restaurants open that would accept us without a reservation. 

The meal was exquisite, a splurge that allowed us to recover from the missed flight feeling like everything happened the way it should have. 

Somehow we got the idea to make our own sushi. At that point we started going to Mitsua Mart, a mecca of Japanese ingredients in Edgewater, New Jersey, just over the bridge. Their selection of sushi-grade fish exceeds the selection that I have seen in NYC, and you can find all kinds of other Japanese ingredients like mushrooms (they have quite a selection) and sake. 

The tradition of having a seafood feast on Christmas eve is an Italian-American tradition which commemorates the wait for the birth of baby Jesus. It continues to be celebrated in Mediterranean countries like Spain and Italy today, where they embrace different kinds of fish like salted cod, or bacalao. 

Our tradition has come to begin with a salad with carrot ginger dressing, reminiscent of the dressing served at Dojo on West 4th St in NYC. Dojo’s not quite the same anymore, but a quick Google search will confirm that we are not the only ones to try to recreate their heavenly carrot dressing. You can find a good recipe here

Traditionally it has been my responsibility to make the miso soup, decked out with a bunch of mushrooms. I taught myself how from this charismatic Japanese man I found on Youtube one year.  Bonus points if you want to check out another version from one of my favorite YouTube channels “Cooking with Dog” It's good for some family-friendly viewing. 

Then the sushi. 

In the past, we have picked seven fishes that look best at Mitsua. We have used salmon, tuna, squid, octopus, salmon roe, sea urchin and eel.  Eel you have to cook and make a sauce for.

Everything is always so, so good. 

This year after learning more about the plight of the oceans, I'm encouraged to be more adventurous in choosing fish so as to offset the environmental impact of my choices. According to Alden Wicker, "over 90% of the Pacific bluefin tuna caught in 2013 were too young to reproduce--which means the last generation of the species could have been on any of our plates." For more information check out her full article here.  

My favorite thing about this holiday tradition is that it engages everyone in my family and we all work together to create a beautiful meal. There’s nothing like cooking with loved ones. After all, food, like nothing else, brings people together, and it is cool to me how traditions evolve to meet the needs of families as they change and grow. 

Do you have any traditions that you love? How have they evolved or come about? Happy holidays to everyone! XX

Health Conscious in Berlin

It wouldn’t be false to say that most people are drawn to Berlin as the hedonism capital of Europe, a sapiosexual paradise of nonconformity where people go to never grow up. 

But Berlin is more than the European Vegas, and while it is surely a neverland to some keta-sniffing clubgoers in mesh and head to toe “Berghain black,” Berlin’s hedonistic activities dance like Bacchantes around a truly profound spiritual center, orbiting the flame of a life well lived. Berlin is also a capital of sincere spiritualism, where yoga studios exist in abundance and yet are stripped to their essence, devoid of “aspirational lifestyle aesthetics” a la the USA. 

Spiritualism is evident in the street art—there are quotes by Rumi: “Close your eyes. Fall in love. Stay there,” (cheesy sure, but it’s nice) one punk-style banner draped over a restaurant awning in Kreuzberg demands “Community Not Commodity” and, another poster plastered all over Berlin says simply: “OHM.” 

While people might first be drawn to the nightlife and the general spirit of freedom and nonconformity, I discovered Berlin to be an excellent place to detox and nurture my body, renovate my lifestyle (how American!) and become truly centered. (Not to mention that a life of luxury comes at a low price.)

These are a few of my favorite spots in Berlin for cultivating good health. 

DALUMA

Full disclosure: I’ve never been to LA, but this is how I imagine it is at its best. This cafe has free wifi, excellent breakfast and lunch options (quinoa bowls!), juices, decadent vegan desserts and a well-designed wooden structure that makes Daluma a great place to people-watch on pregnancy hill (semi-endearing term for posh neighborhood Prenzlauer Berg, which, despite its family-friendly inclination should not be dismissed, as it is full of great restaurants and cafes). There are bowls of coconut sugar around the cafe, in case you are watching your glycemic index or simply prefer the taste to regular sugar as I do.

Daluma - Weinbergsweg 3, 10119 Berlin, Germany

EWELINA BUBANJA HOLISTIC YOGA AND REIKI

You might not know the healing you need before you visit this truly magical yoga oasis in Prenzlauer berg. Ewelina, who seems unconfined to forces such as gravity and negative human emotions, hosts semi-private yoga sessions (6 people per class) which are more like fully immersive sensory experiences complete with aromatherapy, sound therapy, and life-changing reiki. At 20 euros per class, it is like luxury for your soul. Bubanja also offers private reiki sessions and mindfulness treatments aimed at improving our relationship with things such as work, food and body image. 

Ewelina Bubanja of Holistic Yoga Berlin

RUMMELSBURGER UFER

This is one of my favorite spots in Berlin. During my stay in Friedrichshain I would run along the Spree river and end here, sitting on the few wooden steps that descend into the river. Beautiful any time of the day and in any weather, but in the morning it can be completely empty and so peaceful.  Put your feet in the water. A good place for a quiet moment in nature, spent with ducks and frogs, and water that sparkles. 

Rummelsburger Ufer

BRUNCH AT BETY N CATY

There are no shortage of healthy restaurants in Berlin, but Betty 'n Caty stands out for its variety of gluten free options and pleasant outdoor seating. My favorite brunch item is scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on delightful nutty bread that you wouldn’t know is Gluten Free if they didn’t tell you. They serve juices too, the one with avocado and lemon has a unique texture that is quite nice. 

Betty 'n Caty - Knaackstraße 8, 10405 Berlin Germany

BIG BIO DISCOUNT

Cross the bridge at Saalestraße from Neukölln into a different world: hidden among industrial warehouses where there is very little foot traffic, Big Bio Discount is a haven where organic products cost a fraction of what they do at normal bio grocery stores. They have a great selection of wine and organic liquors, as well as some fruit and fresh vegetables. But be warned, they accept only cash and Maestro. Bring your own bags. 

Mittelbuschweg 6, 12055 Berlin, Germany

VöNER

Vöner has the best vegetarian döner kebab in Berlin if you don't feel like waiting at Mustafa's, and it's served overflowing with fresh vegetables in a cool cafe.  The bathroom is scribbled in adoring compliments. You can choose from a variety of sauces; I would recommend the peanut one, but if you're stuck, ask for recommendations. The staff is almost as delightful as the food. 

Vöner - Boxhagener Straße 56, 10245 Berlin, Germany

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are your favorite health conscious spots in Berlin??