The Barn – Roastery, Mitte

The Roastery
I was sitting inside the child friendly Ginger and White in London when I read that Ralf Rüller had banned prams in his coffee shop. “Big deal!” I thought and soon tweeted – it’s not like prams fit in the teeny tiny Augustrasse shop. Only much later, while I sat with a group of bristling mothers, did I understand that there was a new bigger shop, The Roastery and that it also did not allow prams. Nor did they let you use their toilet, allow dogs, provide sugar, use soya milk and if you wanted to use your computer – you had to wait in line for the one table where it was allowed.IMG_1275

“Do you know that they deleted all the negative comments off their Facebook page?” one said “I mean if you are going to do social media, then you have to do social media!”

A big no!Even more confounding was the chosen location; the Mitte end of Schönhauser Allee – the other end of which is Prenzlauerberg.  Prenzlauerberg.  As in the bastion of designer babies and prams.  The styling of the babies and The Barn is nearly identical with a preference for wood (Prenzlauerberg babies don’t play with plastic), clothing in muted hues, even for the girls (especially for the girls) and no sugar allowed (The Barn because it thinks that  sugar would ruin a perfectly balanced coffee and the parents because they are trying to channel Gwenyth Paltrow).  Not allowing prams in that part of town  is like banning gambling in Las Vegas: absurd.

I set out for a weekend coffee in my SUV (3 kids people, need a big car) with Layla in the back so as to avoid the “what to do with the pram” conundrum.

There housed in a now defunct pharmacy was an extremely large coffee shop. I could have easily driven the Lexus up to the counter and placed my order without making a significant dent in the enormous space. Clearly the pram ban is not a space issue.

The set up is meticulous. The milking stools are lined up straight, with their legs crossed in a way that makes me think of how women used to be taught to cross their ankles demurely in finishing schools.  There is a young man exerting tremendous concentration over each cup of coffee.  He seems to be weighing every loaded portafiler then scooping out minute quantities of ground beans.  I have a lot of time to observe all of this because perfection takes a while.

IMG_1284At some point, a customer returning his empty cup drops a balled up paper napkin onto the floor, Rüller, who is operating the roaster, hones in on it immediately. He can’t leave the roaster (I know this because he’s already warned me in an overly weary tone that I must mind my child and that should she trespass into the space he will not be responsible because his first priority is the beans) but I can feel his irritation.

It lays there for maybe 5 minutes, all the while Rüller is shooting it harried glances. Until finally he catches the eye of one of his cowgirls, holds it, then casts his eyes down to the ground. She bends and covertly scoops it up. Read more of this post

Goose to Go from the Ritz!

IMG_3803Christmas this year. Phew! Literally no relation to all Christmases past. I don’t know what happened?

Actually I do.

I had twins and sent Layla to Kita for the first time, where she brought back all manner of horrendous disease. After nursing cold after cold for 2 months solid, she finally settled on a whopper, 5 days and nights of coughing. One night she was up for 3 hours straight coughing in my arms and falling into fretful fits of sleep for short periods of time. It broke my heart and my back. I called my husband back from two business trips, needing reinforcements, only to have him go down within hours…

So although I had ordered a German reared mini-pute from Bio Company (4.9kg for €89) I had neither the time nor the inclination to cook it (who would have eaten all that food? My mother and I? Each bouncing a fractious 5 month old baby on our knee?).Teddy Bears at the Ritz

And my dad was in town, lured by all my tales of how I make the best Christmas dinner ever, EVA.

That’s when I came across it.  A pamphlet from the Ritz advertising “Goose to Go” for 6 people €149.  “Per  person?” I asked the waitress at Desbrosses who was standing in front of a blackboard that said brunch at €89 per person (per person!!!).

“No.” she told me per goose.The goose

And it came with…
Red Cabbage
Kale
6 stuffed apples
6 large knodel
cooked chestnuts
gravy (beautiful gravy)
a bottle of Terasses

In a huge insulated Ritz branded bag. Read more of this post

Wiener Brot, Bakery, Mitte

Wiener BrotOn Tucholskystrasse, there is a little brown fox with what looks like a button mushroom (but is more likely a chef’s hat on one ear) surreptitiously climbing up the shop front of Wiener Brot. Inside the shop there is a shelf into which loaves of bread are filed vertically. Large red swirly lamps that look like thick brushstrokes hang from the ceiling.  A colour picked up in the lipstick and cat’s eye glasses of the buxom woman behind the counter.

On the back shelves are jars of Berliner Honig (a perfect Berlin themed stocking filler) and Berliner Bären Gold.  Then I spot a hoard of Sarah Wiener books.

“Is this a Sarah Wiener shop?” I ask the shop assistant
“Yes.” She beams back.
Oh.” I think flatly.

I had high expectations for another Sarah Wiener place Das Speisezimmer and although the design of the place was nice, the food was less than lacklustre.  Still that was over a year ago and I had only eaten there once.  I could be wrong about Sarah Wiener.

Except I’m not. Read more of this post

OSLO kaffe bar, Coffee, Mitte

I was picking my way through the wreck that is Chausseestrasse, trying to get to Bondi Cafe. Two women walked passed me, lovingly cradling white paper coffee cups with what looked like the word “Oslo” stamped on them.

There was a lot of love in that embrace between woman and cup.  As I turned the corner onto Eichendorffstrasse, there it was: OSLO kaffe bar.  The styling of the cafe vaguely reminded me of Nordic Bakery in London but when I stepped inside there was no food bar a heel of dried up loaf cake.

“Do you sell food in here?” I asked “Like croissants or cake?”
“We used to have croissants.” the barista replied “but our focus is coffee.”

I looked at the black board behind her and tried to work out what I wanted. Instead of Lattes and Cappuccinos, there were ratios 1:0, 1:1, 1:2, 1:3 indicating the ratio of espresso to milk.  I order the 1:2 single origin Ethiopian coffee for €2.90 (the blend is €2.60).

I was told to expect a strong blueberry aroma.  A comment which brought to mind my wine diploma, when a red wine might be described as having tobacco and leather notes.  Attributes I could find no trace of when tasting the wine.  Looking at my classmates, they would all be vigorously agreeing with the pronouncement while I scratched my head in wonder.

Read more of this post

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