Last Sunday, we were installed in our corner at Soho House marveling at the lapse in the weather (a sunny 16 C). We were due to retreat to our flat to watch the Formula 1 race when, out of character, my husband suggested we take a drive to Potsdam in the Targa topped car.
“Can we stop?’ I asked suspiciously? “Or are we just going to drive there and back in traffic again?” A little background, my husband has an aversion to walking. Pre-little L we traversed Europe more times than I can count on one hand, me with my guide books open on my lap going “We could stop here….” Whooom – we drove past it. “Or here.” Whooom – drove past that. We would only stop to refuel, my husband would buy a bag full of confectionery and we would be off again.
But even he was seduced by the warm sunshine, a friend decided to join us in his mad contraption of a car (no roof and no windows or windscreen).
We sped towards Potsdam, taking the wrong exit off the highway and ending up on some back roads. At some point we reached a narrow picturesque stretch of road, with trees flanking us on both sides and the now setting sun, winking at us between them. When I spied Neumann’s.
“Stop!” I hollered.
Whooooom! We tore past it.
Then my husband found a cul de sac, turned the car around and drove back to Neumann’s…
The courtyard was full of mud, mountains of pumpkins and people in their Wellingtons. Pride of place were a dozen or so huge crates filled with apples, leaves still on. A lot of times German efficiency drives me insane but other times – like this one – I love it. Each crate had a knife attached to it by a piece of twine, so you could try the apples (similar idea to Apfel galerie).
I was peering over the large crates of apple, trying to intuitively guess which ones were the best choice for cooking when I spotted a man in his 60’s, full head of snowy hair, gnarled arthritic hands – buzzing around the crates like they were his. I asked him if he worked there, “yes”, and which apples were best for cooking with?
He opened up like a flower in the sun. “Well…” he started, looking conspicuously over his shoulder “most folks buy Boskoop but I think the best one is Ontario.” Then sensing that he had a captive audience in me, he inched even closer, so we were standing nose to nose and began recounting stories about all the apples there. Like the Pi24 which, I think I understood, was a lost variety that had just been rediscovered and was only available on that farm.
This man instantly brought home to me what it is I love about cooks, farmers, cheesemonger etc. They are just this side of normal. They stand too close to you when they speak. They launch into full-fledged narrations without so much asking your name or where you come from. They have energy and manner of a kitten with a ball of string – pure glee! Our odd exchange of nods and gesticulations was interrupted when my husband and his friend asked if I had decided on my purchases yet – it had been 20 minutes. My…how time flies when you find a kindered spirit. Even if he is twice your age and speaks a different language.
It’s a pity really because this little farm seemed very interesting and I didn’t have a chance to poke around as much as I would have liked. I think they have a pick your own section, picnic tables outside, house made sauerkraut etc and a little cafe.
Neumanns Erntegarten – Hofladden
Am Heineberg 2