Adlon Kempinski, Breakfast, Mitte

The adventurous spirit I have with regards to eating leaves the building when it comes to hotels.  I would rather stay in a Marriott with its floral prints and its thick carpet than in some designer led incarnation where it is easier to locate the bathtub than the bed (remember my experience at the Delano in Miami?).  Over the last few years I have stayed in the Adlon a couple of times.  None of the rooms had a ‘view’ (I am not sure that crowds of tourists lining up for a Starbucks coffee constitutes a view even if it is set off by the Brandenburg gate) but that in no way hampers the room layout –  quietly brilliant in their clever use of space and deliverance of comfort (for example Mühldorfer bedding also used in the 7 star Burj Al Arab).The buffet breakfast is another perk.  Table after table, stacked high and deep  with neat lines of cold cuts and cheeses.  A dozen glass carafes filled with juices.  A wall of bread.  An army of jars, lids off, sitting on a paper doily – spoons at the ready with tiny little dishes for spooning dainty quantities into stacked off to the side.  A whole human being to make you eggs, any way you like.  Triangles of watermelon, bowls of segmented grapefruits and oranges (some poor hotel school student probably got carpel tunnel doing those).  Let’s say you find nothing you fancy in that room of food, you can always order ‘a la carte’, eggs benedict say or a white tureen with two bloated weisswurst floating in a sea of finely minced chives.I start off with fruit and a mixture of yogurt and one of the four kinds of bircher muesli, move on to eggs with some cold cuts on the side before I have to concede defeat and fight the urge to get horizontal and groan.

Last Sunday, my father was visiting Berlin and  he invited us to have breakfast with him.  I packed in as much food as my compromised stomach could manage but instead of saying ‘uncle’ and going for a lie down, I left that table and went to another breakfast.  Hosted by Marguerite’s on her blue polka-dotted oilcloth tablecloth.  Luisa made apple scones from a Martha Stewart Recipe.  I spooned on Sylee’s delightful strawberry jam with strawberries she had picked the weekend before in Vierfelderhof and drank too much coffee from the French press. Read more of this post

Baker & Spice’s Lemon Cake

Despite having a multitude of baking books, too many to count (Ok getting up to count: 28), I tend to return to the same two titles; Baking with Passion (Baker & Spice) and Breakfast, Lunch and Tea: The Many Little Meals of Rose Bakery.  Both books are oldies but goodies, the first having been published in 1999 with numerous reprints and the second in 2006.

Both are books that came out of successful shops, which makes a world of difference when talking success rate in your kitchen.  One thing is to have a home economist who had a make over, a spin through a PR machine to emerge glistening from the other side with a collection of recipes she has pawned from her peers, substituting almond essence for vanilla here and cocoa powder there.  Quite another is to have a book full of baked goods based on those that people line up and part with their money for.Yet another distinguishing feature is that Baker and Spice was the brain child of Gail Stephens (penned by Dan Lepard – who everybody worships these days and Richard Wittington) while Rose Bakery that of Rose Carrarini (also one of the co-founders of Villandry in London) both women.  (Massive generalization coming – can one start a sentence with parenthesis? Does anything really go on a blog? Or have I taken it to far this time?) Shops run by women seem to share certain characteristics; food tends to be un-embellished, think of a male peacock with his attention grabbing tail versus the demure female; absence of gilding doesn’t translate into absence of taste, the spartan cheese plate at La Formagerie (Patricia and Danny Michelson) is the best cheese plate you will ever have in the world, anywhere, ever.  Shops conceived by women somehow feel like the equivalent of someone who uses a Dove soap bar to wash their face and Nivea cream as a moisturizer, producing shiny naturally rouged cheeks with a few life lines thrown in for good measure; practical, real, genuine, dependable, good.

A lot of words to say that the recipes from Baker and Spice always work, you won’t find a recipe for Crack Pie in here but then tell me, who wants to wait 15 hours for a pie? (I did have a look through Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook but it left me a little cold, like Heston Blumenthal’s books.) Read more of this post

Café Einstein Stammhaus, Old Fashioned Coffee & Lunch in a Villa, Tiergarten

There are a few Einstein cafés around Berlin.  Always opt for one of those coffees over Balzac and certainly over Starbucks (Only because I think the coffee is too milky not because I subscribe to the “Starbucks is ruining the world” movement.)

This Einstein is really special.  It’s in an old villa in Tiergarten.  Parts of the ceiling and faux columns are gilded, there are large mirrors set into the walls adding to the feeling of opulence.  The waiters/waitresses  wear black trousers, white shirts and are very polite.  There are even ‘stations’ for them to put down their trays.  It’s all very grown up and reminiscent of a bygone time when everything and everyone was more elegant.  
Read more of this post

Granola and Yoga

I have conflicting feelings about Yoga. On the one hand, all those un-pedicured bare feet, hovering bottoms and chanting and grunting in unison – well it’s just creepy. White people paying 7 Euro’s a class in Mitte (£12 at Triyoga in Primrose Hill, London) and then greeting each other with ‘Namaste’ seems contrived. On the other hand, it’s the only thing that stretches me out so effectively. One class is all it takes to uncurl my spine, push my shoulders back and make me more aware of my posture.

I found a modern, well-lit studio called City Yoga on Dorotheenstrasse (about 5 minutes from my house). I gave my husband instructions on how to keep our daughter alive and asked him to stir the trays of granola I had drying in the oven and off I went. Read more of this post

Anna Blume, Brunch and Cakes, Prenzlauer Berg

When I lived in Prenzlauer Berg for one month last March, I used to pass Anna Blume on a daily basis.  It had gotten so much coverage in the guide books and blogs that I had Anna Blume fatigue, before even visiting it.  That coupled with a lot of  bad reviews from people who had been hyped up by the profusion of write ups and then let down when they finally visited.  

On Tuesday I took a break from the 3 days of non stop hostessing and took the M1 tram up to Prenzlauer Berg, intending to go to Meierei.  A funny notice on a doily informed me that they would only be reopening on the 6th of January.  I decided to finally give Anna Blume a try.   Read more of this post

Ricotta Buttermilk Pancakes with Pomegranate Molasses Roast Grapes – Anna Hansen

Gwenyth Paltrow has this quality that I can’t describe that drives me bananas!  I don’t know why?  She must be really nice, although I have to question her decision to name one of her children Apple and insist he(?) subsist on a macrobiotic diet for 2 years but her kid, her decision.  I’m only bringing her up because of the 1998 film, Sliding Doors.  Where there are two Helens, one that catches her train and stays with her obnoxious, cheating boyfriend and the other who misses her train and as a result starts a new career and meets a wonderful caring man.

A few years back I had an opportunity to work with Anna Hansen.  She was in the preliminary stages of The Modern Pantry in Clerknwell, London.  Instead, I was offered a promotion at the deli I was working at and jumped at that chance.  Anna went on to open up The Modern Pantry to rave reviews!

I always wonder how my life would have turned out had I caught the Anna train?  I really love her food- it’s my kind of food.  Full of texture, color and unexpected surprises – pleasant ones!  I used to really enjoy watching her in the kitchen, she is incredibly intuitive and laid back.  In the moments before she served up the food, I would look at the counter top and think “OMG! Where is the food??!!!”  Then seemingly out of thin air it would begin to materialize, plate after plate of gorgeous original food.  She’s a wizard that Anna! Read more of this post

Soho House Berlin – Part 1

I was expecting to dislike the Soho House in Berlin.  The whole “club” thing was very big in London and I used to avoid it like the plague.

I just don’t like being judged!  Who does?  It means someone might deem you less than desirable.  Ouch! Rejection! It’s not fun when you are in kindergarten and it doesn’t get any better the older you get.

Plus who died and made the chick with the clipboard God? Read more of this post


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