Pear Cake

Due to extreme sleep deprivation, a plummeting bank balance and occasional (Full disclosure? Frequent) boredom, this baby machine is now closed for business.

Subsequently, I have given away my maternity wear, pillows, baby books, to anyone who looks remotely pregnant- even if they are just fat.

Except for my underwear. The hideous ones with the high waist, cut low on the legs, I’ve still got those.

Uncomfortable underwear, shoes and mascara (that stuff hurts more than you can imagine when sharp bits flake off and drop into your soft eye) make me question the existence of feminism.  Forget the glass ceiling or pay disparity and consider the string.   Read more of this post

Brooklyn Beef Club, Mitte

I went to Brooklyn Beef Club tonight. Three of my friends have raved about it (all men). One has visited so often he has earned a plaque with his name on it. When I heard, I marveled at the financial feat in that, mains go for around €50. I imagine a big gold plaque as big as my shoe, it turns out it’s more of a plaquette – only slightly bigger than my large toenail. Clever though, the sense of entitlement it gives the client, the impetus to keep returning and rack up enough miles for a gold plaque with their name on it.  (I have a better idea, after a named number of steaks, Brooklyn Beef Club should give you a pair of leather boots or a jacket).

I haven’t checked them all but I am willing to bet good money that all the names on the plaques belong to men. The whole Brooklyn Beef Club is like a bachelor pad. First of all – it’s in the basement, put in a bunk bed and stash some porn under the bed and you’re done. In actual fact, you walk down the stairs and first thing you are confronted with is a humidifier with…cigars. I hate cigars. No one will ever convince me that people earnestly enjoy cigars, rather it’s some sort of manly test, to put something gag inducing and foul in your mouth and patiently chomp and suck on the damn thing for hours on end while making big talk. Big talk as opposed to small talk or even worthy talk – can you imagine smoking a cigar while talking about saving the children in ‘fill in the blank’? No.The menu, like the interior, is made for bachelors. All pretenses for a balanced meal are discarded. We are talking meat. Meat on a big oval white plate with a paper flag impaled in it. You can order sides, potatoes 4 ways: mashed, French fries, rostii, new potatoes. The whole endeavor makes me think of a comedy sketch by Florence Forestri called J’aime pas les garcons (watch the skit on Youtube starting from 3 minutes).When I use the bathroom I notice that there is a Molton Brown liquid hand wash but no hand cream. Because a bachelor, one that eats copious quantities of steak and smokes cigars has probably clocked the fact that fancy restaurants abroad often supply Molton Brown soap but by the time it came to the hand cream, his attention may have wandered. He must have also missed that the dispensers are usually fixed to the wall in some way rather than skidding precariously over the sink grooves designed to house a bar of soap. This is no metro sexual, were he, you might find a ceviche in the starters or a green salad…  These are all a woman’s observations you understand.  The dining room is half full, impressive considering it is a Tuesday evening and Brooklyn Beef Club is on a street utterly devoid of traffic let along foot traffic. There is a table of 6 Swedish men, who speak loudly, order beer to go with their porterhouse steaks (which they order and get well done – even though there is this whole spiel on the front cover of the menu about how they will not serve meat any more cooked than medium-well). The rest of the dining room is made up of couples, the male part of which are positively reverberating with anticipation at the slab of meat they are about to devour.I have the fillet with ‘al dente’ Beelitzer asparagus. First time I’ve had white asparagus cooked that way, not sure I like it. The fillet is good, tender. Under seasoned unfortunately. Nothing like the 55 day aged beef I had at Hedone, in London -  which wasn’t much to look at and didn’t come with a flag but really for meat that good I would consider killing the cow myself. (This from a person who had to get someone else to kill her lobster at Leiths – I know, hypocrite. Maybe I could just run the cow over, or you know give it a good scare and bring on a pain free heart attack?). Read more of this post

Steamed Apple Pudding (& trying to learn German)

The women’s toilette at Nopi is all mirrored, the door, the walls, everything. When you wash your hands and look at your reflection in the mirror you see yourself (obviously and hopefully) but behind your reflection, is another smaller you and another and another. I feel my brain’s mental eye expand until what it perceives is so large the edges of the picture wobbles, the picture implodes and then contracts into a tunnel, me hurtling through it into the tiny pinprick at the end before resetting to normal leaving an unsettling shadow of what just happened, in a fraction of a second.

I think German is having the same effect on me. Like a never-ending deck of cards, each with an answer, all furling out and laying on their backs, information bared as far as my eye can see and then just as quickly, *thup*, they get sucked back in, into a neat stack, contents impenetrable.When I say it’s hard to learn German people say, “Yes, the verb is at the end.” But where the verb is hanging out equates to a little Chihuahua nipping at my ankles, when the real problem is that I am locked in a cage with a hungry tiger.

Before melodrama overtakes me completely, let me explain (and also say to you all who have learned German as a 2nd language – hell even as a 1st language: RESPECT!).My grievances can be outlined in 3 main points:

1. The words are long. You will no doubt say to me “Ah yes, but they are mostly made up of words strung together, like ‘kugelschreiber’ which means pen – and could be translated as ‘ball writer’ because of the little roller ball in ball point pens. And I will answer back to you ‘Gänseblümchen’ which means ‘daisy’ but translates as ‘goose flower’.

And also,that my ability to stay concentrated is much like my ability to hold my breath under water, finite. So when I am confronted with something like this: ‘Verständlichwerweise, denn der Vogel war schon von Generationen von Köchen, die hier ein-und augegangen waren, getriezt worden -…”* my brain gives up and goes out for a smoke after the first word, which I think might mean ‘understandably’.

2. The capitals in written sentences are totally distracting, like visual Stolperstein (Stumbling Stones) without meaning. Equivalent to a news reader wearing a bright red clown nose. Anyone prone to distraction (me) will immediately think WTF? and not hear the news. Spoken German has a lot of consonants bunched up together (Someone help that man! He’s choking! Oh, no – my bad, he’s just speaking German), dipping down into vowels and then back up again. So that if I do manage to utter a sentence, I end up feeling like one of the Von Trapp kids crossing the Alps. It’s physical. Olivia Newton John would have not trouble working out to it.

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Cherry & Cranberry Puff Pastry Pies (+ Recipe for Rough Puff)

The reasons I love my gym are:

  1. Free creche service (kinderbetreuung, doesn’t that word just roll off your tongue?)
  2. It’s cheap! €45 a month for weekday morning membership
  3. It’s pretty, all purple lights. Even the sauna has alternating colours, something that is supposed to relax me but has the opposite effect, like being trapped in a confined hot space with a schizophrenic “I’m blue! No red! No pink! No Blue!” Pick a colour and stick with it for crissakes!

The reasons it drives me up the wall are:

  1. There are no partitions in the shower, not that I have body shame or envy, but do I really need to see you lather up your unmentionables? Ah, no, don’t think so.
  2. The shower is on a timer. Like 45 seconds or something. So when I crucially need the water because I’ve got soap in my eyes, there is no water.  I’ve got to grope the wall until I find it, and there is NO PARTITION. MY EYES ARE CLOSED. AND I’M NAKED!  Tell me, is there a water shortage in Berlin or something? Because from where I’m standing, it’s literally coming down in buckets.  Who decided the timer on that thing? 45 seconds? A man probably (sorry boys).  They are the only ones that think a shower and getting wet are the same concepts.
  3. They follow the rules to the L E T T E R. So if I want to book my 2 year old into the creche four days before I always get the “Sorry, we only accept bookings 3 days before.” Even though my kid is usually the only one in there. And it means they will receive a garbled phone call from me trying to pronounce Kinderbetreuung. Or take Monday, I arrived with my hair straightener, clothes, shampoo, Polar fitness monitor but forgot my towel.

“Can I rent a towel?” I ask.

“Leider nicht.” (By the way, Leider nicht translates as regrettably / sadly / unfortunately no. But what I hear when people say that is: you lose suckaaa! It’s just so passive aggressive!)

“Okay, can I buy a towel?”

“Leider nicht.”

“So you have no towels in the gym.”

“Leider nicht. If you want, you can go to Butler’s down the road and see if they are selling some?”

Because that’s the solution I was looking for, going out in the rain, walking for 15 minutes and getting one of those acrylic towels that are designed to repel water.  I figure, I can try to dry myself with paper towels and see how far that gets me when my eyes fall upon a special massage deal on offer that day: ’20 minutes for €15′. I go back up to the ‘no’ girl. “So I could book a massage here right?”

“Yes.”

“And if I book a massage, well then, they give me a towel so I don’t go in there all smelly and sweaty right?”

“Yessssss.” she answered, suspicious as to where I was going with all this.

“Ok, great, so I will have a massage in 2 hours and take the towel now if you that’s alright with you.”

She stalled a bit with that one, not sure if she was agreeing to some illicit concept. “Umm, yes, well, ok.”

“Great!” I patted her heartily on the back. “Good thing I forgot my towel then!”

I’m telling you, she didn’t know what hit her. She went into the revolving door and came back out on the street where she started. And I enjoyed a great massage, the first one I’ve had in years.

I got a big kick out of that.  From not letting an inconvenience ruin my day and set me in the whole “Aw man, it’s one of those days, I’m giving up on this day, I will try to do better tomorrow.”  Then slump back home and play 10 games of Tiny Wings on my iphone (how embarrassing, I’m deleting that app! No, I’m not.)So I went home and continued the day on a high, deciding to tackle a pastry as difficult as the ‘no’ girl at the gym.  Puff pastry. Read more of this post

Grasshoppers – Chocolate mint brownies

Millionaire bars are excellent but I think I may have just found something that tops them! Read more of this post

Lentil and Beetroot Salad

Credit for this salad (and for many more to come) goes to the wonderful British Deli, Melrose and Morgan.  After I did my diploma at Leiths School of Food and Wine, I bounced around the London independent scene, never really finding my place.  I got a little discouraged because I felt as if I had finally found what I loved but it didn’t love me back!

There was a very modern deli in Primrose Hill that I would pass on my way home, so one day I went in there and asked for a job.  I was too insecure to ask for a kitchen job so I ended up working on the shop floor.

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