Kitchen stuff I can’t live without…

Well, of course I can, it’s just a lack lustre life, filled with curses and longings for my stuff.

If only I could carry them around with me in a toolkit like a doctor or a plumber.  Not sure how the airlines would feel about my hoard?

Here they are, in order of importance;

1. My Japanese knife.  It cuts through most things like a hot knife through butter.  Swoop, straight through, no hanging on or stumbling.  I sharpen it once a week on an electric knife sharpener (yes, that is just how important a sharp knife is to me!).  Mind you, chefs sharpen their knives before every chopping “job” so my once a week routine seems pretty flimsy in comparison. Read more of this post

Supermarkets - Berlin

When I first arrived in Berlin, I innocently asked everyone “Where is Waitrose? Or the equivalent?”.

The answer I got every time. There is nothing like that here.

Whaaaa? How can there be no Waitrose? I love Waitrose. That’s like finding out Santa Claus doesn’t exist! Read more of this post

Urban Honey - Berliner Honig

They keep making movies about the end of the world, usually featuring Tom Cruise running as fast as his short legs will carry him – to battle the evil alien forces.  But we can look closer to home for signs that the end is nigh.  Not the melting ice caps, nor the disappearing rain forest, but the steady dying off of bees. Read more of this post

The kitchen in our new flat!

Isn’t she beautiful?  You will see a lot more of her in the future.  But in the mean time, I still have so many boxes to unpack…

An Investigation into Berlin Guide Books

Guide books can be so useless in their recommendations.  People who write them must just use other guide books as references.  The authors are well - authors maybe some of them are even journalists.  I have moonlighted as a jorurnalist and been sent on press trips with “real” journalists enough to know that they are just like poor students.  Even when they are older, they will sleep on someone’s couch rather than shell out for a hotel.  I remember one journalist was scandalized when she realized I was leaving all the wine I had been given behind in Italy instead of somehow taking 6 bottles with me back to London.  How she proposed to do that herself, I am still not sure? 

There is of course absolutely nothing wrong in living your life waiting for freebies, but I can not use these people as a basis of taste or opinion.

I think the exception to the guidebook rule is the Louis Vuitton Guide.  Before you roll your eyes at my hoighty toighty recommendations, consider this.  Using their New York Guide, I found places like the burgers at Union Square, Magnolia Bakery, Green Papaya.  Fast food, street food, deli food and of course there are a smattering of Michelin stared places that cost the earth.  The guides are written by insiders of the city and what they share is their knowledge of charming insider places, it doesn’t have to cost the earth but it has to be unique and whatever it decided to do, it has to be the best at doing it. 

For Berlin, I would have to buy the whole box set for Europe.  Worse, Berlin doesn’t even get its own book, its shoved in with 4 other cities I can’t remember. 

My investigations of foodie Berlin started using the Lonely Planet (snore but it has youngish taste) and Something Guide to Living in Berlin.  Lonely planet had some good places, like Dolores Burrito Bar.  The Guide to Living in Berlin has a strange collection – places like Int’Veld Chocolate shop which seemed extremely promising until I had their salted pistachio chocolate bar.  Have they tried that bar?  The pistachios are so salty you can’t eat more than a square.  Its disgusting stuff!  The milk chocolate using goats milk doesn’t melt in your mouth but crumbles into oily pieces.  Their saving grace was the 80% chocolate, the gloss and snap on it, and their clever packaging.

The Exberliner magazine did a special on burger places which sent me to Tartan which I found downright peculiar, more on that later, suffice it to say, I decided they are not going to be my beacon of foodie discovery of Berlin.

A surprisingly good source was Miniloft Berlin (a short rental studio featured in the Louis Vuitton Guide).  They had some great recommendations including a great Vietnamese called Chi Sing. Although they also like Tartan – friends with the owner?

I still don’t have the Louis Vuitton guide or another guide I would trust but now I have discovered something infinetly better; Qype.  I search for a place to go to, using Qype members who appear to have the same discerning taste as I do.  Then I go, L in tow, we usually lunch or coffee or whatever we have decided to do.  Then I go back home and give it a score and put my opinion out there.  My only gripe about Qype is its not specifically food focused and there for there are some gaping holes in food areas.  Like for instance – the only listing for Thomas Keller’s Bouchon is for the one in Las Vegas (he has one in New York and Nappa Valley).  The French Laundry is not even mentioned! seems to be quite serious – but then they are not very present in Europe, where I happened to be!  The New York Times has some great recommendations

Hello world!

After living in London for 13 years, I have moved to Berlin, to accompany my husband on his quest to take over the world.  I bring with me, my 15 month old daughter and a whole lot of prejudice!

In theory I should like living in Berlin.  It has a New York / London vibe (certainly not Madrid, Rome or Paris).  Parts of it are extremely easy on the eye, something that certainly has to do with the £20 billion invested after the collapse of the wall.  Even the parts that are uglier, like Karl Marx Allee, benefit from being huge.  There are grand boulevards, grander parks and shopping galore.

What I think I will most enjoy though is discovering the plethora of independent eateries.  Coming from London where the chains have been reigning supreme on the high street since I arrived in 1997, this change is refreshing.  I love being able to see what people get up to when they are left to their own devices with a small budget.  I imagine some of the places I have been to don’t even have bank loans.  How could they? They are barely viable!

The Flaneur in Prenzlauer Berg for example, seems to be a French Deli that also has wine.  Lovely shop – although tainted by that desperation for customers.  At the till, making coffee and manning the sandwich station is the owner.  I gathered that by his immaculate brown laced shoes - not exactly the most practical shoes to work a 12 hour shift in and they probably wouldn’t appreciate bits of stray cold cuts falling onto them either.  And the way he leafed through a French chocolate catalogue, he looked like a man looking through the newest edition of Victoria’s Catalogue, so intently was he studying it.  I had a perfectly acceptable salami sandwich.  The salami he sliced was  paper-thin on a brand spanking new electric slicer.  A slicer!  That must have set him back 1’000 Euros.  Euphorium Bakery in Belsize Park, London sells bread.  They sell some cakes and bad coffee but primarily they sell bread, and they haven’t shelled out for a bread slicer.  But this guy, he thinks the future is rosy enough that he will be needing that slicer.  I am not as optimistic as he is, although he is a nice enough man so I hope business booms and he needs a second slicer soon!

The Berliners are foodies to the core.  Yes, Starbucks is here, so is Hagen Daaz.  But they have a quirky Balthazar Coffee – which is just a German Starbucks.  Even better, they have the Einstein Coffee Shop chain – that makes delicious coffees.  They pull that espresso out so that it has just the right depth, roast and mouth presence.  The milk is rich and the foam is thick and creamy.  None of that shaving cream foam so many bad places like to pile up on the coffee and charge you 2.50 for a Cappuccino….

Baby is up, I have to run…


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