Friedrichshain: Aunt Benny’s, Cafe; Kinkibox, sewing cafe; La Récréation, Ceramics; Hops & Barley, micro-brewery; Olivia, Chocolate & Cafe; Goldschmiede, jewellery

At this juncture, I would say that I know Mitte inside out; Prenzlauerberg very well; I am surprisingly well-informed on where to eat in Kreuzberg; Charlottenburg is pretty shaky; Schöneberg, vaguer still; Friedrichshain had been blank (with the exception of Cupcake which I visited only once); don’t even get me started on places like Wilmersdorf it might as well be a different city, in fact from what I hear - it kind of is.While the weather was ‘Fa la la la la, la, la, la, laaaaaa‘ glorious, I took out my new copy of Tip’s Speisekarte (in which I got a mention on a special they did on food bloggers - Yay!) and plotted out a few addresses to try out. Then I printed out the google map and off I went with a girlfriend to explore.Yes, I’m a geek of epic proportions. Something it’s taken me a long time to embrace but now that I have, you know what? Geeks have much more fun.Annoyingly, two of the places I had been looking forward to trying were closed on Tuesday (Factory Girl! and Melt) but Aunt Benny’s was open. It has a similar aesthetic to places like The Barn or Bäckerei from the Alpentstueck group, namely, black painted walls, designer bare bulbs, good staff / service. I was still full from tasting a lot of mediocre food along our tour (places I won’t name because they were unoriginal even in their shortcomings) but I couldn’t resist the chickpea and kidney bean salad with rocket in a large weck jar.At that point the tour was over and it had been disappointing. The extraordinary number of young Europeans on the streets told me that there was more to Friedrichshain. Layla nodded off in her pram which gave me ample time to follow my nose.

(Note to self: always rely on the nose!)

I turned up some truffles, not all culinary but you don’t mind if I go off brief every now and again?

First up: La Récréation, a ceramic workshop with dishes so pretty they made me think of pastel coloured, Pierre Hermé macaroons. I wanted to buy a set then and there and thankfully was impeded from doing so by a man who actually was buying an entire dinner set.

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Amorino, Ice Cream Stall, Mitte

When I was a little girl I spent one summer in Egypt and I remember two things vividly; the Pekinese dog my father bought me and the mangoes.

They were smooth and creamy with not even the slightest hint of stinginess. The flesh was a deep orange and sweet but balanced with a prick of sour . I never ate mangoes like that again. They just don’t exist anywhere else.  The only time I found any fruit that bore any resemblance to those fondly remembered Egyptian ones was when Selfridges ran a Bollywood promotion in 2002 (yes, when a mango is that good, I can give you specific dates), they were selling small Alphonso mangoes for close to €5 a pop.  Those came close……and then, I had the mango ice cream at the Amorino stand in front of Galeries Lafayette and I was transported to those dark hot nights as a little girl in Egypt, staying up late and eating mangoes.

I researched the brand a little on the internet.  It’s a chain.  Started by two Italian guys that look like they are in the fashion business rather than the ice cream business.  On their website, they talk about how they only use organic ingredients and traditional methods and the chefs oversee the making of ice cream daily (blah, blah, blah). But with 43 shops in France alone and a further 15 in Europe, I’m pretty sure they’ve got a factory somewhere churning the stuff out. Read more of this post

Ice Cream

Know thyself.  

So goes the ancient Greek aphorism.  

“Myself” is like an ant on speed.  (That would be pretty funny!)  I am always flitting about working my way through the thousand errands I have listed in my head.  When I was younger, I used to envy sloths and layabouts for the apparent ease with which they could slump on a sofa for an entire day and channel surf or read or basically do things that in no way contributed or improved the status quo.  

Or nap during the day.  

Even when I was positively shattered from sleepless nights with little L, I still could not sleep during the day.  I would lay in bed with the curtains drawn and listen to the blood rushing in my ears, my mind filling up with things I need to do until the errands seemingly trickled out of my ears!  Enough!  I would leap out of bed and begin.  

I used to fight these impulses and try to be more relaxed about it all (I take this parenthesis to note that to me, the word “relax” is probably the most irritating word in the English language!).  Clearly I lost that war.  About 5 years ago, I decide to embrace my apparent short comings and you know what I discovered?  Being neurotic is actually fun!  I enjoy going to Ikea and building shelves while bopping about to the tunes on my iPod.  And I prefer making my own cookies or pasta or whatever.  Just now, having mopped 200 sqm of wooden floors, I am basking in the after glow of a job well-done.  

But, to borrow from the Greeks yet again - I am a bit like Sisyphus and his rock.  Although, unlike Sisyphus - I can take a break.  But I can’t relax in my own home as the minute my bottom makes contact with the sofa - I am up again to tend to some urgent matter that just can’t wait!

Instead I go down to the ice cream parlour downstairs.  It’s called Eis Laden and serves organic ice cream in the most bizarre array of flavors including; avocado, sea buckthorn, hot mango (with pieces of chili) - in fact they boast 130 different flavours!  By looking at their website, I have learned that they have been around for 13 years, are a family business and have 3 stores in Berlin.  

I love that it is a bit on the naff side.  I say this with complete affection, by the way!  The logo incorporates an upside down triangle, in a certain shade of blue that to my mind simultaneously evokes communism and the early 80′s.  Inside it’s painted an odd shade of yellow and one wall is clad in some tiles (which I actually like).  Outside they have some sort of truck base that they use as benches.  

The side-walk is always full of people enjoying a “kugel” (scoop) of ice cream for the bargain price of…€0.80 per scoop!  My plan is to make my way through their entire list, one scoop at a time.  

I love to sit on a bench, savouring my ice cream and watching the world go by, in the 10 minutes or so it takes me to get through it I think of nothing at all…  

What bliss!

Flavors I have tried so far; chocolate, sea-buckthorn, lemon sorbet, walnut, rice pudding (wowsers! you have to try this one!)

Luisenstraße 14
10117 Berlin


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