Coledampf’s & Companies, Kitchen Accessories & Cafe, Kreuzberg

Coledampfs third store (this one with partners) in Berlin, is in Kreuzberg and it is incredible!  I’d heard about its imminent birth for some time but I just though “bah”.  I never imagined something of this retail magnitude was what they had in mind.  I would stick it up there with Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table.  A toned down European version of course because no one can compete (or tries to) with the volume, the ‘oh so shiny and new’ and bright displays that instantly convince you (me) that: Yes, you (me) absolutely must have the electric Zoku popsicle maker with accompanying book. (Even though the last time I ate a popsicle, I still had some of my milk teeth in.) of the American market. This Coledampf doesn’t have the variety that the Savignyplatz shop has, notably absent are plastics (spatulas, Tupperware, moulds).  Instead there is a stunning collection of de Buyer pots and pans; chefy tools, about 10 formats of conical strainers; glassware; dishes; German wines, from the 13 growing regions; a tower of Cynthia Barcomi’s aluminum bakeware; and books - 1 shelf of which is in English.There is a focus on craftmanship, environmental sustainability and regional goods.  As I understand it, Coledampf’s & Companies is a collaboration between the big, the good and the virtuous; bread from Beumer & Lutum; the culinary bookstore Kochlust; a range of edible products from Essbare Landschaften, I gathered that they are the ones that run the cooking school; something (opinion maybe?) from Garcon magazine.I don’t really need the partner credentials, it could be a collaboration between the 7 dwarfs and I would still love it.  The enormous space (500 sq ft), the large communal tables, the freedom to amble along slowly and peruse the contents of the shop without being verbally tackled by an exasperated sales person that wants to know if ‘you’re just wasting their time or what?!?!’.

But the best part?

You can order food.There is a cafe on the ground level and a warm food cafe upstairs.  From memory, the menu upstairs went something like this: a celeriac soup, a pan-fried salmon, a regional duck dish, a pear dessert. Entirely seasonal, with not a raspberry or asparagus spear insight to dilute credibility.  With dinner at Renger Patzsch not far off on the horizon of the evening.  I ordered a soup and a dessert.  The kitchen is open and has some super strength extraction because although the salmon was coming out with perfectly crispy skin, I couldn’t smell it being cooked.  The chefs plate up on the open pass, as professional as if it were the pass at Maze, then *ping* goes the little silver bell and the order is expedited to the table. (Mains are in the €12-€15 range but look to be worth every euro.) Read more of this post

Sale e Tabacchi, Italian, Mitte / Kreuzberg border

George Vernon Hudson, I don’t like you. So it’s 1898 and things are a bit dim, you don’t get enough daylight hours after work to pursue your entomological pursuits, I get it. But why, pray tell, are we still doing this? This being ‘daylight-saving-time’. I’m no scientist but my instincts tell me that if the days are getting shorter in the winter anyhow, perhaps if we are going to be screwing around with time, we should be doing it the other way around so that we add an hour of sunshine rather than subtract one? I don’t know, just and idea.My other big gripe with the lack of light is the murky yellow photos I will now be posting on the website. Speaking restaurants, I would hazard a guess that a good 70% of Berlin establishments are closed for lunch opening only at 6:30 for dinner. Meaning my pictures look like they were taken by a cusk eel, which is a misleading name because it’s not an eel but a fish which has been spotted some 8,000 meters below sea level, get it? Really deep underwater hence the dark pictures?! (David Lebovitz wrote a great guide to blogging, in it he quoted F. Scott Fitzgerald who said “An exclamation point is like laughing at your own jokes.” Too late, silly is the fabric from which I was cut.).Back to the review. I’ve been to Sale e Tabacchi a few times, usually when friends suggest it as an eating spot. The only colour present in the front and back dining room is blue, the blue of the Sale e Tabacchi sign. There are no paintings, the large half orbed lights that line the walls and ceiling are so striking, I can’t imagine any art that would stand up to them. The waiters are all male, in floor length white aprons, they address everyone in Italian, and if you don’t order properly (Primo, Secondo and so on) they just hover over you, pen poised until you (I) succumb to the guilt and hastily add a dish.

For all that authenticity in decoration, waiter behavior and menu, I don’t like the food. I was trying to figure out why that is last week. As a table of 15, I had a good overview over what the dishes looked like (good) and everyone seemed to be enjoying them. I ordered 2 starters. Octopus with celery (€11.50), which was bland, the only highlight being the inspired addition of celery which I had never encountered before. Then I had the vitello tonnato (€10.50), which came straight from the fridge and whose puddle of tuna sauce was too reminiscent of something else. There were two slices of seedy lemon so mangled, they looked like they’d been fished out of a bin somewhere when the kitchen ran out of lemons (I’m sure that’s not the case but that was what the story their appearance told me).

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Kjosk, Mini Street Food Market, Kreuzberg

This was a Sugarhigh tip: a mini street food market in front of Kjosk.  Kjosk operates out of a white double-decker bus on a corner plot which used to be a garbage dump.  Presiding over the scene are graphic black and white depictions of hanging animals, 3 stories high, painted on the outside of the adjacent apartment building.

Entirely surreal and to me a so typical “only in Berlin” scenario.  Sure, big companies all over the world are trying to thrill us with pop ups, props and oddities of all sorts.  But this place felt uncontrived, authentically odd if you will.I read in this article in the New York Times that the Kjosk is the brainchild of Rosmarie Köckenberger and is simply a convenience store housed in a bus.  There are picnic tables, buckets of straggly plants, dirt - lots of it and a ping-pong table.

I didn’t expect much of the mini street food market.  I’ve been to a few of these Facebook food events this summer in Berlin and it’s usually not much more that a guy with a stack of Tupperware boxes serving food that has sat around for too long in the heat.  I’ve also been to the fancy ones, like Pret at Diner and have considered myself lucky to come back with my wallet even if the contents had been thoroughly emptied. Read more of this post

Kadó, Liquorice Shop, Kreuzberg

Liquorice.  In my head, people who eat it are a certain height (tall) and a certain complexion (pale).  Maybe because my dutch friend in highschool used to go gaga for the stuff (Ooo, can I say that now or is it trademarked?).  She’d be scrounging around in that bag like there was a gold coin at the bottom.  Intrigued, I would say “Hey Dutch girl!  Can you hear me up there? Pass the bag would you?”  Then I would pull out a black candy and take a nibble. Nope. Another. Nope. Until I had made my way through the selection.  ”Why do you eat this stuff anyway?”  I would ask, disgusted.  It must be genetic, this love of liquorice.  It’s a testament to the bijou shop design of Kadó that I was enticed to go in.  I sat awkwardly in the center surveying the two walls of apothecary jars, filled with the black stuff.  It didn’t take Layla long to cotton on; “This is Candy!  Mommy it’s candy!”  Yeah babe, but not as you know it.  I bought a large raspberry gummy candy, the size of a 2 Euro coin for Layla and a bag full of ‘beginners’ liquorice for me.  It was all weighed on old-fashioned scales.  The total is punched into an antique till, where you have to crank the lever on the side until it goes “cha ching!” (How perfectly perfect!) Read more of this post

Marheineke, Market Hall, Kreuzberg

I walked down Mittenwalder Str, wondering if this street really led to the market hall?  It all seemed too residential; a fat cat in a window here an old woman smoking a cigarette there…and then I walked into the bright square, glaring sunshine bouncing up off the cobblestones, a cacophony of  squealing
children, water falling from a great height and general buzz of people soaking up the early summer.

How come no one ever talks about this place?  It’s cute as a button! All urban planned with trees offering shade, fountains and a playground for the children.

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E. T. A. Hoffmann, Classic Food, Kreuzberg

I had the oddest dinner at E. T. A Hoffman.  Good. But odd.

Good because the food is cooked by someone who clearly knows what he is doing, obviously has a lot of kitchen mileage and loves what he is doing.

Odd because of the enormous, almost cafe like dining room, the large platter like plates and a tendency to serve the food in ’duos’ or ‘trios’.  (My duck liver came as a smooth terrine with chocolate and another incarnation with chunky bits and grapes.)   Read more of this post

Hudson’s Cakes, British Cakes, Kreuzberg

I wish I could find something like Hudson’s cakes in Mitte.  I think I would end up spending rather a lot of time there, peeking into the kitchen, chatting with the owners and admiring them for taking the leap and starting a business in Berlin.  A food business.  Wow.

I went when they had been opened for just over a week.  There were 5 or so sandwiches on offer and a couple of British style cakes in the vitrine.  Layla marched straight up to it (it was conveniently placed at her two-year old line of vision), wedged her short index finger against the glass, pointing at the darkest cake and therefore conceivably the chocolate one and said “..’Dat - un’.  (That one)

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Angry Chicken, Fried Chicken, Kreuzberg

There is a new addition to Kimchi Princess (which I wrote about here): Angry Chicken, Korean Fried Chicken.  No seats (at least not when we were there) just standing room for about 10 people at the concrete bar, facing the concrete wall, with a few wisps of  neon spray paint.  There is a lot of neon at Angry Chicken, so much that it resets my mind clock back to the 80′s and makes me wonder why I didn’t think to wear my neon leg warmers and high top Reeboks (you know the ones with 2 velcro fastenings at the ankle and shoelaces at the bottom)?  And maybe some terry cloth sweat bands, to keep my permed hair out of my eyes and an oversized sweater over my stretch stirrup pants.

Phew! That one kind of ran away on its own.

Paging Richard Simmons & Olivia Newton John…

Seriously though.

Your options are So So Angry Chicken (extra spicy), Angry Chicken (cinnamon sweet chilli), Sexy Chicken (soy garlic), Friendly Chicken (classic crunch), Furious Chicken (super spicy) with sizes of M = 6 pieces (€3.50), L = 9 pieces (€5.00), XL = 15 pieces (€8.50).  We tried the ones in red.  Furious Chicken will make steam come out of your ears and should be ordered with a side of fries to give your mouth a break.  So So Angry seemed to be just spicy enough, Angry chicken was mild. Read more of this post

Little Otik, Kreuzberg

Berlin bloggers are buzzing like frenetic bees over this little Kreuzburg eatery. (Don’t believe me? Scroll down to see everyone who has already written about it.)

So I asked my husband to ring up and reserve a table for a girlfriend and I.

“What is this place, they hardly speak German?”

“It’s these two guys from New York, that used to have a famous supper club and now they have a restaurant which is only opened 4 days a week.”

Upon setting foot in Little Otik, my first thought was “Irish gastropub by the sea.”  Maybe it was the music that was playing (it sounded like Irish Folk) or the walls painted in teal and white or the Colcannon on the menu.  When I asked Jeffrey Sfire what kind of food they specialized in, he said ‘Modern American’ adding that the Colcannon was on the menu because they have an Irish line cook.  Mystery solved.

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Kimchi Princess, Kreuzberg

We had an ominous beginning with Kimchi Princess. We made reservations on the weekend of 24th-25th of September. Got into the car, stomachs rumbling, thinking half an hour from Mitte to Kreuzberg was entirely reasonable. 2 hours later after driving to the far ends of Berlin and still not being able to take a right and dizzy with hunger we ended up at an upmarket Italian called Adnan in Charlottenburg picking over an enormous oval sized pizza.

We called some local friends to find out the reason for the chaos.  ”What? You’re out?!” they laughed at us.  ”It’s the Berlin Marathon.  No one leaves their house by car this weekend!”

Lesson learned. 

What I really craved (that night and on a daily basis) was spicy food, variety, texture and a bit of fun.  That’s what you get at Kimchi Princess.  It’s not the best Korean food I’ve ever had but it’s pretty good, really good-by Berlin standards (I often find flavours here dulled down).   Read more of this post


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