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Miang Kam at Thai Park

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“The leaf lady is here!” she cried, and dashed off. 

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When she returned, we crowded around the black plastic platter. It was heaped high with diced limes, ginger, red onions, and chilis, roasted peanuts, dried shrimps, slivered almonds, a tub of sweet and salty sauce, and, of course, the wild pepper leaves. 

Deftly she wrapped neat bite-sized parcels and dispensed them into our waiting hands. Popped into our mouths, the tiny salt shrimp unfolded into the acidity of the lime peel; we tamed the fiery chilis with swallows of cold, sweet milk tea. For dessert, I bought sticky rice, roasted coconut, and overripe mango wrapped in banana leaves. 

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What a joy that it's Thai Park season again!

Thai Park, Preussenpark, Berlin-Wilmersdorf (map). A much-loved informal collection of mostly Thai vendors selling food, ices, beverages, offering massages, and so much more.

Flowers in Berlin: An afternoon with Ruby Barber

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How long have we Berliners watched the world of floristry thrive overseas and pined for the same? I was delighted when gifted Australian florist Ruby Barber invited me to a grand Charlottenburg flat to chat as she set up the flowers for that evening’s Krauted Haus supper club (aptly titled Zwischenzeit).

Against a backdrop of creamy magnolia branches and cherry blossoms, Ruby told me she left her university course in architecture and design because she was so bewitched by the world of flowers.

Continue reading "Flowers in Berlin: An afternoon with Ruby Barber" »

Five more scoops of ice cream

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Thoughts do become things. One day my daughter was drawing ice cream cones, and there was nothing for it but to light out to Ludwigkirchplatz: a scoop of chocolate for her, a scoop of chestnut for myself. 

Two Junes ago I posted this round-up of favorite ice cream spots around Berlin, including Anna Durkes and tanne B in Kreuzberg, Eiscafe Monheim in Wilmersdorf, Hokey Pokey in Prenzlauer Berg, and, whimsically, Lokal in Mitte (where, last night, I had my first rhubarb of the year in the form of pickled sweet stalks dotting the generous cheese plate).

Following are five more favorites:

Inka Eis: Tucked into the quiet end of Belziger Straße, this South American-themed ice cream shop is run by a graying German man who speaks perfect Spanish. Flavors include custard apple, tamarind, purple corn, and grainy lúcuma, our special favorite, all made from organic milk. The neon-light-and-tiles indoors are indeed authentically South American, while the front garden sports benches beneath a lilac tree. The menu also includes empanadas and more.
Inka Eis, Belziger Straße 44, Berlin-Schöneberg  (map)

Zwei Dicke Bären have brought the magical world of ice cream sandwiches to Berlin. Generously filled permutations include peanut butter cookies with chocolate ice cream, chocolate cookies with caramel ice cream, and chocolate chip cookies with vanilla ice cream. Their custard-style ice creams are specially made by Neukölln-based Mos Eisley, and indeed, the gelateria on Herrfurthplatz merits a visit in its own right.
Zwei Dicke Bären can be found at Street Food Thursday (every other week), Burgers & Hip Hop, and elsewhere.

The selection at riverside Eisbox includes aperitifs in ice cream form, such as scoops of gin & tonic or melon & Campari. 
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, Elberfelder Str. 27, Berlin-Moabit (map)

After a turn on the extensive playground at lovely tree-lined Ludwigkirchplatz, families head for the spacious terrace at Sweet 2 Go. Alongside ice creams and sorbets including strawberry/mint and lime/basil, the cafe also offers fruit crumbles in Weck jars. 
Sweet 2 Go, Pfalzburger Straße 79, Berlin-Charlottenburg (map)

Long-time Berlin favorite Vanille & Marille needs no introduction, but I will mention that they've just opened a permanent Schöneberg outpost. My daughter refers to it as "the one with the big ice creams", which I think speaks for itself.
Vanille & Marille, Belziger Str. 24, Berlin-Schöneberg & elsewhere (map

High, high above: Monkey Bar at Bikini Berlin

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And indeed, you do look over the apes. The breadth of the city vista and the delight of the changing sky are the best reasons to let afternoon drift to evening as you loll on the teal window-side poufs. 

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 We sipped our elderflower tonics and debated whether to order a trio of hummus or a New York cheesecake. The coffee (whether for the sake of the joke or just because the Kreuzberg roastery is utterly reliable) is from Five Elephant; the sodas by Berlin manufacturer Thomas Henry. The service was disorganized and cold, an unfortunate combination, but we found the storks engrossing enough not to mind waiting a half-hour (and talking to three waiters) before we could pay. 

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A generosity permeates the space. Tiered benches let strangers share the view. The entire hotel was designed by Werner Aisslinger's studio, and I was pleased, on going home, to recollect a visit I made to another space he created, which similarly blurred the division between the intimate and the out-of-doors.

Monkey Bar, on the top of the 25Hours hotel at Bikini Berlin, Budapester Str. 40, Berlin-Charlottenburg (map), spacious hotel bar full of nooks, with a terrace and a fireplace, made for sunsets. 
Open 3pm til late

 

No spring without an exaltation of blossoms

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At a flower shop along Belziger Straße | On the window sill at Lina Rothenberger | At home | At the witch's playground

 

Three beakers at Thone Negrón

 

 

 

 

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The Berlinale was on when I stepped into the new premises of Ettina Berrios-Negrón's boutique Thone Negrón in Linienstraße. The restful space, done in shades of sage and mushroom, was quiet. The designer herself, tape measure in hand, was kneeling at the feet of the sort of woman I otherwise only know from films, pinning up the hem of her floor-length claret skirt. — Will it be done by Friday? — Yes. 

The point of the place is, of course, fashion, but I busied myself with the beakers and vases on the slim wall shelf. They're made, Ettina told me, by a brother and sister who took over their parents' pottery studio near the Loire: Les Guimards 

Yolk yellow, mouse-gray, duck-egg blue. Three places set. I was sold. They have been our water beakers ever since.

Thone Negrón Salon, Linienstr. 71, Berlin-Mitte (map