Birdsong and trains were always my Berlin soundtrack, and I hear them both as I write, my cheeks still flushed by the day's sun. Central heating is being installed in our building, so our landlords have moved us to a holiday flat for a fortnight. I see the Gasometer from the window, and the sky. A shift can do much to clear one's head.
But I meant to share a little euphoria, a jolt of sun to mark this, the real beginning of spring. Oh my friends, this balmy air. I imagine the same thrilling song played in our heads as we walked through the streets and observed the ends of gray branches swollen green. I close my eyes on the balcony for a moment and am outside of any particular moment: wind on my face, coal (still) scenting the air.
Handmade noodles in irregular lengths with just the right amount of chew: neither gummy nor chalky. A golden broth. A generous handful of greens , more leaf than stem. Tofu marinated and slivered before joining the broth.
This winter I conducted a survey of Chinese restaurants in West Berlin. Each time I chose the simplest dish, a vegetable noodle soup, to see what each chef made of it. April now, and Tian Fu’s vegetable noodle soup* is my firm favorite, accompanied, for choice, by their fiery smoked tofu with coriander. Their hot pot, too, is rumored to be amazing, and is next on my list. (But don’t bother with their lunchtime buffet, all dessicated noodles, gluey meats and limp greens.) Afterwards you might stop at the shop next door to stock up on fresh corriander and curry leaves, and perhaps a bag of that still-elusive soft brown sugar.
* Be sure to specify handmade!Tian Fu, Berliner Straße 15, Berlin-Wilmersdorf (map)
Cupped in her hands, some Sejak steeps. The Korean tea, she says, is hearty. The tiny cup I drink leaves me alert, tranquil—sated.
Everyone has raved about Paper & Tea, and rightly so. The staff I've met—the heart of any operation—are warm and knowledgable, welcoming and full of zest. Of course the museum-like interior is exquisite too: those capacious drawers! those celadon teapots!
Passers-by are offered teas to try too, but those wishing to sample and discover at leisure will be pleased to hear the shop will commence tea seminars this month, one on white teas (April 14), one on tea as plant and ritual (April 21).
And now to warm my own hands—don'tcomplainabouttheweather—around another cup of tea.