« Blumencafé | Main | 2007 at a glance »

Aïoli (& Atame)


I never tire of the ritual of making aïoli, its unctuous pungence, its diversity, enlivening slender lengths of red pepper, roasted chicken, potatoes and – mostly simply – bread alike. (Today, we ate it with our pizza.)

For a long time I shied away from raw egg in recipes, then gradually became bolder, my one concession to salmonella hobgoblins being an insistence on absolutely fresh eggs. When possible, I buy them from the Spahrs' stand at the Kollwitzplatz market, where Mr Spahr stands ever-cheerful in all weather, backdropped by a banner displaying cheerful chickens. They have a choice of sizes from small to extra-large, and large eggs are 20 cents each.

I realize there is much controversy about Provençal aïoli versus its purist Spanish cousin, and many pages devoted to which spelling applies to which variation. I have always made the former, which I have understood as French, and was, thus, subject to the jitters that accompany mayonnaise.

It's something I never thought I would make a couple of years ago, daunted by its temperamental reputation, but recently I ceased working at Hackescher Markt, and so could no longer nip around the corner to Atame with its generous earthenware dish of the stuff, made, mysteriously, in the French way though it's a tapas bar. And so I had to learn.

This is what I settled on. My approach to recipes is one of triangulation, choosing one as a starting and modifying it according to the strictures of two or three others, and this too is a blend of many sources.


  • 1/2 C (113 g) peanut oil (not roasted or dark! the oil should be light and tasteless)
  • 2.5 T (38 g) best-quality olive oil
  • 1 egg yolk at room temperature
  • pinch of sea salt
  • half a lemon
  • two flawless garlic cloves, trimmed and smashed to pulp in a mortar with a tiny smidge of salt
  • boiling water (perhaps)

Mix the oils together in a container with a spout that will let the liquid drip out slowly. I use the trusty oil can I bought in Lucca (see photo above). Put the egg yolk in a small bowl and add a pinch of salt. Use a whisk or hand-held electric beater to whisk the yolk for about 30 seconds, then begin adding the oil first drop by drop, then in a thin trickle, whisking steadily all the while. If the mixture curdles, add a quick splash of boiling water; I actually do this anyway once two-thirds of the oil is in, as I'm not so fond of the glassy quality of  mayonnaise pur. Once all the oil has been mixed in, add the garlic and a squeeze of lemon, stir thoroughly, then add more lemon and salt to taste. Keep covered and refrigerated and consume within a few days.


For those in Berlin with a hankering for garlic, Atame's take is to be highly recommended.

Atame, Dircksenstraße 40 (map)
They've got no set opening hours, but are usually open every day from noon to late.


The comments to this entry are closed.