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Food Destinations #4: The KaDeWe Food Hall

Kadewe3

As I found myself mentally circling the food hall in the Kaufhaus des Westens, I recalled Adam Gopnik's piece on the new Paris stadium. After much deliberation, the name was announced – Le Stade de France (The French Stadium). "Banal and beautiful at the same time ... Obvious and seductive. Timeless and unalterable," is the response of the journalist Gopnik quotes.

There is really nothing more obvious than naming the KaDeWe as a must-visit destination for food lovers, but Berlin is not, I think, a city that lives particularly large in the food lover'™s mind, so even its institutions and pillars must be worth mentioning. And really, where else can I send you? No faithful reader needs me to rave on about the weekly Kollwitzplatz market once more, and the liquorice shop tucked away in Kreuzberg, delightful gem though it may be, won't be to everyone's taste. But the KaDeWe, central and open late, will make the jaded foodie go pale with excitement.

The thing is range. I do cherish the specialist shop with its carefully edited shelf of twelve exquisite vinegars, but entering the KaDeWe means setting every foodstuff you can think of on a pedestal in a hall of mirrors. You see the same item everywhere in a thousand varieties: three robust sets of shelves filled with 163 (Reader, I counted!) types of vinegar, dozens of salts from six continents, alien seafood out of Cousteau, vanilla in every form ever invented, more than a thousand cheeses (1,300 according to their website) – and I could go on.

Editing doesn't really come into play at the KaDeWe, and I think one of the more quixotic aspects of the place is that the fiercely fancy rubs shoulders with the utterly quotidian (Fauchon beside Heinz was one pairing I smiled at). As an American, I also can't help but be entertained by such items as the box of Duncan Hines Devil's Food cake mix for 7.48 EUR. On the whole, though, prices are quite reasonable, considering it's such a lavish temple of consumption: My 100 grams of 5-year-old Gouda, its surface cragged with crystallized minerals, was only 3.79 EUR, and my two Neuhaus gems 3.33 EUR.

A little planning doesn't hurt. Usually I do a quick case around a big store to draw up a mental short list of what I'd like to return to, but the scale of the sixth floor make such a blithe approach impossible. Lately I've made a brief list of items to focus on before entering, (eg spices, chocolates, fruit brandies), just to keep from being dizzied when faced with the sheer mass of food.

Shopping is one half of the experience of visiting the KaDeWe, and with such range, it would impossible not to fill a basket with items sure to delight friends. (Note that the fourth floor is very well-stocked with all manner of kitchen equipment, cutlery and china, for those looking for something more lasting than comestibles.)

Once you'™re done with your purchases, though, you might need to revive yourself with some immediate sustenance, and the other half of the KaDeWe experience is visting its eateries. There are more than three dozen counters serving everything from fresh oysters, lobster, champagne, sushi, and elaborate Tortes, to rotisserie chicken, Lenôtre pastries, cheese plates, and all the beers in the world.

Honestly, it's the sort of place one can hardly reconcile with a city famously/notoriously dubbed "poor but sexy"by its mayor. Nevertheless, it's not to be missed. Do let me know if you're coming to visit – I'd be more than happy to help you find the turkey eggs.

Kaufhaus des Westens,Tauentzienstr. 21-24 (map)
Open Mo-Wed 10 am to 8 pm, Thu-Fri 10 am to 10 pm, Sat 9.30 am to 10 pm
(Go on a weekday if you can, as the place can be almost impossibly full on Saturdays and even on weekday evenings.)

Many hearty thanks to Paula for organizing the Fourth Food Destinations event, and to Maki for starting it all! I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone has to recommend, and will post the round-up address as soon as it's out. (PS: Forgive the few images, but the KaDeWe is plastered with stern signs forbidding photography.)

Manons3

Comments

It really is a shame that some venues prohibit photography...we are just giving them free publicity, I don't see the point! Lovely description and photographs anyway! I haven't been to Berlin or KaDeWe in almost a decade...you make me want to go back right away!

Hi Maki - Yes, it is silly, isn't it! Thanks so much for visiting and for the kind words. I hope you find a way to come to Berlin again soon, there really are so many exciting places for food lovers here!

hi there,
your blog is really useful!
i'll come to visit berlin in march and i'm trying to collect food-shop and restaurants addresses.
i'd like to make a food-guide that can help me in finding good spots to go to taste and buy delicatessen.
maybe you can help me!
ciao
zili
roma, italy
zilichelda ( at ) gmail.com

Hi Zili - I'm glad you're finding this blog helpful! I assume you've had a look at the categories 'Berlin addresses: Food shops' and 'Berlin addresses: Restaurants and cafes' in the left column; I'm adding to these sections constantly and have a few exciting places on my to-cover list so do check back before you leave. Feel free to email me too with any questions - I'm always delighted to help out food lovers!

yes, of course i've stolen all the addresses in "Berlin Food shops" & in
"Berlin Restaurants & Cafes" categories.
thank you!
i'm also looking for little old food shops addresses.. in italy we have a lot of "botteghe" and "vini e olii" or "pizzicherie". little cozy shops, sometimes quite narrow and dark full of delicatessen like the Ali Baba's Cave. like that http://www.valtidone-competitions.com/stampa/foto_stampa/foto_valtidone/bottega.jpg
any idea? :)

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