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14 posts from September 2007

Butternut squash in Berlin


Oh, I searched, and for a long time the Vietnamese shop near Gaudystraße was my reliable source, but when they scaled back their produce selection I was out in the cold again, left to the vagaries of the Kollwitzplatz market, trolling through the half-dozen stands seeking the butternut squash I craved.

Then last Saturday, desperate to duplicate my mom's famous bhaji for Alistair and Sabine, I cycled to Helmholtzplatz more or less on a whim. Alongside the fetching little hokkaido squash at Gerd Carlsson's stand were four robust butternut squash, reasonably priced at €1.90 per kilogram; Carlsson reassured me that he has the squash in stock every week. So there you go!

After the crush of Kollwitzplatz, the Helmholtzplatz market is comfortingly small. You'll find Carlsson's stand at the northeast end beside the fishmonger's (opposite a stand that also has butternut squash, but at slightly higher prices). The Helmholtzplatz market is open Saturdays from 9 to 4 or 5.

(And because this site is already threatening to become Grapes Reified, let me also recommend - surely for a few weeks only! - the French muscat grapes also on sale at his stand.)

Update: Mid-October now, and I spotted two full crates of butternut squash in the Prenzlauer Berg BioCompany. Fingers crossed they keep stocking it, though I'll buy from Mr Carlsson as long as his supply holds out.


Let me see yr war face


Strolling through Mauerpark


Fall in Berlin


Sunday, autumn equinox, fall in Berlin...

Vineyard peaches (Weinbergspfirsiche)


And if you'll allow me to exult over foreign fruit for another day, the vineyard peaches (or Weinbergspfirsiche) that our vintner-cum-landlady was selling were a marvellous find, the blood oranges of the peach, I found myself thinking, as I sliced one open on Saturday morning. (The night before, we'd bought four for a euro out of the vintner's cheery green truck, parked in the courtyard.) Fresh, they're best for the surprise of their vivid red flesh, but their obdurate tartness means they're best enjoyed converted into jam. We bought our jars from an elderly woman just up the road from our holiday flat; she had a modest assembly of bottles displayed on her doorstep, and we had to knock twice before she came out to take our money. Oh, city kids exulting in The Countryside...

As a few have asked, I can heartily recommend the decidedly unstylish but clean and comfortable holiday flats offered by the Mainzers: We took the smallest one (which has the biggest balcony), and thought it a steal at 27 EUR per night.


Tiny grapes freshly picked


Hmm, well, I suppose going onto the balcony to pick a handful of tiny grapes from the vines growing on the rail must run a close second. I don't mean to gush, but really, being in wine country during the harvest is just extraordinary.

Along the Moselle


Really, is there any happier moment than walking through vineyards alongside a river and helping yourself to wild grapes massed on an old stone wall, to eat while admiring the view across the water?

For anyone considering a weekend away, I can really only sing Ernst's praises.