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4 posts from December 2009

Stockholm notes


For myself and perhaps for you, before I forget, some notes from the journey.

Rosendals Trädgård, Rosendals Trädgård, Rosendals Trädgård! This biodynamic farm houses a cafe across three greenhouses, and we were lucky enough to try the wintertime lunch buffet. I seldom taste such intelligence in food, least of all in buffet offerings, but each bite -- of pickled romanesque broccoli and red onions, of gratinéed crab apple halves -- taught me something. Back a day later, we luxuriated in the spiced carrot cake. // Did you know there was a Swedish Muji? How happy I was to stumble across Granit, where I promptly located the rucksack of my dreams, a gray sweatshirt I'll live in this winter, and a black-and-white striped scarf that will let me pretend I am a Stockholmer. // Two mornings I walked through the predawn chill to Brunkebergs Bageri at opening time. I bought a cardamon bun fresh off the tray, steaming, and peeled off strand after buttery strand, watching the baker's thoughtless dance of flouring, slicing and sliding his loaves. // And yes, how strange to taste the spices of my childhood in such unfamiliar places! Cardamon speckled the chocolate cookies at Rosendals too, and at Vette-Kattan I was moved to delight by the gaudy yellow of the saffron bun, easily equal to the burfis of Maharashtrian functions long past. // The food at the Moderna Museet cafe is nothing spectacular but the view is exalting, and with free refills on the coffee, it's a lovely place to idle for an afternoon, writing. // Swedish is close enough to German that you can make it out if you squint, so I couldn't resist the Rosendals Trädgård cookbook. Wish me luck with my first attempt, a creamy chocolate orange cake.

Home again


Oh but it's good to be back, with pumpkin soup speckled with pumpkin seed oil from Sgaminegg, and beeswax candles burning as per Jo — and Stockholm, of course. More on that city anon, but for now: If you want to tolerate the Berlin winter, spend a long weekend in a place where the streets are pitch-black by 3pm.

Looking out the window


Second Advent: Dahlem Christmas Markets


Walk through the black winter forest to the lake, admiring the trunks mossed a fluorescent green. Covet, then buy a pair of cream and clover mittens knit by a twinkling grandmother with a weaver's studio in Brandenburg. Take part in the call-and-response led by the storyteller on a velvet throne thronged by engrossed toddlers and cavorting Dalmatians. Appreciate the fact that the Jagdschloss Grunewald's Christmas market snack situation is really quite good (rosemary potatoes, fish soup out of a cauldron).

On the bus back, impetuously alight at the Domäne Dahlem stop. Be pleased to be back at a beloved Christmas market. Admire, once again, the extraordinary indigo work on offer. Buy too many jams (more on those later). Drop by the local bookshop on the way home and be grateful for booksellers so unerring in their appraisal of your taste. Spend the evening on the sofa immersed in short stories while your daughter draws pencil loops on the hallway walls.


Next week we'll be in Stockholm. Do you know cozy cafés we should visit or blogs we should consult?

I hope to compile a little Berlin guide of evergreen favorites for Christmas gifts, but let me alert you now to the beautiful 2010 calendar that Balkon & Garten has produced (below). It's on special offer today for only €6 + postage!