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4 posts from May 2013

David Chipperfield's New Kantine


You know how I like following a line. First, there was the temporary Kantine in a creaky-floored, derelict structure at the back of David Chipperfield's parking lot. Then the bulldozers came, and the floorboards found a new home at (Das) Lokal in Linienstrasse. Now the rubble has been cleared away in Joachimstrasse. The new canteen is all warm, raw concrete walls and immense glass squares admitting the liquid light. 



You also know how, when I eat out, I respond to spaces and moods as much as the specifics of a dish. The house-baked bread was pliant, David loved his sage-infused spaetzle (€5); my chicken tacos (€8) disappeared bit by bit. We fought over the accompanying dollop of aioli.

I would put the spotlight on the atmosphere, which is buzzing and convivial on the ground floor, easy-going on the terrace benches ...




while I can imagine disappearing to the upstairs level with a book and some time, to enjoy the creamy blues and the way the cutlery catches the light. Chipperfield designed everything down to the slim knife and widely splayed fork tines.

The service is warm, informal, not over-familiar, and I am confident it will be another welcome space to relax into, an oasis from the crush of New Mitte.

Kantine at David Chipperfield (no website yet), Joachimstrasse 11, Berlin-Mitte (map)
Open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 8pm, lunch served noon to 3pm. 
Tel. (030) 338 444 30

"Grau grau grau" (Sunday snaps)







Did you enjoy the weekend too, despite the unremitting drizzle? My highlights included a browse through the antique shops on Suarezstrasse, the last of the season's family concerts at the Berlin Philharmonic, breakfast (!) at Frau Behrens Torten, and a tour of Next Organic (about which more soon). Sweet dreams! 


Lilacs & Kladow


Let's begin with the lilacs, lolling on their stems in parks, hanging low in the streets, heady in hot weather.

Elderflower was my quarry last year. This year, it's been lilacs, inspired by the sparkling white lilac cordial I tried at Makrönchen Manufaktur last winter. (The cordial was made by Deutsche Blütensekt Manufaktur, a specialist producer who deserves its own post: other syrups include jasmine, chestnut blossom, cucumber blossom, and so many more.)

I've discreetly secateured blossoms in Viktoriapark, around Bayerischer Platz and, last week, in Kladow.


If Berlin has a maxim, it's 'make hay while the sun shines'. When the May sky burned an absolute, Yves Klein blue, I knew to make a beeline for the ferry across the Wannsee.


It still seems a wonder that Berlin's public transportation includes boats. What a thrill to flash the same ticket that's taken you across the city and enter an old-fashioned ferry with maroon leatherette seats on the inside, plastic lawnchairs on the outside, wet with spray. 


On arriving in Kladow, we fortified ourselves with a humble second breakfast (bacon and egg rolls) eaten under sun umbrellas at Maisel's Biergarten

The sun was so strong it stripped the landscape of all color. We walked down tree-lined paths with the water to our right, and we had the fields to ourselves, mostly.

There was a hillside knee-high with dandelions, and I filled a bag with leaves, to blanche and sautee with butter that evening. 


Then we passed the Kulturpark Cafe to find lilacs in glorious profusion on the bushes running down from the old manor house to the water. We cut a head of blossoms here, another there, taking very little from each bush, but in the face of such abundance, our bags were soon full.



Imagine a May evening with the kitchen windows open, the silence dotted by the almost soundless pop each blossom makes, released carefully from its green stemlet. If this endless winter seems a bad dream from which we are only just awakening, such actions become a way of anchoring ourselves to the sun.

Bottles of lilac cordial appear almost redundant against another sunlit sky. Yet I remember the glee I felt on unearthing one last flask of elderflower cordial, and assume these rosy bottles will lift my spirits the same way next February.

And the taste? Dry, astringent, bright, complicated: as well-suited to children's birthday parties as to picnics on the Reichstag lawn.


Lilac cordial

2 handfuls (2 cups) of plucked lilac blossoms
1 kg sugar
1 liter water
40 grams citric acid

Place the blossoms in a deep, non-reactive bowl (ceramic or glass is ideal). Mix the sugar and water in a large pan and bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let cool til comfortable to touch.  Pour the syrup over the flowers, add the citric acid, and stir. Steep for 2-3 days, tasting each day. When the taste is as you want it, strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve and fill into sterilized bottles. (I prefer the oven method.) If you're looking for jars, well, there's Glasklar, of course, or order in bulk through Spandau-based Gläser und Flaschen



Spring swept me away




Spring swept me away. What has Berlin been but a succession of blossoms and bright light filtered through new leaves?