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7 posts from June 2014

Scenes from a Saturday (Antipodes & Bite Club)





A stack of The Gentlewoman, a string of perfect flat whites, kind patient waitstaff ready to dispense fluffys, a view of a stunning church: Antipodes remains a gem for coffee lovers on a lazy Saturday.






Finally, finally, Bite Club! Singleton whisky tasting, fiery Minglers by John Muir's Gordon Agnew, a Bunsmobile cheeseburger puncuated with a perfect slice of caramelized, whisky-braised pork belly, an improvised Cranachan courtesy of Woop Woop Ice Cream's magical liquid nitrogen machine -- plus sun, glorious sun. A cheer for Chile, a pause to admire the brand-new vegetarian-friendly juice/salad bar Till the Cows Come Home, then home.

Antipodes, Fehrbelliner Straße 5, Berlin-Mitte (map). Their thrilling tag line: "Sensational coffee without the ponce."

Bite Club, Schönhauser Allee 9 (behind the Platoon Kunsthalle), Berlin-Mitte (map), Saturdays 3pm-10pm. Also on the Spree: Eichenstraße 4, Berlin-Treptow (map), Fridays 6pm-midnight. 

Places of Remembrance



But no summer walk is innocent of history. In summer as in winter this sign consumes me. In translation: "Jews are not permitted to leave their flats after 8pm (9pm in the summer)."

It's one in the public art series installed by Renata Stih and Frieder Schnock, ably reported on by Ian Johnson here, which bears witness to the minor and major ways in which Berlin's Jews were forced out of daily life from 1933.


Of a summer's evening





Walking home, walking out. The long summer dusk gives the roses a special glow, while leaching color from the yellow hollyhocks.


Bar am Steinplatz




A rhubarb fizz run through a slushy machine, a cold Rollberger, local trout smoked to perfection—perfect fare, really, for a sultry Berlin evening, and young bar manager Christian Gentemann is charm itself.

Bar am Steinplatz, Steinplatz 4, Berlin-Charlottenburg (map)

Cherry-picking at the Haus am Waldsee (Berlin Biennale)





The cherry trees in front of the Haus am Waldsee are full of fruit. Before we visited the Berlin Biennale, we loitered in the villa's garden and ate our fill.



The back garden had the air of a children's party, of a lazy Sunday picnic. Scattered tables on the lawn held apricot cake and espresso cups.

Parents stooped to read the plaque explaining the Slavs and Tatars sound piece (a jagged, synthesized muezzin's call to prayer) while the speakers, laid out on the grass like an open book, beckoned children to romp. By the lake, a father explained the motion-triggered water sculpture while the boy stared spellbound at the sky reflected in the still water.

The lake itself, I learned later, was an artificial one, constructed from a meadow. To stand at its edge and spot the rear sides of the adjacent villas felt utterly natural, though really, we were all interlopers: we had art to thank for allowing us to sample such rare air. As before at the Haus am Waldsee, art for a moment seemed pale placed alongside life — but I did come around to the art.



'Quintor des nègres' played as we drank our tea on the veranda, part of the Argentine artist Carla Zaccagnini's installation, Le Quintor des Nègres, encore. A fountain fashioned of Cypriot copper plashed in a back room. A horror-film score punctuated the still dramas of forests and housing project in Patrick Alan Banfield's twin-screened vyLö:t. The pleasing cacophony continued upstairs with the video and soundtrack of a woman DJing classical music LPs in Anri Sala's Unravel.

If I thought the magnetism of the grounds represented a personal failure to be serious, I was pleased to read curator Juan Gaitan remark himself on this tension: "It is an intimate space, and more demanding in terms of one’s focus on contemporary artworks. The artists are competing with the house, the surrounding lake, and so forth."

Before we left, we filled our pockets with cherries, and when we went home, we made Rumtopf.

Strawberry picking in and around Berlin


Tis the season! Two favorites: Vierfelderhof (blogged here a couple of years ago) in Spandau, with its organic strawberries, charming outdoor cafe and small menagerie of animals. And Hofladen Falkensee, which is mounting a strawberry festival this weekend. Alongside mounds of strawberries, the farm promises pony rides, face-painting and local fresh game.

Vierfelderhof, Straße 264 Nr. 33, Berlin-Spandau/Gatow (map) [Note the bus is not running at the moment]

Hofladen Falkensee, Dallgower Str.1, Dallgow-Döberitz (map)

Lunching between books: Literaturcafé der Autorenbuchhandlung Berlin




The waiter is solemn and handsome. The menu is a repurposed Insel Verlag hardback. The library hush is appropriate for a bookshop café. An elderly Charlottenburger flicks languidly through an art catalogue, her wooden necklace as eye-catching as a parrot. Across the room, two spectacled parents play Uno with their grade-school son.

Elegantly vaulted beneath the arch of the railway viaduct, the space is echoing yet intimate. I tuned it out a number of times, until finally I stepped in.




The menu is brief and unfussy: a trio of Austrian bread dumplings done three ways; Weck jars filled with Greek yogurt, toasted hazelnuts and honey, or with Quark and fresh fruit; a flaky chorizo and red pepper quiche matched with a small, perfect salad. At teatime, there is also a wicked selection of cakes, matched by coffee from Berlin roaster pioneer Andraschko. Early risers: The café opens at 9am every day; its breakfast options include perfect eggs and present a pleasant alternative to bewildering, expensive brunch buffets.




Later, you will inevitably be drawn into the adjacent bookshop, where you will admire the spaniel napping on an armchair and leaf through the latest Alice Munro. The Autorenbuchhandlung Berlin has a venerable history, founded in the late 1970s by authors including Heinrich Böll, Elfriede Jelinek and Günter Grass as a protest against an increasingly homogeneous book-selling environment. Then as now, the bookshop (and its mates in Frankfurt and Munich) preserves a literary culture that prizes breadth and depth.

But for now, the only thing to do is savor your lunch and enjoy the serenity of the summer light.

Literaturcafé der Autorenbuchhandlung
Else-Ury-Bogen 601, Berlin-Charlottenburg (beneath S-Bahn Savignyplatz) (map)