Friday, August 24, 2012

Through the Tiergarten

1. Hire bikes. 

2. Whiz around under the green canopy, over bridges and around tight corners, just like you should be able to do in Central Park but aren't allowed. 

3. Race down the avenues, circle the fountains, screech to a halt outside a small cafe in the middle of the park.

4. Order a beer and a plate of pork schnitzel like it's nobody's business. 

5. Ask for thinly sliced cucumber pickles and potato salad. Eat apple strudel for dessert and pretend you're German. Get back on your bike and try and find your way out again. 

6. Make sure you make the most of it, because you never know what's coming next.

Friday, August 17, 2012

PraterGarten, Berlin

This was one of our favourite places in Berlin. I'd read about the PraterGarten on a list of recommendations that someone at work had given me, but we'd been swamped with so many lists that I hadn't actually researched it at all. 

After shopping out Rosenthalerstrasse in Mitte from nose to tail, we strolled past a giant sign glowing in the afternoon sun, and so in we went. It was one of those decisions that is so typical of traveling, and that never happens in everyday life. In real life there are always plans, always schedules, it's rare that anything just happens because you let it. You can spend all day searching corners and alleyways for some obscure underground bar that a friend of a friend  recommended, only to leave angry that you couldn't find it. A stumble-upon is so much more fun than PLANS, are you with me?

It's a pretty simple recipe for Good Times, really. Find a nice clearing off one of the busier streets in the center of the city, a place with shady, foresty trees that dapple the light. Set down a few benches - nothing fancy. Serve beers in a single size (giant), and some classic snacks. Sausages zigzagged with mustard and tomato sauce, with a perfect ratio of bread to sausage (pictured) and pickles the size of something completely inappropriate. When the sun decides to split, turn on the lights that you thought would look charming strung up in the trees. Let people stay until midnight if you want, and make everything cheap. Very cheap. And then, friends, when that's all done, give yourself a high five, because you've just found a winner.

10435 Berlin – Prenzlauer Berg
Kastanienallee 7 – 9

Friday, August 10, 2012

Office Cake

If you loiter around Instagram as much as I do, you may have seen these before. But when would be better than a rainy Friday afternoon to brag collate a few of the best birthday cakes from the office recently. We don't muck around when it comes to cake, it's turned into a bit of a thing, but the giant Tim Tam cake which happened today (photo 3) may have been the cherry on the...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Little Otik - Kreuzberg, Berlin

Can you see this? How simple this is? It all seems so easy. A roasted cherry here, some toasted hazelnuts there, a tangle of peppery rocket and a slice of blue cheese. How can that be all you need for a triumph? There's no trickery, no foie gras inside a marzipan lemon, no fanfare and all class, that's Little Otik.  

I knew it was starting off well with a glance at the cocktail list. We saw a lot of rhubarb on menus in Berlin, there you can find rhubarbernektar - a syrupy kind of rhubarb juice which is good on its own or in cocktails. We ordered two Kissed Out Red Floatboats, a cool glass of vodka, rhubarb shrub, rhubarb juice and soda. It's something Barbie would drink, if Barbie could open her mouth and was into cocktails. It was still sunny at 8pm, we had a table on the pavement and ordered one of everything on the entree menu, as you do when it's so cheap, as nearly everything is in Berlin (it's actually insane). Zucchini flowers, a jumble of summer tomatoes, cucumber, quinoa and herbs with a buttermilk dressing, spare ribs with rhubarb chutney and mixed charcuterie. 

House-made wild boar sausages came next, with fregola, basil pesto and a zucchini caponata, but it was the grass-fed rib eye with a zesty and bright anchovy and rosemary sauce with a vinegary panzanella that tipped me right over into bliss. I've been blind-sighted by a panzanella before in San Francisco's Zuni Cafe alongside their wood-fired chicken, and I'm not sure why I haven't tried to make one before. But I did plant my first tomato plant of the season last week, so until that fella sprouts, or another flight back to a Berlin summer falls into my lap...

Graefestrasse 71
10967 Berlin