January 9, 2013

Nalu Diner, Berlin

We were hungry for some fluffy pancakes drizzled with maple syrup, crispy strips of bacon, and one or two cups of down-to-earth filtered coffee. So we headed to Nalu, an American diner on Dunckerstraße, and we were looking forward to its simplicity and straightforwardness: No James Dean posters on the wall, no Marilyn Monroe pics, no red leather booths, no maps of Route 66.
Or like my (American) husband loves to say: It doesn't try to be a diner. It just is a diner. A diner with an old-fashioned black board announcing the breakfast offers; free coffee refills and ice waters in brown plastic glasses; tables decorated with geographical maps of the U.S., photos of presidents and birds. White washed walls and simple wooden booths.

They mixed up some of our orders (hash browns instead of bacon) but were fast in replacing them. They are not chatty either. But we felt good and relaxed, and it didn't matter that the kids were a bit loud or that a water glass tumbled down. It seemed like the other families around us felt the same way.
They are starting to make dinner now too, so you'll know where to go if you get that craving for a good hamburger. 

If you go:
Nalu Diner
Dunckerstr. 80
10437 Berlin

December 20, 2012

il Giradschi

Later, after a Glühwein and a walk through rainy streets, we ended up with friends at il Giradschi in Oderbergerstraße; I have been a fan of their other pizza place,  I Due Forni, for a long time. When I  lived on Senefelder Platz, just around the corner from there, I had their "Incredibile" on a regular basis; in summer, on long wooden benches under the trees, in winter in their warm cantina-style restaurant, always busy, always a bit chaotic, with its revolutionary memorabilia and signatures scribbled all over the yellow walls.

Back to il Giradschi last night: Exposed brick and simple wooden tables; vinyl covers and music posters on the walls that reminded me of the room of a teenager (with a good taste of music, nonetheless)  Record sleeves double as menus. Our waiter was friendlier and more attentive than any waiter I ever had at I Due Forni, but I was still disappointed. il Giradschi to me was an uninspired version of the restaurant I liked so much; what looks so effortlessly and works so well at I Due Forni seems contrived at il Giradschi.

The food was good. Although the red wine was a bit chilly, the brick-oven pizzas with their paper-thin crust are as as crunchy as it gets in this corner of Prenzlauer Berg. And large - the plates are are too small for these pizzas, which are generously topped with a forest of arugula and crunchy slivers of walnuts, and served with a spicy oil that will make your lips burn.

Still, next time I will make my way down to I Due Forni again.

il Giradschi
Oderberger Str. 22, 10435 Berlin

I Due Forni
Schönhauser Allee 12, 10119 Berlin

My review of I Due Forni on about.com

December 14, 2012

It's December and I'm Back

It has been quiet around here, but it hasn't been quiet in our lives. A lot has happened that kept me busy and away from my blog, with not much spare time for stories, pictures, new places. Well, not really true, we have been exploring a new place, and that is our new apartment.

We moved a couple of days before December, before the snow started. We celebrated the first of Advent in our new dining room, playing the Ukulele, singing Christmas songs, and baking the first batch of cookies in a wonderfully spacious kitchen. Right on time, the snow started to fall, quieting  the rumbling trains ton the street beneath our window.

Now I am back in front of my screen, between runs to the Baumarkt, Ikea, and Christmas market. 

November 21, 2012

Krüpelsee, outside of Berlin

It was a grey and foggy weekend in November, but who cares if you can spend your days in a little apartment right by the water, taking long walks on leafy paths, and warming up by the fireplace with a book that you've wanted to read for so long? 

November 16, 2012

Brot und Oel

It was a dreary afternoon, the coldest day since we have been back in Berlin.
We were walking down Gneisenaustrasse and a first real hint of winter was in the air, swallowing the tip of the blackened church at Südstern.

The bright windows of the bakery Soluna - Brot und Oel drew us in. We peeled off our thick winter layers and sat down at a long wooden table in front of a warm clay oven. We couldn't decide which treat to get - a slice of grilled cibatta bread, a piece of chocolate cake,  a tart?
We started with a simple scone, fragrant and airy, when the son of the owner came from behind the counter and brought us without our asking a tray with baked goods, sliced up for the three of us to try: Schoko Torte with walnuts and carrots; a honey-walnut tart, and a little sweet called apostolo filled with marzipan.

The window of the bakery started to get foggy and we felt warm again. We bought a walnut plum bread for supper and  learned that this bakery has been in Berlin for 5 years now - they must have opened just when we were moving away. Now we are back, and I am planning to return to Soluna, hopefully soon.

Gneisenaustr. 58, 10961 Berlin
030 6167 1191

November 12, 2012


I have very very fond memories of lantern parades when I was a kid. Every November, for St. Martin's Day, my kindergarten group would meet on a dark afternoon in the Allee that led along a river through the heart of our small town; we were walking hand in hand, proudly holding our lantern with a small votive candle inside, fervently singing songs. Ich geh mit meiner Laterne, und meine Laterne mit mir.
The parade was headed by one of our male teachers, clad in a red robe, riding a horse. At the end of the afternoon, there would be soft sugar pretzels.

I was happy when I heard that Nova's preschool also organized a lantern parade. But things are different these days. Instead of little candles burning in the lanterns, there were plastic rods with little mini light bulbs and batteries. There was no mysterious dark alley, covered by maple trees, but the grey streets of Berlin. No horse, no sugar pretzles. A light rain.

When the parade was over and we all headed back to the Kita garden, candles were glowing in the trees, hot pumpkin soup was served and we had the first Glühwein of the season. The parents talked about their memories, and the kids were playing in the dark garden.

November 6, 2012

A Trip to Cöthen

On Sunday, a friend picked us up and we all drove to a little village called Cöthen, 1 hour northeast of Berlin. It was the first time we got out of the big city after our move. We drove down windy alleys, sheltered by fall-colored trees.
We looked at an old farm house in Cöthen, which was surrounded by an overgrown orchard; some trees still carried small, ruby-red apples on their gnarly branches; we picked hand fulls for the horse and ourselves (and today, they are going into my apple bread from this recipe). 

Behind the old farm house was a beautiful mint-colored church built by Karl Friedrich Schinkel; although the sign read "Offene Kirche", the doors were closed. 

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