April 27, 2011 § Leave a comment
The boys from Little Otik (Brooklyn-inspired, from a former Diner chef) warned us about eating out in Berlin. (Actually, they told us to cook at home.) It’s true, we’re spoiled by the Big Apple’s fine-dining-in-casual-settings trend. But there’s an Only In Berlin business ethos that I find delightfully weird.
As if on cue, they then told us about a pair of Korean widows who found Jesus and opened up a small eatery to serve Him.
Ixthys is located on a residential street in Schöneberg, across the street from a church. The walls are covered with Bible verses, as are the laminated menus, which offer a few Korean homestyle dishes mixed in with instructions on living a Christian life!
We went over last night and had a toothsome bowl of hand-pulled noodles, spicy kimchi, and bimbimbop in a hot stone bowl (es schmeckt gut!). The ingredients tasted really fresh and were clearly prepared with proper TLC. The staff was sweet, the service was super fast, and the whole thing cost about 14€. Amen.
The divey 16-seater is located at Pallasstrasse 21, about a ten-minute walk from the U-2 at Bulöwstrasse.
April 26, 2011 § Leave a comment
There has been a lot going on — a new travel website (phase 1, section 1, still in beta, patience!), out-of-towners, last-crush Berlin research, and an expedition to Baaaaaaavaaaaria (more on that later)!
But first, a moment on the adorable city of Hamburg, just an hour north of Berlin. It’s a picturesque harbor town filled with lots of cute people. We went there for a night to catch James Blake (not the tennis player) perform, eat good food (savory rhubarb tart, traditional pizza-like flammkuchen), and peruse the mega-popular floh markt. We walked through a neighborhood dotted with record stores and Portuguese bakeries. We crashed with friends, did some shopping, and went on a few carnival rides at what felt like the German version of Coney Island. I really recommend you do the same.
April 11, 2011 § 1 Comment
Back in the 19th century, kings spent time forming decrees for things like: Ideal Beer Brewing Temperature (4-8°C). Which led to all sorts of rules about how to cool beer in the spring (bury it in caves near the river bank) and further cool beer in the summer (plant chestnut trees on top of the caves to provide shade).
Because of those important political decisions, we get to enjoy the fruits of their indentured servants’ labor. I spent the weekend discovering a few of Berlin’s best beer gardens (one hefeweizen at a time).
We walked from Mitte down to the banks of the River Spree (that’s the Altes Museum in the background), where Berliners were doing what they do best — relaxing.
We passed the government district and stopped for wurst, beers, and lemonades at Zollpackhof. Then we continued our walk towards the Tiergarten (kind of like Central Park) for a weissbier at Schleusenkrug (my favorite). It was so nice.
Communal tables, leafy trees, lakes, string lights, dogs, beers, pretzels. Aren’t those the things you crave in summer? Maybe I can turn my *new* garden apartment in Brooklyn into a mini beer garden. I will just need a trowel to dig the water feature.
April 9, 2011 § 1 Comment
The other day I read that Jadranka Kosorcic, a German-Croatian artist working in Berlin, is looking for people to pose for portraits. She distributes flyers and puts advertisements in the paper: “Artist is looking for people m/f willing to pose for a portrait. Time spent: 1-3h. Send photo to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Her charcoal drawings are part caricature, part wanted ad, and explore the theme of identification. They look pretty cool, and she seems pretty dedicated (she’s been working on this series since the early ’90s). So I sent her a picture, and she invited me over for a blind date at her studio in Pankow.
We sat in a very spare white room with two chairs, an easel, and a piece of charcoal. Over the course of three hours we spoke about our favorite places to travel, the landscape of Croatia, New York, bad food in Berlin, private collectors, and portraiture.
Kosorcic made only a few sweeping motions on the paper as we spoke. At first, I was all: What’s taking so long? But then I remembered that the whole point is minimalism, and expressing identity with only the most necessary lines.
April 7, 2011 § 2 Comments
Last night, my new friend B (who is a fashion designer and fire dancer) enticed me to come check out a new movement studio in the neighborhood. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I mean, the first few text messages we ever exchanged went like this:
B: Nice to meet you, Jeralyn! Let’s hang out today. How about you meet me for Aikido at 6?
Me: Okay! May I borrow pants? Mine are in the wash.
B: You can borrow my pants. And have a drink.
(After relaying the text exchange to Mister Saturday Night he said, simply: Sounds like your kind of girl).
So I met her at the studio, where I also met a very sassy older German lady who knew B (fire breathing school?) and wore the kind of asymmetrical red and purple ensemble that screams “teacher!” Turns out, she would lead the class in Nia, a sensory based movement practice that combines martial arts and dance — the body in action! When I asked if it was going to be okay that I didn’t understand that much German, she said, “Ah, but you speak the birth language of Nia!”
Fast-forward twenty minutes, and I am lying on the floor on my back, shaking my arms and legs above me “like an electric shock,” and then quickly jumping up to “make the body dance like a snake.” This was followed by me doing some very slow Tai-Chi arm movements intermixed with the Cha Cha. We also ran around the room “chasing fireflies” and did several sickly looking shimmies. In between sequences, I was instructed to “touch you up, touch you down” which basically seemed like miming climbing a ladder and falling to the floor.
I thought I was having déjà vu from my days of Florentine gym class (where I had to get a doctor’s note saying I was physically fit enough to belong to the gym), when it hit me: I had been in this position before. 2005, the 92nd Street Y, with my friend Brooke’s cousin — quite possibly a fire breather (definitely a smoker), and a certified Nia instructor.
No wonder it all felt so natural.
April 5, 2011 § Leave a comment
Our super neighborly neighbor, Peter, came over for a beer the other night. He has been living and working as a painter in Berlin for almost twenty years (he’s originally from upstate New York or something).
We talked about beer, and kids, and art, and process, and Germany. I told him it has been really hard to attempt conversing in German because of the formalities. We got to talking about the language, particularly, the unyielding language strata of high German versus Bavarian (which is almost a different language) versus Berliner-speak (which you’re really lame to try and pull off unless you are actually from Berlin).
It made me think about the flexibility of American English. No wonder it’s the lingua franca. There are no formal articles to worry about, nothing too precious, no bemoaning of the loss of thee or tis or hitherto. I mean, sure, people can sound pompous when speaking English, but is seems to have more to do with tone (affected accent) than with the language itself. Remember the dialogue in Clueless? They claimed all that SAT vocabulary for their own Valley girl purposes. And it worked.
Anyway, I finally got around to visiting Peter’s studio in Wedding. It’s a big, old, bombed-out warehouse space — no surprise there — and very Old-School artsy. You know how people always say, “I bet this is what Soho looked like in the ’70s.” Well, I bet this is what Soho looked like in the ’70s. Maybe minus the adorable wood-burning stove.