Don’t let the current rays of sun and shine fool you, Berlin winters are the worst! THE WORST!! There are no upsides to freezing temperatures, dark days, low hanging clouds, having to wear the same black coat day in, day out, eating only apples and cabbage because nothing grows in this Siberian climate. But wait, what about long winter nights spent in cosy bars with loads of dark wine, some treats, and good friends to share your desperation with? Isn’t that “nice”? Ja, Ja … I mean, I guess one could call this a delightful way to spend the icy days… especially if natural wine comes together with delicious food in a suprime pairing at this bar in Neukölln one could say there are way worse places to be right now.
JAJA is the name of a bar in a popular side street off Sonnenallee, and serves natural white, red, and orange wines, some other boozy drinks, and, from Tuesday to Friday, a selection of creative dishes to go with their wine prepared by Denny Vangsted, hailing from Copenhagen.
Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about wine to deliver a verbose description and persuasive explanation as to why their selection is great. All I can tell you: their fermented grape juice tastes delicious and interesting enough to make me order glass after glass – they usually have six to seven open bottles on the bar, for you to try first. I really like their selection of orange wines, where white grapes are treated like reds, and obviously, their wines are all natural, which means they don’t suffer from additives. A wine connoisseur would now talk about how “le terroir” is able to express itself fully in this form of wine making. But I’ll just stick to: love it! Especially because of its often quite unusual taste.
You might have experienced the tendency of bars to over-season the food they serve (I certainly have), perhaps in the hopes of selling more drinks, but fret not: JAJA’s not like that. Vangsted’s dishes are well composed, creative, yet modest enough to not over-power the wine, and rather go hand in hand with it. The flavor combinations are spot-on – there’s a well balanced dish composed of pickled pumpkin, charred leek and parmesan sauce (7 Euro); flatbread made of fermented potatoes topped with chorizo or spinach and radish, decorated with a little too much (salty) yeast sauce (8 Euro); plates with delicious French cheese (7 Euro), and then my favourite dish (which I was sadly incapable to photograph, probably because wine): ravioli filled with kale and topped with mushrooms (7 Euro). The earthy warmth of the mushrooms complimented the green cream filling and pasta so well, we started fighting about the last pieces and were almost about to order a second serving, if it wasn’t for the Gateau Marcel, a layered chocolate mousse cake covered in even more chocolate.
Can’t wait to spend many more winter nights in the cosy surroundings of JAJA. And I will definitely look out for a full dinner served by Vangsted, check his website and JAJA’s facebook page for updates.