As many of my readers know, I love me an Ausflug. Especially when combined with a delicious menu served on a picturesque farm. There are not a ton of options for that around Berlin, unfortunately, but we do have one exquisite destination: a family-run restaurant and farm business in Mecklenburg, close to Neustrelitz. It’s everything city people imagine the countryside should be: remote (but easy to reach), pastoral (and small enough to still be scenic), and rustic (while actually pretty stylish). My first visit to Forsthaus Strelitz happened almost two years ago in the height of winter with snow and frosty temperatures. The garden had loads of brussel sprouts and kale, and all the animals, including the lovely donkeys, sported their plushiest winter fur. This time, I came at the end of summer and stayed in their newly renovated cottage just next to where the sheep and goats rest.
Some of you know of my favourite side-hustle, the Feminist Food Club, a network of trans and cis women in gastronomy that Ruth Bartlett and I founded two and a half years ago. One of my earliest ideas for it was to create a map of all the trans and cis female owned food businesses in the city. Because one of the major arguments about why there just aren’t as many famous trans or cis female chefs is that there just aren’t that many. Which is entirely untrue but hard to proof wrong without hard data. So I sat down and with the help of the group researched from high to low and west to east, and compiled all of the businesses with opening hours I could find in a handy google map. Over 160 places are on it right now, which seems a lot but is still far from the truth. So please, if you are trans or cis female and own a food business which isn’t on the map yet, send me an email at email@example.com with all the necessary info so I can fix that.
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I have been taking about one million photos of food in my life-time, or so it feels, and have come to a couple of important conclusions: I personally don’t like to make a fuzz about the act of photographing when I’m actually out eating, especially when I’m with friends, so I will rarely bring in the big guns but prefer small, handy cameras. However, I appreciate food presented in fine imagery, so I need to find a balance between these two poles. Many times, I will use my iPhone, currently the XR, to shoot the snack in front of me, because it’s the quickest, least obtrusive way and provides really good material for my blog or social media. Especially when I’m at markets or busy events, like last week’s Bite Club. This street food market is certainly the most buzzy: located just by the Spree it comes with a mix of fun vendors, a big bar and loud music. Not a space where you want to set up a photoshoot for your one dish.
Also factoring in: I actually like to eat my food fresh and hot, so I can’t and don’t want to take too long.
Oh my, it’s hot. There’s no way around it, Berlin now is a sweltering city when summer comes. We still need a couple years to get used to the heat, it seems. Air-cons are far and in-between, most buildings miss window blinds or awnings, but at least our city isn’t as sealed with tar and concrete as other capitals that turn into melting pots. Still, everything and everyone becomes very, very slow. I just recently told a friend who had moved here three years ago that this development is entirely new! (And we all know who made it happen.) I remember summers entirely devoid of one day over 30 degrees, I remember wearing coats at 13 degrees in July, and I remember the pressure of having to get out to the lake when that one perfect summer day combining blue skies and enough warmth came up.
This Eats in Berlin is all about places where you can have heavy meals filled with either butter and sirup or cheese and chickpeas to fight the heat. Seems counter-intuitive? Thing is, we as people are so adaptable (or ignorant), I – a privileged woman who can determine her own work hours in a chill apartment – can feel how the longer summer lasts, the less I’m bothered by the high temperatures. Which means we (again, the privileged few) will also find a ton of reasons to change absolutely nothing (or making things even worse). So, if you have time in between baklava and hummus, check on your elderly neighbour and see if they need help with something, if you can spare some coins buy a homeless person a bottle of water, give that bee-attracting shrub outside your house some water in the drought, and put out a bowl of fresh water on your balcony for birds to cool down in.
Until then, go sirup!
Years ago, I entertained myself with the idea of opening my own bistro where everything would be served in bowls. Which is what it would’ve been called, obviously. It was never serious, I just needed it during an extra-stressful time to get my mind off things. However, five years later and here we are: what is a restaurant today, if it doesn’t have a bowl on the menu? My most hilarious example of peak bowl-itis was a spätzle-bowl. What does it even mean, to make a “bowl”? To put all kinds of ingredients into a deep dish and call it a day, at its worst, and using bowl-shaped ceramics for extra saucy foods, at its best. The title here is just a joke, though. Almost none of the dishes – except the first one – in this post qualifies as a “bowl” in the late 2010s meaning of the word. However, I couldn’t help but notice the dominance of bowls, even in this none-bowl focussed post. On with it, then…