Saturday, February 7, 2009

Je t'aime, Berlin



Many people, when considering the ultimate European city, think, "Why, Paris, of course." Non moi. As a cheese-obsessed, Godard-loving, Carla Bruni-listening, otherwise exuberant Francophile, my non-lustrous opinion of the croissant city has always confounded me. And that is why I return, time after time, looking for that moment of clarity where I raise a glass of Pernod over the glorious stench of an oozing cut of Camembert and say, "Ah, oui...Paree." Recently, in a moment of economic denial, I got a ticket to Charles de Gaulle and joined a friend for yet another attempt at love. The awesome Velib bikes almost sealed it, but ultimately, it didn't go so well (vomiting literally ensued). Eventually, I made my way east to visit some old friends, and while I haven't entirely given up on Paris, I'm still happy to say, "Ich bin Berlin, all the way, yo."

On my second night in, an American-expat friend of mine invited me to a birthday party, well attended by filmmakers, artists and ethnomusicologists. It was held at an intimate bar with a beautiful chandelier in Prenzlauer Berg, where the crowd passed around a bottle of Polish vodka masquerading as a fat feathered rooster. I was hungry -- having lost my appetite the previous three days when I was still in Paris. Their menu was beautifully simple, and painted on the wall:



Not feeling quite ready for a heavy meat sauce, the bartender/waitress prepared the most comforting, delicious bowl of spaghetti with a tangy cheese, cracked pepper, olive oil, and I think a little lemon juice. Here she is, working behind the cozy front counter:



I still think about that spaghetti.

Gulasch Bar:
Winsstrasse 9
Prenzlauer Berg

When I left the bar, the streets were quiet, the TV tower radiating overhead like a spindly, stainless-steel matriarch on Quaaludes.

For brunch the next morning, my friends Mareike and Achim had their usual Sunday fare: coffee, bread, assorted cheeses, butter, honey, pate, jam, muesli, yogurt, fresh fruit and a bouquet of fresh flowers.



Later, they took me to Mueggelsee, the city's largest lake. Due to the sub-freezing temperatures, it ended up being a magical walk on water alongside speeding ice sailors and skaters, culminating in hot ciders and mulled wine.





In the end, I didn't take nearly enough photos or spend nearly enough time, but you get my point.

3 comments:

christina o said...

Long time listener - first time caller. Okay - I've just always said that to myself in my head and this is the closest occasion to where it might fit - although it doesn't.

Quel Horruer! Berlin? over Gay Paree? Mais Non mon amie. - christina :)

christina o said...

Long time listener - first time caller. Okay - I've just always said that to myself in my head and this is the closest occasion to where it might fit - although it doesn't.

Quel Horruer! Berlin? over Gay Paree? Mais Non mon amie. - christina :)

Field Trip said...

I have the same reaction to Paris, I always want to love it but it never gets past the theoretical stage. I can never wait to get back to NYC, or the BK, specifically.

Thanks for the heads up on Berlin...looks lovely.