Monday, August 15, 2011

As cute as a Knickelkopp

In the back of my mind, a clock is ticking. My Berlin hourglass drips grain after grain of sand, I know that time is running out. There won't be another white Christmas – in any case, we've already sent our thick coats back home to Melbourne, where we shall join them in just under a month.

In the past ten months, we have certainly done a lot in Berlin, but there are still a few lingering points we are yet to cross off our 'to-do' list: ride our bikes along the Mauerweg, the path of the former wall, explore more abandoned spaces such as a paediatric sanatorium and Nazi training camp or even go barbecuing (called grillen auf Deutsch) on a nice day – I guess we're just waiting on the nice day ;)

I did, however, manage to cross one thing off my list this weekend.

We are fortunate to be located in Kreuzberg – a really great suburb in the inner-south of Berlin (yes like the Bloc Party song). We live within walking distance of Tempelhof: an abandoned airport (now public park), Hasenheide: a lovely 50 hectare park, and Viktoriapark: home of Berlin's highest natural point and great place to catch some sun on a nice day/go sledding when it snows. When we first arrived in our area, we did some exploring, and really enjoyed visiting Viktoriapark and climbing to the very top of the hill. At any time of day, but especially sunset, people walk to the peak and have a beer or two while taking in the view.

After visiting the park a few times, I began to take in the surrounds. En route, we would walk past a little sunken cafe with the cutest name ever: Knickelkopp. Each time we walked past, I would grab Mr von S's arm and tell him how cute the place looked. He soon grew tired of me telling him how cute the place was and put it to me: pick a day, and we'll go. It only took me nine months to pick the day!

Berlin's current wasp invasion forced us to sit inside the cafe, despite the unusually nice weather.

The cafe's décor is adorable – retro, 1950s style furnishings, gingham linens and a touch of shabby chic. Call it twee, but I love it!

even the menus are cute!
The little handmade menus are filled with breakfast options, from muesli, fruit salad with quark, waffles and eggs, along with lunch options, such as sandwiches, salads and quiches. The drinks list is complete with teas, juices, sodas, beers, prosecco and coffee every way you can imagine. Scattered throughout the menu are old-fashioned images of the owner's grandmother and great grandmother, who looked to have been bakers of all things sweet back in the day. And it seems the gene for baked good has carried. The cake display boasts several different types of Torte und Kuchen, making deciding which one to order difficult. I finally chose the Käsekuchen (cheesecake made with quark) with a chai latte, and Mr von S ordered a Belgian waffle and hot chocolate.

chai latte, complete with chocolate freckle; totally digging the retro saucer.
Our drinks came served with a chocolate freckle, as I squealed for the umpteenth time how 'cute' everything was. Yes, I was overloaded by the cuteness, and Mr von S was overloaded by how many times I used the word 'cute'. Hm. Anyway, my chai was sprinkled generously with cinnamon sugar and was more a chai tea than the traditional syrupy-sweet chais that I am used to getting in Berlin. I felt the chai lacked spiciness and visually resembled dishwater; and while it made me feel somewhat more wholesome to not have my teeth ache with every sip, some sweetness would not have gone awry.

Likewise, the Mr felt that his hot chocolate could use a dose of Zucker. I think he may have actually received a hot cocoa rather than a hot chocolate, which is rather popular in Germany, especially laden with cream.

hot Belgian waffle
On to the eats. Mr von S was thoroughly pleased with his Belgian waffle, which had filled the little cafe with the most wonderful smell while we were waiting. Light and slightly eggy, as a Belgian waffle should be, it was served hot with a dusting of powdered sugar. My Käsekuchen had the texture of a baked cheesecake – dense, yet almost crumbly. German cheesecake, which is made with quark, has far less sugar than the typical New York cheesecake. This can be a welcome difference, as I usually struggle to finish this type of cake owing to its density and sweetness.

German cheesecake
Overall, the atmosphere of Knickelkopp won me over. The owner, who also plays waitress, is such a sweet lady, and you can really see that the cafe is her baby. I feel that if I were to ever open a cafe, it would mimic the design and feel of this cute – there's the word again - cafe, and even for that alone, I would make a return visit.

xox Fifi

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Festival Bruffins

As I mentioned in my previous post, Mr von S and I attended a music festival in July - a camping festival at that, and a first for both of us.

The last time I actually camped was in 2004, when I worked as a counsellor at a summer camp in New Hampshire, USA. It's hard to believe it was seven years ago. In fact, really hard to believe! Never the less, it had been a while since either of us had camped, and I was a little worried as to how we would fare. In the past seven years, I'd say I've become a bit prissier than my 19 year old self, so if I was going to do this camping thing, I was going to do it right.

That little red tent behind me was our home for three nights!
We arranged to hire a tent from a company who would also pitch the tent for us before we arrived and take it down after we'd left. It certainly took a lot of stress out of having to purchase a tent and then wrestle with tent pegs, guy ropes and flys. In addition to this, we wanted to have as much non-perishable food as we could get, in case the price of food at the festival ground exceeded our budgets or the quality didn't meet our standard. Our house mate had warned us of both, so we made sure we were prepared. Fruit, nuts, rice cakes, vegemite, muesli and UHT/long life milk in individual portions. We ended up bringing a number of things with us as we overstocked and ended up eating a couple of times as the festival grounds - I had a great organic tofu burger one night and a drunken slice of pizza, not so great.

One thing that we did manage to finish before the end of the festival (apart from a bottle of vodka!) was a batch of muffins I had baked, envisaging that we would eat them for breakfast. The muffins were a great idea - they were moist, filling and lasted very well in a Tupperware container. Of course, they didn't end up being just a breakfast food - we did managed a couple after a disco nap one night (10pm-3am). They fuelled us for a good couple of hours, while those around us looked very much the worse for wear; although I'm not sure if it was thanks to the muffins or the fact that we'd actually gotten some sleep!

I've made these muffins a further three times since the festival, with some tweaks to the original recipe. I think I'll probably tweak this recipe some more - I feel that the 1/2 cup of oil is really far too much, and would like to use something more nutrient dense. If you have suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Festival Br (eakfast M) uffins
Apple, cinnamon, oatmeal, walnut muffins
Makes 13-16 muffins

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Grease muffins pans


1½ cups whole wheat flour (or half whole/half plain flour if you don't like it too whole wheaty. Coconut flour is also great in this recipe)
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup sugar
cinnamon to taste (I like lots, approx 2 tbsp)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk or water
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1½-2 cups chopped apples (approx 1 medium apple)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts


In a large bowl, stir together flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Make a well in centre of dry ingredients and add wet ingredients - milk/water, eggs, oil, and vanilla, stirring just to combine. Stir in apple and walnuts.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Allow muffins to cool on a wire rack for five minutes before removing from pan to continue cooling.

Enjoy! xo
PS - I've written another article for Running in Heels - make sure you check it out! xox

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A summer* in Berlin

No more apologising for lack of posting, as sometimes life gets in the way of documenting it. The past month or so has been busier than usual, as Berlin has had a feeble attempt at summer. Never mind me, I'm just bitter that it's been raining for seven days straight, with a brief interlude of sunshine, only to resume with the wet stuff for another four days. Ergh!

Anyway, with what little summer-like weather we've had, we have certainly been making the most of it. The below pictures will tell the story for me (well, with some words from me, for explanation).

Berlin is full of abandoned places, owing to its recent history as a fractured city. The above is an abandoned listening station, which the Allies used to intercept air-wave traffic in the soviet East.

The below is an abandoned  brewery in East Berlin - which is now a haven for many of Berlin's creative street artists.

In mid-July we travelled one hour south-east of Berlin to attend Melt! Festival. We made friends with our Bavarian camping neighbours. Oh Bavarians! The festival itself was superbly organised (would you expect anything else in Germany?) and we managed to see some great acts, including Cut Copy, Nicolas Jaar, Lawrence,  Àme, Roman Flugel and more.

This photo is for all our friends in Australia. You're reading the sign correctly - TWO kilos of bananas for ONE euro (or 50 cents a kilo). This photo was taken at Turkischemarkt at Maybuchufer in Neukölln.

I cannot wait to be rid of these dammed 'Latte Macchiatos'. It's a latte, people, a cafe latte if you want to get special. Opting for a coffee on a sunny day probably wasn't my smartest move, but I sure did get my sweat on. Sorry Mum, I mean 'glow'. Anyway, this pic was to capture the paste-up behind me. I like to think it's Knut. RIP Knut.

It seems that Berlin has been taken over by wasps. They are anywhere food is, and manage to get in everywhere. I think I'll skip on the sugar this time...

The omnipresent symbol of Berlin -the Fernseherturm. This time captured with the sun behind it during a reprieve in the rain.

I hope you've enjoyed a snap-shot of my summer thus-far. I will endeavour to have another post up shortly with a recipe of a lil' something I've been baking of late.

xoxo Fifi

*summer, because it's a pretty poor excuse for summer, especially when I read that it's warmer in Melbourne - 22 degrees Celsius mid-winter?!? Cray Cray!
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