Freitag, 20. März 2015

Art at the City Hall: Wilmersdorf Kommunale Gallerie

Compared to many big European cities, including Paris, Berlin is attracting more and more artists from all over the world. Besides the affordable cost of living, there is also something else that brings them here: the many chances offred to creative people to work, including by offering them cheap or even free workshop places and the many opportunities to sell and exhibit their work. An example of institutional interest for the arts is the fact that many borrough city halls do have interesting exhibition spaces presenting regular exhibitions and used as meeting points of the artists. This week, I visited the Kommunale Gallerie of Wilmersdorfer City Hall, close to Fehrbelliner Platz U-Bahn station. The entrance is free and there is a huge 1-storey exhibition place, hosting right now two exhibitions, workshops and a big room with various work of artists on sale or that can be loaned for a couple of days.
The exhibitions that I've seen here before feature usually Berlin artists, some of them living in the area, focused on contemporary arts and photography. Group exhibitions are also common, some of the artists being locally supported. 
The hall was quiet, with the three people employed by the gallery moving slowly near the reception desk, ready to welcome the visitors or to give explanations, if needed. Also at the entrance, there are plenty of leaflets introducing various local cultural events as well as other exhibitions at the other city hall galleries.  
The enormous space of the first floor is dedicated to feature the post-war Berlin artists and the recreation of the new art institutions. The exhibition, open till 24 of May, has interesting artistic insights, but also information about the artists and their personal histories and efforts to reconsider the artistic life. 
The visit at the Wilmersdorf Kommunale Gallerie was intense and taught me a lot about Berlin and its artists. it also made me curious to explore the other galleries hosted by the other city halls. As the spring seems to finally settle down in the city for a while, I can't wait to see more samples of cultural life in one of the hottest cultural cities of Europe right now. 

Montag, 16. März 2015

Rolls Royce on Ku'damm

For a couple of good years already, I am living in the country of the most envied cars in Europe and in the world, and despite my very limited technical knowledge I am doing my best to understand the high precision of the German cars. However, my secret passion are the big adventurous English and American cars. A matter of taste, I know...At the spectacular BMW Building on Ku'damm nr. 31, it was opened a couple of weeks ago an exhibition dedicated to Rolls Royce (opened from Monday to Saturday between 10am-8pm, Sunday between 11am-6pm) that I could not miss to see. 
Do not expect too many cars (this was my big disappointment) and the big cars are silenty watched, and from time to time also cleaned from dust, by local employees. Mr. Rolls and Mr.Royce plotted the creation of Rolls Royce at Midland Hotel in Manchester in 1904. Rolls was the first undergraduate to own a car, and Royce, sold newspapers in 1893, and in 1887 registered his first patent, the bayonet clamp socket. The motto of the company, still proudly followed nowadays is as simple as that: "Strive for perfection in every thing you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it".
The models displayed represent different technological stages and historical style. My favourite by far is this beautiful 1926 Phantom 10 Ex Open Tourer. "Ex" stands from Experimental, but looking at it, it seems that it was a very successful experiment. 
 On the other end of the room, an impressive 1964 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III H.J. Mulliner Flying Spur.
The exhibition is elegantly set up, besides the cars, being displayed various designs of engines, technical features of the cars - in English and German - as well as a short history of the company, plus a collection of personalized branded gadgets on sale on the spot. 
The Phantom Drophead Coupe may look a little threatening, but besides the armoured presence there is a lot of elegance and precision used to put together so many small little pieces and details. 
The elegant leather interiors, with comfy chairs and high-end safety standards just reminded me that sometimes, big cars can be beautiful and elegant.

Sonntag, 1. März 2015

Foodie Berlin: Chao Pure Vietnam

After my glorius foodie experience at Good Morning, Vietnam, on the Eastern side of the city, I did not find any similar high-appreciation, although I did my best to find. Things changed completely a couple of days ago, when not too hungry, but exhausted after too much walking around Ku'damm and Savigny Platz hunting for subjects, I stumbled upon the newly rebranded and renovated Chao, situated on the already famous fodie avenue of Charlottenburg, at the no. 33 of Kantstrasse. It was around the lunch time, shortly after the opening, at 12 o'clock, in the middle of the week and for more than one hour I was the only guest. The ambiance was relaxing, with some soothing house music in the background, with fast and friendly service and menus written in both English and German.The toilets are not extremely stylish, but very clean. 
 Besides the service, I really apreciated the interior design, with big beautiful pictures from Vietnam, bushes of natural bamboo and small natural flowers and romantic candles on the table. I repeated 'natural' on purpose, to make the difference  with many Asian restaurants where the dusty and kitchy plastic flowers are the queens of the table. The furniture looks a bit unmatched and not that modern, but the glassware looks authentic, with some beige variations and bamboo chopsticks. The prices are moderated and regularly there are special lunch offers.
I started my lavish lunch with a Mekong Mystery drink - a delicate smooth combination of mango, coconut milk and mint. Naturally sweet, creamy and brought cold, made on the spot. The mint brings some sparkling accents, while the mango fits perfectly with the coconut to whom it brings discrete sweetness.
 My favourite choice were the summer rolls, with tofu, coriander and many vermicelli, accompanied by soy sauce. The tasted are coming along together very well, and the light fried tofu makes a difference among the many fresh vegetables and the neutral vermicelli.
Curious to taste as many meals as possible - although there are at least two more choices, plus some tempting desserts that I would love to try a next time - I continued with dau phu sot lac: a mountain of veggies soaked in peanut sauce accompanied by a pyramid of rice. The rice was very good, but somehow found that some of the veggies were not well cooked - the carrots - or not necessarily at their place there - the tomatoes, for instance. The slices of tofu were welcomed, but did not always complement the abundant cooked and fresh vegetables.
At the end of the meal, the traditional cold Vietnamese coffee. The long spoon is for mixing hard the milk and sugar.
The overall impression was good - except the last minutes spent there when I felt some cigarettes smoke coming from the direction of the kitchen and did not enjoy it - with good prices and enough interesting meals on the menu that may bring me back very soon.