Donnerstag, 18. Februar 2016

Foodie Berlin: Bamboo Asian Restaurant in Zehlendorf

Out of all Berlin's neighbourhoods, besides Dahlem, Zehlendorf is one of my favourite destinations where I like to go as often as possible. Its classical architecture and slow life in the middle of the many green areas were one of the top reasons I chosed to relocate to Berlin. There are many restaurants in the area, but many of them Italian style, so when I discovered, at the ground level of a white classical house, Bamboo, on a side street close to the Zehlendorf S-Bahn, I just followed my love for Asian food and took a seat.
It serves Vietnamese-Japanese food, with a smile, although I found the service a bit too slow. But the friendliness can help excusing this downside. The interior is again not their strong point, with so much kitsch for the educated eye and very cheap furniture. It also has a lot of bamboo and many flowers which bring more warm to the ambiance. But this is maybe the disadvatage of the slow service, it gives you too much time to notice inconveniences. 
My first part of the order was simple, but relatively new for my usual menu in an Asian restaurant: An energizing matcha shake and yasai tempura, veggie tempura. The matcha shake was the star of the menu. Made from an apparently easy combination of milk and matcha tea, and some ice, it has the right portioning of matcha with that specific taste that I always love. It is energizing enough to not need to order any coffee or tea. Not even the Vietnamese coffee that I otherwise love so much.
The tempura was tasty, with a lot of Chinese cabbage include, but also cauliflower and other autumn vegetables like tomatoes or eggplant. Moderately fried, without too much oil and accompanied by a good soy sauce it makes you feel full and happy for new discovery tour of Zehlendorf. The seeds of black and white sesame bring even more taste to the plate. The other veggie choice I wanted was yaki veggie, tofu veggie skews with teryaki sauce, but my love for tempura won over.
The second part of the order was the unusual for me Philadelphia rolls: salmon sushi with Philladelphia cheese. As in the case of the tempura, all the ingredients were fresh and good looking, maybe the sushi was too stuffed with so many things and was looking a bit like blown up, but it was tasty and if you ignore the weirdness of the combination, it was really good. Plus, the slices of orange were a good add to the salmon taste so, besides a good meal and additional free wi-fi, I was also offered inspiration for my foodie wanderings.
The prices are moderate, with various lunch offers during the week. It is a great choice for families, as it have enough big tables and spaces as well as an aquarium that can keep children entertained for a couple of minutes. 

Mittwoch, 10. Februar 2016

Ku'damm shopping guide for Valentine's Day

Is this time of the year again, when intensive shopping or windows shopping are a must for finding this special thing for your special one and only. There may be other things going on in town right now, like the lovely Berlinale, but when love is in the air, you cannot resist the temptation to think about a special elegantly wrapped something to offer before or after the movie. As for me, I am so much in love with Ku'damm and this West side of the city, that I just used the journalistic pretext for another trip at the shops, accompanied by my little 4-month baby. From a very early age he should learn how to properly show his love so I decided to sacrifice myself for his bright future.

The good news is that there are sales everywhere this week, so there is possible to find always something interesting. Wolford or Agent Provocateur or the more affordable Palmers do have some interesting collections for bold people. If not, the traveller in me can be very happy with a travel-inspired scarf by Hermes. 

If the beautiful white dress by YSL or the skirts from the new collection by Botega Venetta are not up to your standards, no one can resist some beautiful flowers. 
Or some perfumes, both for him or for her, available at the Douglas store. The good thing with these stores is their professional customer service who is well trained to help the customers. More Valentine's oriented, the Occitaine en Provence shop sells creams and fragrances with a kiss touch. 
If looking for unique fragrances, the Delfi store has plenty of them, starting with the name of some - Juliette has a gun - and with various oriental aromas. Just a drop of perfume and you are in love. The ambiance inside makes you feel you are invited to be part of a secret perfumed experiment. I found many of the perfumes too heavy and sophisticated for my taste, but there are some fresh, fruity fragrances for people like me too. 
The famous German fashion brand Jil Sander, which happens to like very much, for its minimalist lines and clothes fit to the busy life, has two stores on Ku'damm and there are sales running in and out so you better watch your account out.  
More affordable, COS also has sales, but many of the products are sold very fast, so the better you visit the shop, the better. This urban style with pastel colours goes very well to any occassions, from shopping sprees to very important business meetings. 
Many of shops decorated the windows with season's greetings. As Valentine's Day and the Chinese New Yeare are the most important events of the week, expect a lot of monkeys and hearts in the windows these days. For unlimited budgets, the latest Dolce&Gabanna Collection has a lot of heart-shaped models and interesting ethnic prints for colourful personalities.Some of the Chanel shoes in the nearby window can go very well together. 
The lady in you will be delighted by the latest Mulberry is so delicate and gentle. It also suits very well the modest fashion. 
After the first 10 shops, my baby fell asleep. He woke up 10 shops later and when he realized that probably is no hope to see any car or toys stores today, turned back to sleep on the other side. Meanwhile, I was still undecided if I have to chose one of the beautiful sets from the Amazonia Collection by Villeroy&Boch, or to make a stop at the Sassoon Hairdressing sallon, or maybe to chose one of the colourful bags from Picard - but in this case it gets complicated as I need a new pair of shoes too. 
With or without a special gift, Ku'damm has many romantic places for a successful date: Either the historical Grosz, or the more elaborated Balthazar Restaurant with its Vesper bar, there are enough reasons to spend more time there and share special moments with your special someone. My motto is that you do not need a special day to celebrate love, as it is an everyday's exercise, but after all, why not use this opportunity for celebrating togetherness?

Samstag, 6. Februar 2016

A well kept secret of Berlin: Georg Kolbe Museum

Berlin is the city of special museums, but only few of them are on the usual touristic routes. Some of them are hidden in secret corners of the city, out of sight, but easy to be found by the real lovers of art. Take, for instance, Georg Kolbe Museum. It is situated in an area without high tourist attractions, but easy to be reached after visiting the Olympic Stadium, either by train - S-Bahn Heerstrasse and around 10 minutes or walking - or by bus. 
I wanted to visit this museum for a long time, but there were always new temptations around in my area so I left it for later. This autumn, without too many opportunities to go out of the city as often as I wanted to, and determined to see the Jean Arp exhibition - Navel of the Avant-garde - before closing, I finally made it. Representative of the Berlin Secession movement, Kolbe was considered one of the biggest sculptors of Germany. He collaborated with Mies van der Rohde for the building of Barcelona Pavillion and had a relatively limited collaboration with the far-right regime.  
The museum is the first open in West Berlin after the war, in 1950, hosted in the house that Kolbe used to work between 1929 and 1947.
Human bodies are spread all over the garden and the entrance, silent apparitions at human scale. Their tensed postures made you think that they are alive and ready to share with you some secrets.
Only the wild nature balances the wild energy of the statues. The huge trees put everything in a new perspective. It is so much strength and natural power everywhere that I start my tour with a long stay in the garden, trying to feel the synchronisation and contrasts between human and nature forces. 
The exhibition spaces are big,wrapped in the natural light coming out of the wall-sized windows. It also has a library. I met Jean Arp's work before, at the Modern Art Museum in Strasbourg. The exhibition at Kolbe Museum was focused on the pictorial sign of the navel, carved in stone, shaped in plastic or bronze, considered the humankind bond to nature. Arp puts into question many of the principles of the traditional art not only through sculptures, but also collages and paintings. 
Outside, more human bodies are watching the entrance, surprised in their private worlds but still keeping the sight outside, like a warning to the accidental visitor that they are there to stay.
From the terrasse of the Cafe K, serving vegetarian dishes and good coffees, I finished my museum trip spending more time looking at the forest of bodies. Nature not only inspires art but also show to the art and artists in general the right proportions.