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Three beakers at Thone Negrón







The Berlinale was on when I stepped into the new premises of Ettina Berrios-Negrón's boutique Thone Negrón in Linienstraße. The restful space, done in shades of sage and mushroom, was quiet. The designer herself, tape measure in hand, was kneeling at the feet of the sort of woman I otherwise only know from films, pinning up the hem of her floor-length claret skirt. — Will it be done by Friday? — Yes. 

The point of the place is, of course, fashion, but I busied myself with the beakers and vases on the slim wall shelf. They're made, Ettina told me, by a brother and sister who took over their parents' pottery studio near the Loire: Les Guimards 

Yolk yellow, mouse-gray, duck-egg blue. Three places set. I was sold. They have been our water beakers ever since.

Thone Negrón Salon, Linienstr. 71, Berlin-Mitte (map

Revisiting: Sasaya


In 2004, March was similarly radiant. Alison sang scales as she hunted for a cardigan in her suitcase; her mezzo filled the courtyard. We had spent the morning planting herbs on my kitchen windowsill. 

Come lunchtime, a whim took us down Lychener Straße, where I once had lived. 

Sasaya's cool aqua cushions and golden wood stopped us in our tracks. Save for one couple, the place was empty. We began with maki, dabbled in some small seaweed and pickled dishes, then finished with capacious bowls of udon soup. Until then, I had trekked through Mauerpark in the dark for a sushi fix on Oderberger Straße. I must have returned weekly in the coming months.


Now the unpretentious and reliable Yoshioka is closer to home. But a decade later, there are few other places I'd rather be on a Sunday at noon. Sometimes it's the fatty sateity of a butadon. Sometimes, it's the purity of  one unagi maki and a bowl of miso soup. And other Sundays edge towards the opulence of that first, yellowtail sashimi following grilled mussels following a wakame tangle, with sips of roasted rice tea from the shiny graphite cups the chef throws on his days off, basking in the combination of reflected sunshine and the French Suites.

Sasaya, Lychener Str. 50, Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg (map), a jewel of a Japanese restaurant, currently open Thursday to Mondays only, reservations often necessary.


Postcard from Edinburgh




Here and there and elsewhere just now. Edinburgh, briefly. Do climb the winding cobblestone path in the direction of Ramsay Lane. Do descend the Scotsman Steps on your way to the Ingleby. Do admire the windowbox flowers, both artificial and not.

PS: Tickled, catching up with things, to discover these kind words from Berliner Zeitung, and to hear myself in German („Am Abend ist `Das Lokal‘ überfüllt mit hübschen Menschen. Aber an einem Sonntagnachmittag ist es fast leer. Die Angestellten lächeln und sobald einem der Löffel auf den Boden fällt, wird einem ein neuer gebracht“).


To brighten each morning


It's only six weeks or eight weeks after Christmas that you can say with any certainty what your favorite present was. It's not only the jaunty form: the tea kettle also has the merriest whistle.

From the ever-lovely enamel shop Liv in Prenzlauer Berg, which threatens to bankrupt me any time I am within one hundred meters. There's an online shop too, for those who fancy financial ruin from further afield. One day I promise myself I'll have a gentle rainbow of Riess milk jugs, saucepans, and more on my kitchen shelves.

Liv, Stargarder Straße 9, Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg (map). A lovingly run shop with a wide range of enamelware products by Riess, Falcon, and more.

A mid-winter feast (Fish delivered to your doorstep)






A fish supper with friends to celebrate the turning towards spring? Yes please.

Prawns according to Nigel Slater; herbed salmon according to Nigel Slater. Thank you Deutsche See for the chance to try the new shop.

Street Food Thursday Meets Berlinale









Oh, but it's been heaven to have the Street Food Thursday outpost save me from the gastronomic wasteland that is Potsdamer Platz. (Won't you come back soon, for instance to that vast empty space in front of Kulturforum?) There's an Abschiedsjause (closing party doesn't have the same ring, but there'll be a live band and more) from mid-day onwards tomorrow.

Street Food Thursday at the Berlinale, Joseph-von-Eichendorff-Gasse, Berlin-Potsdamer Platz (map)
Until February 16th, with handmade ramen noodles by Mr. Susan, fish and shrimp on crisp greens by Glut und Späne, pulled pork sandwiches by Big Stuff Smoked BBQ, spicy corn chowder by Maria Maria Arepas, cheese spaetzle by Heisser Hobel, and Andraschko coffee and Sironi bakes by Café 9.

Some stolen moments in Tel Aviv




In Tel Aviv for work with stolen moments revolving around food. My hosts had the city in their heads and took me everywhere. There were meals taken in the blinding sun, seasoned with the scent of sea. | Manta Ray; an unidentified cafe in Jaffa




Other times, we crowded into small shopfronts and devoured lamb or frills of eggplant in pliant bread. | MiznonSabich Tchernichovsky




There were coffee breaks, of course. | Cafe Bacio; Cafelix

(And what did I bring them? Erich Hamann's chocolate mocha beans, Ethiopian coffee from Five Elephant, Mariage Frères tea.)