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Each Christmas and Bring its Stands Along

I know that Christmas is basically in the end of December.

But my Christmas was last week.

I had a few visitors, and we stayed in Christmas markets almost every evening.

In the weekend, we went the to kitschy Hamburger Dom winter fair. A big there-park kind of event that goes on for hundred of years already, and is the big of its kind in Germany.

There we photographed the lonely pickles clerk from the picture above.

And also this Muppets lady. I want one of those (Muupets. Not lady). 70 Euros for the big ones. Not so much, but not really justified with my current salary.


A Piece of (tasty) Past: Zum Nussbaum

Why do people ignore Zum Nussbaum (’to the Nut tree’, directly translated) in the contemporary discussion of Berlin oldest best tradition restaurants? It’s small, charming, full of old Germans – which is exactly the crowd that you want in such a place – and most importantly, their dishes are absolutely amazingly delicious! I took there dozens of guests already. All of them, without exception, had nothing but compliments for the food.  So people talk about ‘Zur letzten Instanz’, which is the oldest restaurant in the city. Or ‘Max & Moritz’ or ‘Schwarzwald stuben’ – two modern interpretations on classical dishes. But they forget Zum Nussbaum. Which might not be the oldest – though it’s old, or very modern – though it’s tasty – but it’s highly recommendable. If you ask me.

And you do ask – since you’re here, right?

[The restaurant, from 1903. From Wikimedia]

Zum Nussbaum is a 500-years old restaurant (yeah, don’t run away to wash your eyes. You read it correctly. Five-Hundred(!) years). Which makes it older than some countries. It used to be in the Fisher island (Fischer Strasse 21 to be exact), and got its name from a garden of nut trees standing in front of it. The restaurant was popular among carriage drivers (the fore-fathers of cab-drivers), and was famous for handing free beers for drivers who took guests home safely. There isn’t a better incentive for Germans than free beer. Then the house was destroyed. and then reconstructed. Along with a nut tree at the front, at the beautiful historial Nikolaiviertel (Nikolai quarter), where it stands today.

The place opens daily from noon till late at night. During lunch it’s hard to get a place there, as the old Germans jumps on them like cats on milk. They dine long lunch, get their daily-unhealthy fat dish with a big seasonal beer (the beers in the place changes according to the season and tradition). They usually down it all with a few bitter liqueurs in the end, and chat with pleasure with foreigners. Like myself.

The menu is short but to the point. It got all the pantheon of classical Berlin dishes: huge wursts with sour cabbage salad, a pig’s knuckle or a blood pudding thingy. But I never take those. I take my dish: Boulette. It’s a huge berlin-meatball (Boulette) with a fried egg on it, some salty fried potatoes on the side – and of course, soured-pickles. The changing menu include some heavy dishes like Schnitzel with an egg, or, at the right season – a variety of asparagus dishes. All of those being accompanied by excellent German beer (don’t ignore the bock beer if you visit the place in November-December), and a nice old environment.

Business Card:
Name: Zum Nussbaum.
Address: Am Nussbaum 3. Can it be that the name of the street came from the name of the place?
Opening Hours: 12:00-2:00. I ask myself who are the people who go there after midnight?
Buttom Line: A piece of a taste of old Berlin. Food and culture both.


Kuchenkiste (cakes box)

A peek at the toilet. yeah. That’s when Kuchenkiste – the (relatively) new cafe in Oppelner street – caught my eye. Not because it’s extra clean (it is), or extra (good) smelly (maybe it it) – but rather because it’s… Mario themed! like – Nintendo’s Super-Mario. With abundance of mushrooms and cartoonish plumbers. How can I not like a place with a Super-Mario themed toilet? Have I got no heart?

Kuchenkiste is a colorful sweet place. And it fits a bit strangely in Wrangel Kiez. Why, you ask? well, it opens at 7:30 before morning in a neighbourhood that wakes up at 11:00, got a totally colorful “screaming” design, offers a lucrative menu of taste-enhanced coffee beverages, like caramel- macchiato – and is very, very (like, way-too very) family-friendly, with emphasize on the little kids/babies kind of families. What’s that? what did you say? Why is it here and not in babies-swarming Prenzlauer Berg? who locates such a place in the middle of over-hyped population who’s their only connection to kids is ‘how many beers can a baby drink’ of Wrangel kiez? will it work??

well, it works. I can make that Sherlock Holme’s style observation by the fact that there are people there. On mornings you got the early parents looking for a peaceful coffee after the kid was sent away to the kindergarden/school. A bit later arrive the laptop people. Silently they sit there, concentrating in their computer and ignoring the rest of the world. And then, a bit after lunch, arrive the fathers/mothers with their kids. There’s a playing area in the back room, which makes it the perfect combination between a garden and a cafe. Highly recommended for parents. Highly recommended to get away from it on those hours for anyone else.

The menu showcase mostly their excellent collection of cakes including the star-of-the-day: New York Cheesecake! Who thought that getting a piece of that will be such a hard task in Berlin? I had, in addition, the chocolate-cheese cake, which was also great. So if you got kids – or just a crave for a good cake, then Kuchenkiste might be the place for you. But if you’re not one of those? then, well, ahm, there are better place in the neighborhood. Unless you’re a Mario-fan of course.

Business Card:
Name: Kuchen Kiste.
Address: Oppelner Str. 34 , 10997 Berlin.
Opening Hours: 7:30(!!!)-18:00.
Wireless: yes. But not too fast. Even quite slow if I may say.
Buttom Line: I chatted with one proud father there for a while, and upon his departure, I asked weather he’ll return to the place. He gave a (sad) look to his daughter, just to clarify who’s the real boss here, and said: ‘that’s not my decision to make’. The little princess was satisfied, and insured us calmly that the toys were to her taste so that they’ll be back. Be aware :]

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Untek Bäckeri – im hof

The end of August this year brought Ramadan with him. And along with it gave the Turkish population of Wrangel Kiez a festive feeling to the neighborhood. Especially in the evenings, when the Muslim eateries offered huge feasts for cheap prices. Ramadan Menu it’s called. And one of those evenings I sat with a friend in Unka Köftaburger  where she ate their excellent Adana Kebab. The view was quite as Wrangel street mostly is in that time of the day – where all of a sudden we noticed loads of Turkish people going in and out of some building. They walked in empty-handed, and left with abundant of crispy bristle fresh-baked bread in their palms. Carefully we followed in till we encountered, in the back yard of the building, this door:

We just finished eating, and weren’t in the need for any bread at the moment. So I decided to come back later.

And later was a week ago. I had a morning fresh-bread-urge, and tried to go to the place. alas, it was closed. I came back at 15:00, but was told that it’s still a bit too early. Formally they open up at 17:00 – even that one can usually get fresh pastry there already at 16:00. It seem that they mostly spread their merchandise over Turkish grocery stores and eateries. However, if one passes by and ask to buy something – they won’t refuse to see. Who ever heard of a merchant refuses to sell his merchandise, ah?

I think that the selection changes on a daily and hourly basis. Depends on what just came out of the oven: this big Turkish flat bread, medium bread rolls or just flat pitas. When I arrived they just had those medium bread rolls – so I got two. One for my dinner, and another to share between my white-bread-haters roommates. It was warm and fresh – like a real bread should be. No complains there.

I got used to hidden pubs in Berlin. Or hidden clubs, cafes and restaurants. But a hidden backery is quite new for me. And I love that concept. Not just because their pastry is fresh – but also since I feel that I had to make an effort in order to get it. And nothing tastes better than a food well-earned.

Grade: 8/10. It’s losing points for not having bizarre products, and also for strange opening hours.

Business Card:
Name: Untek Bäckerei im Hof.
Address: Wrangel strasse 78 in the back yard. There is no sign visible from the street! the entrance to the building is through a red door, on the right to bizim bakkal grocery store (if you face the store).
Opening Hours: 17:00-somewhen.
Remark: Better than the same products in most grocery stores. Why? well, because they’re being made here and only then being shipped there. And in bread like in internet news, one hour old is too old.


Kantina von Hugo

What? What’s that? You claim that Kantina von Hugo, which is located safely on paul-lincke ufer, is not exactly *in* Wrangel Kiez? So why is it included in the wonderful part of the blog ‘the Wrangel Kiez Diaries’ you ask? well – boo hoo. It’s not so far away from Wrangel strasse – especially with bicycle which is a necessity in Berlin – so it got to be included in my very-wide definition of Wrangel Kiez. Not happy with that? snitch on me to the Wrangel Kiez commitee. Oh, wait, there isn’t one! well then – tough.


[I was too lazy to get of my chair. So here's the view from my table. It represents quite well the spirit of the place]

That long, and quite unfriendly introduction if I might add, meant to say that Kantina von Hugo is a bit far away from our neighborhood. But it’s such a lovely cafe/restaurant that it worths the detour if you ask me. I got there in my never ending search for comfortable coffees with wireless to work in, and was quite  doodly-do happy with how it satisfied that need (I’m addicted to wireless. Guilty as charged).

But they don’t have only wireless! oh no. Actually, most visitors would tell your about their delicious offers of house-made pasta. There are also other dishes there, that wouldn’t shame any restaurant in town, but the pasta certainly seems to be the reason that most people drop by. The nice coffee and food (and free wireless! have I mentioned that already?) is surrounded by big comfortable sofas or armchairs, and the atmosphere is being completed with jazz music, being played by a turntable. Old style indeed. Old style is good.

[I discovered there what's a donauwellen cake is.  A three layered cake with cherries and chocolate on top. De-licious!]

They open up at 10:00, which is relatively early for that sleepy part of town, and close at 1:00 (which is actually quite ok. Places here just don’t have long opening hours. How do the hell do places here survive again?). I think that I might try the following routine once: coffee (and wireless!) at 10:00 at Kantina von Hugo – following by shoppings in the famous Turkish market on the other side of the canal and concluded by lunch in some tourkish place. If that’s not a Kreuzberg experience, then I dunno what is.

Business Card
Kantina von Hugo.
Address: Ohlauer Straße 44-46
Opening Hours: 10:00-1:00. Lunch menu from 12:30-16:30.
Tip: Free wireless!!1 woo-hoo!!1.

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Dirty Harry’s – Another Kind of Pizza

The time was 21:30 on a cold Thursday night. We just left the Colosseum cinema next to Schönhauser allee station, where they screened turtles can fly as part of the Bewegende Bilder event.  A poetic scenery piece about mutilated kids in a refugee camp in the Iraqi-Turkish border. The movie is like a punch to your stomach that leaves you hollow inside. Pun totally intended, as we were starving. So we went to Prenzlauer Berg’s famous Dirty Harry’s pizza.

There are two kinds of fame to acquire in Berlin: cheap-fame or quality-fame. And at first sight you think that Dirty Harry’s must belong to the first kind. You’d pay 2 Eur for a 23-diameter box, which is sufficient for dinner, 5.5 Eur for a share-with-your-friend 40-diameter – and an 11.5 for 60-diameter mega-huge-pizza. On each of those you choose three toppings to add, which makes it a fairly cheap deal. Not as cheap as the one-Eur (horrible) pizza next to Schlesisches Tor, but hopefully a bit better.

Actually – if you got only a Euro in your pocket, then you can get one-Eur slices of already-prepared pizzas that wait on the counter for the lucky customer. They looked quite stale, but tempted by the price we took two of these. We shouldn’t have; they were indeed stale and not by any mean worth more than -1 Euro (which means that someone should pay us for eating it).

The other two members of the group were smarter, and choose to wait five minutes for their fresh 23-centimeter diameter. One with salami, mushrooms and tomatoes. The other with champignon, pikante salami, rucola & parmesan. They were fresh with crispy tasty thin dough. They were also surprisingly tasty, which is why I kept stealing pieces of it when my friends turned their head. A very nice pizza indeed!

We got to the place half an hour before closing, and were the last and only customers there. But rumors claims that on peak-hours it’s hard to get a sit there, and people wait as long as half an hour for their piece of cheesy-dough. I wouldn’t get on a subway to prenzelauer berg especially for that place, but if you happen to already be the area, and you look for a tasty cheap pizza, then it’s highly recommended. Guaranteed.

Business Card
Dirty Harry’s – Another Kind of Pizza.
Address: schivelbeinerstrasse 43, 10439 Berlin (schönhauser allee u-  and s- bahn)
Opening Hours: 11:00-22:00. Closed on Sundays.
Tip: old Hollywood movies are mentioned not only in the name, but also on the walls. Which are crowdedly covered by black-white photos of famous past movie stars. Not to mention the drawing that you see in the image above you.

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Three Years Meschugge Party

Bad! I’m a bad Israeli! Why? because I’ve never been to a Meschugge Party. What’s Meschugge party you ask? Well, it’s kind of an Israeli party – though you’ll never find anything like that in Israel – that brings the people of the community to one place. Together with lots of other people from many other communities who wants to just have good fun. I heard, from people who did visited one of those parties, that it’s supposed to be a crazy night, fulled of good Israeli fun kitsch party music.

[If you'll press on me, I'll grow bigger. And no. It's not a sex joke]

In case that you’re blind, don’t speak any English (what the hell do you do here then?) or just can’t take a thick hint: there’s such a party tomorrow. See the invitation for the rest of the details. Will I go there? God knows. But a good amount of my Facebook friends list go there. So in any case, send them my best regards.

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Bull’s Bar

I haven’t been driven out from many pubs in Berlin. I mean – I would like to be. But usually I finish my beer before they finish the pub (meaning, their working night). However, it did happen to me at least once. In the hard rock\metal Bull Bar in Wrangel strasse. It was around 4:00 in the morning, or perhaps a few minutes later – and we were after two shots of Vodka and countless number of beers. They insinuated, politely by initiating to wash the floor, that it would be preferable if we would leave. So we took out last beers and finished them in some other place. It ended up being one of those evenings that you never forget, and ever since there’s a warm spot in my heart for the Bull Bar.

Bull Bar is certainly not one of those updated bohemian spots in our small neighborhood. You wouldn’t find there the last street-wear collection, but rather forty year’s old with band t-shirts that should have been thrown away forty years ago. Ok – I’m exaggerating. There are also twenty years old with weary t-shirts that should have been thrown out forty years ago. They look like tough people, and if they’re old enough they got a raspy voice. But in generally they’re awfully friendly and would be happy to have a drink with you. Especially if you pay for it.

And now another time with honesty: the crowd of Bull Bar’s is not that homogeneous. You do see there the occasional youngsters who just look for a cheap beer – or big groups of tourists that dunno where else to go. That combination, of hard rockers, older and younger people, tourists, locals and foreigners – all wrapped by furbelow fusty rock design flavored by exclusively good old rock music (or punk. or metal. But it’s all on the same tough-people line – like in a supernatural episode), make the place fun for me. Perhaps not for a party-weekend night, but certainly for a few beers with 1-2 friends.

And don’t leave your leather jackets at home!

Business Card:
Name: Bull Bar
Address: Wrangelstrasse 90 Berlin 10997
Opening Hours: 15:00-3:00. But when they kicked us out it was around 16:00 on a Saturday eve.
Remark: Not to confuse with a similar gay bar that holds the same name.

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Hubertus Lounge

There’s kind of a magical feeling in the area surrounding Markthalle (Market hall) in Eisenbahn street. With a lovely collection of small intimate bars and restaurants that are always full with locals. And then there’s the Markthalle itself. A reminiscence of an older, cheaper time. In which Kreuzberg’s stores were just functional bodies, instead of the fashionable entity they form today. There are two stands inside the market hall. They serve germans sausages and beer, and you can always find there those older Germans standing all day. Getting a bit drunk. Getting filled with traditional oily food. I love it. Oh – how I love it!

Wait, what was my point? Oh yeah. I wanted to tell about Hubertus lounge. One of those charming coffee/pubs in the Markthalle kiez (I just made up that term!). So let’s do that.

We already agreed (like, i agreed with myself) that all the places in Kreuzberg are  second hand shops in disguise. But Hubertus lounge takes that look to extremity. The couches are not ‘just couches’ – they are unique rarities specially collected – and are very soft if I might add. The decoration is a combination of a 70’s dancing hall with the touch of american 40’s lounge. Sombody wandered heavily through flee markets and found the most unusall stuff. They also hanged a disco ball in the back room – the darker one – which results in a charming look.

The music goes along the 40’s-50’s quite line. Therefore, a caution is in place: a melancholic mood would follow a long stay in that place. The crowd is awfully strange and trendy (in real Berlin, trendy equals strange), and sometimes a tad too theatrical for me. They smoke a lot as well, and it could have been annoying would the place was a bit fuller. But usally it’s mostly empty, and the smokers are scattered in all of it’s eight corners (two rooms, four corners each) which makes it kind of ignorable.

I always wonder how such a place – which is so heavily equipped and well-designed – can survive with such sparse clientele? But they do. Cuz it’s Berlin, and business pull those things off here sometimes. And I’m satisfied with it – as the place is charming, and I just love hanging out there.

Business Card:
Hubertus Lounge.
Address: Eisenbahnstr .6, 10997 Berlin
Opening Hours: Monday-Saturyday, 12:00-Idunnowhen. But don’t you believe that it opens at 12:00. It’s more like 12:30-13:00. Be aware.
Tip: No food, no cakes. But some nice drinks – and most of all: the best atmosphere in the street.

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Halloween at Atelier Überall

Nine of ten people that visit Atelier Überall (AÜ from now on. Writing the full name repeatedly is plainly too much of a bother) wouldn’t know it’s name. They even won’t know ‘what the hell is this place’. I got all sorts of answers asking people – “it’s a modern WG” (oh, how very German of them!), “a sharing commune, like a Kibbutz” – or even “it’s a sex commune in which one guy sleeps with all the girls!”. My god – who come up with those rumors?

The truth is that AÜ is an artist-place to rent for everyone and every (artistic) cause in the world. Preferably legal causes. Putting that in their language: ‘”multi-purpose” Atelier’. The heart of the place is it’s enter hall. It sits on street level, while entrance is really from the street – and designed in a very.. artistic way. Sometimes, on my way home, I see someone sits there, usually in complete darkness, doing something mysterious with his laptop. A very romantic image of the forlorn artist.

..and sometimes they throw parties. About once a month (alternatively, the way that one of the tenants in the building gave it to me: ‘luckily only once a month’). Then a full pantheon of Berlin’s bizarre characters assemble there for a night of strange music, strange movies and strange conversations with people who were at some point in their life, age 4 most probably, not strange. But today they are.

It’s not so easy to find those parties. Sometimes their being published on the place’s window two hours in advance. Sometimes they don’t publicize the events at all – and on very rare occasions, like the one that you see in the nice picture up there – they make a big and shiny advertisement for a Halloween party. I honestly know nothing more besides what’s already written/drawn, and besides the fact that it was drawn by this talented dude Elyzium (I saw him making it in real time! History in motion!). I highly suspect that I’ll attend at least (and at most) one of those evenings.

And you?

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