A Weekend in Berlin


As I mentioned on Sunday, I was in Berlin over the weekend for an all-too-brief visit. I flew in early Saturday morning and left midday Monday and felt like I saw only a tiny fraction of what I wanted to see. That being said, I did cover a lot of ground for what was basically 48 hours and wanted to share the highlights with you.

Obviously above we have the Brandenburger Tor, which is actually the closest I ever got to West Berlin (other than riding the bus through it en route to/from Tegel Airport). When you spend a lot of time in Paris, I think you fall victim to something I’ll call the Triomphe Effect; the afflicted lose all sense of scale when it comes to arches and gates because the Arc de Triomphe is so huge. To me, the Washington Square Park arch in New York now seems laughably tiny and when I visited the Tor in Berlin, I was also surprised by its size. In my head it was much larger — and less cluttered with inebriated Borussia Dortmund and Bayern München fans who nobly took it upon themselves to prepare for the 20h Germany Cup final from the early morning hours (I’m happy to report that BM won, as my childhood Germany stints took place in Bayern). Despite the Triomphe Effect and the football horde, the historical symbolism of the Tor is still palpable. (more…)


Place Settings #41: May 18, 2014


Eat: A big plate of sliced meats, cheeses, butter, and fruit from Café Anna Blume in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg. As much as I am a fan of an espresso and a pain au chocolat in the morning, I think German breakfasts are my favorite. They are basically the equivalent of grazing on a bunch of different things from a well-stocked refrigerator, which is my preferred way of eating.

Drink: A warm cup of coffee under an umbrella on a chilly, rainy, German morning. (more…)

The Four-Year Sardine Hunt


On May 5, 2010, I was living on Gold Street in New York City’s Financial District and had just started working from home as a social media manager for a small wine bar group. I sat down that morning to catch up on the daily food news and opened the New York Times Dining section. There, on the now-defunct Diner’s Journal Blog, was a photo of a tin of sardines sheathed in bright yellow cardboard. What followed were 517 words describing the virtues of sardines packed in beurre rather than olive oil, and thus began my fish hunt. Edward Schneider, you altered the course of my life.

Edward warned me in his blog post that butter-packed sardines are nearly impossible to find in the United States, but most people who live in New York don’t believe that something can’t be found in that city, even when a fellow New Yorker says so. I started with the grocery stores in my neighborhood, spending twenty minutes at a time scouring tiny seafood aisles first for that seductive, haunting yellow packaging, and then for traces of the words “butter” or “beurre.” No luck. I moved onto the bigger guns: Dean & Deluca, Murray’s Cheese, the stalls of the Grand Central Market, Whole Foods just in case an errant manager had started a black-market preserved fish venture out of Union Square. I hustled over to Eataly when it opened later that year, though of course what would they know about butter. Nothing. Not a single buttered Sardine to be found in all of New York. I was distraught. (more…)

Eating in Italy

“Even at its simplest, Emilia-Romagna’s food tastes as if it has evolved from a long tradition. Yet there is always a spontaneity to what you eat.” – Lynne Rossetto Kasper, The Splendid Table

Eating in Italy is as easy as breathing, especially when you are in the part of the world that created Parmesan cheese, Prosciutto di Parma, and balsamic vinegar. I already barreled through my list of things I saw in Italy, and here, at long last, is a list of what I ate. I had many tasty meals, but three restaurants in particular stood out to me, two in Ferrara, and one in Modena.