My first observations of Amsterdam- the visual graphics in public spaces were really fascinating. The exploration line and color was beautiful. From the moment we arrived at Central Station the heart of Amsterdam (looks much like VT) I was a bit like Alice in Wonderland. We walked along the canal, I had never seen anything like this.
It would seem like I am somewhere in East Asia but as a matter of fact I am still in Berlin (well actually I am back in Bombay now). Irene's friend Ringo told us about this park outside Berlin where the Thai community congregates and picnics. Thai aunties cook copious amounts of homemade Thai curries and fish and sell it to the people who come to the park. The three of us decided to head over there on Saturday evening. I told this to some of the Berliner folks I was hanging with. No one seemed to have heard about this mysterious park.
It took me a couple of Metros to get to Pruessenpark. Surprisingly this was a hugely popular park on a Saturday evening. The place was abuzz with Thai families. Teenagers playing frisbee and ball games. Thai aunties with little grill frying up different types of fish, prawns. There were large bowls of soups, curries, sticky rice. And my favourite the tapioca, red bean, jelly coconut milk icy drink.
I chatted with some of the ladies. They were reluctant to let me photograph them. One them told me she has been coming here for 16 years. That the police does show up and they all just hide the money and pretend it is a family picnic. It has been the practice for many many years. She could not recall how far back the Thai community of Berlin had been congregating at the park. She did smile and say - More people here than Buddhist Temple.
Thai fried fish, fried chicken
The famous Thai mortar and pestle
Liver? Heart? Testicles?
My favourite tapioca, fruity, corn, beans, coconut icy drink
Irene's lovely bangles and our very colorful rug
Barbequed chicken or pork?
A pho kind of chicken soup
Vietnamese spring rolls
The lady I chatted with requested me not to take pictures of the park. I wish I had photos to share with you how wonderfully colorful this picnic was.
Can someone translate for me please. I saw this on the way to Pruessenpark
On another night after experiencing the beautiful Sauna performance by my host Peter, which I will have to write about in a separate post, we (Peter, Ringo, Joey, Irene and I) headed out to this Ramen Noodle place another recommendation by Ringo. This place was quite simple and lovely and was called Next to and the restaurant it was next to was called Kuchi. So the story goes that Kuchl has been a very popular Sushi restaurant in Berlin so the Ramen Noodle bar which is fairly new decided to call itself Next To. Clever. Another lovely feature was that all the bowls, plate, glasses, were hand made japanese ceramics and wooden spoons. They have a lovely backyard with benches.
It was a beautiful night. We ordered Edemame beans and ramen soup. Ringo and I ordered the Tonkotsu soup and the rest the Miso soup. Ringo promised me it is a soup I will not forget with slices of pork and a nice chunk of pork belly that has been cooked for over 12 hours. The broth is basically made with boiling the bones for several hours. Can I tell you by far the most beautiful soup I have ever had. EVER. There were sprouts, vegetables, boiled egg, slices of pork, seaweed, miso, ramen noodles of course and a sexy piece of pork belly. The noodles wrapped in basil leaves with the flavorings of this perfect broth was lovely to slurp. The broth reminded me why all the times I have looked for comfort in my food.
I looked into my soup and smiled savoring every bite. I took a small bite of the belly, it melted. It was delicate, soft and succulent. I sighed. Ringo was watching me and smiled giving me the see I told you look. Joey- Peter's friend a photographer helped my food pose for me. Later we ordered a large bowl of green tea ice-cream. We sprinkled the sesame seeds generously on the ice cream. The conversation light and fun. Another night where I felt completely at home in Berlin - a real Berliner. After dinner we got on bicycles and headed back home where we some more wine- I for a change stuck to trying another German beer.
Our merry group
Joey and Ringo
Peter explaining the edemame
Boiled egg in the Miso soup.
Joey posing with the soup
'Im in love with you' Pork belly
The Tonkotsu soup
The Ramen Noodle Soup
Peter- A lovely hand made ceramic mug.
Save the best for last
Green tea ice cream
The walls were made of printed wooden plywood planks. More translations in order.
The soup prep bar
Handmade ceramic bowls
The other soups
The last meal I want to write about in this post was really my first dinner in Berlin. Irene and I went to Cafe Yam Yam a Korean cafe near our home. We ordered a beef Bibimbap and a seafood Korean pancake. The bibimbap was alright. It had all the ingredients, the beef slices, the shredded vegetables, sprouts, carrots, eggs, rice, sesame. The Korean pancake with seafood was very greasy. The interiors were delightful though. It was my first dinner in Berlin- I really could not complain. I was there with the lovely Irene staying at her friend Peter's who lived in a remarkable artist community and had a lofted bathtub. He lent me his bicycle so I could get around Berlin. The building had beautifully graffiti all over it. One evening I found two musicians playing on the landing above our floor. The sound echoed beautifully throughout the halls. Such will be my memory of Berlin and Berliners. Life in a fairytale land of slightly rebellious and proudly poor youngsters.
The Bibimbap and iced tea
Loft or Love. (convert into upscale condos or leave it for the squatters) Liebe Liebe Liebe I say!
The Peter's Apartment building:
The view from my room and my bed
the neighbours wall
the gorgeous staircase.
The breath taking mind-blowing Tacheles right next to Peter's
Finally I leave you with this beautiful piece that these two musicians were playing on the landing as their friend video-graphed them. The sound is still embedded in my memory. For me its the Berlin piece.