Drop by almost any trendy Berlin restaurant, café or Kneipe and you’ll spot half-a-dozen young people on their MacBooks. What are they doing on line? Reworking their first novel? Updating their facebook profile? Checking the weather back home in Indiana? Any and all these things plus – more likely than not – writing a blog.
Given the number of outsiders who have moved to the city in the last decade, it’s no surprise that Berlin has inspired a wild web of bloggers and websites. Finest among them are the eclectic and invaluable Slow Travel Berlin, Bang Bang Berlin, with its opinionated columns on the fashion, clubbing and art scenes, the sleek Berlin Unlike city guide, heartfelt Finding Berlin which celebrates the young people who are recreating this remarkable city and Richard Carter’s ever-fascinating Journey to Berlin which prods into its obscure corners and peels back its history.
Berlin also produces a cornucopia of delicious foodie blogs, which whet the appetite and constantly remind readers that there are many, many culinary delights here other than the currywurst. Since my return to this city, I’ve enjoyed Berlin Reified, a labour of love by the delightful, long-term expat Sylee Gore. In a kind of homage to the city, Gore celebrates the cafés, restaurants, markets and edibles (as well as design and handcrafts). In her Kitchen Notes she makes Sunday morning shortbread, gooseberry fool and Bärlauch (wild garlic) ricotta fritters. Like all the best blogs its personal and personable, and a joy to explore and read.
Another favourite is foodieinberlin, a ‘discovery of Berlin through its eateries’ by Middle East-born, one-time-Londoner Suzy. ‘I like to eat but not half as much as I like everything that goes with eating,’ she writes. ‘The people, the culture, the idiosyncrasies and when it’s good; the incredible memories. Food inspires me, it moves me to go and do. That can mean trying restaurants, visiting grocery shops or recipes. I love that when I meet another foodie, our common interest will push us from strangers to old friends over a shared piece of cake.’ Her recipes – perhaps due to her studying at Leith’s -- are sensational, not least the fresh fig cheesecake with Greek yoghurt, almonds and honey.
I also like Fortuna's Feast, even though it has a more commercial spin. Suzy Fracassa, an American from Detroit who has been living and working in Berlin since 1999, runs the city’s ‘most secret’ (according to the newspaper B.Z.) private dining room in Neukölln.
But for me the foodie blog which takes the biscuit is Berlin on a Platter, the mouth-watering, rib-tickling creation of Luisa Weiss. Berlin-born Weiss started her blog while living in New York in an attempt to tackle hundreds of recipes clipped from the New York Times and the LA Times. Now she’s a full-time writer, editor and cook, and her first book book, My Berlin Kitchen, will be published in the US in September.
‘I grew up in Berlin with an American father and an Italian mother. This gives me all kinds of questionable authority on food, and the ability to speak several languages. It also means I like all kinds of things: Leberwurst sandwiches and Pflaumenkuchen when I'm in Berlin; pizza al taglio and roasted rabbit in Urbino; dan dan noodles and char siu bao in New York. I am perpetually homesick, so I cook to anchor myself and find joy in the small things: a perfect apricot, the texture of sea urchin, the smell of bread baking in my kitchen. And writing about food seems to go hand-in-hand with cooking for me.’
Berlin on a Platter, and its ‘mother site’ The Wednesday Chef, are must-reads because Weiss’s honesty, candidness and great good humour (as well as her fab Berlin restaurant suggestions).