Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Day 4 - Berlin

Day 4
1.Quotes of the day
2.Pre-game snack

Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.

Look out kid
It's somethin' you did
God knows when
But you're doin' it again

Up and out to the local farmers market at 8 (DB stays behind to rest up). It’s a series of booths and trucks circling Karl-August Platz. Lots of fruits and vegetables and flowers, and usual assortment of trucks with meats, prepared foods, cheeses. There’s the guy specializing in kartoufle (potatoes) with 15 varieties for sale. On second round, I decide to go native and buy a rostbratwurst: 10” long in a half of a 4” bun, slathered with mustard, $2. doesn't quite go with morning coffee, can't find the brewskie booth. Stock up on necessities: more white asparagus, local “natural” cheese, rolls, two types of blueberries, bottle of pink (pinot noir) bubbly, $30

Gerry stops in to use the phone for a long distance call. Must be part of the deal with our exchangers. Top shelf for lunch.

We begin our first full art day, don’t leave until 1pm. At this rate, by end of week 1 we'll be up and at 'em by midnight.

It’s again warm to hot to oppressive. We head for Mitte district, home of many galleries, and start in one where the young female gallerista is from Pittsburgh. She gives us lots of tips and off we stroll. Not much of note except today for our threesies we switch to ice cream. I doubt I will be going back to cake! Shokolade mit kaffee double scoop for me, pistachio for DB. $3.

Around 4:30 we head for museum in the old railway station, Near the museum we spot someone practicing flycasting in a large pool, complete with modern slab sculpture in the middle. Warhols, Kiefers, and retrospective of Joseph Beuys. Kiefer wins again.

Behind the old station are the first real upscale galleries we’ve seen, in a setting like Bergamont Station in Santa Monica. We get caught during a strong downpour in a gallery that is setting up for a fashion week cocktail party; they are having a show of work from the 70s of Dennis Oppenheim, whom we are familiar with from our Oakland Museum trip to NY last year (pics to follow this post). The three young women assembling bags of give-aways are hired for the evening, not galleristas. The catering truck is parked in the lot for 15 minutes waiting for rain to let up before attempting to unload.

Wait out rain (sort of) and head to new railway station across street to pick up tickets to Leipzig for Friday travel. Reconnoiter and select a nice, casual “French” place called Maxwell's for dinner, 25 minutes walk away, arrive at 7pm, just on fringe of very disheveled. DB goes to freshen up and I wait for someone to seat us…Ooof, you have no reservations? We are completely booked, this is fashion week, mein herr! (complete with dismissive wave of arm over the reservations book; this guy is maybe 30, early start on snotty, could be I still look very non-fashionable?).

Hmmmmm…it’s 7pm and all 75 seats (20 outside) are 100% totally empty. Every single one. Maybe outside? OK, we’ll take a chance (it’s covered, and given the heat, at least a chance of a breeze in the courtyard.

One party of four joins us, only 69 seats left. They sit inside, leaving us free to enjoy the great outdoors. Amuse bouche: small piece of “wild meat” (jerky) floating on horse radish foam, quite good! Wine: rioja that has been micro-oxygenated, decent.

Two more join us, down to 67 seats left. DB starts with salad, THB goes for the 3 course menu. First course: one small piece of lobster, one perfectly cooked scallop, and an ice cream cone of gazpacho (very good, a quickly cracked cone, and no spoon!).

Another couple arrives, 65 seats left to go, though we're feeling a bit squeezed, they sit at the far end of the long row of outside seats. Second course: DB has a handsome portion of perfectly poached wild salmon over a large brick of kartoufle, THB rare venison with wild mushrooms, one thin (VERY thin) slice of kartoufle, 3 cherries, all on a foam of some sort, with rich meat stock: excellent!

One more couple arrives, 63 seats to go. They are squeezed in at other end of outside seating, it's getting kind of tight out here. One couple shows up and after some discussion sits at “unset” outside table for coffee. Still 63 seats left.

Share the dessert: another composed plate consisting of one very small pistachio torte, something else equally small, and a decent size serving of goat cheese ice cream. Hmmmmm…definitely an acquired taste (spoon supplied this time).

Total: $140 and of course they take Visa (well, we were surprised they did). We leave after 9pm, freeing up two seats and leaving 65 more for the multitudes of fashionistas that have been careful not to arrive too early (they're artists, they don't look back).

S-bahn back to hood and stroll around. Many restaurants have people waiting on fringe of sidewalk for tables (none of the folks waiting appear to be too fashionably dressed), it is now around 9:30 to 9:45 at night.

On the fashion theme, we’ve decided that Berliners attire is something akin to Berkeley during a warm spell (maybe SF if out in the avenues), with maybe a bit more jeans and fewer shorts. Very casual. Almost no suits, not even dockers, few dress shirts. Lots of skirts, light summer dresses, muted colors, casual tops.

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