Molly Hannon presents a Christmas-friendly selection of Berlin food shops, covering sweet treats and spicy cured meats, eye-opening espresso and domestic and imported libations…
Licorice: it’s an acquired taste. A relative of aniseed and fennel, it’s touted for its health benefits and benevolence towards the digestive tract. Its distinct flavor and somewhat odd appearance make it a peculiar confection, but one with a seductive and dark allure. Located on Grafestrasse is Kadó – a whole store dedicated entirely to the unusual candy. It boasts over 400 kinds of licorice with imported rarities from Scandinavia, southern Italy, and Australia.
Licorice aficionados will delight at Kadó’s extensive selection ranging in flavors from salty-savory pieces to sweet and speckled with pastel colored shapes and designs. The shop’s interior, lined with over-sized glass jars and old school apothecary tins-cum-candy-jars, is reminiscent of the shops in Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, further lending to its quirky charm.
Graefestrasse 20, Kreuzberg 10967, T 030 69 04 16 38, www.kado.de, Tue-Fri 9:30 – 18:30, Sat 9:30 – 15:30, Sun-Mon, closed
Those with a discerning chocolate palate should head to Hamann Schokoladenfabrik, Berlin’s oldest chocolate factory. This family-run shop has remained unchanged in flavor and in its distinct Bauhaus design since its inception in 1928 — but it is Master Chocolatier Erich Hamann’s unique approach to the dark arts that distinguishes it amongst the other chocolate shops in the city. These black beauties are bitter in taste and composed entirely of natural ingredients.
There are no watered-down milk chocolate variations, per Hamann’s insistence that milk chocolate only detracts from chocolate’s original form and taste, rather than adding to it. Customers, however, can decide for themselves if Hamann’s verdict is indeed correct as they choose from a range of schokoladens from the classic dark bars to the more exotic blends filled with praline, ginger, nuts, and marzipan.
Brandenburgische Straße 17, 10707 Berlin, T 030 873 20 85 86, www.hamann-schokolade.de, Mon-Fri, 9:00-18:00, Sat, 9:00-13:00
Cave de Bacchus is the oldest French wine shop in Berlin, and its history is as reputable as its thoughtful selection of wines. Owner, Gérard Degouy, originally from Champagne, relocated to West Berlin in 1971 to improve his German language skills. At the request of his compatriots, all of them nostalgic for their homeland’s terroir, Gérard began to import French wine. The hobby soon became a passion and later a thriving business and today – still located in Charlottenburg – the store remains unchanged in its loyal approach to French viticulture and gastronomy, treating customers to a mini sojourn “en France” with its impressive selection of Grand Crus and Chateaux, and not to mention, Gerard’s favorite, Champagne Here, terroir is king, and the selection of other imported goods, such as gamey pâtés, rillettes, creamy fromage, Dijon moutarde, and freshly baked baguettes, all add to the shop’s culinary pedigree.
Westfälische Str 33, 10709 Berlin-Halensee, T 030 892 20 23, www.cave-bacchus.de, Mon – Fri 10 – 19, Sat 10-15, Sun, closed
Cookbooks wield uncanny expectations of magically morphing into a domestic goddess/culinary guru overnight, even though we all know they often only sit on the bookshelf collecting dust rather than tomato stains. Goldhahn and Sampson is the perfect place to help you realise your culinary dreams and kick off 2012 with a whiff of garlic and home-baked bread.
Located in Prenzlauer Berg, the shop functions as a cafe, shop, and cooking school allowing customers to peruse the latest in culinary goods, gadgets, and cookbooks – of which they have a fine selection – whilst sipping espresso and nibbling at some house-made cake. G&S also offers nightly cooking classes that occur on a weekly and monthly rolling basis: from basic poultry, to modern Italian cooking, to cooking meat, and more, there is something to satisfy the inner gastronome, or indeed inspire a loved one’s cooking aspirations.
Dunckerstraße 9, 10437 Berlin, www.goldhahnundsampson.de, Mon-Fri, 8- 20, Sat, 10-20, Sun closed
Don’t be fooled by Bier Spezialitäten’s cracked and faded façade. Wedged between Berlin’s east-west artery right off the Karl Marx Allee U-Bahn, this store is a beer lover’s dream-come-true. The shop carries over 550 German-style beers from the ubiquitous Pilsner to the heavy Hefeweizen or Weissbier along with some imported libations, such as American craft and microbrews, and Belgium and British ales. The main draw here, however, is the Deutsch bier. Although the collection can prove daunting, the owner is well-versed in his knowledge of German beer and is always willing to assist you in your search of your choice poison – and even crack it open for you to enjoy on your way home.
Karl Marx Allee 56, 10243 Berlin, T 030 249 21 46, Mon-Fri, 10 – 19:30, Sat, 10 – 14:30, Sun, closed
Often associated with the other major Christian holiday of Easter, marzipan’s buttery almond flavor also functions as a darling yuletide confection. A favorite indulgence of the famous Russian composer, Tchaikovsky – think of the Marzipan-themed dance in the Nutcracker’s second act – its Eastern-inspired roots made their way to Austria and later Germany only to become an emblematic German sweet. Wald Königsberg Marzipan’s candy-striped walls imbue this third-generation-owned shop with the charms of a classic 1950’s candy store. Owners Paul Wald and his wife, Master Confectioner, Irmgurd Radant moved to Berlin in 1947, and set up the shop in its present-day Charlottenburg-based locale. Radant’s impressive craftsmanship shines through the glass vitrines that line the store’s countertop, tempting customers with her wide range of almond-inspired concoctions.
Pestalozzistraße 54a, 10627 Berlin, T 030 32 38 254, www.wald-koenigsberger-marzipan.de, Mon-Fri, 10-18:30; Sat, 10-15:30; Sun, closed
Maître Philippe is a cheese and wine shop that’s run on passion and love. Owner Philippe and his daughter Anais relocated to West Berlin from southern France and soon began to import their local gastronomy to the German capital. The art of wine and cheese pairing is given new verve here, with Philippe’s extensive knowledge of French fromage and fine wines guaranteeing customers a crash course in taste and culture.
His philosophy is simple, and rests on his loyal support to small producers. The careful selection of farmhouse cheeses and specialty, small-production varietals is the real charm of Maitre Philippe’s. On a humorous note, ripe, aromatic cheese might not be your first choice if you’re looking for an inconspicuous stocking stuffer, but it makes a wonderful, welcome gift nonetheless. And a bottle of carefully chosen wine is always a safe bet.
Emser Straße 42, 10719 Berlin, T 030 88683610, www.maitrephilippe.de, Sun-Fri, 10-19, Sat, 10 – 14
Runner up to Berlin’s extensive Turkish population, the Italian influence also looms large in the German capital as this hot blooded Italian store underlines. Large legs of prosciutto and salami dangle from the ceiling, greeting customers with the aroma of those cured meats most commonly associated with this boot-shaped country. The store is family owned and operated and its selection of imported goods extends far beyond the aforementioned cured meats. There are cheeses, house-made pastas, sauces, olives, wines, and more, giving customers the opportunity to sample and select from a range of Italian delights.
Windscheidstr. 20, 10627 Berlin, T 030 324 33 18, www.salumeria-pino.de, Mon-Thu, 11-22; Fri-Sat, 10:30-23; Sun, closed
Coffee culture has slowly worked its way to the German capital, and now the selection of specialty roasts offered in this city is more varied than ever. Five Elephant Coffee Roasters is the new kid on the block. Located on Reichenberger Straße, the American-run cafe serves a mean devil’s cup, and caters to the German penchant for afternoon cake. The cafe’s real Pièce de résistance, however, is its house-roasted beans – which are conveniently available for purchase and well-suited for the chillier winter months.
Reichenberger Straße 101, 10999 Berlin, T 030 9608 1527, www.fiveelephant.com, Mon – Fri, 8:30 – 19, Sat – Sun, 10 – 19
It is no exaggeration to say that bread is the staff of life in Germany, and although the recent organic health-food renaissance may make whole grain bread seem like a recent phenomenon, it clearly is not. This wholesome, dense bread dates back to the time of the Gauls and Visigoths and has withstood repeated modern efforts to refine it. The tradition continues today at bakeries like Soluna Brot und Öl.
Owner Peter Klann is a baker of the old world. His Kreuzberg-based bakery’s wood-oven stone near the entrance hints at the quality of loaves that rise here, luring customers in with the yeasty aroma of freshly baked bread. The shop offers a range of traditional German style brots as well as some foreign-inspired starches, such as Ligurian Olive Bread or the traditional French baguette. There are also house-made spreads (known as pistes), cheeses, cured meats, leberwurst, and other amiable bread companions available for purchase.
Gneisenaustr. 58, 10961 Berlin, T 030 61671191, Mon-Fri, 10 – 19, Sat 7:30 – 16, Sun 10 – 16