Sunday’s are interesting days in Germany. The shops are generally closed in a wonderful traditional move. People are out on the streets though – tourists, families, young groups of friends alike. This weekend in Berlin it is encouraged by a street theatre festival as well as the usual buskers and museum attractions.
After a huge breakfast buffet we headed east again – this time to Warschaustrasse which is a great area of urban regeneration. Alongside the rail tracks are a series of warehouse buildings and remains of warehouse buildings. First up is Suicide Circus – a warren of spaces which make a weird club playing electro and trance. Outside is a photo booth which has a queue of people. Taking old school strips of photos is a Berlin ‘thing’ apparently. Further along is one of many Sunday flea markets selling the things we threw away thing less than ten years ago (battered Houses Of The Holy on vinyl for €25!). Finally we get to Haubtauchen which is another Berlin ‘thing’ – a club at night but a lounge during the day complete with swimming pool an DJ. Surrounded by crumbling warehouse walls is a decked area, beautiful pool with loungers, deckchairs, a beach volleyball court and lots of beautiful people. It was great to spend a few hours in a little sun trap with a nice relaxed environment.
From there we went to the Alexanderplatz. This is just up from the old East Berlin ‘Red’ City Hall. It has spectacular vistas of brutal 1950s design which are being slowly Westernised while maintaining their power. From a nearby tall hotel people intermittently throw themselves off the top in a BASE jumping attraction. On the square is a large street entertainment festival with loads of craft and street food stalls. The oddest of souvenir stalls sell Russian and East German wartime caps and, bizarrest of all, gas masks.
We are here for the TV tower which looks malignantly over all of this. Visible from the whole of Berlin it rises out of a star shaped brutalist base. When the sun glints on the orb at the top it reflects a cross across the city. We bought a premium ticket and I still am not quite sure what we got for it other than a few queue jumps. The lift takes you up to the viewing platform which gives spectacular views of the city as well as a terrifying view straight down. You can see the old Tempelhof air field from here. We were pleasantly surprised that you can still buy a Diet Coke, an Earl Grey tea and a hot chocolate for just over €10 up here.
I walked back across the city along Unter den Linden and saw Marx and Engels Forum with Karl Marx’s gleaming bronze toes worn through either kissing or sitting. Just further along is the huge Berlin Cathedral with masses of people outside as the bells called the worshippers to prayer. Karl was right because, on this straw poll of Cathedral vs Marx and Engels Forum, religion is the opium of the people.
Close to the Brandenburg Gate, close to the Bundestag, were the major British, Russian, American and French fortress embassies. Skirting round the edge of the Tiergarten are some elegantly designed new little fortresses representing Saudi Arabia, South Korea, India and Japan. The park itself offers a cool respite although my feet were shouting at me by this stage.
After a short respite we went out to Mitten by U-Bahn. This is residential district of quiet side streets interspersed with restaurants. We were here to visit the excellent Katz Orange. First impressions are sensational as it is set in a small courtyard with lighting which shows off the architecture. There are tabes outside on a warm night but the place is busy and so we have a table upstairs. It’s all lovely. Our table for three has nice lighting, an enormous chandelier, a moodily lit bar and mixed scatter cushions along a bench at the back of the tables. The menu is very interesting with some good local produce, interesting ingredients and food combinations. We opted for the house special slow cooked pork served with a lemon goats cheese cream and picked some taboulleh and fries sides. To start the evening were some excellent cocktails. My Thyme For Tea was fabulous gin and berries with a hint of thyme.
The pork was sensational though. It was served in three large hunks in a cast iron skillet. It was meltingly tender and flaked like cod. It was full of favour and was quite simply the best pork dish I have ever had. It was served with lemon garlic yoghurt. The house special has a top up if you want and so we all had some more. The fries were cooked in goose fat and were well seasoned as well as being plentiful and crunchy. The taboulleh was brimming with herbs which had been very finely chopped or even blended through the bulgur wheat and it made a nice contrast.
The desserts were also good. The lavender cheesecake with salted caramel ice cream and peaches had a beautifully thin pastry and not too much lavender. The fondant was a reinvented one with a base of gooey chocolate, a layer of strawberry and then a creamy top with pine nuts. I would heartily recommend Katz Orange anywhere in the world.