What a day! It is 18 April, and today would have been my mother’s 91st birthday, had she lived a little longer. A couple of people remembered, and this sweet posy quite filled me with love.
I think mother must have sprinkled a bit of stardust down on me on her birthday, because today everything in my life went oh-so-right. Firstly, Paul and I went ‘shopping’ with a list of ‘wants’ ranging from pernod to pants to chickpeas to espadrilles to a new German bank manager at the sign of the Blue Bear --... and we trudged home, after a long day punctuated by a neat currywurst at Deponie, ‘underneath the arches’, with four bulging bags and, amazingly, total success! Where had we found everything that I needed? No. Not in the Friedrichstrasse and Unter den Linden (currently ‘under repair’) but at the marvellous shopping complex at Gesundbrunnen: two S-Bahn stops from my flat!
So, I’m sitting here in my new beige slacks (29 euros, and much nicer than the Grace Brothers one I paid double for 10 years ago), and my nifty new black espadrilles (At 5 euros, 1/3 the price of Dunkerque) with a sightly breached bottle of pernod (13 euros, not on special this week) … I slip on a 40 year-old Pierre Cardin shirt, and what to do but … go out for dinner!
The Katz Orange is two minutes away, hidden at the back of a quaint old courtyard in the Bergstrasse. If you didn’t know it was there … well, I didn’t. But a few nights ago we rendez-voused with Thomas H at the Alpenstück, and after dinner he took us on a little tour of the neighbourhood, pausing at a couple of places-we-should-know for nightcaps. One was the restaurant Pauly, a very smart place in the old Jewish school and quarter, the other was this marmalade cat.
The folk were charming, the whisky was excellent, the venue delightful, so the next night, being disengaged, I decided to pop in there for a little light supper. Since it was doing a good imitation of a balmy spring eve, I sat outside (mistake: people smoked while I was eating) and ordered a bloody Mary. First class. I asked sternly if the saddle of lamb was rare … what a fool! Gänzl, can’t you tell class when you see it? Out came the softest, pinkest, crustiest piece of lamb this New Zealander has eaten in years, with a delicious bean puree and pear chutney ... grand, grand food. I repaired to the bar (away from the smokers) and promptly ordered another Bloody Mary. When Thomas dubbed this his favourite restaurant, he knew a thing or two! As I departed, I said ‘see you tomorrow’.
I bet they didn’t think they would.
But at 7pm tonight, Paul and I rolled up (I believe in sharing good things!), after our triumphant day’s shopping and a suitable rest … We elected for ‘inside’ this time, and mounted the stairs to a delightfully quaint old room with a little table for two at the very centre. And things just got better and better …
To start with, a God’s Sake apiece. Bloody Mary is about the only cocktail I know (exceedingly well!), so this mixture of gin, saké, ginger, rice et al was an experience. Most agreeable. Then a starter … oh no, when a restaurant is this good, no one-course dashes! Paul had a very superior Sweet Potato soup (with cashews, prawn and passion fruit!), I decided on a dish I knew nothing of. What is char? I thought it was a bit of funny Google translation (like ‘lamb’s lettuce’ for ‘mâche’), but no, it’s a delicate tasting fish of – I think -- the salmon/trout variety here served with ‘gin infused cucumber’ (de-licious), kohlrabi and … well, I’m simply going to have to have it again to identify all the ingredients! Nothing could be better.
Well, it could, actually. For our main course we shared a marvellous piece of 12-hour slow roasted pork, with a little potato cabbage and onions and the ubiquitous (hurrah!) cucumber. Add a glass of nice Burgundy …
This was a Very Superior Meal. Very. ‘International’, of course, rather than strictly ‘German’, but in any case certainly the best meal I have ever eaten in Germany. And the place is only a hop, skip and pirouette from my front door!
Oh! Thomas! What have you done … warn my new bank-manager! Actually, the prices are not extravagant. For the two meals and our drinks (plus tip), the bill came to 130 euros.
Can the Pauly restaurant come up to this? Can anyone? Well, we’ll see. But first I’ve got a weekend of opera, and PGB is back in town … more serious fooding will have to wait a few days!