As the Food Keeper grows, we’re delighted to introduce a new section to the fold: an ongoing ‘Guides’ series, in which we ask creative minds to share recommendations for places within an area they know well – either geographical or subject-based. The common thread linking the tips to come in this section is places, organisations and businesses that nourish – whether that be the taste buds, the body, or the creative spirit.

As the tastemaker behind the popular lifestyle blog Stil in Berlin, Mary Scherpe is a stalwart of Berlin’s burgeoning food scene – and as such, a natural first protagonist for our ‘Guides’ series. Since we profiled her in 2017, Mary has gone from strength to strength running the Feminist Food Club, organizing her annual ‘Warm Up’ winter clothing donation drives for refugees, and of course, sharing her take on the latest openings all around town. It’s her Kiez (or neighborhood) in Kreuzberg, however, that she’s particularly fond of. On a sunny spring morning, we meet Mary at Baerwaldbrücke for a stroll along the willow-draped banks of the canal, down through the idyllic Graefekiez and on to Maybachufer, stopping off at a few favorite spots along the way. As we walk, she sheds light on what gives this corner of town its distinct vibrancy, and shares six tips for making the most of its diverse natural, culinary, and cultural delights.

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“I’ve been in Berlin for 16 years, but only in Kreuzberg for the past four. I moved here from Mitte as I knew I wanted to have a dog, and to be close to a place where there’s greenery and parks. I also wanted to live in a ‘50s or ‘60s Neubau (new building). Before the Second World War, this part of town was super busy, and home to a lot of people. It was also a center for commercial and industrial production—that’s why places like Ritterstrasse were bombed especially heavily. When it was rebuilt, planners reimagined how a city would work. I was always drawn to the energy of Kreuzberg, as the part of Berlin with the most sustainable, left-leaning politics. It’s a very historically-significant district, with old roots interwoven with a lot of new influences. The same goes for the food scene here.”

Landwehrkanal – Baerwaldbrücke

“The Landwehrkanal is my main dog walking route. We don’t have a lot of water in Berlin. This is the city’s second biggest waterway, after the Spree River, and it’s very important for Kreuzberg’s landscape, with its greenery and walking paths. I enjoy it even more when the weather’s bad, as it’s a lot quieter. I think that green spaces are so important in cities, but people don’t always respect them enough. We’re all very focused on consuming them and enjoying them, but not enough people are working on preserving them. Everyone loves the Landwehrkanal as you can see it’s so pretty, and you can spend time by the water, but no one seems to care about how much trash they leave there, or where they lie down, and what kind of influence they have. Which is such a shame. We have to take more responsibility for sustaining things, not just consuming them.”

Prinzenstraße 5, 10969 Berlin
berlin.de/sehenswuerdigkeiten/5321177-3558930-landwehrkanal.html

 

Modulor

“Speaking of consuming… Modulor is a trap. It used to be a really narrow, dark store close to Südstern, now they have four times the amount of stuff. They have all these things you never knew you needed, and the staff are also really nice. Often, when you go to, say, a Baumarkt (DIY store) or a bike repair store, you have to know what you’re looking for before you enter, and then the staff are just there to spot the gaps in your knowledge. But that’s not the case here. They have these tables displaying merchandise when you first enter, which make you go ‘Oh, maybe I do need this cable organizer-slash-pocket knife!’ Whenever I have a minimal craft project or shoot coming up, I come to Modulor for supplies, which naturally leads me to the paper department. They have so many different kinds of paper. And then there are all the foils which I especially love.”

Prinzenstraße 85, 10969 Berlin
modulor.de/en

 

Albatross Bread & Goods

“Albatross used to have a tiny bakery at Görlitzer Park, which was only open on Sundays, and they’d deliver to cafés all around town. There was a time when every hip café in town served  Albatross sourdough. I think I first had one of their pastries at Isla. Then they opened here in Graefekiez, which is perfect from a practical perspective, because it’s on my way home from the market at Südstern. Four years ago we didn’t have a lot of sourdough bread in Berlin. Though, of course, there are other types of bread! I’m very German, and I buy my bread once a week. Albatross’ bread keeps really well, which I appreciate. Their pastries—especially the one topped with thin slices of apple—are really good, as are their cakes. I like that they have such a high standard, which is impressive for such a young business. I think the challenge for them now will be to make it a sustainable business. What’s it going to look like in a year? Can they stay creative, and keep the quality given the demand? It’s going to be really interesting to see how they evolve.”

Graefestrasse 66/67, 10967 Berlin
facebook.com/albatrossberlin

 

Wochenmarkt at Südstern

“As a dog owner, outdoor markets are extremely practical, as I can take my dog shopping with me. The weekly Saturday market at Südstern just happens to be within walking distance from where I live. It’s quite small, but it has everything I need—a vegetable and fruit stall that only sells what the farmers grow in Brandenburg, which is handy, as you know everything is fresh and seasonal. There’s a bread stall by the Soluna around the corner, a couple of food stalls, good cheese from Peppi Käse in Neukölln, and a flower stall—everything you need. It’s a nice opportunity to meet regional farmers, and to buy from them directly. I love farmer’s markets, and I also like to visit them when I’m in other cities—though it’s hard then, because I can’t buy the vegetables! In Berlin, I don’t go with a shopping list—I guess I’m too lazy to write shopping lists and do meal prep. I also eat out a lot, so if I’m cooking at home, it usually involves something like chopping up fennel to dip in sauce.”

Saturdays 10.00-16.00, Südstern 1, 10961 Berlin
visitberlin.de/en/neuer-markt-sudstern

 

Okay Café

“Okay Café is run by a young Swedish woman, Marie-Louise ‘Makki’ Crona. They have good coffee, and a great selection of cakes, many of which are gluten free or vegan. All the food is vegetarian, but it’s not presented in that way—they just don’t use any meat in their menus. The atmosphere is really good, quite relaxed—which is important to me. There don’t have to be any frills. It’s hard enough to establish a café where the food is consistently good. Okay serves really good breakfasts and brunches. You can get an excellent omelette with goat’s cheese, you can get a grilled cheese, you can get grilled brioche with spinach and a poached egg on top. Once a year, they offer a Swedish tradition called semla, a traditional pastry served on the last day before fasting season. It’s a cardamom bun, filled with marzipan and topped with whipped cream. They’re so popular that there are queues out the door, so they often extend the days they serve them on.”

Pflügerstraße 68, 12047 Berlin
okay-cafe.com
Read The Food Keeper’s profile on Maki here:http://www.thefoodkeeper.com/marie-louise-crona/

 

Lasan

“Lasan has my favorite falafel in Berlin. I first got to know this Iraqi-Kurdish place through the tandoor bakery the owners used to have on Kottbusser Damm, with this round clay oven, in which they make fresh tandoor bread. The bakery has now changed hands, but there’s also a tandoor oven at Lasan, at Kottbusser Tor. That bread—fluffy, slightly charred—and the falafel, plus this one kind of spicy sauce they have there, called ‘Lasan’ sauce, are the reasons why I come here. You can have a falafel or haloumi plate or a sandwich, or a biriyani—which I’ve yet to try. You always get some soup, and there’s fresh ayran. The falafel are golf ball-sized, freshly deep fried, and they have coriander pods in the crust. Get them, plus some hummus, and some salad, and the Lasan sauce, if you like it spicy. There’s a terrace you can sit on, and they’re super nice. It’s a very easy place to be, and I just really like their food.”

Adalbertstraße 96, 10999 Berlin
lasan-restaurant.de
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