Tuesday, 31 January 2012


The Oscar nominations are in, the Berlinale kicks off in ten days. Time to eat, live and breathe film for a few weeks. Last Friday we saw The Artist at Cinestar Original im Sony Center – the French, silent, black-and-white film that has enticed film critics everywhere. We, too, liked it: it was a great feel-good film that had us forget about everything else for 100 minutes. And the dog is fantastic! Today it was a whole different story as we viewed Kriegerin, a German film that came out in January, at Hackesche Höfe Kino in Mitte. It's the final project or thesis project by director David Wnendt, that describes the neo-nazi scene in Brandenburg, just outside Berlin. I found the film interesting, a little naive, and the cast of young actresses was amazing – definitively the German film to see this year. As a new Berliner and foreigner, it's indeed interesting to gain insight to the hate and violence brewing in the "suburbs" – something you luckily aren't faced with in central Berlin. The dialogue wasn't hard to follow and the story wasn't complicated, so Kriegerin can be viewed without having mad German skills.

The next film I'm looking forward to seeing is the Finnish film Iron Sky, about space nazis, that premieres at Berlinale 2012 in the Panorama Special series.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

French vegan brunch in Friedrichshain

Friedrichshain has finally gotten a vegan brunch option – to my knowledge its first one! French café Ohlàlà on Mainzer Straße began serving a weekly Saturday vegan brunch today: think croissants, crepes and mini quiches (€9.90). I emailed for a reservation and was lucky to get a cancellation spot for the one o'clock seating, and so L and I got the opportunity to try the novelty of French vegan cuisine ahead of the curve.

The difference to the typical Berliner breakfast is the multitude of sweet things and the lack of fresh greens – in one end of the counter I spotted a salad of fresh fruit and in the other end a bowl of carrots julienne. Our favourites were the mini crêpes, the cup cakes (the pink ones and the peanut butter ones) and the Pain Perdu (french toast). On the savoury side the seductive mini quiches in four different flavours stole my heart – no wonder that they kept running out! I pigged out on croissants, pain au chocolat, bread, crêpes and cup cakes, so by the time I made it to the other end of the counter I had very little appetite left for main courses. Maybe that's why I found the garlicky and vinegary bean salad the tastiest? For the shepherd's pie-like hachis parmentier and the two stews (ratatouille and creamy mushroom ragout, blanquette de "veax") were less interesting than any of the breakfast items.

With a bowl of café au lait (of soy milk), a big apfelschorle the brunch cost €14.10 – a reasonable price.

Friday, 13 January 2012

The vote is cast

We had the privilege to vote in the Finnish Presidential election today. I had two excellent candidates to choose from, the Green party candidate and the Left party candidate. Hopefully one of them will make it to the second round! Then it's another trip to the Nordische Botschaften and another vote to cast in three weeks.

I've tried to make this week fun and sociable. On Monday I met with S at Kaufbar – or Weinbar, as I now like to call it – and we had a lovely chat about the holidays, about work and about them hopefully moving nearer to us, yay! On Tuesday I met the more and more pregnant S and hung-over C for breakfast before work: the best way to start any day is in good company with good coffee and a proper gossip at our favourite breakfast spot, Orange... On Wednesday I had a mozzarella baguette and a tandem meet with K, my colleague who's learning Finnish. We discussed her best friends' break-up, we read a Nora Roberts romance novel and I complained at length about how I'm dreading next week when we have to deal with a deadline simultaneously as a fashion fair. Finally, today, Friday the 13th, I picked up E from her shared office space for a little bite to eat, well deserved weinschorles and a good catching up session at Russian restaurant Datcha. Next week is going to be absolutely horrible. Now I'm prepared.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Happy New Year

2012 was welcomed from our friends' balcony, watching the ceaseless fireworks around Frankfurter Tor.

We flew back to Berlin earlier on New Year's Eve, carrying overweight luggage and dodging fire crackers thrown carelessly to the street from balconies or passersby. We were welcomed home by R and E, who we staid at our's for a few days while we were away. They made us warm minttukaakaos (hot chocolate with mint liqueur). Risking our lives, it felt like, we ventured out to the streets of Friedrichshain to have pizza at S' flat before going to the New Year's party. Tired and happy to be home and see all of our friends, we didn't last longer than 3am before we walked home, feeling sorry for R and E who had a transatlantic flight to catch at 10 the next morning...

Tips for buying presents in Berlin

Buying heaps of presents at once, like at Christmas, isn't always easy or fun. We got really excited to bring home carefully selected organic, fair trade and even raw chocolates from Bitterveld in Prenzlauer Berg. The most interesting – and delicious – chocolate we bought was their self manufactured goat's milk chocolate, flavoured with blood orange.

At Vom Fass you can buy oils, vinegars, wines and spirits "vom Fass", i.e. on tap. We chose cool, old fashioned looking bottles and wrapped up Scottish and Irish single malt whiskies as Christmas presents – they were a hit!

Christmas, and having survived it

December was more eventful than my blogging would let on. Or my lack of writing really shows how little time I had to sit down and sort my head and my photo archives. After family visits from my dad and my best friend's parents, E's mom came to Berlin to celebrate her E's 30th birthday. We had an office Christmas party on December 8th – that got a bit out of hand on my part: I can't even remember A coming to walk me home – a work month from hell. I was super happy to get away from it all and go home to Finland for Christmas. Of course that wasn't so calm or relaxing either, but I didn't think about work, we didn't party much and we got to hang out with family and friends. We got so many Christmas presents that we had to leave a few things behind and collect them when we visit next time. A lot of books, mostly, and I got my eighth and ninth pair of knitted socks and unfortunately we got some useless crap too, like a pair of salt and pepper shakers shaped like a superhero cat and dog. And now we are really happy to be home :)

I don't buy wrapping paper but wrap my presents with recycled paper instead. This year I also learned a few origami foldings to make the presents a bit more fun.

Santa delivered our presents in person.

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