photo: Gene Glover
Our new guest author Anabel will share her Berlin discoveries with you every once in a while. Follow her stroll through the concrete jungle.
Around Christmas time this city is known to be almost void of people: most Berliners-by-choice are drawn out of the urban scapes. The few souls remaining can, for once, feel like Will Smith in “I Am Legend.” Without the zombies, of course – but with tons of golden lametta.
“Suddenly the city feels like a small, cozy village,” remarked a friend the other day; she’s a Berliner born and raised. “That’s when, after a year of silence, you call each other and say: Hey, want to get out?” Well, and then? “And then you hop outside and walk through the deserted streets together.”
What a wonderful idea. I’ll do that, too! Berlin – just for myself. But – as usual – I’ll need a mission: With peace of mind I’ll casually stroll along Schöneberg’s secret chocolate mile! Three chocolate stores and me – all by myself. Could there be a nicer Christmas gift to myself? I want to wallow in a thousand tiny colourful chocolate bits!
My first stop is the Chocolaterie Estrellas at Akazienstr. 21. How often have I passed it by? Today I finally have time for a visit. I eagerly open the door to the small place: it smells like – surprise! – chocolate. And, unexpectedly, spices. A tidy, orderly place. And somehow there is an air of Asian-ness about it all: the most eye-catching piece of the store is the massive wooden cupboard covered in red, incomprehensible signs. Each of the 45 drawers has been labelled carefully. “Rose Chocolate,” it says on one of the tags. Yet before I can even ask about the strange combination of Asia and chocolate I am silenced. No time.
A glimpse into the open kitchen tells me why: people are busily manufacturing things. Not even for one tiny question a moment can be spared. “I’d rather you came back in January,” I am told. I am further informed that I’d obviously hit the worst imaginable point in time, which in turn only occurred once a year. The fact that my blog review is to appear in December does not change any minds. “I guess you’ll just have to accept it.” My formerly melting chocolate heart has effectively cooled. Sweet sensuality is not palpable here – but I assume the chocolate must be good, as the staff is obviously drowning in orders. The lady no longer bothers with me. I am puzzled. Alright then… I guess I’ll leave?
This has not been chocolate, this has been broccoli – and I am definitely not up for two further experiences of this kind. But of course all good things come in threes, and after all I’ve been planning on claiming the abandoned streets of Berlin. I thus drag myself hesitantly to the next stop: Mamsell Schokoladen at Goltzstr. 48. Here, submerged in a pink aura, the staff is busy, too. But smilingly so – even during the stressful pre-Christmas days. Immediately I am welcomed with warmth, and start unfreezing on the spot. I am surrounded by carefully arranged bowls filled to the top with all types of rare chocolate varieties; every corner of the place sparkles. What a mood booster!
Apart from its homemade hot chocolate, Mamsell is famous for their “Kalter Hund” cake – in all conceivable flavors. Plum, marzipan, lime, or caramel – whatever the heart desires, for 2,30 EUR. And just as my little chocolate heart is swooshed with a surge of euphoria I discover it: the cabinet of wonder. In a small back room I am presented with all kinds of glittery sweet inedibles: here you can buy pretty etageres for, say, cupcakes. Butter dishes made of glass, delicate jewellery, colourful plates, and even a Christmas bulb featuring Mary’s highly pregnant belly – each centimetre is used. I do not want to leave. I like it here.
But unfortunately afternoons don’t last all day – and I eventually have to move on to my personal highlight of the Schöneberger chocolate mile: the Winterfeldt Schokoladen at Goltzstr. 23. In this former pharmacy that was literally built in the next-to-last century – now of course listed and protected – chocolate has probably crept into every crack in the polished wood of the beautiful counter. Wherever you look there are pralines, all sorts of neatly wrapped bites, any kind of cocoa percentage you might want. Macaroons, cake, scones – and even chocolate that camouflages as salami or cuban cigars.
Those happy to try out something new will perhaps go for the Spanish, Dutch, or even Aztec hot chocolates. I, however, indulge my soul (as every so often!) in my beloved “marocchino:” a magical little cup full of melted chocolate, liquified with a steaming shot of espresso, and topped off with a spoonful of milk foam sprinkled with cocoa powder. This is even served with a chocolate covered almond that has been powdered with – you name it – cocoa (yes, again). I mean – a piece of heaven for 2 EUR in Berlin? I’m staying!
photo: Gene Glover
The verdict is decided: Mission accomplished despite initial difficulties. Happy and sugary I am beginning my stroll homewards. Outside the roads are empty and it’s already beginning to get dark. Despite the marocchino energy boost I immediately grow tired again – and there’s only one remedy: Wrapped in my Norwegian wool blanket I will spend a nice couch evening watching a sentimental movie – backed up with a nice cup of hot chilli chocolate, of course. Winter, here I come!
Anabel is an immigrated Appenzeller girl in her twenties. She’s a student of North American studies in Berlin, works as a newsletter writer for a museum in Mitte. In her free-time she loves to roam about the city to discover its marvels. Her blog documents her often curious findings in photographs, but most importantly it contains many little anecdotes about life as someone coming from the equally strange other side of the fence