I have a plan… that’s right mofos, a PLAN. Bigger than Stan, tastier than flan, meet my new exciting Plan; Gooooooo plan! Like most top inventors, my flash of genius came to me in the bath. Day two of last week’s trip to Berlin and in addition to getting clean, I was having a mull over all the foodstuffs I had gobbled in the past 48 hours. With a list nearly as long as Bruce Forsyth, it dawned on me just how much I have in common with the average sheep. That is when placed in pastures new, we like to eat our way around them.
I start to think about how great it would be if, every time I was to jet away on a getaway (or should that be put-away, seriously its like I don’t come up for air) I would first glue a knife and fork to my fists. Then, just like Edward Scissor Hands, who was perma-poised to cut excellent topiary, Jessie Forky Hands would be perma-poised to attack the culinary delights of foreign lands. There and then. Large and in charge. Stainless steel limb extensions glinting in the midday sun.
As the bathwater begins to go cold, so does my plan. Particularly when I remember that possessing hands means I am already naturally perma-poised to attack the culinary delights of foreign lands without any need for cutlery at all. With the likelihood of Duncan Bannatyne weeping at my feet over the untold beauty of my business acumen diminishing by the second, I decide to cheer myself up with giant slabs of cake at Café Bravo. And no, since you ask, I did not utilise their elegant cutlery and my favourite red hair band to try and create Jessie Forky Hands under the table, just to see what she’d be like. No siree. Not at all.
Who did I take for cake? Dolf, a most excellent travel companion
What did we talk about? Snow, art, leopard print beds, squats, sandwiches
The damage? 12 euros
Located in the courtyard of Kunst-Werke, Berlin’s Institute of Contemporary Art, Café Bravo is uber-modern, uber-stylish and made entirely of glass (naturally). Turns out it’s quite hard to find a glass door in a glass wall and so the café’s achingly trendy patrons (of which there are many) get to watch as we shuffle around outside in the snow trying to gain entry. Ten minutes later, I am feeling as thick as the (very thick) snow but at last we make it inside. Perhaps they named it Bravo in recognition of how difficult it is to get in the darn thing. I certainly wouldn’t extend this self-congratulatory moniker to their cake.
I’m not being bitter. Ok, I admit that my day has not been the best. Not only have I been forced to suffer the goddamn biting indignity of my own hands (my own hands) shafting my one chance of riotous success, obscene wealth and name in lights (what? Jessie Forky Hands would have made a GREAT film), but I have now been forced to suffer the goddamn biting indignity of not being able to get in a door. For a long time. In front of a lot of people. I am literally willing this cake to be good. If the cake is good everything will be tickity boo once more but alas dear reader, it is not. Cafe Bravo cake may look the part, but it is as dry as bone – pure bimbo on a plate.
What did we order? Well, we went for apfelkutchen und tarte mit frischen trauben und cranberries und cappuccinos. That’s apple cake and flan with fresh grapes and cranberries and an Italian coffee drink made with hot milk and steamed-milk foam to the unacquainted. I opt for cream with my apfelkutchen and despite initial disappointment that it comes from squirty stock, it turns out to be a mouth-saver. The unwise decision to bake a very dry sponge and then scrimp on the only ingredient providing any moisture – the apple, means that without this whippy lube, little swallowing would’ve been occurrin’. It was a similar story with the flan, which unfortunately came sans creamy salvation on the side.
We could’ve left these desert-like desserts and our saliva glands would’ve rejoiced but we soldier on, and not just because I can’t remember how to get out again. In spite of its arid baked goods, the sharp architecture and relaxed ambience of the place means Café Bravo is definitely worth employing a bit of the old British stiff upper lip for, and besides nothing really matters on holiday does it? Keep calm and carry on, that’s what I say.
Who did I take for cake? Dolf (lucky boy)
What did we talk about? filmstars, newspapers, bad photos, ways to stay awake
The damage? 16 euros
Well what do you know? Our apple strudel looks gross and so do we. It is the evening after the night before and you are what you eat has never rang truer. Mere shadows of our former selves (former selves last seen pounding the dance floor to staggeringly loud techno at Beghain, Berlin’s supremely hedonistic nightclub, surrounded by wide-eyed club kids dressed in kaleidoscopic leotards and beefy men ½ naked and spanking one another) we arrive at Café Einstein on a mission.
Despite minimal sleep we are hell-bent on staying awake. To slip away into shuteye on our last day here seems almost disrespectful. The very least we can offer the city responsible for such a multitude of treasured memories in such a modest amount of time (5 days), is our undivided attention. Berlin, you sexy urban sprawl, I’m hanging on in there as long as I can. Sleep? Ha. I laugh at such slumber mumbo-jumbo. Who needs sleep? All together now: don’t stop me now, I’m having such a good time, I’m having a ball…
I’m also wilting. Having made it to early evening, we now require an activity that involves little effort and absolutely no intellectual clout. It needs to provide warmth (I’m freezing more bits off than I knew I had) and enough sustenance to see us through till dinner. Summoning the last of our strength we have typed ‘best ever apple strudel Berlin’ into a computer box. It recommends heading straight to Café Einstein, so here we are. At this stage in the game, it could’ve recommended heading straight to the armpit of a morbidly obese 83 year old with a yeast infection and I probably would’ve. Right now, I am happy to let the great Wide Web of the World decide my fate, anything involving having to actually make decisions myself seems evil.
Which is precisely why it is so unfair that our strudel rocks up looking as it does. I have no way of knowing whether I’m to laugh or cry at this pastry island, marooned in the midst of a neon yellow ‘vanilla cream’ sea. It looks a mess, I know that much. Not wanting to be the pot that calls the kettle black however, I dig in.
It tastes like a dream. So much so that I am moved to administer a quick pinch test, can I really still be awake? This is SO good! I inhale my share in seconds, pleased as punch with pastry that strikes just the right balance between crispy and soft and the generous coat of icing sugar. The stewed apple and raison filling and thick vanilla cream (read custard) is just so comforting. In a complete turnaround from Bravo, where the cakes looked the part but failed to deliver the goods, Einstein has produced a plate that looks minging but right now tastes almost ethereal. I can’t believe it. Nothing here is what it seems. Perhaps this is why Berlin is considered edgy.
Mission Pre-Dinner Perk-Up firmly accomplished, we head back outside to the below freezing temperatures. Bundled up in my big sheepskin coat (I TOLD you we have so much in common) with a bright red nose and sleepy eyes, I may look somewhat bedraggled but with my favourite hand entwined in mine and Einstein’s strudel in my belly, I feel anything but.