Three weeks ago I moved into a new flat in Prenzlauer Berg, ending an era characterized by junkies smoking heroin in my stairwell and a fruit fly infested kitchen that was rarely usable. I’ll admit that I will miss some things about living at Kottbusser Tor — namely that nothing was more than a 20 minute bike ride away and the really great wine shop next door – but in the end my desire to increase my proximity to the crunchy like-minded folks of PBerg and the businesses that cater to them won out. I remember I used to think it was so uncool to live in Prenzlauer Berg because of all the married people and babies. I wanted nothing more than to live close to the hippest bars and clubs that Berlin has to offer. But you know what? I just don’t give a shit anymore. I want to live somewhere clean, safe and with easy access to yuppie amenities. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m not cool anymore. Better to leave the party early than to be the last one there amirite?
My first weekend living in Prenzlauer Berg, I had the quintessential Prenzlauer Berg Saturday morning. I met Tanya for yoga in the morning and then afterwards we got cold-pressed juice at Daluma and walked up the hill towards the farmers’ market at Kollwitzplatz. There it was — the most shamelessly yuppie farmers’ market I’ve ever seen on this side of the Atlantic. I could hardly contain myself as I perused the stands offering fresh produce, organic soap and alternative foodstuffs. I only had 10 Euros on me, but managed to spend all of it on an avocado, blackberries, and a very promising trio of fresh herbs – flat leaf parsley, chives and dill. I didn’t have anything specific in mind for the herbs, just the inexplicable urge to take them home with me.
A few days later, I hosted my very first dinner party at the apartment, with Steph, Phuong and Sonni. We didn’t have a table yet so we ate off the floor. I made a variation on what used to be my favorite weeknight dinner to make with Nina back when we lived across the street from each other in San Francisco and used to have The Glee Project viewing parties. Roast chicken legs and a salad made of little gems, radishes and tomatoes, dressed with lemon juice and fresh herbs, most importantly dill. This was during a time when Nina and I were adding dill to everything. The SF version had ricotta salata. For the Berlin version I used feta, which is more widely available. That night I also added fresh corn and avocado to the salad because they happened to have it at Lidl, but it’s also great without. The savoriness of the dill makes this salad so satisfying, even as an entree. I could eat it all day. I’ve already made it two more times since then. No apologies about writing a salad post. This is a recipe that friends have already asked for and made themselves. There’s a lot of chopping involved but I don’t even bother making a vinaigrette for this one. I just toss it with olive oil and lemon right before serving.
A quick note on how to rinse lettuce properly, which I learned from watching Julia and Jacques. I go through the following steps every time I make salad, because there’s nothing worse than biting into a soggy salad or a salad that still has grit in it.
- Remove the salad leaves and put into a big bowl. Fill the bowl with water.
- Soak the lettuce in the water to let any dirt or sediments fall to bottom.
- Transfer the leaves to a colander using your hands, i.e. lifting the leaves out and putting them into the colander rather than just pouring the entire contents of the bowl into the colander. (This dumps the dirt that’s fallen to the bottom back onto the leaves, defeating the purpose of the first step.
- Shake the leaves around in the colander to remove any excess water. Remove the leaves and set them on cloth kitchen towels. Gently pat the leaves dry with the kitchen towels and set aside until ready to use.