The rain had stopped by the time I left the underground. It had been falling steadily all afternoon but the sound of it against the window only made me happier to be inside with my book of the moment that I can't stop reading and a large mug of English breakfast tea. Near Nollendorfplatz, everything seemed strangely empty, just a few couples or families enjoying the rest of a grey afternoon under a dramatic sky. I had been there many times before, once on a rainy day looking for Christopher Isherwood's apartment in one of the streets with their solid, beautiful apartment buildings with balconies and then another time to meet Abbie on a bright summer's day touched with sadness because she was leaving Berlin. Now the snow has melted, there is the constant crunch of gravel on the pavements after months of gritting. Pushing open the door of Albrecht's where I was to meet a fellow Berlin blogger, the tiny café was busy with children playing in a corner, friends talking softly over large cups of coffee, and others who sat quietly reading, savouring sandwiches or delicious pastries. The white walls contrasted with the red of the cushions and the floral patterning of the sofas. Absorbed in conversation and comforted by the chocolatiest hot chocolate and the most delicate pastries, the evening fell and the other customers left unnoticed.
I thought back to other Sundays when I was still new in Berlin and spent most of my time with a group of expats. We would take the S-Bahn home after a long night out, glancing at the faces of those around us. Some of them were also finally on their way to bed while others were up early to enjoy the freshness of the morning when everything is so quiet. We would sleep until midday when the sun crept in through the cracks in the curtains and the light hurt our eyes and we finally decided to go out for brunch and café au lait. People that were part of my everyday life have now faded from view. I wonder if they remember these times with as much fondness as I do, if they ever long to return to Berlin, if we will ever meet again.
After the snow, there's a different feel to the city. A colleague of mine told me that for the first time in ages, she could smell the freshness in the air. Looking back at photos from last year made me impatient to rediscover the colour and inspiration of spring again.
Last but not least, it's time to unveil my creation for February for the Daring Bakers. After I missed last month's challenge, I was determined to be more disciplined and was delighted when I saw that I had to make one of my favourite desserts: tiramisù. It was extra special because some of the readers of this blog got to try it for themselves and it turned out to be a huge success. Just one point: this was not my most photogenic dessert. Putting together the different elements took some preparation so I ended up doing it late at night which made taking pictures impossible and then there was only a small amount of the finished tiramisù leftover from my dinner party. Making the different elements - ladyfinger biscuits, mascarpone, zabaglione, vanilla cream - was fairly straightforward though and I felt pleased that my very first attempt at making this wonderful dessert went so well.
The February 2010 Daring Bakers' Challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose tiramisù as the challenge of the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from the Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession. Thanks to Aparna and Deeba for a great choice. You can find the entire recipe on Rosa's wonderful blog which is always worth visiting in any case.
Next Sunday will be a special day for me because my little blog will be one year old! So I'd like to invite you to ask me some questions. If there's anything you've ever wanted to know about me (not TOO personal please!), just leave me a comment or write me an email by next Saturday night. I'll do my best to answer them all.