dimanche 28 février 2010

Sundays past and present plus tiramisù for the Daring Bakers

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.

16 commentaires:

  1. Great shots of Berlin, as usual! Your Tiramisu looks luscious!



  2. Yes, there is definitely this little something in the air... could it be spring?
    Beautiful tiramisu!

  3. Ici il y a un beau soleil après la tempête ; ça n'empêche pas d'avoir encore envie de chocolat chaud, et de tiramisu (je pars très bientôt pour l'Italie !). Bises.

  4. Oh my God, I can't wait! I KNOW this tiramisu will land on my plate on Saturday night and I'm so eager... Johannes too by the way!

    I think I'd rather ask personal questions, so I will ask them live :)

    There is something really sad about Berlin sometimes : the way people come and go... I lost so many dear friends that way... we know they won't be back before long - or maybe they will never return. It makes me think of Virginia Woolf's "Mrs Dalloway", when the old friend from the past suddenly shows up, carrying loads of romantic and painful memories with him...

  5. As you get older, you hold old friends dearer. And memories. Such pleasure in memories. But never to the exclusion of today.
    I live now in such a transient state. Florida. People come and go. Few people were born here (my daughter was but not my sons)and many people only live here part of the year. An odd life.

    Anyway...I watch the Daring Bakers and enjoy their results. Yours looks divine, Vanessa! Excellent work and no doubt enjoyed enormously by your guests!

  6. I can also share the sadness of seeing friends leave, move back home. Part of the expat life, I guess. That's happening to me right now. A tiramisu might be a good way to forget that for a little while :) I'm quite fond of the fruit versions in the summer (peaches and speculoos are a delight) but would enjoy the pure chocolate one right now.

  7. @Rosa - Thanks!
    @Pia - Hmm, I think we'll have to wait a bit longer for spring here, although I heard the first flowers are out already in Paris. Here we have rain and 5°C but it's better than ice.
    @Rose - Ah, tu me donnes envie de repartir pour l'Italie - quelle chance! Bon voyage alors et j'attend ton billet la-dessus avec impatience. Bises.
    @Magda - Oh, I hope the next one will be as good as the first but it's good you're so keen. I'm so excited about Saturday already.
    Personal questions - oh la la!
    Yes, as great as Berlin is, it's also a city of transitions and changes which can be sad sometimes. I've only ever seen the film of Mrs Dalloway, although funnily I was looking at in in a bookshop the other day so you made me want to read Virgina Woolf at last (I've just read the diaries).
    @Barbara - It must be difficult seeing people leave. Sometimes I'm good at staying in touch with people but sometimes you lose contact and then don't know if you should make contact again after such a long time. I didn't know that about Florida, interesting. The dessert was the most popular part of the meal and made me realise that as hard as I try with salty stuff, sweet things will always be what I do best but I can live with that!
    @Julie - I've never tried a fruit tiramisù but it sounds good. It's truly one of my favourite desserts and you're right, food can be a great comfort when you feel sad or nostalgic. I know things can't stay the same forever but somehow I'd like to hold onto the moments just a litle longer.

  8. That tiramisu looks so good.

  9. Hi there! I'm a little late getting here, but the tiramisu looks great - quite photogenic, I think! Nice meeting up for treats last Sunday! Hope you've had a good week!

  10. I think you will love Mrs Dalloway. The film "The hours" was fabulous indeed. The director spoke at the Berlinale Talent Campus. He's "spannend" as they say here :)

  11. What a lovely writer you are! I just clicked over from the Wednesday Chef out of interest as I also live in a German speaking country (Austria)though I'm a Kiwi. I'm also a great reader too and will go to almost any lengths to procure time to myself to do so. I'm reading The Dubliners at the moment...Are you on Goodreads.com?

  12. @Des - Thanks a lot. It was difficult to get any decent shots of it but it tasted great.
    @Rebecca - It was lovely meeting up with you last weekend. Hope you're well and that we can do it again soon.
    @Magda - Stephen Daldry is such a great director and I agree with you that what he does is spannend. Mrs Dalloway's next on the list after Persuasion. A never ending pile of books is growing higher and higher.
    @Sasa - Thanks so much for your nice comment, I'm really touched. It's great to meet other readers and I don't know what I'd do without books. I've only ever read extracts from Dubliners but I should get myself a copy and also look into goodreads.com.

  13. Voilà un superbe tiramisu, et quelques images de Berlin qui m'enchantent, comme à chaque fois que je passe chez toi ! Pour ce qui est des questions, aucune à poser. Je te laisserai nous dévoiler ce que tu penses être "dévoilable" sur ton blog au fil des années ... oui, oui, des années ... puisque j'espère bien que ce premier anniversaire ne sera que le premier d'une longue série ! Grosses bises à toi, donc, et à bientôt.

  14. Merci Hélène pour ton commentaire adorable qui me rend super contente! J'admire tant ce que tu fais. J'espère aussi pouvoir continuer ce blog longtemps; au début, je n'imaginais pas que je ferais autant de choses dans un an et puis cela me donne du courage d'essayer de nouvelles recettes. Bon dimanche!

  15. Beautiful shot! And oh so yummy looking dishes.

  16. Thanks a lot, I'm so glad you like my post.