I can't explain why but somehow I'm attached to certain routines. There are Saturday mornings, waking up without the alarm clock, making myself a cup of black tea with milk in my Penguin Pride and Prejudice mug and settling down on my sofa to read for a couple of hours. Eventually though, there's a gnawing hunger which can no longer be ignored. I know it would be simpler to already have some bread and a full fridge but somehow I love the obligation of having to go out to stock up on pasta, cheese, fruit, vegetables, huge free range organic eggs and of course, a fresh loaf from the market around the corner. There's the smile of the old woman with the eggs stall, the Italian choosing the flowers who exclaims "Grazie mille"when she pays and the elegantly dressed Russian explaining why she always buys bread with sunflower seeds instead of with rye. My arm aches under the weight of the canvas shopping bag with ladybirds brought back from the UK and turning down the little street that leads to mine, I notice the red haired woman who lives in the same building with her black sausage dog. After spending far too long desperately trying to make space for everything in the fridge and the pantry, there's breakfast of sourdough bread, Apfelbrötchen (a roll with caramelised apples, totally irresistable), yoghurt and fruit followed by a few more hours on the sofa with my books.
Some polaroids from Friedrichshain.
There is the silence of Sunday mornings and a little later the ringing of the church bells close by, sometimes the pleasure of taking my time over a long brunch, perhaps at Datscha and always the afternoon walk with my camera.
A dramatic sky this morning at Warschauer Straße
Brunch at Datscha
Just as welcome though are Friday evenings after a long day which starts too early when everything is dark and cold. There's no time to eat between lessons which means that I take cake for the important hours between 10 and midday to share with happy students but somehow it never makes up for having a real lunch and by the end of the last lesson, my eyes are heavy with fatigue. After work though, there are the meetings with W. to look forward to. Once there was the caesar salad and coffee in a record store specialising in jazz with the faint strains of samba music in the background. Later there was chocolate cake and a glass of prosecco as they were getting ready for a concert and one of the salespeople took to the piano to play a few bars. Another time, we met in the most gorgeous, old fashioned café whose wooden tables are decorated with large vases of tulips above which are shelves crammed with the loveliest accessories and where you sit on benches with gingham cushions. Time stood still as I savoured an Auflauf (a gratin) with ruccola and later an enormous piece of rhubarb Streuselkuchen with cream which turned out to be too big even for me! Later that evening, we walked just a little further down the road to Marga Schoeller, my favourite place for English books where we browsed, agonising over what to take.
Despite being so tired, Friday nights always seem right for Woody Allen films. Favourite are Manhatton with the little voice of Mariel Hemingway, Manhatton Murder Mystery with the poker scene, the Thanksgiving dinners from Hannah and her Sisters (and empathising with the character of Dianne Wiest, the kooky failure of the family) and Dianne Keaton singing in Annie Hall. Last week though, there was a screening of the Ghostwriter in a tiny cinema at Hackesche Höfe. I've always loved the fact that unlike in the U.K and the U.S, you can take in glasses of wine and beer and afterwards went next door for late night pasta with a carafe of red wine. We talked for hours, only noticing how late it was when the waiters took the desserts from the glass cabinet back to the kitchen. Walking back alone from Savignyplatz through the streets which have become so familiar, there was the pleasant warmth of the alcohol inside mixed with sleepiness and the thought that it was the weekend at last.
Walking around the market at Boxhagener Platz today
A poster from one of my favourite films, Persona by Ingmar Bergman you can buy there.
Two of the other things I made this week, cinnamon stars (yes, I know it's not Christmas but other cookies don't turn out well with my difficult gas oven) and an amazing whole lemon tart from Smitten Kitchen you have to try.
And the title of this post? I often look at the list of these recipes and feel bad that there are so non-sweet ones. Perhaps you all have the impression that I only live on cake. Actually, I love preparing salty dishes but find desserts much more photogenic and don't have the patience to compose the shots. But I'd like to tell you about Oscar, one my parents' cats. Oscar is a cat after my own heart; un vrai gourmand. It all started the day we bought the bread rolls and were astonished to find the packaging had been torn and that one was missing. Later it turned out that Oscar had a passion for bread. He went through phases of liking different things; green beans, roast chicken and most of all, cheese scones. Every time anyone went to fridge, he would be there, begging for food. As I said though, he's a gourmand and doesn't just like any cheese scones; the favourite are Marks and Spencer's which meant that we have to call in advance to reserve them as they sell out quickly, or otherwise homemade ones are the next best alternative. Recently it's seemed like everyone is making cheese scones, thanks to Gracienne's amazing recipe. I prefer though to give you my traditional one which is good enough for Oscar.
Cheese scones for Oscar
225g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
150g strong cheddar cheese (or you could take Gruyère if you can't find cheddar)
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Grease and line and baking sheet.
2. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until you have a mixture like breadcrumbs. Add in 3/4 of the cheese and the milk, mixing with a fork, then with your fingers until the dough forms a ball.
3. On a well floured work surface, roll out the dough until it's about 2cm thick, then cut out the scones using a round metal cutter and place on the baking sheet. Brush the tops with a little milk, then sprinkle the rest of the cheese on the tops of the scones.
4. Bake for approximately 12-15 mins or until golden and cheesy on top. Leave to cool a little but enjoy them while they're still warm with a thick layer of butter.