We took our seats close to the front, still bundled up in thick winter coats and gloves in spite of the sun and the fact that spring is officially here. The seat next to the microphone was soon occupied by a young woman with her hair put back into a chignon, wearing a long ruffled skirt and knee high boots, perching an accordeon on her knee, one half of Duo les Gosses. As the first notes sounded, her friend rushed in from the back to greet her and began to sing. Dressed in a simple black dress with a red neckerchief and dark bobbed hair, she took us on a journey through the streets of her city where people go out dancing late, where the customer you have been longing to talk to comes and sits in front of you, about her heartbroken friend Lucien who felt suicidal. And then there were the songs of Edith Piaf which sometimes made us smile and sometimes feel sad. Next up was the Jeanette Hubert band whose lead singer strummed on her guitar, smiling at us all the time and singing songs in English about Sunday mornings and those little moments that make life special. Images came to my mind of San Francisco and the ocean which my friend Sabine had just been telling me about. The longer the concert went on, the more the music mingled with the delicious smell of hyacinths. There was a pang in my heart at the announcement of the last song, knowing that the festival was drawing to a close. This was my fourth year at the Herzgrün Liebeslieder festival, an event very few people seem to know about but maybe that's a good thing to keep it intimate. For the first time my good friend Chrissi couldn't be there but I didn't want to miss the burst of colours and songs. Some things never change; the man in the green felt suit sitting in the white tent in charge of handing out the precious tickets, the announcer who reads the favourite love poem of the artists at the start, the strange mix of people in the audience, including the woman in a large hat, secured with a pin and her friend who seem to go to every concert. As we came out, still shivering, there was the sound of the rock concert in the opposite greenhouse drifting up towards the high roof and filling the Sony Center all around. The food there is unfortunately geared towards the tourists, pretty bad quality and overpriced so we headed to Nollendorfplatz instead for an Indian meal at Amrit with yogi tea, curry with large servings of rice and bhatura bread which burns your fingers and leaves them greasy. Warm once again, I walked back to the underground station, listening to the birds singing and hoping the rest of spring will be as good as this.
Duo les gosses
Jeanette Hubert and her band
At Viktoria-Luise Platz
Salad for dinner
To finish, yet another cookie recipe and yet again from Mingou but they were so popular with my students, it doesn't seem right not to share the recipe with all of you.
Lemon meltaways (original recipe from Mingou here)
Makes around 30 biscuits
16og very soft butter
125g icing sugar, plus some extra for coating the biscuits
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of an untreated lemon
2 teaspoons lemon juice
a pinch of salt
1. In a larg bowl, mix together the butter, icing sugar, lemon zest and vanilla until smooth and creamy.
2. Add the lemon juice and salt and mix in.
3. Pour in the flour and cornflour and blend again until fully absorbed.
4. Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a sausage shape of around 4cm in diameter. Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or in the freezer for 15 minutes (I chose the latter).
5. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Remove the rolls of dough and cut them into round shapes of around 1cm in thickness. Place on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper and bake for about 10 minutes. When they're ready and fully cooled, coat them with some icing sugar.
They can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.