© Hotel Amano
Mario Grünfelder created the cocktail list for the bar at Hotel Amano.
For the last few days (and very late nights), I found myself restaurant-and-bar-hopping around Berlin with Mario Grünfelder, the star mixologist of the city’s coolest bar, Tausend. F&W’s European correspondent, Gisela Williams, had been telling me about a number of ambitious projects the Swiss-born spirits genius been working on. He already co-owns Tausend, along with W Imbiss and the superhip Café 103 (which he says will be transforming into something even cooler very soon). Mario is good buddies with the brilliant, semi-maniacal chef Christian Lohse, so we met for lunch at Lohse’s Michelin-starred seafood-centric Fischers Fritz to talk about potential collaborations, which included talk of a 24-hour bar-hopping bus.
Later, Mario invited us to Cantina, the new restaurant in a room behind the bar at Tausend. The former chef of Berlin’s popular Shiro I Shiro is turning out casual Latin-Asian dishes like Peruvian tiradito, tuna tataki wrapped in foie and Momofuku-rivaling pork buns. Over a second round of the stellar pork buns, Mario shared his newest passion, making his own spirits, including an unbelievably smooth wheat-based vodka he’s named Greenfield and Harter 73 (Greenfield being an Americanized version of his last name; 73 referring to his date of birth; and Harter the last name of Tausend co-owner Til Harter). I’m hoping we’ll see bottles stateside soon.
When Tausend gets too crowded late at night, Mario heads to his newest bar project at the chic, affordable new Hotel Amano in the Mitte neighborhood. The low-lit lounge serves late-night snacks and Mario’s cocktails, like the Grischenko (Xoriguer gin, cordial lime juice and Limettensaft bitters) until 4 a.m. The prolific spirits obsessive is now off to Barcelona. Maybe he’ll be opening his first project outside of Germany soon.
Chefs like Gavin Kaysen, right, cook front and center to raise money for Tibet.
The good news: These days, every chef has a charity they’re 100-percent committed to (more on that in F&W’s upcoming July— aka Best New Chefs
—issue), and they’ll headline a dinner to prove it. The not-so-good news: How not-so-fun those dinners can be. To the rescue: Eric Ripert
, one of the world’s great chefs, of NYC’s Le Bernardin
, and the star of the tv series Avec Eric.
At the recent Thank You Tibet! Celebration
held by the Tibet Fund
at NYC’s Pierre Hotel
, Ripert hosted a dinner with a bunch of his superstar chef friends (Michael White
! Dan Barber
! Gavin Kaysen
! Daniel Humm
!). His genius idea was to have each chef cook a few signature dishes right at the tables of party-goers. George Mendes of Aldea
in Manhattan made foie gras terrine with root beer, and rice studded with duck confit and black olives, while Sam Talbot
of Montauk’s Surf Club served oysters with BBQ mignonette and miso cod cheeks with roasted carrot vinaigrette. Ripert, meanwhile, prepared Perigord truffled egg and barely cooked wild king salmon. “I loved doing this dinner—I wanted to create an event that had a unique format. And I love the idea of the chefs cooking in front of guests. We had such a good vibe,” says Ripert. What also made it fun: An auction of work from artists with names like Peter Max
and Francesco Clemente
Barring crazy world news, I should be on the Today show tomorrow, March 16, during the fourth hour, with regular host Hoda Kotb and guest host Kirk Cameron (strange but true—my pal Kathie Lee G. is away on vacation, and Kirk Cameron is stepping in for her).
The subject: wines that last longer once the cork has been pulled—or the screwcap removed, or the box-spout unwangled, or whatever. So I'll be mentioning big, tannic, oomph-filled reds, off-dry whites, bag-in-box wines (the bag collapses as the wine is poured out, so no oxygen ever touches it), and, oddly enough, the weird little subcategory of orange wines.
I'm also going to have the hosts do a wacky taste-test at the end of the segment—should be fun. Tune in around 10:45 eastern time.
I didn't intend to steal my family's favorite new recipe. But I was editing an essay by Perri Klass
about how the Thai noodle soup khao soi
became a family recipe for her. The piece made the dish sound so delicious, I innocently asked her for the recipe, which she had adapted slightly from the 1976 cookbook Noodles Galore by Merry White
. (I wasn't the only one whose mouth was watering reading the piece; several readers asked for the recipe, too.) I tinkered with Perri's version—I made it soupier by doing one-and-a-half times most of the ingredients for the broth—and have now cooked it at least once a month ever since because my kids absolutely adore it. So apologies to Perri, but my kids now squeeze limes and slurp up the curried noodles thinking this is their
family dish. If you want a taste of the illicit goods, here's my version of the recipe:
Food & Wine’s super-plugged-in European correspondent, Gisela Williams, is based in Berlin and has been taking me to all the hottest new spots in town. Here, a quick rundown:
Wahllokal is in a somewhat awkward location between the business and tourist sections of Berlin’s Mitte neighborhood. Everything about the space is playful, from the tasting menu (divided into Beforehand, Right in the Middle and Thereafter) to the bleacher-esque, stadium-style seating and the wacky basement bathrooms (with showers instead of sinks for washing hands). The food, however, is more straightforward and very well-priced. Highlights were an ever-so-lightly breaded codfish with ox-muzzle salad and Thai asparagus and the watercress risotto with coconut and pomelo honey.
Raffaele Sorrentino, the miracle-working concierge at the Hotel Adlon Kempinski, recently opened two Italian spots side-by-side. The more casual Antica Lasagneria specializes in huge slices of lasagna from a classic meat-and-cheese to a spicy-sausage-and-broccoli. The dining room feels like a wine store with great Italian bottles literally from floor to ceiling. Il Punto is a Berlin favorite that Raffaele reopened in a new location in June serving stellar Italian classics and top Italian wines.
Daniel Achilles is the incredibly young chef everyone is talking about since he was recently awarded a Michelin star for his cooking at the new Reinstoff. Achilles has designed two tasting menus: "Quite Near" is more classic (calf's tail ravioli) while "Far Away" is much more experimental (scallop tartare with brussels sprouts and oyster emulsion). The wine list highlights Spanish and German producers.