“Wir backen – Sie genießen” = We bake, you enjoy. (I have been trying to translate that into a rhyming slogan. I’ve come up with a couple: We bake, you intake! or We flavor, you savor! But I guess it doesn’t really rhyme in German, so why should it in English?)
I should first admit that deutsche Bäckereien (German bakeries) may just be my downfall. They are all havens of tasty German baking, filled with sweets, beautifully designed and displayed sandwiches, and usually have some variety of cappuccino or coffee to be had. In the last category, my neighborhood bakery lacks a little. John’s Bäckerei (around the corner of Berliner Straße and Elsa-Brändström-Straße, near the Vinetastraße U-Bahn Station) only has brewed coffee these days and weak brewed coffee at best. (I believe their cappuccino machine is broken; Or at least I believe that’s what I understood the nice employee to have told me in German on my first visit.) BUT I consider that merely a thoughtful cost-saving measure on their part. I need to cut back on coffee purchases.
Their baked goods, however, are amazing.
My first visit, I bought two half-sandwiches, which were both very filling.
The sweets case looked so good I couldn’t resist. But it was also difficult to decide! I asked the girl working in the bakery if she could recommend something. Or, more likely, I muttered an incomprehensible phrase that ended with an intonation upswing and included the word “Spezialität.” That would account for why she seemed flustered at my question (read: I made no sense) and why she eventually got what I was asking for and recommended something (read: I said the word I “Spezialität,” that is, specialty.)
She mentioned that since John’s Bäckerei is an East-Berliner bakery (that is, it was in the Eastern portion of Berlin when the city was divided by the wall; What Americans typically call “East Germany,” is more properly referred to as the former DDR, the German Democratic Republic, as opposed to the BRD/Bundesrepublik Deutschland/West Germany), it has some specialties that you won’t find in West-Berliner bakeries. One is what I think was called a hazelnut torte. (I will check and report back.) Of course, I bought just that. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of it. I believe that was because I saved it to eat until late at night when I was tired and not thinking clearly.
You can’t see it through the bag, but imagine that it’s a layered petit-four with hazelnut flavored frosting dividing each layer. It is covered by a sugary hard icing, but is soft and cakey inside. I guess I’ll just have to buy another to photograph it.
The open-faced sandwiches are delightful to behold. I’ve had them for lunch twice. I belieeeeeeeeve that today I ate liverwurst, but I’m trying to ignore that fact.
I’ve also had two other sweets there that I’ve failed to photograph. Oh, and one cup of the horrid coffee. But that was better undocumented. I wonder, though, why I’m not taking pictures of all the baked goods I’m consuming? Could it be guilt and shame at eating so many empty calories? I bet so. I’ll try, however, to write down their names the next time I’m there. Which will conveniently allow me not only to take more pictures, but to try something else sweet or savory (süß oder salzig), or both.
I also bought a loaf of bread to take to a party tonight. It’s all WAY more affordable than American bread of this quality (way, way, way). That’s partially because German food is more consistently bread-based and, secondarily, because they refuse to eat junk-fluff-Wonder-bread. Who can blame them? So, there are tons of loaf options in German bakeries. I settled on the Steinofen Brot (stone-oven bread), which looked hearty and crusty. It cost less than 2 Euros. And when I picked it up to bring it home, I was astonished. It was heavy! Like, several pounds! (I really don’t eat bread that much at home! Should I have known that it would have the feel of carrying a baby!?)
I’ve been in many a German bakery, but I like John’s because of its sense of place (they don’t have every kind of sandwich or sweet pastry, but the kinds they make are local and beautiful), because its employees are kind and patient (geduldig) with my slow German, and—most importantly—because their baked goods taste so stinking good.