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Articles By: jakob straub

Jakob Straub: An avid traveler, Jakob is based in Berlin, Germany, where he works as a writer for bread, rent, and pleasure. When he's not involved with various ambitious literary projects, taking part in poetry slams and readings, he enjoys rock climbing and AcroYoga. He hasn't yet sold his soul for a publishing deal, but his chance will come. Follow him on twitter @flachrattenmann

Berlin’s steep literary tradition and history is reflected in the sheer number and rich diversity of the city’s bookshops – no list of them could ever be exhaustive or complete. However, we’ve narrowed it down to the top five bookshops for the Anglophone expatriate.


do you read me ?! (photo by Achim Hatzius)

1. do you read me?! – Auguststraße 28, 10117 Mitte – 030 6954 9695 – Mon-Sat 10am-7.30pm.

Yes, you do – even if you usually don’t include magazines in your reading material, the assorted selection of do you read me?! will have something to offer you. Content is king at this neatly packed Mitte location for the creative, attracting flocks of devoted regulars and traveling curious with their great variety of international contemporary magazines, journals and readings. Hip, obscure, academic, gallant, gorgeous, delish: this hub for aficionados of design, fashion, photography, art, architecture, culture, society, and even cooking will have your coveted cover in stock or order it for you.


A new video by eastXcross projects titled “Berlin… spricht fà­ ¼r sich” (Berlin… speaks for itself) is showcasing Berlin street art.

To the Untapped Cities community:

After the announcement of the all-new Untapped Cities, we’re excited about starting off our new City Spotlight series today where we focus on an exciting metropolis! For the next weeks, we’ll have a new article on Los Angeles daily in our cities category.  With our strong home base in NYC, we at Untapped Cities thought it was time to look west at one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the country.

With over 15 “Angelenos” reporting from the City of Angels, we bring you the most “untapped” L.A. content from California’s largest city and one of the world’s most populous metropolitan areas.

A sampling of what’s to come: the abandoned landscape of LAX airport, reliving the golden age of Hollywood at the LA Theatre, Art and New Tech in the Cleantech Corridor, the Echoes West music festival, Art Deco downtown, The Museum of Jurassic Technology, LA’s Modernist architectural heritage and much more.

To set the mood, we open today with a New Yorker’s take on the city and the unexpected nature preserve of Vista Hermosa Park!

This LA City Spotlight is edited by Travel Editor Jakob Straub and City Spotlight Editor Aby Thomas.

Welcome to the creative universe of Ferran Adrià­     (photo courtesy of Palau Robert, Barcelona).

The “Ferran Adrià­ and elBulli. Risk, Freedom and Creativity”  exhibition unveils the creative universe and talent of Ferran Adrià­ , the late 20th and early 21st centuries’ most influential chef, as well as the comprehensive capacity to innovate that he has applied to gastronomy with his work at elBulli restaurant. The exhibition is open to the public from February 2, 2012 to February 3, 2013 in room 3 at the Palau Robert in Barcelona.

Ferran Adrià­   (on the right) visiting the exhibition, seated at the projection table (photo courtesy of Palau Robert, Barcelona).

Over the years, Ferran Adrià­   has become a global icon of gastronomy. The work done at elBulli – considered the world’s best restaurant for five years running – has received global recognition and has set the direction for the future of cooking and how we think about food and dining. The names of Ferran Adrià­, Juli Soler, Albert Adrià­and of elBulli’s entire creative team are associated with values such as reflection, talent, innovation, leadership, teamwork, a job well done, internationalization and solidarity. Going far beyond the field of gastronomy, their work embraces areas such as art and technology.

The room “Origins (The Learning Years)” recounts the history of elBulli from its origins in 1956 to March 1987, the time when Ferran Adrià­ took charge of elBulli as its chef (photo courtesy of Palau Robert, Barcelona).

The exhibition comes after elBulli closed its doors in July 2011 and celebrates the restaurant’s 50 years of history (from 1961 on), coinciding with a time when Catalan gastronomy has become one of the top-ranking gastronomies in the global arena. Incidentally, Adrià­ turns 50 in 2012.

Although the decision to close the world-famous 3 Michelin star restaurant was taken in order that it could undergo its transformation  (Adrià­ stated elBulli had completed its journey as a restaurant) into elBulli foundation, a center for gastronomic experimentation and innovation that plans to disseminate its creations on the Internet from 2014 on, critics like to point out the restaurant had been operating at a loss in its later years. Once you enter Adrià­’s creative universe at the exhibition, however, it quickly becomes clear that here is a genius who cannot simply go on cooking – he needs to innovate and transcend regular restaurant work.

The evolutionary map illustrates the products, techniques, elaborations and philosophy with videoclips, and visitors can see emblematic dishes elaborated, all of which have been major milestones in Ferran Adrià­’s career and elBulli’s history (photo courtesy of Palau Robert, Barcelona).

The exhibition recounts the history of elBulli, from its origins in 1956 with the arrival of Dr Schilling and his wife Marketta at Cala Montjoi (between Roses and Cadaques), to March 1987, the time when Ferran Adrià­ took sole charge of elBulli as its chef. Audiovisuals, documents, photos and objects in chronological order highlight the qualitative jump made by the restaurant through an increasingly sophisticated gastronomic offering that had clear references to French nouvelle cuisine. In addition to Ferran Adrià­, the key figures in this transformation were Jean-Louis Neichel,  Juli Soler and Albert Adrià .

“The Search For A Style” room with a restaurant table where an elBulli 40-dish menu is projected (photo courtesy of Palau Robert, Barcelona).

One of the highlights is the “The Search For A Style” room where visitors can see a recreation of the atmosphere of the restaurant’s dining room through an audiovisual with props (table and chairs from elBulli): images of an elBulli 40-dish tasting menu are projected onto the table from overhead, allowing visitors to at least visually witness the dining experience. And in general there is great emphasis on how elBulli’s innovative contribution to avant-garde cuisine is the sixth sense: sparking a response in diners, which is expressed in the form of gestures and emotions of surprise, questioning, recollection, desire and happiness. Ferran Adrià­  creates neither dishes nor recipes, but rather concepts and techniques that he can subsequently apply to countless elaborations, as is explained in the section “Moment 0” of the exhibition.

One of the more quirky exhibits: a signed Matt Groening caricature of Adrià­ (with a scribbled Bart Simpson looking over his shoulder).

His technical-conceptual approach to cooking and creating requires a whole team devoted exclusively to creation in an ideal space, and to immense subsequent cataloging; among the exhibits are drawings of dishes done by Ferran Adrià­; a display of metal tableware elements used for serving, custom-made silicone molds, objects and utensils used in the cooking process, an array of plasticine dishes used to demonstrate the ideal food layout on a plate, and of course countless cookbooks and notebooks.

“The Time of Major Change” – A recreation of elBulli’s kitchen through projections in triptych form (photo courtesy of Palau Robert, Barcelona).

Plasticine ingredients used to demonstrate the ideal layout of a dish (photo courtesy of Palau Robert, Barcelona).

The exhibition will be presented in New York in 2013 and will then travel to London. It will also become the seed or basis for the future Centre-Museum devoted to Ferran Adrià­ and elBulli in Roses. The aim of these and other initiatives that may subsequently arise is to project the image of Catalonia to the world –showing it as a modern, innovative country – and to position it as a leader and point of reference on the global stage of gastronomy thanks to the enormous amount of research that was carried out at elBullirestaurant and will continue to be carried out at elBullifoundation. The exhibition also deems that Catalonia should officially ask UNESCO to designate Catalan gastronomy as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as it did with the castellers (people erecting Human Towers).

The beginning: a bronze statue of the “Bulli” bulldog that gave the restaurant its name.

While it is possible to venture out to Cala Montjoi and the site where elBulli the restaurant is being transformed into elBulli the foundation, you’ll have to head to Barcelona to experience the food: the Adrià­ brothers run both the tapas bar Tickets on Avinguda Paral ·lel 164 and an avant-garde place next door called 41 ° (41 Grados). Just like at elBulli, getting in is difficult: 41 Grados only takes reservations online and only for an even number of diners, thus keeping out solo critics. They serve “one experience” of 41 mini-courses to a total of 16 people per night. But there is more: Ferran and Albert Adrià­ are setting up a Mexican restaurant (their first of a different cuisine) and plan on opening a Japanese-influenced Nikkei place, both also in Barcelona. Who knows what’s next? It will remain interesting to watch the Adrià­s.

Ferran Adrià­   and elBulli. Risk, Freedom and Creativity exhibition
The Palau Robert Catalan Information Centre
Passeig de Grà­cia, 107 08008 Barcelona [MAP]
(+34) 93 238 80 91 / 92 / 93
Open Monday to Saturday 10am to 8pm. Sunday 10am to 2.30pm. Admission free.

Thanks to the Palau Robert for the pictures and press material.
Get in touch with the author @flachrattenmann.

The coastal region of Northeastern Catalonia in Spain, stretching from Blanes outside of Barcelona to the French border, is known as the Costa Brava (rugged Coast) for its wild rock formations and rough landscape. Due to the combination of an excellent summer climate, overwhelming nature and first class beaches, the region has been largely exploited for tourism, which took over from fishing as the principal business, especially in classic seaside resorts such as Blanes, Tossa de Mar and Lloret de Mar.

Costa Brava, the rugged coast.

One of the places that (for now) are able to hold the balance between attracting (international) travelers and preserving their original beauty and native charm is the town of Cadaqués. Roughly 80 kilometers from Girona and 170 from Barcelona, Cadaqués is a day-trip destination and experiences a manifold population increase during the peak of the summer season. However, since over land it’s only accessible via a winding road and the terrain is hilly and difficult, development is kept largely at bay so that the town maintains a low population off-season while still being able to accommodate a reasonable number of visitors.

Spying on people’s boats from above.

Because of the geography, people traditionally rowed and sailed from town to town, or simply walked. Traveling like the locals is the ideal way to experience the beauty of the area, and if you string all the trails connecting the seaside towns together, you end up with one long walk: the Camino Ronda. The “round way” (also: Costa Brava Way, GR-92 – Grand Rondonee) is a trail running all along the Costa Brava from Collioure near France to Blanes. It’s quite extensive (around 220km), well-marked, and runs mainly along the coast, taking you through fishing villages to coves and small beaches which are far from crowded. Going on foot will let you stray away from the coast as you like and enable you to see inland sights as well.

Ample trail markers on the Camino Ronda along the Costa Brava.

We settled for a small stretch of the Camino Ronda, from Roses to Cadaqués. At around 21 kilometers, it’s a one-way hike of moderate strenuity (with the possibility of taking a bus back). There are several bays and beaches along the way where you can cool off with a pleasant swim in the Mediterranean Sea, but ample sun protection is advisable.

Looking back at the town of Roses.

Coming from Roses, about one third into the hike, you will come to the bay of Cala Montjoi. Overlooking the beach sits 3 Michelin star restaurant elBulli, declared the world’s most controversial and experimental restaurant. Restaurant Magazine judged it to be Number One on its Top 50 list of the world’s best restaurants for a record of five times, but alas, elBulli closed its doors to the public in 2011. Inconspicuous looking from the outside, getting in was a matter of first-come, first-serve. Bookings for next year’s limited season were taken on a single day after the current season closed. Despite over a million requests, the restaurant only served around 8,000 diners per season that way.

Almost hidden: elBulli restaurant, now closed.

Though the restaurant had been operating at a loss in its last decade (with profit coming from book sales and lectures), chef Ferran Adrià­ stated elBulli had completed its journey as a restaurant and that he wanted to free up the creativity of the people involved for other projects. Adrià­, who has been called “the father of molecular gastronomy” and was in sole charge of the kitchen since 1987, has transformed the restaurant into elBullifoundation, which is scheduled to open as a creativity center in 2014. The Creative Universe of Ferran Adrià­ is an exhibition at the Palau Robert in Barcelona (which will travel to New York and London in 2013) and outlines the 50 years of the restaurant’s history and explains the keys of elBullifoundation as well as the future of the Centre-Museum in Roses.

Looking back at Cala Montjoi and elBulli restaurant.

Although Costa Brava seems the naturally most fitting name for this rugged stretch of coast, other names have been suggested, among them Costa Grega (Greek Coast), and indeed, some of the bays and views you’ll encounter on this hike might trick you into thinking you’re elsewhere in Europe.

Feels and looks like Greece: Costa Grega.

A little inland stretch on the hike.

Cadaqués with Cap de Creus in the distance.

Approaching Cadaqués you’ll come through Portlligat, where surrealist painter Salvador Dalí spent summers in his youth and later created a house out of a fisherman’s hut over the course of forty years. In a biological approach, each new pulse in the life of Dalí and his wife grew into a new room, like the cell of a being. Every window frames a view of Portlligat Bay, a fixture of reference in Dalí’s work.

Salvador Dalí house museum in Portlligat.

Cadaqués itself has a long history of painters: the Cadaqués museum displays charcoal sketches by local artist Mei Fren, the first modern artist to live in the town and followed by many notable others, among them Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró and Marcel Duchamp. Other sights in town are the 17th century Church of St. Mary, a traveling market on Mondays, and a quirky replica of the Statue of Liberty with two upraised torches instead of just one.

Portlligat bay at dusk.

Within easy reach of Cadaqués is the easternmost point of the Iberian Peninsula, Cap de Creus, a natural park and extraordinary landscape of dry, wind-beaten rock with nearly no trees.

Coming back from a day’s hike, Cadaqués is a great place for eating out with a good selection of family operated restaurants to sample Mediterranean cuisine, fresh seafood and Catalan white wine or sparkling water.

All photographs courtesy of Alexandra March.

Get in touch with the author @flachrattenmann.

Spread thick over ten days like cream cheese on a bagel, the Berlin Taste Festival 2012 offered exquisite culinary concoctions paired with contrived concepts in design from June 1 to 10. With Berlin being all abuzz about design like hardly any other city, it’s the perfect spot for a festival with a focus on “outstanding designs in dialogue with dining.”

Berlin Taste Festival - sesame bread on stringStrung up sesame bread as part of the Taste Festival 2012 exhibition at Direktorenhaus.

In cooperation with The Netherlands Architecture Fund, the festival was organized by Illustrative e.V. who are also behind the Illustrative Festival and chose their home at Direktorenhaus for the festival’s main location, bringing together designers, artists, chefs & cooks, food-stylists, farmers, producers, architects and fashion designers so visitors could not only stuff their mouths but also feed their senses.

The festival was comprised both of closed events which required advanced registration (due to limited capacity) as well as exhibitions and mini markets which were open to everyone. A typical day featured workshops displaying creative cooking and food experimentation as well as lectures and tastings over the course of the day and special dinner events in the evening, often complimented by performances or presentations.

The staircase at Direktorenhaus with some Alice-in-Wonderland furniture by Valentin Loellmann.

What’s the difference between a desk and a dining table? What happens when form doesn’t follow function? How to break the mould in design and cooking? Why do we hardly look at ourselves while we eat? Can taste be “homesick”? Is there a global format for food? – These were just some of the questions playfully posed and creatively contemplated at the Berlin Taste Festival.

Grondvormen – destilling a magical Elixir from plants.

One of the festival’s highlights in my opinion was a screening of the documentary “Jiro Dreams Of Sushi” by the Berlin Film Society accompanied by a sushi tasting. Telling the story of 85 year-old Jiro Ono, a world famous sushi chef running a tiny yet prestigious three-Michelin-star sushi restaurant in a Tokyo subway station, the film is a meditative study of food as both work and art, of family and business and the strife for perfection.

Kicking off with a Grand Opening with tastings and dinner performances and featuring indie punk band Bonaparte and lasting until the obligatory Last Supper ten days later, the Berlin Taste Festival was a welcome reminder that food combined with art can be so much more than horrible hors d’oeuvres and cheap champagne sloshed in plastic cups at one of Berlin’s many many pop-up galleries.

Detail of the bar at Direktorenhaus.

Taste Festival Berlin 2012 [MAP]

Am Krà­Æ’ ¶gel 2
10179 Berlin

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