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BERLIN

The Best of Berlin in March

This month Exberliner, Berlin's leading English-language magazine, tells you where to get your fix for quality hot sauces and chocolates.

The Best of Berlin in March
Photo: Exberliner

Hot sauce dealers

In a country where mild food and sensitive palates are endemic, Pfefferhaus has brought some spice to the locals’ eating habits. To the chili community that has been hiding on the internet for years: hide no more. To the expats who miss a bit of piquancy: rejoice! At Pfefferhaus, you’ll find it all: from BBQ and hot sauces to an amazing array of treats (chili-flavoured chocolate, anyone?)to wasabi nuts, chips and even the homegrown but hard-to-find Cola Rebell drink. And the hotsauces are the real deal, specially imported from the U.S. and Central and South America. The current bestseller is the (German-produced) Suicide Sauce’s Honey Garlic Hot Sauce Stinger(€7.90), but real alpha males will definitely want to try the Ass Reaper (€9.50) or Sudden Death(€9.95). If you’re still wary of exposing your palate to such extremes, just repeat owner Felix Eichholtz’s mantra: “It’s fun! It releases endorphins!” His own favourite is a hot sauce from CostaRica: Melinda’s Scotch Bonnet (€5,50). Taste it and weep…

Pfefferhaus | Dircksenstr. Bogen 94, Mitte, S+U-Bhf Alexanderplatz, Mon-Sat 11-20, www.pfefferhaus.de

Chocoland

Ritter Sport – the square chocolate bar made to fit in football fans’ pockets – has come a long way since Clara and Alfred Ritter founded the first factory in Bad Cannstatt, near Stuttgart, in 1912. As if worldwide distribution, 26 regular flavours and even a new organic line weren’t enough, the company is now displaying ambitions of Willie Wonka-esque proportions: Bunte Schokowelt, a colourful,four-storey shop, café and showroom in one, right in the touristy heart of Berlin Mitte. The pillar of giant Ritter Sport bars at the entrance is enough to make anyone’s mouth water – luckily, the consumption begins almost immediately. Just head to the “Schokolateria” cafe or the “Schokolounge” restaurant to satisfy your cravings with chocolate lasagne (€6.90), chocolate mousse cake (€2.50) and a cup of marzipan hot chocolate (or any other Ritter Sport flavour of your choice;€3.40). Kids are shown how to make their own chocolates in special workshops(€8 for a 75min lesson), while the real addicts can binge on Ritter Sport-labelled paraphernalia – from sport bags and t-shirts to office supplies. Top all this off with an educational stroll through the mini-museum,where you’ll be enlightened about chocolate-making and the family business history.Bunte Schokowelt may not be everyone’s cup of heiße Schokolade, but it’s enough to satiate even the fussiest Ritter Sport fan.

Bunte Schokowelt | Französische Str. 24, Mitte, U-Bhf Französische Str., Tel 030 2009 50830, Mon-Thu 10-20, Fri-Sat 10-22, Sun 10-18, www.ritter-sport.de

Puncture chic

In this age of ecological correctness, it’s hard not to slip up somewhere.Travelling by train, not plane, may score you some green points, but ifyou’re a meat-eater, your carbon footprint will be running rings around you.Electronic cars, it’s purported, are an environmentally friendly antidote to gas-guzzlers – bar one inconvenient truth: electricity often comes from burning coal. And trading four wheels for two offers a simple solution to pollution… but what if those wheels end up on the scrap heap?Jaap Wijnants’ Puncture Bags range adds a poetic twist to the concept of re-cycling: he resurrects defunct bicycle inner tubes by refashioning them into everyday objects. From wallets and laptop bags to bike saddles and furniture upholstery, each item bears the subtle hallmarks of its former life: puncture repair plasters, logos and serial numbers make the designs genuinely unique.The tomDK pencil case is particularly eye-catching: its curving lines and accentuated corners tame industrial materials into a precise, rounded form.Puncture Bags is ‘trashion’ as it should be. It’s environmentally awareyet tailored to consumers’ needs: a far cry from the bombastic constellations of bin liners and tin cans that have littered the catwalks since the 1990s. Puncture Bags bridges the difficult gap between elegance, functionality and durability. Jaap’s products appeal to the minimalist in allof us, but are also particular enough tobe distinctive. They’re much too special to ever throw away.

Puncture Bags | www.puncturebags.com Stockists: Schoene Schreibwaren, Niederbarnimstr. 6, Friedrichshain, U-BhfFrankfurter Tor; Not A Wooden Spoon, Oderberger Str. 2, Prenzlauer Berg, U-BhfEberswalderstr.; ETSY, www.etsy.com; DaWanda, www.en.dawanda.com

Superstore forsuper-people

Still missing that perfect pair of rainbow leopard-print Lycra leggings?Superstore will satisfy all your 1980s fashion craves. Tucked away in a backstreet of Mitte’s fashion district, this charming two-level vintage shop is run by a cheerful gang of international friends who share the store with La Kitchn, a space dedicated to cooking courses (in everything from Italian and Korean to “erotic” cuisine) and catering services. Everything here,from the gold-foil-covered walls to the disco ball and pink flamingo lamp,screams out extreme pop from lost decades. With his pink striped sweater,flowery waistcoat and puzzling haircut, which only the truly stylish canpull off, David, the American owner, fits right in. The perfect outfit for your next Berlin night out might combine that sparkly gold blouse, with its American footballer-sized shoulder pads, and a pair of yellow Bruno Magli stilettos; if it’s chilly, add the ‘solar system’ jacket complete with Saturn,Jupiter and spaceships. Accessorize with a pair of Varnets or Ray Ban style shades, gold-chain bracelets, and a spiked belt. But Superstore also displays some more conservative clothing, from preppy Hausfrau suits to pre-Wende East German casual (e.g. lozenge marqueted oversize jumpers on bleached skinnies). Punters should expect to pay between €40 and €50 fora pullover, and about €100 for a coat.

Superstore | Almstadtstr. 43 (via La Kitchn), Mitte, U-Bhf Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz,Mon-Sat 12-20, www.superstoreberlin.com, www.lakitchn.de

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FOOD & DRINK

Five of France’s new Michelin foodie hotspots

As Michelin publishes its 2022 guide, here are five of the most exciting new entries into the hallowed 'bible' of French gastronomy.

Five of France's new Michelin foodie hotspots

Here are five must-visit venues of gastronomic delight for food lovers.

READ ALSO New Michelin guide celebrates ‘resilient’ French cuisine

Plénitude – Paris

It’s only been open seven months, but the Paris restaurant – on the first floor of Cheval Blanc Paris – now has three stars, awarded to chef Arnaud Donckele in Cognac on Tuesday. Picking up three stars all at once is almost unheard of – only Yannick Alléno achieved the same feat in 2015 with the Pavillon Ledoyen in the 8th arrondissement.

Broths, vinaigrettes, creams, veloutés, juices are at the heart of the cuisine at Plénitude. A seasonal six-course Symphony Menu costs €395, while the Sail Away Together menu of three savoury dishes and one sweet is €320.

La Villa Madie – Cassis, Bouches-du-Rhône

Another new three-star venue listed in this year’s guide came as something of a surprise, by all accounts. Dimitri and Marielle Droisneau’s restaurant in the south of France overlooks the Mediterranean.

“We took this house nine years ago. We had a baby, we have a second one now. We live in the villa. We work in a paradise,” chef Dimitri said at the ceremony in Cognac.

The cuisine follows the seasons, and uses carefully selected local produce. As such, the menu changes daily according to what’s available. The Menu Anse de Corton – a starter, a fish course, a meat course, and a sweet treat – costs €130, while the six-course Menu Espasado “Cap Canaille” is €180.

Plaza Athénée – Paris

Top Chef series three winner Jean Imbert was one of a number of former contestants on the show to win a star for his restaurant in the palace le Plaza Athénée – with the jury praising his “impressive revival of the greatest classics of French gastronomy”.

Guillaume Pape – a finalist in series 10, also picked up his first star for  L’Ebrum, in Brest; as did series nine finalist Victor Mercier, for FIEF in the ninth arrondissement, honoured for producing “empowering cuisine, made exclusively using French produce”. Mercier was also named Young Chef of the Year.

The self-titled Menu de Jean at Plaza Athénée costs €296

Villa La Coste – Bouches-du-Rhône

Continuing the Top Chef theme, judge Hélène Darroze – who already runs the three-star Hélène Darroze at The Connaught in London – was awarded a star for her restaurant in the south of France, as was fellow-judge Philippe Etchebest for his latest venture in Bordeaux.

Local vegetables and fruit are the stars of the dining show at Villa La Coste, with meat and fish playing an accompanying role. A three-course lunch menu is €75, while a full dinner menu is €155.

Domaine Riberach: La Coopérative – Bélesta, Ariège 

One of six new restaurants to be awarded a Green Star for its seasonal food and it’s determined approach to ‘sustainable gastronomy’. This year’s six Green Star winners join 81 establishments which received the award last year in France.

“Slow food” is the order of the day, with menus created based – as is often the case – on the seasons, the market and chef Julien Montassié’s instinct. The chief rule is that food must be local – “0 km is our motto”, boasts the website.

The six-course Menu Latitude is €85 without wine. A three-course Menu Km0 is €49 – and a children’s two-course menu is €18.

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