Whole Life Magazine

April/May 2014

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Page 28 of 43

BRIGHT LIGHTS OF FRANKFURT Frankfurt looks every bit the financial center the media por- trays it to be, with its mix of modern skyscrapers, Edward- ian-era neighborhoods and a faithful recreation of Romer- burg, the medieval city center destroyed during World War II. However there is also Anla- genring, an eco-friendly urban island hiding in plain sight. En- closed by a wall built centuries ago to protect city parklands, it contains stately fountains, ancient trees, ponds and modern sculpture. Perhaps its most striking monument is one of the first glass houses to have been built along the ring in 1810, a reminder that Germany has always been ahead of its time in terms of architecture. In the Sachsenhausen neighborhood, Brückenstraße balances trendy and chic with a slew of stores including is Is Not a Dirndl, where hausfrau frocks are transformed into bespoke contemporary fashions. At Affentor's around the corner, chic notebook and tablet cases are craed from old clothes and vintage fabric. BERLIN FOR BEGINNERS Even as East Berlin languished under Russian control before the Wall came down in 1989, West Berlin was already beginning to think in terms of sustainability. Its first organic food market opened in 1978, and the city today is home to LPG, the largest organic supermarket in Europe, with a mind-blowing 180,000 products, including 180 types of cheese. For local and fresh, how- ever, a number of atmospheric outdoor markets operate year- round with an ethnically diverse agenda. For example, Türkischer Markt, originally conceived by and for the local Turkish com- munity, has since expanded to include food vendors from India and Africa, as well as artisans sampling homemade honey, des- ert toppings, baked goods, spice blends and organic juice. Berlin's Museum Island combines world art and history into an architecturally commanding spot that can keep a visitor busy for days, but just as thought provoking is their eye to the future. e former site of Tempelhof Airport re-opened in 2010 as a green space with various sports fields, bike trails and hiking paths. e Come- nius Garden in the Neukölln neighborhood, meanwhile, features poetic symbols from the work of Bohemian educator Johann Amos Comenius, considered the father of modern education. Gleisdrei- eck Park was developed from a wasteland around an abandoned traffic junction and connects to Potsdamer Platz, which lay in ruins in the years be- tween World War II and the fall of the Berlin Wall. e Prinzessinnengarten in the Kreuzberg neighbor- hood, a 1.5 acre community garden that nurtures 15 types of potatoes along with chilies, basil and fennel, has sprout- ed new shoots as a guerrilla gardening subculture; civ- ic-minded Berliners have created mini oases in the most unlikely places, from medians on large boulevards to discarded shopping trolleys. Fiy percent of Berlin households do not own a car and instead make use of the extensive public transport system and 950 kilome- ters worth of cycle lanes crisscrossing town. Trams run on special green tracks that are embedded in grass, which reduces air and noise pollution. My tour guide Miriam Bers, who specializes in art and eco-friendly city tours, also made sure I sampled a hearty lunch of beet strudel and serviettenknödel (German dumplings) at Chipps, a mainstream restaurant where Chef Heinreich Strample is shiing the German food paradigm by making local and seasonal vegetables such as potatoes and beets—perennial staples in German cooking— the main focus. At Volt, a former power plant now certified as a historic land- mark, chef/owner Matthias Gleiss explains his methodology: "It isn't just how to cook the in- gredients, but also how to pres- ent them. While the ingredients are familiar to people who grew up around this kind of food local to Berlin, we're surprising them with new approaches." Gleiss personally visits the surrounding countryside to seek out specialty farmers and artisanal purveyors as part of a local business partnership proj- ect known as Chef Seeks Farmer. His reasoning sounds familiar: "Besides the fact that there is a smaller carbon footprint in- volved, there is also the element of quality control, as we know exactly how our ingredients are farmed and produced." Which is, of course, exactly what vacationing health- and sus- tainability-conscious Californians are accustomed to seeking out in L.A. e old Germany was a high-cholesterol, meat-centric coun- try, making travel meals more challenging, but now that progressive technology and finance have embraced the spheres of food and sus- tainability, Angelenos can feel right at home. BEET STRUDEL AT CHIPPS, BERLIN BOTANICAL GARDEN, BERLIN april/may 2014 29 FINAL-WLT-APRIL-MAY.indd 29 3/30/14 7:58 PM

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