10 Valentine's gifts for friends, lovers ...or yourself

February 10, 2016

10 Valentine's gifts for friends, lovers ...or yourself

Perhaps I'm getting old and cynical - or maybe just married for too long - but I'm getting a little tired of the backlash against Valentine's Day. Sure, it's a bit of a commercialized behemoth, stretched and contorted by capitalistic America so far beyond its original intent (which was what again..?), but really, when is it wrong to celebrate love? Love is so much more than a romantic relationship. You love your best friend, and your mother, right? The parting words of advice on love in Garance's new book? 'Love yourself'. What better than a sanctioned holiday to buy treats celebrating these people in our lives, ourselves included? Now off you go, spread the love.

A funny card - because sometimes the truth is better than sappy romance

A heart-adorned travel case - because near or far, you are loved (and Herschel now ships to the EU)

A personalized piece that isn't her initials - because how cute is 'BFF' on a heart coin purse for your bestie?

A pair of shoes blatantly emblazoned with hearts - because everyone needs at least one pair of totally unnecessary but fun shoes

A sexy pair of flats - because aching feet and back from stilettos isn't really sexy

A pillow that says what you're both thinking - because sometimes you gotta remember to take it easy, together

A ring that tells you whether that incoming text/email/status update is actually important - because you want to spend more time focused on the ones you love, not your phone ...and let's face it, wear something pretty

A fashionable bar of chocolate - because chocolate (Mast Brothers) + fashion (Marc Jacobs) = win-win

A jar of hot pepper bacon jam - because what better way to say 'I love you' than with bacon? (you guys, this stuff is ridiculously good - and gluten-free!)

A sweatshirt that says what she's thinking - because pancakes are a necessary part of life (now make some!)

Genius Gluten Free Bread Now in Berlin Stores!

February 2, 2016

Genius Gluten Free bread assortment display in Berlin Kaisers grocery store

So it took a little longer than we all hoped, but the day has finally arrived: UK-based Genius Gluten Free bread is now available in select Berlin grocery stores! I have been anxiously awaiting this day since I first found out about Genius and its foray into the German market back in November. It was love at first bite. Before that, I feared I would have to move back to the U.S. to ever enjoy gluten-free bread this fluffy and delicious again, bread that was just like that which I remembered pre-celiac diagnosis.

It's been great to order Genius products on Food Oase, but there's nothing like just being able to walk into a store and pick up a package off the shelf to take home. I'm looking forward to grabbing some of its muffins to meet a friend for coffee, seeing as they are conveniently available just around the corner from one of my favorite Berlin coffee shops. In addition to Hannover and now Berlin, Genius is also in several other stores around Germany as well.

As freshly-baked bread, the Genius displays should be found in the bakery department in these stores (see above), but I've seen them set up in produce departments and next to the other gluten-free products, so do ask if you don't see them at first. Overwhelmed by all the options and conflicted about how much bread you can eat before it goes stale?  See my review of the complete German line-up to help you make your decisions. Or just eat baked goods morning, noon and night, like I am this week. Because they really are that good.

As of today, you can find Genius Gluten Free at the following Kaisers:

Genius Gluten Free bread multigrain rolls mehrkorn broetchen in Berlin Kaisers

Do let me know if you see the displays and buy some bread of your own. I would love to hear how the Berlin gluten-free community is enjoying this significant change in our bread options! Also be sure to provide feedback on the German Genius Facebook page and ask other stores about carrying these products so we can increase the availability around Berlin.

And again, about bringing those pain au chocolat to Germany, Genius...

This post was in collaboration with Genius Gluten Free. I received free products for my original review, but all opinions are entirely my own.

The 5 Things You Need to Survive Winter in Berlin

January 20, 2016

The 5 Things You Need to Survive Winter in Berlin

Winters in Berlin have been pretty sedate compared to our first winter in Germany, which met our incoming flight from California - complete with piles of suitcases and a dog in a crate - with -15C temperatures and an absolute dumping of snow. I haven't experienced anything close again until this month. The weather gods answered our wishes for a white Christmas a few weeks late with -20C windchill and turned Berlin into a magical winter wonderland, for a few days, at least. Not sure if this temps this winter will dip that low again, but once is enough to jolt most into reconsidering their winter wardrobe.

After going from spending Christmas biking along the Pacific without so much as a winter coat, to managing regular dog walks in temperatures that make my lungs burn with frostbite, I've spent several years honing what keeps out the cold. Since making more friends who are new to Berlin or hail from places like Australia, which is pretty much California-down-under (just with scarier wildlife), I figured it was time to share what I've learned about keeping warm - and keeping all your digits - in a new and more diverse climate.

So if you're new to Berlin, or anywhere much colder than you're used to, for that matter, listen up. I have got some cold-weather gems for you:

Base layers| When the temperatures get below 0C (or in my case, anything in the single digits), base layers become a necessary part of getting dressed. I've tried silk, cotton, wool and synthetic and I have definite favorites. For years, I swore by Smartwool mid-weight bottoms. They are heavy-duty cold defenders, but do have the downside of being a little bulkier than most underthings and the wool can be a bit irritating if you have sensitive skin. Then I discovered Uniqlo's Extra Warm Heattech and winter life as I knew it was changed. The regular Heattech is fine and good for chilly days (like autumn), but the Extra Warm stuff is no joke, even on the coldest of Berlin days. The added bonus: it's super soft, plush and non-irritating. This year, it also came in a large range of tops as well. Stock up, my friend!

Warm accessories | Winter accessories are key in keeping warm. Good hats, scarves and gloves are essentially the cherry, sprinkles and whipped cream on top of your cold-weather sundae: without them, it's just not the same. I swear by this cashmere hat from COS (I have it in two colors, with hopes of collecting the whole assortment) because it's super warm, yet thin enough to put in your bag or even stuff in a coat pocket if you get too toasty. Double-layer hats, fleece-lined especially, are also a good idea for extra frigid days when you'll be out in the cold a lot. I don't care if losing 50% of your body heat through your head is really a myth, it feels true.

Scarves might be my favorite invention of all time, especially on days so cold that your first breath outdoors threatens to shut down your lungs. A scarf that not only covers your neck, but your mouth and nose as well, can be a total lifesaver. My rule of thumb here: Bigger is better, both in thickness of material and area covered. Something in lush wool like & Other Stories oversized scarf, or my go-to, J.Crew's brushed Italian wool scarf, are great for piling over your face and using your own warm breath to your advantage. Find wool scarves irritating or out of your budget? Zara never fails to make several acrylic ones each year that can double as blankets and keep out cold just as well as the high-end stuff.

Last but certainly not least in the accessories department: Gloves. Some people might say 'but that's what pockets are for!', but they clearly haven't yet hit a patch of sidewalk black ice and tumbled face-first into the pavement because their hands were stuck in... you guessed it, their pockets. In this day and age, let's be honest, they can't just warm your hands, they've gotta be functional too (read: let you keep being your super-productive Instagram/Snapchat/Twitter-self while keeping your fingers from going numb). I find Muji's touchscreen gloves do the job nicely and are priced so well - especially at half-off, as they are now - it's easy to pick up several pairs in anticipation of the ones you'll inevitably drop en route somewhere. I will admit, these babies don't hold up in the frigid temps like what we experienced last week, but it's easy to have them on under a pair of proper snow gloves or my favorite, fleece-lined knit gloves, and slip out of them to access your phone without exposing bare skin to arctic air.

Warm wool socks | In my book, this is a big one. One that can make or break you having feeling in your toes after going outside. This is also an area where you get what you pay for. The good ones are expensive, but can you really put a price tag on finishing up winter with your toes still intact? A few years back, I discovered Wigwam socks (out of the U.S.) and ever since, these have been the gold standard for winter footwear. They are like having your feet wrapped in the cushiest, warmest blanket all day. Falke trekking socks are also very good, and easier to come by in Deutschland, though not quite as plush.

Insulated boots | During the pseudo-Death Freeze the other week, I saw people walking around with sneakers and one girl even with bare ankles, which made me go into hypothermic shock just looking at them (though the sliver of opening between my hat and giant scarf, of course). I don't know who these people are with amazing internal heaters, but I am most certainly not one of them. Don't even get me started about what happens when the snow turns to slush. Warm, dry feet and happy feet and insulated - and waterproof - boots are a must.

Being the shoe girl that I am, I'm pretty particular that my winter footwear isn't only functional, but looks good too. Turns out to be a tall order, as most winter boots are terribly ugly, or at least feel terribly out of place trekking around a city in what looks better suited to an Antarctic expedition. If you can manage to invest in the good stuff, I can't recommend UGGs and Cougar Boots enough. Some disclaimers: By UGGs, I DO NOT mean the elephant feet kind, because (1) those offer no protection from water whatsoever, and (2) they fall into ugly territory. I mean the real leather, waterproof (or at the very least, water repellent) boots that look like they pass for real shoes. I swear by my Broome IIs, which are sadly discontinued, but the UGG Thomsen is very similar in style and insulation factor.

Cougar Boots hail from Canada and are honestly hard to come by outside its own great Northern territory. I've found some here and there in the U.S., but it's hit or miss. Like UGGs, you can also venture into unfortunate-looking territory with these, but there are always a couple pair each year that can pass for moderately stylish, like these Cougar Bang boots. Those Canadians clearly know what they are doing. My plush-lined pair is even warmer than my proper North Face snow-trekking boots, if that gives you an idea.

Portable warmth | When you need that extra bit of heat when out for a long day in the cold, something warm for your pockets is a much-appreciated extra. Standing out in the cold waiting for a tram or trekking through a park or forest means extremities get real cold, real fast. These handy (excuse the pun) hand-warmers from L.L.Bean are just the thing for those frigid days when your body temperature could use the extra boost. I've also seen what are essentially little hot water bottles for your pockets, but nothing beats these for ease and flexibility. Go forth into winter, and have warm hands!

While a winter coat is a given, the type and budget are so varied, that I leave that up to you. You can go with a simple wool number and layer the heck out of it, or choose a waterproof, heavy duty parka and be set no matter what Death Freeze decides to rear its ugly head. I have everything from Italian-made stadium cloth from J.Crew to an inexpensive snow parka from Lands End snagged on super sale, and it all keeps me warm mostly depending on these other factors here. OK, OK, the snow parka would probably keep me warm even if I were naked underneath, but you get my point. A solid coat is a must, but it's really these other details that keep you toasty overall.

Also worth noting: Many people swear by artificial sun lamps to help keep their spirits up during the long, dark winter that can lead even those with the most sunny dispositions into the depths of depression, but I have yet to try one myself (I've found hitting the gym to be a great mood booster). If anyone has any recommendations on this, please share your experiences in the comments!

Currently Coveting: Nike x Liberty Holiday '15 Collection

December 18, 2015

Nike x Liberty Holiday 2015 Cortez sneaker promo

I'm the first to admit I'm not a floral-loving girly-girl, but there's something about Liberty's prints juxtaposed with an urban staple like sneakers that appeals to my softer side. Much like my Nike x Liberty Dunk Sky Hi that I was totally obsessed with a few years back, yesterday's launch of this new Holiday Collection has me swooning.

Offered in the Classic Cortez, Air Max Thea, Rosche One, and Air Force 1 High, these are all pretty fantastic. Perhaps it's the recent resurgence this classic shoe is having or just my preference for more retro sneakers, but it's the Cortez that really caught my eye. Which one do you like?

Not surprisingly, my size looks like it was never even made, so it would be up to Santa to perform a Christmas miracle to make these happen for me. I suggest those of you with normal shoe sizes get a jump on this lovely limited edition collaboration, as I'm sure they won't be around for too long!

Nike x Liberty Holiday 2015 Cortez sneaker photo by 43einhalb Nike x Liberty Holiday 2015 sneaker collection photo by 43einhalb

Top image: Liberty
Bottom imgages: 43einhalb

Holiday Gift Guide: Made in Berlin

December 10, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide: Made in Berlin

Ahh, Berlin. It is a glorious place. So full of creative, entrepreneurial energy, which makes it an ideal city to seek out locally-made and designed products for the gift-giving season. Some of these great items I've picked up myself, some have been past gifts and some I pine for on my own wish list, but they are indeed some of the best that Berlin has to offer. Here are my picks (plus, a little background on each):

01. Antikapratika ceramic bowls | This Italian couple and tattoo-artist team started creating art off the skin with this gorgeous line of tattoo-inspired ceramic bowls. While the blue-based tattoo designs are their focus, I must admit I love the black designs that they have produced of late. You can see more at Un Autre Voodoo in Neukölln, and they seem happy to work with customers who want more of a specific design. This one's on my list please, Santa!

02. Maisoap | I first stumbled across this soap at a Christmas shopping market last year and have since noticed it popping up at various weekend markets across the city. Kreuzberg-based, this family business has been in operation since 2006, focusing on quality fats and oils for its soap production. Scents range from subtle basics like olive oil or lavender to the more complex coconut-lemongrass, avocado-mint and the cosmic-looking Berlin Bubble. While they offer essential oils and bath bombs as well, the bars of soap are really the stars.

03. Fluenk leather bags | While I was first intrigued by designer Anna's simple, soft tote bags at the Mauerpark Flohmarkt, complete with straps long enough for my lengthy limbs and an interior closer (thank goodness!), I have since become smitten with the rest of her unique yet timeless designs. Working with cow leather that would otherwise be a waste product of the food industry, the leather is tanned in Italy and made into not only bags, but wallets and other small goods as well. Though Fluenk is relatively new, the quality and craftsmanship speaks to a lasting Berlin business.

04. Atheist shoes | Ironically, I first found out about this company from the Instagram of a US-based graphic designer. Drawn in by the cheeky atheism messages stamped on the soles (and emblazoned on tote bags), I was won over by this concept of handmade, quality shoes. Technically, they're constructed in Portugal, but designed here in Berlin. With leather that is unprocessed, vegetable-dyed and gently tumbled for softness, customers swear they're 'like walking on hugs from baby kittens'.

05. Apfelsina bags | It doesn't get more Berlin than a bag made from photographs of this city's iconic landmarks and street art. Founded over a decade ago, creator Ina Kerkhoff began with a small, colourful collection of bags, and quickly expanded to varying materials and concepts as the inspiration struck. Designed and handmade in Berlin, her Stone Bone and Tempelhofer Freiheit collections are quite literally a pictorial representation of this great city.

06. Belyzium chocolate | A fan from day one, I've been frequenting this Berlin chocolatier for some time. At first, it was for the chocolate bars, now, I'm a regular for its spicy, rich Maya hot chocolate. With the addition of ice cream, hazelnut chocolate spread and even chocolate-infused rum, it has become the ultimate chocolate destination in Berlin. The owners will happily wax poetic about their chocolate, which only makes you fall more in love with the place. Finding out they had US-based partners in the California city I called home for a good part of my twenties felt even more like I was meant to be there. I often stop in when I need a small gift for someone, but have a hard time leaving without something for myself as well!

07. Format clothing | A bit like Atheist shoes, this Berlin-based clothing company creates well-designed, quality pieces from quality materials. Made in both Berlin-Neukölln and Szczecin, Poland, the designs are described as minimalistic, but with some truly beautiful tucking and pleating used in unexpected ways. With such attention to detail and certified organic materials, these are investment pieces meant to last a lifetime. My favorite is this cozy hooded sweater that is the epitome of Berlin winter wear.

08. Kaiserhonig | Anyone who knows me, knows I adore this honey. In two variations: thick honey with various fruit or spice or herb additions, or a creamier 'milk cream' honey with flavors like whiskey creme and salted caramel, they are a delicious treat on breakfast toast. You can also pick up an assortment of three small jars - perfect for gift-giving - at its regular stand at the Mauerpark Flohmarkt. Side note: a jar of the Zimt honey is a regular on my mom's Christmas list!

09. Berliner Winter | Cloudy, organic apple juice, spices and vodka. Drink it warm to stave off that Berlin winter chill. Buy it in bulk to give as gifts or horde for your own warming purposes. 'Keeps you warm, makes you tipsy and tastes so delicious.' What could be better - or more Berlin? Talk about a perfect stocking stuffer.

10. Elicamente jewelry | Hailing from Rome, Berlin-based artist Gabriele di Stefano makes gorgeous jewelery pieces that combine ceramics with wood and brass, drawing on the connection between humans and nature. The simple stud earrings and MRMR collection of necklaces are definite stand-outs. It also looks like he's branching out into other areas, with lovely little concrete planters available for pre-order to ship in February.

*photo of Antikapratika bowls by talented Berlin food photographer Claudia Gödke

Holiday Gift Guide: The Guy

December 9, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide: The Guy

Guys. They are notoriously hard to shop for. Never as transparent as women, never gushing 'ooo, I just adore this bag,' sometimes it's hard to know what to get them. Like women, guys are just as multifaceted and unique in their wants, but you've got to start somewhere. Oftentimes, the best way to go isn't with something they necessarily need (not that socks or tools aren't great and all...). This guide touches on cocktails to gadgets to attire, all in a stylish way most men would have a hard time finding fault with. There's a super cool coffee table book, a pullover so soft it will up his huggable factor exponentially and even special batch whiskies made from beer. And don't forget the shoes!

01. Drake General Store Maple Syrup Sampler | 02. Flight001 Guy Stuff Pouch  
03. Food52 Carry On Cocktail Kit (three variations) | 04. Ace & Tate Murray sunglasses | 05. ohw? Gatland shoes 
06. J.Crew grizzly fleece pullover jacket | 07. Boston Harbor Distillery x Samuel Adams Spirit of Boston Whiskies 
08. Corkcicle whiskey wedge | 09. Anatomy in Black by Emily Evans | 10. Native Union Dock Lightning

Holiday Gift Guide: The Homebody

December 8, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide: The Homebody

I believe everyone truly has a bit of homebody in them. Even the most energetic party girl needs downtime every now and then. For the perpetual Netflix-on-the-couch gal to those who just need to make the most of her infrequent nights in, these gift ideas can suit anyone who enjoys where they live. From indulgent coasters and gilded untensils that makes even take-out feel like a special affair, to wooly slippers that have changeable, outdoor-friendly soles, these are the makings of a happy home life. Think Danish Hygge - that untranslatable feeling of coziness complete with candles, couch cuddles and great company - because who wouldn't love that? People draping those sheepskins all over their furniture were really onto something...

01. Chipper Things Should I Wash My Hair Today? Flowchart | 02. Skandinavisk Hygge candle 
03. Click & Grow Smart Herb Garden | 04. Vika Sky serving utensils | 05. Rosanna Booze decanter
06. Jonathan Adler Malachite coasters | 07. Klippan lapp blanket | 08. IKEA sheepskin  
09. Mahabis classic slipper | 10. L.L. Bean plush-lined robe

Holiday Gift Guide: The Stylista

December 7, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide: The Stylista

If, like me, you are getting a later start on shopping for the holidays, I'm here to help. All this week, I'm rounding up gift ideas in several categories based on who you're shopping for. I like to think there's a little bit of me in each of these themes, so hopefully this informs on-the-nose gift-giving. Expect footwear recommendations across the board, because I am the shoegirl, after all.

First up, we have the Stylista. I call her this because 'Fashionistas' are too often slaves to labels and trends, whereas the Stylista believes firmly in her own sense of style and loves pieces because they are beautiful and well-made, not because someone else told her she should. She strives to own only chic, useful pieces, but enjoys the indulgence of something just plain pretty, or witty. This means good-for-you lip products in classic colors, Italian-made scarves, leather sneakers from Barcelona and diamonds in an unexpected, understated way. Essentially, things she'll treasure for more than just a season.

01. Bite Beauty Discovery Set | 02. Clare V. gold splash foldover clutch 
05. Casetify iPhone case | 06. J.Crew Italian brushed wool scarf | 07. Boden leopard boots
08. Meyba leather joggers | 09. Garance Doré's Love Style Life | 10. Day Birger et Mikkelsen Gweneth mini bag

*Photo via Vienna Wedekind

Review of Genius Gluten Free Bread: Now Available in Germany!

December 2, 2015

Genius Gluten Free German bread assortment review
Genius Gluten Free bread in Germany review Traditionelles Dunkeles Brot toast with Kaiser Zimt Honig
Genius Gluten Free bread in Germany review Weissbrot sandwich
Genius Gluten Free bread in Germany review Fruechtebrot cinnamon toast
Genius Gluten Free German bread assortment review

When I got the message from my friend Adam that a UK-based fresh-baked bread company was coming to Berlin and wanted to meet with the gluten-free community here to discuss its entry into the German market, I jumped at the chance. Gluten-free bread in Germany is, let's face it, sorely disappointing, especially coming from other parts of the world where a loaf can't often double as a doorstop. There are a few options at specialty groceries and through online retailers that are pretty good, but I've yet to find anything that made me proclaim "this is delicious!". Mostly, it's been just settling for what's out there, something my foodie sensibilities does begrudgingly. That is, until now.

Genuis's website got me really excited pre-meeting with the visiting group, and our dinner itself left me positively giddy. Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne, Genius's founder, was so full of optimism and confidence about their foray into these new markets (Genius is also available in France, Sweden and the Netherlands), it was hard not feel like we too were drinking the Kool-Aid. She described how Genius was born from her children's allergies and her desire to feed everyone the same good food, rather than needing to have safe assortment for the gluten- and dairy-intolerant among them every mealtime, and it became clear this wasn't just a sales pitch. She was in this for love of good food and keeping loved ones safe and healthy with what they ate - and she was kindly sharing what she created with all of us. As the other members of the Genius group raved about products, not even needing to be gluten-free themselves, it was obvious this was just a good product, period. "This is pretty good, for being gluten-free" is pretty much my most-hated phrase related to food. I was pretty positive this bread would meet my discerning standards.

I had hoped that Genius would bring us a sample to try, but as they started pulling out bag after bag of baked goods, showing us the assortment that was ready to go to market in its German packaging, I couldn't believe all they had to offer. There were multiple sliced loaves, big fluffy rolls that squished when poked them, even two kinds of big, moist-looking muffins. As I looked around, starting to formulate which ones I wanted to try and which ones I'd throw elbows to take home, they pulled out another bag, full of the entire range, all for me. I honestly nearly cried.

With all these fresh baked goods to eat in a limited amount of time*, I enlisted the help of my husband (who eats mostly gluten-free anyway thanks to our no-gluten-in-the-house rule) and a couple of friends - one gluten-intolerant, the other, her gluten-eating partner - to power through all these products and see how they stood up to both what we know of gluten-free baked goods here in Germany, as well as everything we wished they would be. These were our findings:

Genius Gluten Free bread in Germany review Traditionelles Dunkeles Brot toast with Kaiser Zimt Honig

Traditionelles Dunkeles Brot (Traditional Dark Bread)

This is the loaf that launched a bread company. Founder Lucinda said this one was developed in her kitchen to feed her family and became the beginning of a long line of gluten-free breads, muffins and other goodies like crumpets and pies (sadly not available to the German market yet). This one is a good neutral bread, without being flavorless, though I found it a little dry. It had a good crunch when toasted, but does tend to be more crumbly than the other sliced breads. For sandwiches, it fell apart the quickest, but as morning toast with some Berlin cinnamon honey, it was divine. This one reminded me the most of more traditional German bread in flavor, although it was still significantly lighter in density.

Genius Gluten Free bread in Germany review Dunkeles Mehrkornbrot buttered toast with breakfast

Dunkeles Mehrkornbrot (Dark Multigrain Bread)

These slices had great flavor with a slight crunch from the nuts and seeds. Light like any good non-German bread, yet hearty enough to feel like you're getting some great nutrition. Toasted, it did suffer a bit from dryness, so my advice is don't toast too long. My husband and I both enjoyed this as toast and for sandwiches, and we agreed it had the best taste of any store or bakery-bought gluten-free sandwich/sliced bread we've tried in Germany yet (and we've gone through an assortment of Schär, Schnitzer and the singular GF bakery here in Berlin). This is gonna be a best-seller here in Germany, I just know it.

Genius Gluten Free bread in Germany review Weissbrot sandwich with Pink's Foods Red Chilli Jelly

Weißbrot (White Bread)

This loaf was perhaps the one most like it's gluten-filled counterpart. Soft, with just the right amount of chewiness. Since there's no gluten, there's no sticking to the roof of your mouth. Like most white bread, on it's own, it a little boring, flavor-wise. Its strength lies with PB&J, grilled cheese, cinnamon toast or even made into holiday stuffing. I enjoyed this both untoasted for sandwiches and toasted for breakfast toast and for grilled cheese. It suffered from a little dryness next to the crust, but overall this bread performed like any good white bread should.

Genius Gluten Free bread in Germany review Fruechtebrot cinnamon toast

Früchtebrot (Fruitbread, like a cinnamon raisin bread)

Admittedly, I'm not the biggest raisins-in-baked-goods fan, but these slightly cinnamon-y slices with small, soft pieces of not only raisins, but sultanas and currant as well, might have won me over. I tried this both toasted with just butter and also with butter and cinnamon, and it was a perfect breakfast or snack bread. Once starting to go stale, it made an excellent French toast as well. Sweet without being overly so, the mix of fruits and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and more) makes it quite the tasty slice. Even my husband, not usually big on sweet stuff, reached for this loaf a surprising number of times. This one will be a breakfast go-to for me.

Genius Gluten Free bread in Germany review Mehrkorn Broetchen as burger buns

Mehrkorn Brötchen (Multigrain Rolls)

This was one of the first packages set in front of me by Genius and when I touched them, I marvelled at how the fluffy rolls gave when I pressed into them (as opposed to more traditional German Brötchen, which can often sub in for hockey pucks). While the inside was fluffy and soft, the outside was coated in just the right amount and assortment of seeds and nuts to compliment the grain-flavor on the inside. My husband and I enjoyed these first with some soup, then it was me and my gluten-intolerant guest who got the other two as burger buns. While, much like the white roll, it's not so much a bun as a roll, it did the job nicely, holding up to the messy insides of a burger without crumbling or disintegrating.

Genius Gluten Free bread in Germany review Helle Broetchen in package

Helle Brötchen (Light Rolls)

A good, basic white roll is often hard to find, one that is flavorful can be even harder. This one was so fluffy and tasty, I swear that any gluten-eater would take it for "the real thing". It's grain kind of flavor went beyond just the yeasty white nothingness of a basic roll. The first time my husband and I split one with our soup, slightly warmed in the oven, we were bowled over. This might be the best packaged gluten-free bread product we'd ever tasted. The next round of these was enjoyed slightly toasted as burger buns, and while only slightly too thick for the task, it was a delicious use for these rather large rolls. Unfortunately, this was the first of all the products to show mold, two days after opening and three days after receiving them. Not sure if this indicative of faster-spoiling ingredients or perhaps a product that was defrosted earlier than the others, but my advice is to eat this one immediately after purchase. Trust me though, it won't be difficult.

Genius Gluten Free bread in Germany review Schokoladen Muffins with coffee

Schokoladen Muffins (Chocolate Muffins)

Store-bought muffins - and cupcakes, which the Germans irritatingly call "Muffins" - are notoriously not great here. Much like bread, they tend to be much denser and drier than American and British counterparts. Biting into these felt almost as if I were back in the States. The chocolate flavor was rich, but not overpowering. The crumb was moist, but not soggy. I was surprised to see several kinds of fruit juice concentrates on the list of ingredients, which must account for a lot of the great moisture, without any fruit flavor coming through. The size here is also quite generous, not like the giant Costo muffins from the U.S., but perhaps nearly twice the size of the gluten-free ones I've seen on Germany grocery shelves. Being a baker myself, I don't often buy cakes or muffins, but these are definitely on my list for when I don't have time to make something myself.

Genius Gluten Free bread in Germany review Zitronenmuffins mit Mohn with coffee

Zitronenmuffins mit Mohn (Lemon Poppyseed Muffins)

The lemon flavor in these muffins is divine and the poppyseeds, which can play an overpowering role if used too abundantly, were the perfect subtle accompaniment to the bright citrus flavor. Just like the chocolate version, these were very moist with a great texture. While our friends got to taste this muffin and came away most impressed, my husband was pretty ambivalent about them. Since I make cakes and muffins often and he claimed mine were better, he didn't feel the need to indulge in these like I did (he also doesn't have my sweettooth, so take from that what you will). Though I could perhaps agree with him - I mean, when is good homemade not better than just about anything store-bought? - I still think the Genius muffins are far and away better than any muffins, or cupcakes for that matter, on Germany's shelves. If you're looking to indulge in a sweet breakfast or snack, I would highly recommend these.

Genius Gluten Free bread in Germany review Fruechtebrot French toast

Now that you're as excited as I am about this bread, you want to know where to buy it, right? Well, it is scheduled to be available on Food Oase this week, so check in and place your order before they sell out! Just want to be able to go to the store and pick one up? I feel you, but we've got to have patience, as Germany is notoriously slow to adopt new things. The more you ask your stores for more Genius Gluten Free products, the more likely they will be to add it to their offerings. The plan is to be in Berlin stores soon, so lobby hard with your local markets to help make that happen!

If you are lucky enough to live in or near Hannover, these are available at select Edeka's as of yesterday. Believe me, this bread is so good, I'm tempted to take a trip there just to pick some up... Stay tuned and be sure to follow me on Twitter as I will update whenever I get more information from the folks at Genius about where to buy its products here in Germany. Also, be sure to follow the Genius Germany page on Facebook to show your support (and to lobby for the pains au chocolat - Free From Food Awards 2015 Breakfast Winner - to come to the German market)!

*Important note: Genius is shipped to Germany frozen, then defrosted when put up for sale, which, as most GF eaters know, reduces the shelf-life by two days; refreezing after purchase in Germany is not recommended.

This post was in collaboration with Genius Gluten Free. I received free products for my review, but all opinions are entirely my own.

Exploring Berlin | UNESCO World Heritage Site: Berlin Housing Estates Gartenstadt Falkenberg / Tuschkastensiedlung

November 25, 2015

UNESCO World Heritage Site Berlin Modernism Housing Estates Gartenstadt Falkenberg Garden City Tuschkastensiedlung at graphic doorway of house on Gartenstadtweg

The diversity of sights here in Berlin never ceases to amaze me. I love everything from the gritty, graffitied streets in Neukölln to the sprawling, Palo Alto-esque homes we pass through every time we head out to Grunewald. In a city where bombs leftover from past conflicts can still disrupt daily life, you come to expect the unexpected. But I can say that I was at least a bit surprised to discover the Falkenberg Garden City, a most charming development out in Bohnsdorf, built between 1913 and 1916 as a cooperative building society model. Architecture is a hobby of mine (one I even studied for a time) and I immediately added this to my must-see list.

So one weekend blissfully free of rain, we made a plan to check it out. It was the first day this season where the nip in the air cut to the bone, so I put on my new favorite teddy bear-like fleece jacket, along with urban trekking friendly sneakers and my new CRU London Gordon backpack for easy picture taking and snack toting. I am all about whatever makes it easier to explore this city in a comfortable way - and this time of year, a warm one as well! Bundled and ready, we headed out to the far southeast corner of the city.

Somewhere between Schönefeld Airport and Müggelsee, you will find a few streets with these colorful, distinctive houses. Tucked into an otherwise unremarkable Berlin suburb, these homes recall a much earlier era, one in which optimism and forward-thinking were paramount. We began with the street that was the second stage of development, Gartenstadtweg, on which several different kinds of homes were arranged in long, connected rows and staggered groups. Even with its long, linear model, the community and connectedness were apparent in the repeating architectural elements. True to its name, the homes on this street were overflowing with plantlife, even in late autumn. More striking than the lush gardens and lawns, a rarity in urban living, was the vibrant, idyllic architecture. The original little nook of homes on Akazienhof is less sprawling, but no less charming, with a cozy inner stretch of Robinia tree-lined green space. It's a little like a fairytale village within what is commonly seen as a gritty, urban city.

You can see more of my photos from this great spot here.

UNESCO World Heritage Site Berlin Modernism Housing Estates Gartenstadt Falkenberg Garden City Tuschkastensiedlung grey homes along Gartenstadtweg UNESCO World Heritage Site Berlin Modernism Housing Estates Gartenstadt Falkenberg Garden City Tuschkastensiedlung double white doorways with arbor UNESCO World Heritage Site Berlin Modernism Housing Estates Gartenstadt Falkenberg Garden City Tuschkastensiedlung double yellow doorways with arbor
UNESCO World Heritage Site Berlin Modernism Housing Estates Gartenstadt Falkenberg Garden City Tuschkastensiedlung in front of yellow and orange houses on Gartenstadtweg with CRU London Gordon backpack UNESCO World Heritage Site Berlin Modernism Housing Estates Gartenstadt Falkenberg Garden City Tuschkastensiedlung looking at large black house with graphic accents wearing CRU London Gordon backpack

UNESCO World Heritage Site Berlin Modernism Housing Estates Gartenstadt Falkenberg Garden City Tuschkastensiedlung gate to Gartenstadtweg 64 CRU London Gordon backpack on fence at UNESCO World Heritage Site Berlin Modernism Housing Estates Gartenstadt Falkenberg Garden City Tuschkastensiedlung
UNESCO World Heritage Site Berlin Modernism Housing Estates Gartenstadt Falkenberg Garden City Tuschkastensiedlung stairs to bright blue house on Gartenstadtweg UNESCO World Heritage Site Berlin Modernism Housing Estates Gartenstadt Falkenberg Garden City Tuschkastensiedlung raised yellow house with tiered garden on Gartenstadtweg
UNESCO World Heritage Site Berlin Modernism Housing Estates Gartenstadt Falkenberg Garden City Tuschkastensiedlung large orange house on Gartenstadtweg
CRU London backpack | Uniqlo fleece coat | Krochet Kids Intl hat | Ace & Tate glasses
Design House Stockholm scarf | Nike sneakers (similar)
UNESCO World Heritage Site Berlin Modernism Housing Estates Gartenstadt Falkenberg Garden City Tuschkastensiedlung on Gartenstadtweg sidewalk at colorful houses with CRU London Gordon backpack

UNESCO World Heritage Site Berlin Modernism Housing Estates Gartenstadt Falkenberg Garden City Tuschkastensiedlung orange checkered front of house on Gartendstadtweg Krochet Kids Intl knit hat and Ace and Tate Lucca glasses at UNESCO World Heritage Site Berlin Modernism Housing Estates Gartenstadt Falkenberg Garden City Tuschkastensiedlung UNESCO World Heritage Site Berlin Modernism Housing Estates Gartenstadt Falkenberg Garden City Tuschkastensiedlung row of yellow and orange houses on Gartenstadtweg CRU London Gordon backpack at graphic front of house at UNESCO World Heritage Site Berlin Modernism Housing Estates Gartenstadt Falkenberg Garden City Tuschkastensiedlung Nike Internationalists at red doorway of UNESCO World Heritage Site Berlin Modernism Housing Estates Gartenstadt Falkenberg Garden City Tuschkastensiedlung UNESCO World Heritage Site Berlin Modernism Housing Estates Gartenstadt Falkenberg Garden City Tuschkastensiedlung green door with arbor on Akazienhof UNESCO World Heritage Site Berlin Modernism Housing Estates Gartenstadt Falkenberg Garden City Tuschkastensiedlung window with overgrown ivy on Akazienhof UNESCO World Heritage Site Berlin Modernism Housing Estates Gartenstadt Falkenberg Garden City Tuschkastensiedlung path to large individual home on Akazienhof UNESCO World Heritage Site Berlin Modernism Housing Estates Gartenstadt Falkenberg Garden City Tuschkastensiedlung row of colorful houses on Akazienhof UNESCO World Heritage Site Berlin Modernism Housing Estates Gartenstadt Falkenberg Garden City Tuschkastensiedlung garden gnome on rain pipe in garden on Akazienhof UNESCO World Heritage Site Berlin Modernism Housing Estates Gartenstadt Falkenberg Garden City Tuschkastensiedlung large purple house on Am Falkenberg

Gartenstadt Falkenberg
Akazienhof, Am Falkenberg, Gartenstadtweg, 12524 Berlin
S Grünau

This post is in collaboration with CRU London. Concept and styling are entirely my own.