Late summer in Copenhagen

September 25, 2015

colorful facades with bike in Østerbro Copenhagen

As is so often the case, my long weekend in Copenhagen in August was so gratifying, yet over before I knew it. This of course means, like with most amazing cities, I'm pining to go back. Only a 40-minute plane ride from Berlin, it shouldn't be too hard to make that happen.

In addition to the amazing people - from the three new-ish/brand-new foodie friends I stayed with, to meeting up with a great blogging friend I made years back and an old friend I hadn't seen since high school - the city itself was constantly impressing me. While there's no denying the draw of Insta-worthy spots like Superkilen and Nyhavn, what I enjoyed most was just wandering, stumbling upon beautiful storefronts, great design in the most mundane of places and neighborhoods so picturesque you'd swear it was a movie set. Just hang out in the right spots and everyone looks as though they stepped out of a street style blog. The people were so friendly, we would often find ourselves in long conversations with shop owners passionate about what they do. It's no wonder these are supposedly some of the happiest people on earth. Then there was all the food and coffee (and drinks)...

Before I dive into a post about the best gluten-free things I ate in this Scandinavian capital next month (which were really good and surprisingly plentiful), I'll leave you with some inspiration from this lovely city. Just try to resist the pull of wanderlust, I dare you.

Nyhavn colorful buildings against blue sky Copenhagen

Copenhagen farmers market fruit peaches and berries

Instagramming Hija de Sanchez tacos at Torvehallerne Copenhagen

bikes parked under tree at lakes Copenhagen

view over the Copenhagen lakes

Atelier September sign and street Copenhagen

Atelier September iced coffee and newspaper on the table Copenhagen antique shop storefront Copenhagen

bike parking in Nørrebro Copenhagen

Mexican jarritos sodas truck Copenhagen

Vanishing Point boutique table with succulent and pottery Copenhagen Pottery shop uh la la shelves Copenhagen

bicyclist against yellow wall of Assistens Kirkegård cemetary

Olufs Is ice cream pops cherry with white chocolate Copenhagen

picturesque street in Østerbro Copenhagen

ornate white door Copenhagen

Copenhagen Dome of Visions plants garden climate rounded stone doorframe with wooden door and bike Copenhagen

Relae restaurant sign on Jægersborggade street Copenhagen

Relae restaurant mackerel cauliflower bergamot Copenhagen Relae restaurant fermented milk ice cream raspberries rapeseeds Copenhagen

Nikolaj Kunsthal church tower Contemporary Art Center Copenhagen_ horizontal

cool architecture Nørrebro Copenhagen

Ved Stranded wine bar door on corner Copenhagen Ven Stranden wine bar table and wine shelves Copenhagen

Superkilen park the red square rainbow bike racks Copenhagen

Superkilen park the black square lines and Belgian benches around cherry trees Copenhagen

docks on water Christianshavn Copenhagen

The Green Path Den Grønne Sti bridge with friends Copenhagen

Plant shop sidewalk display Copenhagen friends walking streets in the rain Copenhagen

Nyhavn canal boats docked along street with buildings and fog Copenhagen

Nyhavn canal boat Gedser Rev in front of colorful buildings Copenhagen

Ruby cocktail bar bartender Copenhagen Ruby cocktail bar patio glass ceiling with chandelier Copenhagen

sunset over Copenhagen canal with Christiansborg Slot palace

For more of beautiful Copenhagen, check out my even more comprehensive album over on Flickr, and expect to see many more latergrams on my Instagram

Coveting for Autumn / A Dream Birthday List

September 11, 2015

Coveting for Autumn / A Dream Birthday List

After my parents cancelled their trip to Berlin and our Bailey-dog got diagnosed with cancer, I was ready to let my birthday go the way it's gone for the past two years: postponed. Since I luckily got the flu out of the way this week, at least I won't be sick for a third year in a row, but there will definitely be some toning down of the festivities. Hey, when my girl needs chemo, that's the way I'd rather it go anyway.

All that aside, who says a girl can't dream..? I mean, that's what birthday wishes are all about anyway, right? Did anyone ever get that pony they wished for as a child? Plus, autumn for me has always represented the start of a new year (I was the nerd who liked going back to school), so my birthday always coincided with this time for reevaluating what I had and possibly a little reinvention as well (with hopes of becoming the cool girl that never quite materialized). These days, as I inch closer to 40 (*gulp*), I'm definitely more about investments than frivolous wants. Yes, any 'want' is by definition frivolous, but you know what I mean. Things I could love forever rather than just a flash in the pan. So, if money were no object and someone could wave their magic wand, here's what I'd wish for this year...

A perfectly simple black dress | All about the black in recent years, it has come to my attention that I do not own a Little Black Dress. Well, I own one that's not-quite-right for my body and will likely be eBaying soon in an effort to raise money for pricy canine chemotherapy (stay tuned for more on that!), but more importantly, it's limiting in its uses (read: it's sexy vibe, all the way). When I slipped on this 3/4-sleeve oversized dress from COS, it was classic/modern/chic, all at the same time. Equally at home at a party, or a wedding, or on a date, this little black number is classic Audrey from the the front, but the swooping back fabric and roomy pockets feel a bit avant-garde. It's everything a girl could want in an LBD, including a really reasonable price tag.

A tattoo from Sophie Lee | I was introduced to artist Sophie Lee's work through Australian friends who are also looking to get inked by her and I must say, I was immediately drawn to her slightly New Yorker-esque kind of style. Plus, working at the acclaimed AKA Berlin, it's hard not to be impressed. I wanted to start with another small piece on my arm and then work with her on perhaps a larger floral piece for my back. I was warned after my first one, once you start... and here I am, nearly two decades later, plotting more. Art is addicting folks.

Matte red lips | The more I use my Bite Beauty products kind friends and family have brought me from the States (mercilessly gluten-free and food grade!), the stronger my belief in lipstick has become. With a warm pink lip crayon, a mauve-y lip gloss and a brick red sheer lipstick already in my arsenal, I'm ready for the big guns: a matte classic red for fall and winter. Aside from all the creepy chemicals and lurking gluten (who knew?), most lipsticks dry out my perma-chapped lips and I abandon them at the bottom of a drawer before they're even half gone. Not so with Bite Beauty. I'm a hard-core fan and will camp out in anticipation when they finally bring this amazing line to Germany.

Clear eyeglasses | I am so in love with my peachy-pink Lucca's I bought earlier this year (and I've never had more compliments on a pair of frames, let me tell you), but as we slip into fall, something about the petal-like color feels rather out of the place for the season. Ace & Tate's clear-framed Hudsons keep it light yet neutral, a perfect pairing for say, a crimson lip and a little black dress. I mean, have you seen Anne in her clear frames? Sold!

Mother of pearl hair | I first stumbled on this hair color while looking at my hair stylist's website earlier this year and heavily debated between this and the pastel pink I had been wanting. Ultimately cotton candy hair won out, but now that I see this popping up more on lovely heads, I'm convinced this should be my next foray into this soft color trend. Subtle, Different. Love.

Simple {real} gold jewelery | In addition to these lovely Another Feather earrings, I'd like to repierce my closed-up second holes to put them in. After all, they're just sitting there. As my friend Kat mentioned while she was buying up lovely gold rings during our trip to Copenhagen, it's time to invest in grown up jewelry. I love the trendy, quick-fix just as much as the next person, but her determination to invest in something better for herself resonated with me. Might as well add the Crest cuff and Curve ring while I'm at it.

Zip-top leather tote bag & wallet | Totes are definitely having a moment right now, but like Birks, hasn't this classic really always been around? While Madewell totes have become something of an Instagram epidemic - because they're lovely - they fall prey to the same issue I take with most leather totes on the market: the open top. I suppose that's convenient for easy access while your hands are full, but in rainy, big-city Berlin, I'd rather my items inside stay dry and un-pick-pocketed. San Francisco-based Cuyana just released its new zippered tote in this buttery, butterscotch-hued version and even though I have yet to see one in person, I'm confident this is the bag I've been searching for. Add to that a very grown-up gold monogram and a chic black wallet to go with, and dreams would be made, people. Here's hoping by the time I can afford these, they'll start shipping to Germany...

Black brogues | Good black oxfords are hard to find, apparently. I've been on the lookout for years for just the right thing, with no luck. Mostly, I blame my Sasquatch feet, but really, the styles just didn't appeal. These new-for-fall ones from Clarks hit just the right note with an on-trend platform that isn't runway ridiculous and perforation details that keep them from feeling stodgy (read: too manly). Bonus? They are light and crazy comfy. I tried the blue pair on in the store (in a 42, which is unheard of for me in closed-toe Clarks, so err on the smaller side if you pick them up) and it was like walking on two little clouds. Okay, two big clouds, but you get my point.

What are you dreaming about this autumn...?

Sophie Lee's tattoo photos via her Instagram
Mother of pearl hair photo via Jenna Perry

Top Shops for Gluten-Free Ice Cream in Berlin

September 1, 2015

Ice Cream Makes You Happy sign Berlin

Summer and ice cream are pretty synonymous. Unfortunately, so are gluten and ice cream. The cones aside - oh, sweet waffle cones... - often makers include gluten in their ice cream in the form of inexpensive thickeners and stabilizers. I'll forgive the addition of things like gluten-y cookies and brownies, because, well, that's delicious, but those other gluten-based additions are just unnecessary. Between these sneaky additives and all those cross-contamination possibilities, it's easy to feel left out as a celiac watching every summer passerby licking an ice cream cone.

But there is hope! Even in the land of gluten (beer! pretzels!) and limited celiac understanding ("but you can have spelt, right..?"), Berlin has some shining beacons of that ubiquitous summer treat safe for the intolerant among us. There aren't any 100% gluten-free establishments, but after my first summer post-celiac diagnosis exploring Berlin's ice cream scene, these are my favorites that have kept my sensitive gut, not to mention my very particular palate, very happy:

Leck Mich, Mitte & Prenzlauer Berg

Leck Mich neon sign and ice cream cone _Berlin gluten-free

First off, let's just admit that the name - "lick me" - is amazing. In fact, this shop's whole branding and decor is spot-on. But it wasn't until I discovered that this ice cream was gluten-free that I became a regular. The part that absolutely wins it for me? Gluten-free waffle cones! Not the out-of-a-box ones that a few other places use (see below), but homemade, real-deal waffle cones. Bar none, the best in Berlin. For the actual ice cream, we're talking 100% natural, organic ingredients with flavors like kafir lime, basil, cran-apple and yogurt. Reminiscent of gelato, the flavors are light and refreshing, perfect for summertime. Or anytime, if you're an ice cream lover like I am.

While the site claims they are 100% gluten-free, it's important to note that there is a cheesecake flavor which does contain gluten, as well as having wheat-based waffle cones, so the possibility of cross-contatmination is there, but still significantly less than most places. There's a lovely employee at the Mitte location that has clearly influenced the shop's gluten awareness, from the way they wrap the gluten-free waffle cones in plastic to handling them carefully-wrapped in a napkin so as to prevent gluten contamination (note: I have not seen the Lychener Str. location employ these practices, so it's worth asking for this level of care if your intolerance is high). They even sold some of her delicious gluten-free brownies one time I visited. Here's hoping they have even more gluten-free offerings, especially once peak ice cream season comes to a close.

What to order: Kabuba (Karotte Buttermilch Banane) on a gluten-free waffle cone or the affagatto, also available in a version for kids made with hot chocolate

Leck Mich wooden light fixture _Berlin gluten-free ice cream
Leck Mich affogato coffee ice cream _Berlin gluten-free Leck Mich küss mich napkin _Berlin gluten-free ice cream

Leck Mich
Ackerstrasse 144, 10115 Berlin-Mitte
S Nordbahnhof/ U/tramRosenthaler Platz
Tel: 030 54843909
Tues-Fri: 14-22, Sat & Sun: 12-22*

Second location:
Lychener Strasse 11, 10437 Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg
U/tram Eberswalder Strasse
Open: Tues-Sun 12-23*

Eis Voh, Friedenau

Eis Voh ice cream cone and flavors _Berlin gluten-free

In business since 2010, Eis Voh was among the first to cater to the needs of the gluten-free here in Berlin. In addition to ice cream and gluten-free waffle cones (corn-based and out of a box, OK but not a dupe for the real thing), they have serval different kinds of cakes and breads, as well as some savory options. The sweets are unsurprisingly very German, from ice cream flavors like plum and poppy seed to less-sweet, drier cake selections, but there are a few not-so-common options like cinnamon ice cream and French-inspired eclairs as well. I've heard there is gluten-free Spätzle available here, which pleases me to no end, as it's one of the German foods I've missed the most. For now, I've only frequented this spot for the sweets.

How aware are these folks about cross-contamination? Let's just say that when my husband was about to put my gluten-free cone into the cone holder to free up his hands to pay, he was quickly stopped and warned there could be gluten on it from the wheat-based cones they also offer. Clearly, they know the needs of their customers. So while there are "regular" waffle cones for the rest of the customers, I'm pretty sure just about everything else in this shop is gluten-free, from the ice cream and cake selections, to the freshly-baked breads and few shelves of gluten-free mixes, cereals and boxes of cones to take home. The location is a bit off the beaten track, but I promise it's worth the trek out there.

What to order: Eierlikör (Germany's answer to American spiked egg nog) and raspberry (one of the best I've tried) ice cream or the can't-believe-it's-gluten-free chocolate eclairs

Eis Voh chocolate eclair _Berlin gluten-free ice cream
Eis Voh cakes eclairs pastries _Berlin gluten-free ice cream

Eis Voh
Bundesallee 118, 12161 Berlin-Friedenau
U Friedrich-Wilhelm-Platz
Tel: 030 85402065
Open daily 11-20*

Eisbox, Moabit

Eisbox storefront and ice cream cone _Berlin gluten-free

Known for it's simple yet special flavors and organic ingredients, Eisbox is truly a treat for Berliners. The stark, clean shop interior is perfectly aligned with the flavorful, unadorned ice cream in the case. You'll find no child-centric graphics or dusting of some unknown accoutrement on top of the flavors here, just excellent Eis that speaks for itself. Standby's like licorice, tonka and lime-rosemary are accompanied by the best of seasonal flavors: rhubarb-yogurt in the spring, cucumber-melon in the summer and plum-cinnamon in the fall. Another bonus? You can find cartons of a few select flavors for sale at Denn's Biomarkt as well.

Even though the ice cream here is all gluten-free (at the time of inquiry for this post) and gluten-free cones are on offer, the awareness of gluten-free needs is a little less than ideal, with the gluten-free cones handled and set up without protection, the same as the wheat-based cones. Depending on your level of intolerance, it is something to be aware of and possibly ask for more care when you order.

What to order: cafe oriental, a spicy cinnamon and cardamon with a hint of coffee, the simple orange-essenced vanilla or any of the unique herbal-fruit combinations

Eisbox freezer flavors _Berlin gluten-free ice cream

Elberfelder Str. 27, 10555 Berlin-Moabit
U Hansaplatz/ Solinger Strasse bus
Tel: 030 54484652
Open: Mon-Sat 12-21, Sun: 12-20*

Giorgio Lombardi, Mitte

Giorgio Lombardi gelato _Berlin gluten-free ice cream

Admittedly, I have a soft spot for Italian gelato and lucky for me, this newer spot does not disappoint. Giorgio Lombardi has the winning combination of a prime spot on Weinbergsweg in Mitte and flavors that will knock your socks off: Pineapple and lime, banana and ginger, melon, Italian classics like Tiramisu and Stracciatella... Plus, they take quality seriously. The nuts in the pistachio hail from Sicily and the 75% dark chocolate uses the best Domori cocoas. And it's no wonder they know their stuff: They already have a shop in Northern Italy.

All the ice cream, as well as the cakes and savory items are labeled as to their gluten, and vegan, status. With only one ice cream flavor containing gluten when I've been on various trips there this summer, cross-contamination possibilities are rare, though they also stock gluten-containing waffle cones (sadly, no gluten-free cones are on offer here). Overall, they seem very knowledgeable about gluten on the production end and the labeling is clear. Thank goodness those Italians and their celiac awareness have made it to Berlin.

What to order: the unbelievable ricotta with candied orange, the coffee that is a dead ringer for the long-time holy grail of coffee ice cream from Häagen-Dazs or one of the special ice cream cocktails when they are available

Giorgio Lombardi ice cream cocktail _Berlin Gluten-free gelato Giorgio Lombardi gelato flavors _Berlin gluten-free ice cream

Gelateria Giorgio Lombardi
Weinbergsweg 5, 10119 Berlin-Mitte
U/tram Rosenthaler Platz
Tel: 0152 12086378
Open Mon-Thurs 9-22, Fri 9-24, Sat 10-24, Sun 10-22*

Runner-Up: Zwei Dicke Bären

Zwei Dicke Bären gluten-free chocolate meringue and raspberry ice cream cookie sandwich _Berlin

Even though they're not really a shop (you can find them with their freezer cart at various food events around the city and at Mos Eisley, the gelateria where they source their ice cream) and the product is really more cookie than ice cream, I felt my good friends The Bears deserved some mention on this list. I like to think that in some small part because of my special food needs, the guys developed a couple gluten-free options in the last year that mean I can get my ice cream sandwich fix like the rest of the gluten-eating Berliners. They were also just featured on the premiere episode of "How to Make It In: Berlin", a web series by two New Yorkers about small business owners and their success stories around the world.

The Bears' allergy-friendly standby, the vegan and gluten-free almond cookie with chocolate sorbet is pretty tasty, but it was their chocolate meringue cookies with raspberry ice cream they did for the Berlin Ice Cream Market earlier this summer that blew me away. If you have gluten-free needs, be sure to ask them about what they offer and pick up a gluten-free sandwich whenever you can, so they know the demand is there!

Zwei Dicke Bären
Find them at Street Food Thursday and Gelateria Mos Eisley

* Opening times often vary from one season to the next, so be sure to check before heading over

ice cream cocktail photo courtesy of Ana Dahan