The best of Berlin in December
Exberliner, the German capital's leading English-language magazine, this month picks the best places to knock back a glass of fine Burgundy, buy yourself an extravagant headpiece, and buy original versions of international children books.
While most of us passively protest the globalization of taste by stuffing ourselves with local fare from bio delicatessens, a few gastronomic crusaders are actively working to enlighten our profane tables. Roland Kretschmer is one of them: a former journalist and editor at Deutsche Welle, this 40-year-old oenophile spent five years roaming across picturesque Burgundy, to uncover family-run vineyards, new terroirs and great wines - and, of course, he never missed a tasting on the way.
Back in Germany, Kretschmer decided to turn his hard-earned knowledge into commerce: Last month he launched Berlin's first and only Burgundy-specific wine store, Les Climats. Here, at the back of a Mitte courtyard, you'll find prestigious Grand Crus side by side with affordable village appellations and bargain AOCs. For the holidays, why not treat yourself to a Montagny 1er Cru (€13.50)? It's from Domaine Le Grégoire, and Kretschmer's personal favourite to accompany your Christmas fish. As for turkey, let yourself be tempted by a red from Domaine Denis Père et Fils, maybe the Pinot Noir (€9.50) or the Savigny Les Beaune (€15.90). Have a hankering for something even more special? Go for a Grand Cru from Vosne-Romanée. And Champagne is not so far away - Kretschmer offers an excellent Rosé Brut Grand Cru (€27). For further advice, drop by one of Les Climats' regular wine tastings or on December 11 for special Holiday Season recommendations./VC
Les Climats, Hannoversche Str. 1, Mitte, U-Bhf Oranienburger Tor, Tel 2900 1212, Wed-Fri 12-20:00 and Sat 12-18:00 or by appointment, www.lesclimats.com
How will you be remembered when you're gone? That's a question the French Artist Christian Boltanski has been attempting to answer for decades. His previous "records" - collections of photos, worn clothes and letters - have graced galleries in Paris, New York and London. And now Boltanski is aiming to pin down the most potent symbol of them all: at his latest installation, punters are invited to step inside a black box and have their heartbeat recorded for the posterity of Les Archives du Cœur, the "heart archives". So far, Boltanski has gathered heartbeats in Stockholm and Paris. The project is scheduled to continue until 2010, when his collection will be stored (presumably for all eternity) on a deserted Japanese island. Boltanski often displays his art in completely atypical settings because he sees the primary purpose of art as the creation of a joint experience - Les Archives du Coeur's current venue, the Italian restaurant Sale e Tabacchi, being a case in point./ALM
Christian Boltanski's Les Archives du Cœur, Sale e Tabacchi, Rudi-Dutschke-Str. 23, Mitte, U-Bhf Kochstr., Tel 2521 155, Mon-Fr 15-18:00. Through Dec 31
A home for every head
"Home is where the hat is." This little hat shop in one of Berlin's most trendoid shopping streets offers an inspiring selection of hats for everyone and each occasion, whether hip hop, Bavarian or cocktail, with brands Borsalino, Goorin Hats, Mayser and Kangol, not to mention Berlin designers Rotkäppchen, Bencen and Winterfeld. The brainchild of businessman Sebastian Mücke and hat connoisseur Stefan Lochner, Heimat Berlin opened for business just over a year ago and word-of mouth and a loyal customer base have encouraged Heimat to design their own line of hats and open a second shop in Hamburg. From the selection of over 500 hats, the friendly, clued-up staff quickly find you a hat tailored to fit your style and budget: big brim if you're tall, a small brim if you're small, a green hat for a blonde, a beige hat if you're a redhead. They offer a home for every head with prices ranging from €10 to €349 for a Panama. Victims of their own success, they have opened up a temporary shop in Kreuzberg to meet the high Christmas demand./LM
Heimat Berlin, Kastanienallee 13-14, Prenzlauer Berg, U-Bhf Eberswalder Str., Tel 8894 8059, Mon-Sat 10:30-20:30, Sun 13-19:00, www.heimat-berlin.eu
Heimat Berlin II, Körtestr. 5, Kreuzberg, U-Bhf Südstern, for a limited time through Jan 15
OV kiddie literature
After Le Matou closed earlier this year, Prenzlauer Berg's famous international brats would have been sadly bereft of OV literature if Mundo Azul hadn't stepped in to fill the vacuum. Inspired by the literary workshops for children in her homeland, the bookshop's Argentineanborn founder Amariela Nagle set out to provide quality reading for youngsters in her Berlin Kiez. Mundo Azul carries classics but high quality books from independent publishing houses are particularly favoured. Launched last May as a German/Spanish book trove, the colourful shop recently added an English-language section - the result of inexorable pressure from the ever-growing colony of enlightened expats. Looking for a Christmas gift? Nagle recommends either a classic choice like The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg and Hansjörg Schertenleib, or something a little more obscure like The Toys' Night Before Christmas by Susanna Ronchi. Mundo Azul also offers music lessons, reading groups and children's workshops in anything from juggling to book-making - activities that are held in each of the store's three languages./JM
Mundo Azul, Choriner Str. 49, Prenzlauer Berg, U-Bhf Eberswalder Str., Tel 4985 3834, Mon 10-16, Tue-Fri 10:30-19, Sat 11-16, www.mundoazul.de