Der 11.11.11: Brandenburger Tor und Domino Steine

November 11, 2011 § 1 Comment

Cool date. Happy Carnival (It’s the start of festivities in places like Cologne). Also lot’s of lanterns running around Berlin. It’s Lantern Fest Day.

On this 11th day of the 11th month of 2011, many people got married. Apparently there were also a fair amount of women who scheduled a C-section for today.

For some reason it seems the 11.11.11 got more press than the 10.10.10 or other similar such dates, but maybe I’m wrong. But being that it’s also Veteran’s Day, that might be true.

I had lot’s to do today in Mitte and ended up biking home around 4ish. Due to the oncoming winter and the fact that we’ve moved the clocks here already, it gets dark around 4:30.

Here’s what the Brandenburg Gate looked like on my way home:

It was a pretty cool light. I’ve ridden my bike many times through the gate, but no matter how many times I do this, I always remember what this section of town looked like before the wall came down in 1989.

It was a type of Ground Zero for Berlin. The side where I’m standing was in the East and on the other side of the Gate was the West. But you couldn’t go up to the Gate on the East side because it was too close to the Wall.

Things are of course different now. But I always think about those days every time I ride my bike under the Gate.

For me the Gate is a kind of Statue of Liberty.  It’s very touristy now, but so is the Statue.  The French and American Embassies face each other near the Gate and there always seems to be a variety of performers trying to make a living there.

I raddled home and craved something sweet by the time I got back. It’s about a 30-40 minute ride from my flat to this part of town. I went into my nearby bakery and bought a cake, but then I saw these chocolate confections.

I asked what they were and the bakery lady said “Domino Steine.” She said it in such a tone that I knew it was some kind of cake that every German knows about. It would be as if someone in a U.S. bakery said the cakes in the window were blueberry muffins. No American would ask what that is.

So I left the bakery. But I was still intrigued by the cakes. I was trying to figure out a way to find out what was inside these goodies without appearing stupid, but I couldn’t come up with anything clever to say.

So I went back into the bakery and just told the truth.  “I’m from abroad and I don’t know what Domino Steine are. Can you tell me what is in them?”

The bakery lady was very understanding. She said it’s a cake with marzipan and special spices and it’s a very traditional Christmas goodie.

Of course I had to try it. It was very delicious. Here’s what they look like inside:

They kind of remind me of these dark chocolate covered rainbow cakes my dad used to bring home from the kosher bakery in the Bronx near where he worked. My dad is long gone and the bakery is too. But I still think you can get those cakes in New York in some Jewish neighborhoods. I always think of him when I eat those.

These cakes weren’t as colorful and didn’t have as many layers but they were really good. You can see the white marzipan under the chocolate layer. And there’s some kind of jelly filling, like there is in the rainbow cakes, in between the cake layers. The bakery near my apartment sells them in dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate variations. I got two dark, my favorite, and one milk, which my daughter likes. I hate white chocolate.

The bakery lady did a great job wrapping the cakes. Presentation is really important here and not just in bakeries. When you go to a deli they arrange whatever meat or cheese you are buying very carefully. They don’t just slap it onto a piece of plastic like they do at my neighborhood Freddies. I don’t think anyone here would eat meat that was arranged that way.

This is Arnold’s last weekend here. Pauline and I are going to the final performance of the school play that he is working on (as the audio engineer).

I hope things go better for him in the States.

§ One Response to Der 11.11.11: Brandenburger Tor und Domino Steine

  • Thanks for the Domino Steine bit. I love the Brandenburg Gate photos–they remind me of when we were there. That lighting when you snapped those photographs showcases possibly my favorite time of day as well, and somehow they really transported me there. In my mind’s eye I could see some of the street performers that were there when we visited in 2005. I hope to some day have a similar bike experience zipping through the gate, and am glad you get the chance to do that often.

    The scheduled Caesarian Section apart from medical necessity or for high risk women continues to baffle me. Planning a marriage for a special/memorable date I can understand, but planning a birth that way seems a little extreme.

    Also: white (faux? pseudo-?) chocolate does not even deserve to be referred to as chocolate!

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