I visited the Galup factory in Pinarolo. They don't use any additives, but it's not very good.

I've now compared 5 brands of Panettone and there really is a difference, although it's not well represented by the price. Galup were the 2nd most expensive in my research and the worst quality. The best FYI were the deservedly famous Perbellini and my favorite local Turin bakery, Ficini, who is an expert in llevito madre which is the key thing to Panettone. Ficini was nearly indistinguishable from another local patisserie, Ghigo (known for cookies and cream puffs and the source of my absolute favorite savoiardi to which neither Ficini nor any other bakery's compare.)

Expense: Ghigo €30, Galup €25, Perbellini €22, Muzzi Tommaso €15, Ficini €15.

Deliciousness: Perbellini 10, Ficini 9, Ghigo 9, Galup 3, Muzzi 2. I have to also note with grave disappointment that I bought the Muzzi because they were sold at Eataly, but they do have additives and made me feel slightly sick.)

Thankfully, Perbellini ships internationally and is carried in the US by Formaggio Kitchen, who will ship domestically.

I am suddenly a fan of Napoli pizza. Can't get enough of it. Margherita.

I love the chewy crust. I love the black char. I love the salty cheese and the not too sweet tomato sauce.

Question: Why is there so little basil?

Answer: This is highly regulated stuff.

I first fell in love with Sironi's Margherita, which is NOT Napoli. More like focaccia, square not round, and crunchy at the base. definitely not foldable or rollable.

Now I want it all.

Hungry at the window of W, I was seduced by a wild animal, a pizza which had managed to capture an entire burrata in its jaws, so I have to return for the Margherita proper.

In a more disciplined and scientific manner, I have eaten two entire Margheritas at Standard Serious and half of one at at Zola.

Both very delicious and I'm not sure I can tell the difference (yet).

I think the cheese was more generous at Zola.

What I can say is that I like to eat in a restaurant which guarantees that its cheapest wine is still delicious. Serious Standard: €5.90 and fabulous. Zola: €4.50 and undrinkable.

The service at Zola is an experiment in the noise of crashing bottles and asses hanging out of shorts. I prefer Serious Standard, but it depends on your thing.

 

 

Chicha is a Peruvian restaurant in Berlin which started out doing street food and now has a bricks-and-morter restaurant in Kreuzberg.

We were surprised when it was expected we would have a reservation...

Next thing that happened (after a wait to order) was a lengthy conversation between the waiter and couple next to us, who were seated after us. Having finally chosen a menu for them, he turned to us.

We ordered cautiously and the waiter responded aggressively. One pisco sour to share. The waiter "Why not two? We've sold 33,000 of them." Neither of us had tried this cocktail before, so we weren't sure it would be to our taste. We awkwardly explained this to the waiter, and were indeed later grateful we hadn't ordered two.

The house ceviche €12.50 was a tiny portion, not well trimmed, and salted beyond delicacy. ("Authentic" Peruvian ceviche is an overwhelming mountain on a large plate, accompanied by boiled potates and sweet corn on the cob). The only thing nice about their ceviche was the thrifty innovation of sprinking corn nuts on top. (Fresh sweet corn is very expensive in Berlin.)

The porridge of sweet potato with a stale walnut and flavorless cheese was hard to eat.

The fried yucca was fried yucca, but hardly matched the rave reviews of the former menu item, yucca balls with cheese inside.

We fled to Zola for a pizza, glad we hadn't ordered more and resentful about dropping €31 on, well, not much.

First mistake... I was drawn in by the website/concept, and booked a reservation without diligently checking reviews...

Second mistake... We ordered a €42pp sharing menu without first establishing confidence in the food.

Third mistake... When disappointed by the first four courses, we continued to have hope in the fifth...

The rest of the mistakes weren't ours...

The server sold the sharing menu with the idea that she would keep bringing dishes until we were full. But when she completed what seemed to be a pre-set series of dishes and asked if we wanted more, it was not clear if the "additional order" she offered would add to the bill or not. This sort of thing (and any offer made by the server without specifying the price) is manipulative. It makes money from diners pride and shame, rather than by delivering value.

As it turned out, the extra dish was in the same red sauce as the previous two and was announced to be sweetbreads only upon arrival at the table. This is also not cool. My companion was disturbed.

It's "mediterranean", which is the fancy word for Arab food, and one could do better for 1/4 the price at many Arab restaurants, such as Dada and Babel. Consistent with the focus on money over honesty was the manipulative wine offering in which the cheapest red by the glass was €9. Regardless of what was in that glass, the offer is out of sync with the restaurant's level.

The dessert was black (ash cheesecake or somesuch), which would be cool and fine if it were also delicious. It wasn't.

I felt the chef was earnest and can probably produce a few dishes which delighted his friends. But that doesn't amount to sufficient skill to deliver a menu or a restaurant.

 

Review Restaurantkritik Night Kitchen Berlin