Wednesday, July 18, 2012

SUMMER TRAVEL, MUSINGS & MANGOS

It's mid-July and I haven't accomplished a fraction of the things on my To-Do List. The summer rains make it too hot, wet & muggy to spend much time outdoors. There's a lot to do inside, but I'm easily distracted by instant gratification projects...leaving the BIG ONES shunted off to the side.

MY BROTHER WITH ME AND HIS GIRLFRIEND ANNA

Toward the end of May I flew to Germany to meet up with my brother, his daughter & friends. It was the first time I've ever been to East Berlin and it wasn't what I anticipated. The vibe was more like NY's SoHo back in the day. Relatively inexpensive with lots of people under 50 walking about; small restaurants with international cuisine & vegetarian options; cute shops with unique goods; pocket parks and old Soviet housing blocks renovated into brightly painted co-ops. Although there is high unemployment, most people can afford to linger at a sidewalk cafe over an espresso.

SAMMLUNG BOROS BUNKER MUSEUM IN BERLIN


Not that you feel too far from the recent past. We visited a modern art museum housed in a former above-ground bunker. An extraordinary re-purposing of a building that withstood bombing during WWII and wasn't feasible to raze. After a long sordid past as a tropical fruit depot and '70s discos, the current owner spent years reforming it into a series of galleries. Like the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, each work of art was designed to blend into its space. Most of the large three-dimensional pieces dominate their own room.  Check out pictures taken during the 4 year renovation of Bunker Berlin, including the bulldozer on the roof, at www.sammlung-boros.de

WATCH TOWER NEXT TO THE OLD BERLIN WALL

BERLIN WALL MEMORIAL


The Berlin Wall Memorial, honoring those who perished seeking freedom, is sprawled over a large open area. Naked re-bar posts, sans concrete and big enough to walk through, grow skyward. There's an educational building, multilingual historical plaques, blow-ups of 1961 photos on the sides of buildings, a church and memorial garden. It was chilling to stand under the guard tower, looking at the exposed "killing zone", knowing that real people had died there. Lots to see and very moving. Makes you realize how easily we take FREEDOM for granted. 
COMM TOWER BUILT BY THE RUSSIANS IN E. BERLIN

We spent hours at the Jewish Museum impressed at their in-depth collection detailing the long history of the Jews. I couldn't stop looking at personal effects and reading the stories of ordinary people, like you & me, who had committed no crimes yet were sent to death camps. It was emotionally exhausting because I came to feel that I knew each one in some small way, and suffered their loss. So I was shocked, later that day, at my reaction to the Holocaust Memorial


HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL IN BERLIN
By contrast, there is nothing personal at the Memorial. It's comprised of huge rectangular granite blocks of varying heights, with walking paths between, as far as the eye can see. There are no inscriptions or references to the millions of lives they represent. I was angry that these sacrificed individuals were victimized yet again by being left nameless & faceless. The eerie sound of small children, giggling & shouting in German as they ran through the maze, felt disrespectful to me. I was left as cold as stone. Perhaps that was the designer's goal.


BIKES PARKED IN FRONT OF A GRAFFITI WALL IN BERLIN


COURTYARD OF TILED BUILDINGS

But Berlin is a lot more than just history and memories. You'll find fresh street art all over.

Graffiti is an art form in Berlin. While the cartoon style appears, the more talented produce intricate paintings (like the examples above & below) which leave one awe-struck .

Buildings in the old Jewish section reflect the influence of Moorish architecture. Amazingly, the entire exterior is made up of small individual tiles which have survived. 


PAINTED ON A FADING YELLOW WALL



After a whirlwind weekend in Berlin we flew to southern Sweden for 10 more days. The cooler weather, slower pace and company of loved ones was very nourishing. 


 

During that time I meet, dined with & embraced several families of recent Afghan refugees seeking political asylum in Sweden. Suddenly the reality of this awful prolonged war hit home. 

These good kind people, with uncertain futures defined by the pull of invisible political strings, try desperately to make their children feel safe. They personify such amazing strength, courage and good humor. I was honored to meet them. My trip was almost idyllic until I got food poisoning on the flight home. There went the perfect vacation!!

Now, fully recovered and anxious to get back in the kitchen, I'm surprised that the fruit of my organic Keitt mango tree is ripening almost two months early

RIPE KEITT MANGO FROM MY ORGANIC TREE

Yes Virginia, climate change does exist!!! That means that there are luscious juicy ripe mangos available for you to eat, juice, bake or just embrace (as long as you aren't allergic to the clear sap like I am). It's better to pull them off the tree while not quite ripe, before the squirrel convention. If you'd like to buy some they're just $1-$2 each, depending on size. Call or email me at 941-746-6647 or bonnibakes@gmail.com

This is the prime season for me to be turning them into delicious Mango Chutney and unique jam combos. I sold loads at the Geraldson Sunday Farmer's Market this Spring and they're available directly from me until the Market re-opens October 7th. 

ANNA WITH CHALLAH READY FOR THE OVEN
Last Fall-Winter I had a wonderful time working with my adorable long time assistant Anna, re-creating favorite treats from the Jewish bakeries of my childhood. Many of you were volunteer taste testers, which we appreciated. I'm hooked and want to bake more of that genre. 

Starting Monday September 10, 2012 I'm launching a limited version of a NYC bake shop. Each Monday I'll post THIS WEEK'S PICK-UP MENU along side my weekly blog entry. You can see an example of what the MENU will look like, at the top of this page to the right. If you're interested in ordering something, contact me by Wed at 5pm. The items will be available for pick-up at my TreeHouse home in the Village of the Arts on the following Friday or Saturday. If you have special requests, please let me know. I plan to rotate a variety of bread, rolls & specialties each week. Amounts will be limited, so it's first come first served. We'll see how it goes.


Meanwhile, don't forget that the Village ArtWalks are a monthly event and the next one is Fri Aug 3 from 6-9pm and Sat Aug 4 from 11-4. I'll have a tent set up in my driveway at 932 12th St West both days, with lots of goodies. Hope it's a great summer and look forward to seeing you soon!


Hugs from my kitchen,
Bonni




















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