To en­joy the fresh­est tastes of the sea­son, Hilda Hoy looks for restau­rants that spe­cial­ize in us­ing lo­cal pro­duce and in­gre­di­ents.

Where Berlin - - CONTENTS -

A new ad­jec­tive has en­tered our culi­nary vo­cab­u­lary: lo­ca­vore, eat­ing re­gional pro­duce for the fresh­est taste of the sea­son.

In re­cent years, a new ad­jec­tive has en­tered our culi­nary vo­cab­u­lary: lo­ca­vore, mean­ing food that strives to be as based as pos­si­ble on lo­cal, and usu­ally sea­sonal, in­gre­di­ents. Be­sides the clear en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits of con­sum­ing lo­cally grown food rather than ship­ping it half­way around the globe, it’s also a mat­ter of taste: the lo­cal stuff is fresher and just tastes so much bet­ter. As the sum­mer sea­son gets un­der­way, now is the time when the lo­cal pro­duce is re­ally start­ing to get good. This is giv­ing the team at No­bel­hart & Sch­mutzig, where the culi­nary con­cept is de­scribed as “bru­tally lo­cal,” an ex­cit­ing ar­ray of things to work with (Friedrich­str. 218, www. no­bel­har­tund­schmutzig.com). Though the restau­rant only opened at the be­gin­ning of last year, by Novem­ber it had al­ready been awarded a cov­eted Miche­lin star. So se­ri­ous is the lo­ca­vore com­mit­ment that even sta­ples like lemons, pep­per, and olive oil are taboo, re­placed in­stead with such di­verse lo­cal op­tions as root veg­eta­bles, wil­low branches, eel and char from re­gional lakes and rivers, and even flower pollen, which the chefs con­jure into in­tri­cate 10-course tast­ing menus. Tra­di­tional tech­niques like fer­men­ta­tion, pick­ling, and salt­ing help pre­serve pro­duce and ex­tend their life in the kitchen. Cre­ative use of re­gional bounty is also the man­i­festo at Lokal, a chic bistro in Mitte with cool white walls and rus­tic wooden ta­bles (Linien­str. 160, www.lokal-berlin­mitte. de). The vibe is low-key hip and the cui­sine is equally un­der­stated, putting a cre­ative twist on homey Ger­man cook­ing. Lots of re­gional meat, game, fish, and of­fal fea­ture on the reg­u­larly chang­ing menu, though veg­e­tar­i­ans will also find much to sa­vor. The chef gets ex­per­i­men­tal with such di­verse lo­cal pro­duce as dan­de­lion, purslane, sal­sify, chervil root, and rose­hips, with de­li­cious re­sults. To re­ally get up close and per­sonal with what you eat, head to Neukölln to pay a visit to Café Botan­ico (Richard­str. 100, www.cafe-botan­ico.de). The café it­self is cozy and invit­ing, but the main at­trac­tion is the court­yard gar­den, which is the only per­ma­cul­ture gar­den in Berlin with or­ganic cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. More than 200 ed­i­bles grow in this lush space, a mix of ex­otic and wild herbs and rare, heir­loom veg­etable va­ri­eties that, when­ever pos­si­ble, are used in the dishes that the café serves. To get a taste of the fresh­est gar­den bounty, try a mixed salad of leafy greens or a bowl of mine­strone soup made with what­ever’s in sea­son.

Left: crisp duck with seared quince. Right: vari­a­tions on re­gional car­rot. Inset: Chef Micha Schäf­fer (left) and som­me­lier Billy Wag­ner (right), the mak­ers of No­bel­hart & Sch­mutzig.

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