Every summer, Berliners go wild for ice cream. Hilda Hoy got to the bottom of Berlin’s hot love affair with this cold treat.
The scoop on Berlin's hot love affair with this fabulous cold treat.
S weet, rich, and indulgent, ice cream has been a much-loved treat ever since mankind figured out refrigeration. But in the last few years, Berlin has been undergoing a veritable ice cream boom. Forget plain old chocolate and vanilla. Say goodbye to brightly saturated scoops laden with artificial colors and additives. Scores of new ice cream shops have popped up all over town, and in practically every neighborhood, small, independent parlors now hawk handmade, top- quality, artisanal flavors that are, needless to say, utterly delicious. CLASSIC GELATO IN KREUZBERG Giorgio and Anna Luisa Sau, owners of
Anna Durkes gelato (Graefestr. 80, www. annadurkes.com), are originally from Sardinia and were still living in Milan when they visited Berlin for the 2008 marathon. They fell in love with the city and, a few years later, they were able to fulfill a longtime dream and open their own gelato shop in the peaceful, pretty Graefekiez neighborhood in Kreuzberg.
For Giorgio, it was a relief to leave behind a stressful law career and instead spend his days chatting with happy customers. Anna Luisa, a former biologist, combined her scientific background with intensive training from an Italian gelato master to become the culinary whiz behind every luscious scoop that Anna Durkes sells. Their focus is primarily classic Italian gelato flavors like pistachio, hazelnut, intense variations of milk and dark chocolate, and crema al limone, a rich custard with a whiff of lemon. Anna Luisa’s creative, self-devised recipes are a hit too, like the ever-popular Anna Durkes flavor: vanilla with peanuts and chocolate bits. Everything is made “the old way – from scratch,” says Giorgio. Producing without chemical emulsifiers, artificial flavors, and preservatives makes their work harder, but it’s definitely worth it. “You can really notice the difference between something made industrially and something artisanal,” he adds.
While the job is rewarding, it’s also surprisingly grueling to make and sell ice cream. Last year they both worked six months straight without a single day off, so the aim this year is to share the workload with a few trusted staff. Despite all the hard work, nothing beats the feeling of being one of the neighborhood’s favorite spots, and Giorgio greets many of the customers coming through the door by name. Over the last few years, he and Anna Luisa have watched some of their most faithful clientele grow up from icecream-loving babies to icecream-loving kindergarteners.
“I always say this shop is like our living room. That’s the nicest thing about this place,” says Giorgio with a smile. MORE CAN’TMISS SPOTS FOR HANDMADE ICE CREAM: Hokey Pokey Eispatisserie Stargarder Str. 73, Prenzlauer Berg. www.hokey-pokey.de Despite prices well above the Berlin average, Hokey Pokey remains incredibly popular, often with a lineup down the block. And yes, the wait is worth it. Try the rocky road, authentic Sicilian pistachio, or signature Hokey Pokey, vanilla with crunchy honeycomb caramel bits. Die Eismacher Körtestr. 10, Kreuzberg. www.eismacher-berlin.de Unusual and creative is the calling card here, with varieties like violet blossom and blackberry-lavender, plus two Filipino flavors, ube (a purple yam) and pandan (a green leaf with a vanilla-cocoa aroma). Rosa Canina Hufelandstr. 7, Prenzlauer Berg. www.rosacanina.eu The ice cream here is fully organic, though the biggest selling point is still the taste. Besides more traditional options like blueberry or hazelnut, make sure to try signature flavors like black sesame. Eismanufaktur www.eismanu faktur-berlin.de With six locations all around the city, great Eismanufaktur ice cream is never far away. One of Berlin’s original ice cream success stories, the chain makes a standout salted caramel flavor and dairy-free cocoa sorbet.
Top: ice cream at Hokey Pokey; This photo: the interior of Anna Durkes
Ice cream in a glass at Hokey Pokey; ice cream chefs in action at Hokey Pokey; ice cream scoop at Anna Durkes. Below: Giorgio and Anna Luisa Sau, owners of Anna Durkes.