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Photo by Janina Gallert
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Photo by Erica Löfman
French girls…! No matter how hardcore punk alternative they are, they can’t resist the temptation to wear cute polka-dotted dresses and sell tummy-tempting baked-goods in a pretty environment. This new café offering a daily selection of homemade Tartes is pretty and pink (matching the proprietress’ hair), with bits and pieces of French nostalgia as deco. Well-rooted in the queer alternative scene, owner Clarissa (aka Mademoiselle Kla) is already known for her burlesque performances and her handmade nipple accessories she once famously sold at the Mauerpark flea market… topless. She now sells them in the shop among a daily selection of savoury quiches and sweet French pies. On the opening night in September, the all-girl crew sported pink moustaches.
Following two years of odd-jobbing, the 30-year-old Parisian social worker decided last year she and Berlin needed a real quiche-shop. To that aim she set herself to gain proper experience which comprised training with France’s top patissier Lenôtre and internationally famed cooking school Le Cordon Bleu (which Julia Child memorialised in her book). That experience paid off in the form of recipes and baking savoir-faire noticeable in everything they make.
The quiches (€2.70 a slice, €4.50 with salad) are some of the best we’ve tasted in Berlin. When we dropped by on a quiet Tuesday, they were serving the following flavours: Parma ham-gorgonzola, spinach-Roquefort-walnut and a puff-pastry salmon-leek tourte (similar to English pie, topped with dough). The selection differs daily and is announced on their Facebook page. The portions are refreshingly generous, and the small side salad comes with a grainy French mustard vinaigrette. There’s always a vegan option.
“A good French tart is all about the dough,” says Clarissa. It’s why she leaves it to rest two or three days and never destroys it by microwaving it; you’ll have to bear the 3-4 minute extra wait in order to get your slice warmed-up to crusty perfection. The dough is in fact perfect: crunchy edges, soft underneath, the right balance of salt and butter. Even their butter-less vegan dough made of margarine, soy milk and almond powder (their invention) has just the right consistency.
On the sweet front, flavours range from the French classics like meringue-lemon tart or caramelised apple tart known among the natives as La Tatin, to the more experimental – fresh figues covered in a mascarpone cream, velvety chocolate and hazelnuts, tiramisu (€2,30 a slice)… They’re even working on their take of the Parisian tearoom Angelina’s world-famous Mont Blanc – meringue, whipped cream and chestnut, anyone?
A few blocks away from Boxhagener Platz, this is a great spot for a post-flea market bite or just some organic coffee or real hot cacao made with melted dark chocolate to which you add as much milk as you like. And let’s not forget the homemade croissants on Sundays, and on any day, the mini-baked goodies: cute brownies, chouquettes (mini pastry puffs, sprinkled with coarse sugar), baby-meringue and nougat. Last but not least: don’t leave without your free Carambar – a caramel candy with lame jokes in the wrapper: the ultimate French touch!