Sometimes it’s pleasant to look beyond the fashionable, social-media-fuelled Mitte-Kreuzberg foodie scene and experience something a little… different. At some point, you get tired of artisanal beef brisket and heirloom collard greens in a post-industrial pop-up space.
So when we heard about a gourmet supper in a high-end old folks’ home, we jumped on it. Tertianum is a hangout for epicurean well-heeled “best agers” (as they’re known in Germany), mostly cosmopolitans who wish to live in the middle of Berlin’s urban fabric, and, very importantly, just a few steps away from luxury temple KaDeWe, “their convenience store” as the manager of the establishment remarked. The regular WeinZeit degustation event, open to all, gives the already spoilt Tertianum seniors a night to dig into a tasty five-course menu with paired wines from around the world, in the prized company of younger folks – mostly residents’ friends and relatives.
On the evening we visit, the theme is “Iberian Fire”, a five-course culinary road trip from Catalonia to Portugal with stops in La Mancha and Rioja. The host is the affable, knowledgeable sommelier Ralf Kuhlow, never short of a good anecdote about Berlin. He takes his time telling stories about the wines he has carefully chosen to accompany the recipes of Tertianum head chef Jens-Peter Gerber. Before each wine-food pairing, a suited octogenarian diner bangs his glass with a knife to announce the sommelier’s next speech.
The three-hour journey begins with a glass of Catalan Cava from the Pupitre-Cellers de L’Arboç as aperitif. Highlights along the way included the starter of delicately pan-fried Saibling (Bavarian char) fillets wrapped in Italian lardo, served with a caper-honey vinaigrette and paired with an elegant white from the higher altitude regions of Catalonia; a delicate dish of homemade ravioli filled with duck meat, duck liver, apple and onion in a fragrant consommé broth, accompanied by two intense reds (a 2010 Vilares from Portugal and a Rioja from Spain); and a generous cut of tender roast Iberico pork from Spanish pigs that graze on cork-tree acorns, served with sautéed asparagus and potatoes and dotted with a little wild-garlic butter. Our meal climaxes with a luscious warm chocolate cake with blackcurrants and vanilla ice cream, to which we drink a remarkable Basque aniseed apple liqueur digestive called Patxaka Txopinondo, brought over from Spain by the sommelier himself.
As the night went on, the gentleman’s gleeful glass-banging became louder and louder. With good reason: if he drank as much excellent booze as we did, he must have been at least as tipsy as the rest of us – well, except for our neighbour, a middle-aged non-drinker who was served rare vintage apple and rhubarb juices with his meal.
TERTIANUM WEINZEIT Tertianum Residenz Berlin, Tel 030 219920, next event on Sep 20 with a focus on mature wines from around Europe, €75/ person, reservations at www.berlin.tertianum.de