Spring is here! Well, sort of. Temps are predicted to hit 14 degrees this weekend, which is as good an excuse as any for ice cream. Perennially lauded at competitions and frequented by the likes of Blixa Bargeld and Nick Cave, Angelika Kaswalder and Guido Dorigo’s Mitte café Cuore di Vetro serves up some of the tastiest gelato in the city. With recipes honed and perfected in their glass-walled kitchen, and a large selection of Italian antipasti to sample on colder days, it’s a well-deserved sojourn to the Mediterranean. Co-owner Kaswalder gave us the scoop.
What kind of gelato do you make?
We make all-natural gelato with no artificial products or additives, with the best ingredients we can get our hands on. A lot of places in the city make ice cream in such an industrial way – they make one large base and just then add aromas and dyes to make each flavour, but we tinker in our kitchen laboratory to give each of our gelatos the perfect nuance and texture. We won the Berlin portion of the Gelato World Tour with a roasted chestnut gelato mixed in with a chocolate ganache, infused with the tobacco aroma from a Cuban cigar. We called it Black Star, after the Bowie record.
What’s your most popular item?
Probably our pistachio flavour – we import our pistachios from a farm in Sicily that has been growing them for five generations. They’re the best pistachios in the world! Our hazelnut gelato is also a hit, and we slow-roast imported Italian hazelnuts in house.
What keeps people coming back in the winter?
We think of gelato as a dessert, not a seasonal product. We blend different bases and fats like marscapone and cream with sugar and flavourings, so when you eat our gelato, there’s a warm, velvety sensation in your mouth. We’ve also got an exhibition space upstairs where we have art shows and performances, and we sell artisanal, imported hams, cheeses and aperitivo.
What’s the food trend you hate the most?
I don’t want to be mean, but I really don’t like all these new hipster cafés. They pay so much attention to making the interiors look cute, but don’t actually put any time into their food or use any quality ingredients. You have to study ingredients and techniques to make good food, and you can tell when people haven’t.
A cooking tip?
Get back to the basics! At the heart of Italian cooking is taking high-quality, fresh ingredients and preparing them simply. I just made an apple tart from a recipe I got from a friend’s grandmother, and it was absolutely perfect! You could taste how ripe the apples were because I didn’t add very much to them – just a little sugar and lemon. We all need to listen to our grandparents more!
A dining tip?
I love Les Valseuses in Prenzlauer Berg. The menu is always changing depending on what’s in season and the fresh vegetables and meats they buy at markets, and the chefs are incredibly talented and well trained. It’s a place where you can just sit down and feel comfortable because they’re not at all pretentious. And when I’m missing Italy, I always go to Brio on Graefestraße – they have my favorite Italian tapas in the city.
The best thing about owning a gelateria?
I love coming in every day and creating something new, playing with different flavour combinations, and working with new ingredients. It’s also been incredible connecting with some of my favorite musicians. Nick Cave came in a few times before he played a show at the Volksbühne, and when he saw me at the show, he gave the shop a shout out in front of the whole crowd! I was in shock!
…and the worst?
Gastronomy is really tough work, mentally and physically. Between everything I put into making the gelato, and the business side of the café, I’m pretty much always working. There’s a lot of stress that comes with that – you can’t ever really take a day off!