Friday, July 24, 2009

Adventures in Eiskaffee

As European countries go, Germany is not known for having a cuisine worth crossing the Atlantic for. But I'm about to put German cuisine above all others on account of one food alone: Eiskaffee. Yes, that, with no help (ok, spaetzles are quite nice), puts German cuisine in my mind above Italian, French, etc.

Let me explain.

Pretty much since arriving, I've passed a wood-paneled coffee place that looked so enticing, I was scared to go in. The sign reading "Eiskaffee" didn't hurt. Adding to the intimidation factor: one of my housemates had in fact entered, and was told that because they were so busy, it was black coffee or nothing. Hmm.

But I was determined! And other housemates, also anglophones, had claimed success. So, having finished reading another list-book earlier than expected, I decided that today was the day. Jo taught me my line, which I had memorized: Ich moechte einen Eiskaffee ohne sahne, bitte. After some hesitation, I entered and said my piece. Because I am fluent in all languages when it comes to understanding things said about foods I wish to consume, I understood quite well when the man behind the counter explained, in German, that the drink never comes with cream, anyway.

Missing from all this was a menu. There was a list of the prices of roasted coffee beans, but no sign of what coffee drinks were available, what was in them, or what they cost. Which was in a sense for the best, because had I known the price (4.90; yesterday's had been 3.40, and that was on a main street in town) before ordering, I might not have done so, but upon tasting the beverage/dessert/whatever it is, I was prepared to hand over my checking account and first-born.

How to even begin... It came in a tall, chilled-seeming, conical glass, with a straw as well as a long spoon. On top was cappuccino-type foam, but sweet. Below was a layered mix of espresso and what I'm guessing was some kind of brownie-dough ice cream. The way it all came together was just beautiful. Yesterday's Eiskaffee had been a mix of vanilla ice cream and espresso more delicious by far than any coffee-and-ice-cream concoction I'd ever attempted at home, but this...

Clearly the exchange rate will have to change dramatically if this is to be a post-book treat, rather than a post-list one (with 15 books, give or take, per list), but what can I say? I regret nothing.


Jeff said...

Do these European coffee shops have signs with attitude? Is the quest for such things still on?

I did stumble upon this at Ninth Street Espresso in Alphabet City. It's been slim pickings on such signage lately.

Phoebe said...

No, but a restaurant in Leiden did - I couldn't tell because it was in Dutch, but Jo pointed it out. It was apparently quite extensive.