True story: I used to own a Lodge cast-iron pan. I kept it in an overhead kitchen cabinet, sort of propped upright against some cutting boards. Space was at a premium, these were my New York days, what can I say. (My Queens days, to be specific, when I actually had more kitchen space than I used to, but still, things were tight.) Anyway, one day I opened up the kitchen cabinet to get down a cutting board and as I pulled out the board, the equilibrium in the stack shifted and before I could do anything besides move out of the way and duck, my cast-iron pan came hurtling out of the cabinet down onto the pink and gray linoleum floor. Where it broke into two pieces. Not even kidding. (Trust me, I didn't think it was possible, either.)
When I lived in New York, I had several favorite kitchen stores. There was the second floor of Zabar's, of course, my first love and my across-the-street neighbor for my first four years in New York, and then there was Broadway Panhandler, back when they were on Broadway and not on 8th Street. Later on, when 18th Street became the center of my universe, I started frequenting a random kitchen supply store on East 17th Street that was run by a Chinese man. But then I moved to Berlin and lost of all those sources in one fell swoop.
It's not as if there aren't kitchen supply stores in Berlin and certainly KaDeWe has a very nice fourth floor (in fact, we registered there for our wedding) and Galeries Lafayette's basement area is okay in a pinch. But none of these places made my heart sing the way my old NYC stores did. Until I found Kochtail.
Kochtail is a kitchen store on Invalidenstraße 150 (and, for a limited time, in Europa-Center, for you (us) Wessies) run by an American couple. It has pretty much everything you'd ever want or need (among many, many other things, Le Creuset pots and copper mixing bowls and those awesome flexible bench scrapers and Benriner mandolines and every kind of cookie cutter under the sun and French Duralex glasses and those super-chic trash cans from Wesco and LODGE CAST-IRON PANS, for goodness sakes). It has square cake pans and Silpat baking pads and pie beads and Keep Cups and a huge section for cocktail accessories, including those incredible molds for one round ball of ice. Also, Kochtail is a boon for expat cooks and bakers (or Germans who use American cookbooks) because they have a great stock of measuring cups and spoons, plus oven thermometers and electronic scales.
I love how thoughtfully laid out the store is and the fact that Joe, one of the owners who's in the store most days, is kind, helpful and very funny. To run a great kitchen store, you need to have a good sense of what matters to cooks and bakers. Joe and his partner are passionate about cooking and baking and you see that passion reflected in every detail of the store. It's a lovely place to get lost in. It's also a very difficult place to practice restraint in. Little wood-handled mushroom brushes! Madeleine pans! Weck jars in every shape and size! Those flat plastic thingies you use to comb texture into cake frosting! IRRESISTIBLE, I tell you.
Tel: (030) 284 069 74
And, for a limited time at Europa-Center. Just to the left after you enter from Breitscheidplatz.