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Berlin Dispatch: The Changing City & the Best Ice Cream You Haven’t Tasted Yet

Some of you may remember the inimitable TaxiBerlin from last summer: not only did he lead us to ‘Dead Grandma’ (blood sausage mixed with liverwurst that tastes much better than it sounds) and some of the best Vietnamese curry in Berlin, he also introduced me to the realities of a changing Berlin and the life lessons in Zorba the Greek.

TaxiBerlin danced on the Wall the day after it came down and moved to Berlin in the early 90s because ‘anything was possible’ in the city.

When he started driving a cab in Berlin 15 years ago, the East was wild, full of squatters and spontaneous art and parties where everyone was welcome.

He’s watched closely as most of that free-spiritedness has vanished. Case in point: Die Kommandantur – once his favorite bar in Prenzlauer Berg, where he could buy a half-liter of beer for 3 Deutschmarks – is now an ‘American’ diner with a Bob’s Big Boy statue out front.

As he mourns the death of the Berlin he once knew, TaxiBerlin finds some solace in good things to eat. (He wasn’t lying last summer when he told me he’s ‘a little gourmet’ – the man has a great sense of taste.) So I listened when he told me he’d found a great little ice cream shop while he was on duty in Prenzlauer Berg.

“The scoops are only 80 cents each, and the ice cream’s not too sweet,” he said. He felt so refreshed after his first trip there a few weeks ago, he’s been back three times. On Saturday, I finally had a chance to go with him and taste for myself.

TaxiBerlin is right. Mbelonarivo Rakotoniaina, the man from Madagascar who makes the ice cream at Eislabor, makes the best strawberry ice cream I’ve tasted in Berlin to date. The color itself (natural pale pink – not artificial fuschia) offers a clue that it’s good. It’s creamy, just sweet enough, still tasting of fruit, and perfect when you’re hot and thirsty. I tried hazelnut, too – the integrity of the nuts really comes through, but it’s not as rich as Italian gelato.

TaxiBerlin’s stracciatella (chocolate chip) and vanilla weren’t as impressive. But the (light, tart) yogurt that topped his sundae was probably the most refreshing flavor of all.

Can Eislabor survive as the city keeps changing? I asked TaxiBerlin.

“It exists since 10 years,” he said, “Yes.”

EislaborMap it
Raumerstr 32 – 10437 (Berlin – Prenzlauer Berg)
Tel 030/21 46 26 12
Open: 2pm-10pm, 7 days (during the summer – winter hours vary, and they make crepes, too)
Price: 80 eurocents/scoop
Cash only

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