Monthly Archives: May 2014

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Insiders – How do you do Nina Queer?

The world loves a drag queen, hence the stunning victory of Conchita Wurst at the Eurovision Song Contest this weekend. Germany’s own Conchita is the legend that is Nina Queer, who moved to Berlin in 2000. She is the name behind the bar ‘Zum schmutzigen Hobby’ and the monthly club night Irrenhaus at the Comet Club. Nina is also a pop star, who released the album Discopony, a DJ, an author and TV presenter. What can she not do?

First off, girl, how did you get to be so fabulous? What is your best tip for being gorgeous? 

Being fabulous is money thing. Wear the expensive shoes and get the rest for free…..

When and why did you come to Berlin? 

I was working as a waitress in Austria’s mountains. Every evening I was fucking around with German tourists. One of them had an unbelievable penis, so after his holidays in Austria, I visited him in Berlin in 2000 and never left.

How has the scene changed?

The big drug times are over. What the people want and need is LOVE now and they really love classic pop music at the moment.

You host many events, what is your secret to being so confident on stage? 

Always drink AFTER the show! That’s all. On stage, you have to be a star and not a victim.

Tell about the album you released? 

I do all my music work with DJ Divinity. He is a great producer for all the big German acts at the moment. Our thing together is maybe his project with the most art in it. Most of the times, I sing pervert German lyrics to extraordinary, exclusive house tracks. Like my hit ‘Bukkake’.

You are a girl of many talents. You’ve also released a book. What is it about? 

It’s a book about Berlin sex stories. If New York is the city that never sleeps, Berlin’s the city that always fucks!

You’ve had lots of celebrities at your events, such as Justin Timberlake and Heidi Klum, got any secrets for us? What were they like to work with? 

They were such easy guests! They came without any special wishes. Justin was a little bit shy – it’s 10 years ago that he visited me, so -he was very young this time. Heidi is like always very professional and friendly. The most fun I’ve had was with Beth Dito, Jürgen Vogel and Robbie Williams. We did things I’ll never talk about!

What kind of men do you like? 

Men with big dicks.

What kind of men like you? 

Men with big dicks.

Who is sexier, a man that is funny with a small penis, or, a man with a huge penis with no sense of humour?

Men with big dicks.

Any tips for a straight single girl like me to get laid in Berlin? The straight boys are so shy. They never approach me. Help!  

Get a lot of gay friends and go to straight parties with them. All the other boys will ask “Who is this bitch with these 7 hot boys?”

Thanks, right I need to get my gay on, right now. 

On Tour – Thermia Sweden take a nightlife tour of Berlin’s best bars

We get the world’s hottest celebrities joining Berlinagenten on our nightlife tours, but this group had a combined heat that was so hot, it reached boiling point. That’s because the company that we took out on this nightlife tour, Thermia, manufactures heat pumps, a renewal energy technology destined to save the world, by collecting stored solar energy and converting it into heating and hot water for your home. They treated their best distributors to a crazy weekend in Berlin. Crazy weekend? Of course, they contacted Berlinagenten to make it happen.

For the nightlife tour, the group of 70 were split up into four groups with four different guides. In an epic feat of co-ordination Berlinagenten sorted out VIP access to Berlin’s coolest bars including the Pauly-Saal Bar, Bar am Lützowplatz, Eschschloraque, Felix Club, Monbijou Hotel, Monkey Bar@25hours, Le Croco Bleu, and The Liberate. Our guest were whisked straight to the front of the cue, as all the hipster kids looked on, open mouthed thinking, ‘Who the hell are these guys?’ as our group strutted in. Well, kids, these are the guys that are trying to change the way we cool and heat our houses using renewable energy! They’re the Brad Pitt’s of the energy world!

After the bar, the four groups converged on the super glamorous The Pearl nightclub in West Berlin, where the groups got together for drinks and dancing. They were sure to go home with a few stories to tell about their wild VIP night in Berlin. Heating has never been so hot.

The Scene meets Bikini Haus, Berlin

Could this be the sexiest named shopping centre in the world? Bikini Berlin is how local Berliners christened the building when it opened in the 1950s because a closed in storey once separated the building into one upper and one lower area, which reminded them the bikini! In 2013, the completely renovated building reopened, complete with the 25 Hours Hotel and is now Germany’s first concept mall.

There are three levels, a ground floor, gallery and a huge green rooftop terrace which overlooks the Zoological Garden, Germany’s best known zoo. It has concept stores from the likes of Gant, Closed, Vans and Carhartt, Berlin’s Mykita and Ricardo Cartillone and more interestingly small stores from Vegan label Umasan, book publisher Gestalten and Andreas Murkudis. But what we love are the Bikini Boxes, wooden containers in five different sizes and can be rented by small labels and young designers for time periods between three and twelve months. We loved fashion labels Mr. Gugu & Miss Go from Poland and Rook & Rocks from Hamburg.

Bikini Berlin, Budapester Strasse 38-50, 10787 Berlin

 

Henrik swept up the red carpet in the company of Swedish Director Måns Herngren.

Red Carpet – Henrik’s world

Henrik swept up the red carpet in the company of Swedish Director Måns Herngren as the paparazzi snapped away.

The Beef Bar

When it comes to style, Berlin has a reputation for down played casualness  – leather jackets, t-shirts, old jeans and scuffed boots, however, there’s another scene. A city of well-cut designer suits, ties and shiny shiny leather shoes, lashings of hairspray, botox, cocktail dresses, furs,  luxury handbags and towering high heels.

Sophisticated Berlin is becoming ever more prevalent and you can really see this when it comes to the sheer volume of luxury establishments that are opening. The Beef Bar started in Monte Carlo, then opened in Moscow and now has come to Berlin. Who would have thought it?

Berlinagenten were invited to scrub up, polish our shoes and don our best smoking jacket for the opening in the historic Hausvogeteiplatz area of Mitte. We swept up the red carpet, as the paparazzi snapped away. The restaurant itself is all slick minimalism, arranged around slatted dark-wood wall paneling, brilliantly white marble columns and tables, and black leather chairs, lit in a buttery yellow downlighting.

We were immediately handed a glass of Tattinger Champagne that flowed throughout the night. In attendance were old Berlin family money, businessmen in suits, skinny women in long dresses and furs, actors, politicians and old school divas. Canapes kept coming out of the Beef Bar’s kitchen. The cuts of meat were delectable, the tartare perfection and the Foie Gras, delicious.

However, you cannot erase old Berlin, which was in evidence, as a Sven from Berghain lookalike DJ pumped out electronic beats to the crowd.

The Beef Bar, Hausvogteiplatz 10, 10117, Berlin.

 

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The Scene meets Maxim

One of our favourite maître d’s in Berlin has opened his very own restaurant. Swiss born Maxime Boillat has been a fixture of the Berlin gastronomy scene for the past 15 years since starting his career at Kempinski Hotel, then working at Zoe, The Munzsalon, Tartane and HBC.

Whenever we’ve encountered Maxime, he has always created a trendy, yet laid back scene. This is very much in evidence at his very own restaurant. A mixed, trendy, mature crowd sits on stools gathered around the small bar drinking wine, dogs at their feet, as prints of two huge cockerels frame the wall behind them.

A simple small step separates the restaurant from the bar. The décor is simple, retro fused with GDR lamps creating an intimacy, where the food and wine take centre stage. Maxim is definitely on trend, as the Berlin Gastro Scene moves towards wine bistros offering a broad selection of fines wines and smaller dishes.

Okay, so let’s talk wine. Maxim has adopted a natural wine policy. This wine is made with minimal chemicals or technological intervention in the growing of the grapes. Maxime, being a sommelier of distinction, is on hand to match the wines – which he also sells by the glass – to the food. We started with a chardonnay and grenache mix, before moving onto a full-bodied red that Maxime called Berghain, after the famous techno temple. The analogy being like Berghain, it can smell a bit funky on arrival, but once you’re in, you’re like wow! Amazing!

A simple brown paper bag filled with a selection of house-made bread and a sinfully creamy butter started the meal on the right note. For entre, we opted for fat juicy scallops steamed in their own jus with light grapefruit vinaigrette, alongside a duck roulade served with a startling fresh wild green salad.

For the main course, out came a plate of the rawest, wafer thin roast beef with truffle salsa verde and fermented mushrooms. The signature dish of the restaurant is octopus that has been boiled, smoked then fried, giving it a delicate crispy skin with a holy smoky flavor. For an extra flavor dimension, it is served with tarragon syrup with the tiniest amount of raw tartar. Finally, we sampled the Ox cheek done two ways. One piece is slow cooked for 25 hours at 68 degrees to be precise served with a red cherry reduction. On the other side of the plate is minced ox cheek, combined with lemon and topped with breadcrumbs.

So far, so full, but one thing that you cannot miss at Maxim is the cheese. Maxime has managed to convince one of the world’s finest affineurs, or cheese agers to supply the cheese. Bernard Antony, an artisan, ages cheeses into magnificent maturity in his caves, in the Alsatian town of Vieux-Ferrette. Anthony is the affineur for such Michelin three-star chefs as Alain Passard, Pierre Gagnaire, Alain Senderens and Alain Ducasse. While he was François Mitterrand’s go-to cheese guy. Maxime just happens to come from a nearby village, therefore, convincing Anthony, to become his affineur. The only other place he supplies in Berlin is the two Michelin starred Lorenz Adlon at the Kempinski’s Adlon Hotel. Nice work Maxime.

With 25 cheeses on the menu, you’re really in some kind of cheese and wine heaven. It’s also surprisingly reasonable when you’re talking the quality of the cheese. A selection of six costs 12.50 euros. Our favourite was the Epoisses from Burgundy in France, which is always on the menu.

Welcome to Maxim and Maxime, although you’ve been around for ages!

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On tour: Revenge of the Bloggers!

New Media is the new frontier and bloggers have become the communicators commanding mass audiences, hence the German National Tourist Board (GNTB) held their first Social Travel Summit to Leipzig on 15 and 16 April 2014. After the conference, the bloggers were dispersed around the country. Two groups were lucky enough to get Berlin and tours with Berlinagenten.

Henrik curated a special tour for four international bloggers, which included visiting four neighbourhoods in six hours. Everywhere they visited, the bloggers were Twittering, Instagramming, Facebooking their movements with the precision of the Stassi.

Highlights included trying Berlin’s famous currywurst, stepping inside the mirror room of Clärchens Ballhaus, checking out the amazing graffiti and street art along Orianstrasse and The Eastside Gallery. That evening, the group met up again for a Gastro Rallye and a Berlinagten nightlife tour.

The brief from Visit Berlin was to take the group to cool urban eateries where Berliners would hang out. We started at Volta in Wedding, before moving onto the Der Hahn ist Tot (The Hen is dead!) for our main meal before finishing with dessert at Katz Orange. Then it was off to Platoon for drinks and to check out the night-market.

Meanwhile, Lollie was guiding a group that she’d dubbed the United Nations on Gastro Rallye around East Berlin. On arrival, she made a pledge to her group, which included a Canadian, French, Brazilian and a Malay, that, by the end of the tour, they’d be so full that they’d be rolling home. She didn’t not disappoint, as they started at W derImbiss with the delightful Gordon, who brought us a selection of his famous Naan pizzas. Next, the group took a visit to District Mot, where they tried out the Steamboat, finally it was off to Mani for dessert, where the hostess convinced the entire group to knock back a Rhubarb Shot and then they all rolled happily home. The End.

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Global Hotspot Extended Edition – São Paulo, Brazil

All eyes will be on Brazil this July when the behemoth World Cup rolls out across the country and takes over the world. Flashy Rio will probably be the scene-stealer with her sexy beaches and butt baring thong bikinis, but not so pretty São Paulo is where the action is happening on and, crucially, off the pitch.

In our capacity as global cool hunters, Berlinagenten gets to visit and report on the world’s coolest cities, but São Paulo captured our imagination like no other. Maybe it’s because Berlin and São Paulo share a lot of similarities.

Both cities are the cultural capitals of their respective continents; both sprawling urban metropolises used to be the ugly sisters to prettier, more hyped sisters, but now have been rebirthed and gentrified, as their red-hot economies boomed in the past 10 years. But, most importantly, both have a wild, crazy nightlife, where anything goes. The drag act vomiting on the audience was the height of craziness!

The largest city in Brazil, the chaotically urban ‘Sampa’ as São Paulo is known to the locals, has a cutting edge as art, fashion, food and creative industries, that merges with different classes and races to create a vibrant, exciting, international stage. 

The five neighbourhoods that you just shouldn’t miss

Vila Madalena

In a city of high rises, Vila Madalena stands out for its low-rise pastel coloured townhouses, giving it a village ambience. There’s a real hippie bohemian vibe with live music at most bars. We thought there were restaurants and bars in Berlin, there are literally hundreds here, with people standing in the streets drinking caipirinha de frutas vermelhas — Cachaça with ice, crushed strawberries, grapes, starfruit and blackberries and “chopp” — draught Brahma beer.

Don’t miss

A Queijaria – a Brasilian cheese shop

Amüse Food Store – small gourmet shop & eatery

Batman Alley – Sampa´s best urban street art walls

Barra Funda

This area is where lots of trendy bars have started popping up. It used to be super dangerous, now it’s just a bit dangerous. The best tip is to travel in groups and make sure of the readily available taxis that are all over the city. A short trip is around US$5.00 and taxi drivers are pretty honest. Install a taxi app like easytaxi for easy ordering. Check out D’EdgeDeep Bar 611 & The Clash Club one of the best nightclubs in the area.

Avenida Paulista

Once lined by mansions owned by coffee barons, this is now where the socialites of São Paulo come out to display and play. During the daytime, it is one of the major finance districts in Brazil, where you’ll find all the big South American banks like Santander, Itáu and  Banco do Brasil. There’s also great shopping here. But it’s not all about the cash though. Paulista Avenue also plays host São Paulo Gay Pride Parade in May/June, considered the largest in the world and is home to the fine art museum MASP.

Don´t miss:

Trebbiano - Mediterranean specialties in a romantic atmosphere

The View Bar – Roof-top dining & bar

Café Crème – lively melting pot

Liberdade & Bela Vista District

São Paulo is home to largest Japanese community outside of Japan. The area of Liberdade is known Japantown. On the weekends, there is an enormous craft fair where local artisans display their work and plenty of food stalls to sample at Praça de liberdade. In nearby district of Bela Vista. you will find bookstores, cafes and vintage shops as well posher shops and many Italian restaurants. The area around Rua Augusta used to be a decaying red-light district but today it attaracts boho-hipsters, gays, party crowds and fun seekers. The “lower Augusta” strip, offers more than 70 bars and clubs, including at least 10 for live music.  Forget Samba, the scenes is more punk, hip-hop, metal, indie rock and dance music.

Don´t miss:

Athenas – Busy dinner hotspot

Retro – Ultra cool concept hairstylist

Estadão Bar y Lanches – 24 hour crazy food place

Jardins District

The area is considered one of the noblest areas of São Paulo. It is the quality of services offered, such as more than 100 restaurants and guides and about 200 bars. It also home to many of the most important museums. This is also a fashionista´s paradise, Oscar Freire – the 8th most expensive shopping street in the world, the ‘Rodeo Drive’ of SP. The area feels very cosmopolitan, easy to navigate by foot. The beautiful people hang out here in the most trendy eateries, cafes and bars of SP! A must-visit when in SP.

Don’t miss:

Feedfood – Hidden restaurant

Galeria Romero Britto – Famous pop artist

Santo Pao – Trendy cafe

The 5 bars São Paulo bars you shouldn’t miss

 

Z Carniceria

Situated in an old slaughterhouse, this rocking rockabilly bar has fabulous meat-named cocktails (Sirloin Passion anyone?) and even more fabulous art hanging on the walls.

Bar Secreto

Okay, so maybe it’s not such a secret anymore, since Madonna and Bono held their after concert parties here. This is your name has to be on list kind of bar. Discover their email and start a correspondence to gain entry into this uber fashionable, candle-lit bar.

Café Dosprazeres

On a very sophisticated tip, this super cool bar has a dinner show and jazz/burlesque/performances as well as DJ’s. The food was pretty good, the entertainment dazzling.

Astor

Over in the bohemian, bustling bar district of Vila Madalena, the biggest stand-out is Astor and its downstairs companion, SubAstor. Upstairs, Astor is a vintage, high-ceilinged boteco or bar-restaurant, while SubAstor down below, decked out in dramatic red and black, concocts some of the best cocktails in town – make your descent to the bar and order up the delicious Aviation.

O Bar!

Start with drinks in this cool, classy bar that attracts locals and tourists alike to its home in the famous building Copan. It’s a bit of a job to find it, as you wind your way up an alleyway. Stay on for dinner in the Dona Onça restaurant. Foodies worldwide have been raving about the traditional Brazilian comfort food, whilst the wine selection is pretty fabulous too.

5 São Paulo clubs you shouldn’t miss

The Week

When it’s comes to the world-famous-super-mega-club of São Paulo, the Week is it. You’ll see about 2000 people (many topless muscle men) go absolutely nuts to thumping house music and epileptic light shows. It’s on par as being the ‘Berghain’ of South America, but with a pool, and you will be on adrenaline days after a visit.

D.Edge

D.Edge has the edge when it comes to space age, trippy lighting, which pulses to the beat. This is where you get hard-edged techno from world class DJ’s. Wednesday and Friday nights are the time to get your gay on.

Trackers

Trackers is an event space of an audio and video school located in the heart of the historical centre of São Paulo. This is probably the most underground nightspot we visited. The balcony is the place to meet the locals, smoke, drink and hang out.

Lions Club

This is most Berlin of the clubs, because there isn’t a sign. It’s small, intimate with an exclusive air. That comes with the décor, which is like a posh gentleman’s club. There are a couple of dance-floors to shake your rump. The smoker’s terrace is the hang out spot for mingling, as you look out over the Catedral da Sé.

 Aloca

The craziest, out there club has to be Aloca. We’ve had seen some things in our time, really, but this club, my god! Featuring the world’s most tackiest puking drag queens.

The best market – Praça Benedito Calixto

 

We loved this bespoke small Saturday market, which has a mix of local labels, hand craft, vintage and accessories. There’s also a hidden shopping arcade leading down to a fashion store and an art gallery in the basement and the restaurant “Alimentação” inside opens out to a tropical courtyard where live bands are playing. Late afternoon, the square outside turns into a street party, with people hang out drinking, talking, flirting and listening to street musicians. A kind of “Brick Lane Market in London”, goes Sempa.

The best concept – Cartel 011

This is where you see the creative edge that São Paulo has. Opening in 2009, it provides a place of coexistence where the artists and brands can come together. You’ll find design, architecture, entertainment, fashion, photography, music and cuisine all under one roof. There are multi-brand stores, a gallery, fabulous restaurant, hair studio, Absolut Embassy Inn, Idea Hub Zarvos as well as a co-working space.

São Paulo’s five restaurants that you should not miss

From churrascari [steakhouse], rodízio [all-you-can-eat barbecue meat] to exquisite restaurants, Sao Paulo’s food scene is noted as the best in South America. Here are our favourites:

Domus Optimus Maximus

D.O.M. was voted in the top 5 restaurants in the world and is a destination dining experience that features Brazilian culinary traditions. Try the tasting menu, which includes between four and eight dishes as well as cheese and dessert courses.

Bar Astor 

A combination of a French Bistro, an US steak house with amazing Brasilian food with traditional ingredients, this what is known as a bohemian kitchen. The best way to sample many dishes is to order/eat the ‘Picadinho Astor’ –  filet mignon stew, beans, pastries of cheese, poached egg, breaded banana, rice and farofa.

The Rivierabar

Affordable and incredibly tasty snacks and dishes, including reimagined sandwiches and burgers, this is the perfect place for lunch. Evening, it steps up a gear with oysters, steaks and fabulous drinks in a very cosmopolitan setting.

Chez Oscar

Opened in 2013, this trendy restaurant is from the team behind Bar Secreto. It’s a super cool concept with a bar that covers three floors, including an open-air floor. The restaurant is a great place for a salad or a steak.

Spot

If you want to be spotted in São Paulo, this is the place! And not just because of the glass walls onto the street. You’ll find São Paulo’s creative class scoffing down on the most modern of modern international cuisine and drinking great cocktails.

Insiders – Flavia Liz Di Paolo

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Henrik is so passionate about Berlin, it’s like they’ve been in an illicit affair for the past 13 years that just keeps getting sexier. Well, he met his match when he was on his cool hunting trip to São Paulo in the form of personal guide Flavia Liz Di Paolo, who has the same passion for her city. We asked her for her insider tips.

What does San Paulo offer that no other city does?

São Paulo is known as a business city. Indeed it is by far the most important of Brazil and one of the most important in the world. But besides that, and this is what makes all the difference, Sao Paulo is the mecca of mural paintings in the world, has one of the best culinary scenes in the world, lots of museums, art galleries, cinemas, theaters, culture, nonstop nightlife and hundreds of options of entertainment for all the social classes and tastes. São Paulo has millions of immigrants from all over the world and this gives to the city an international atmosphere and a multicultural look.

What changes have you seen in the past five to 10 years? How has the economic boom changed the city? 

São Paulo has been in an unstopped growth for the past 100 years. At the beginning of the 20th century, the city was an important industrial district but then the city was transformed into a business city. Between 2007 and 2011 Brazil lost about 40 million poor people, who became lower middle class, most of them from São Paulo city. These new “consumers” also wanted culture and entertainment and the city was able to adapt itself and provide it all. Nevertheless, 70% of the millionaires of Brazil live in São Paulo, and the city has all the options to please them.

People have been wary of visiting Sao Paulo because it was perceived as scary city, say, like New York in the 80′s. How has that changed now? 

Security is an ongoing theme to all major cities in the world. Like all the others, São Paulo can be dangerous depending on where you are. Twelve million people live here. But, on the other hand, day-by-day, the city increases its pedestrian areas where you, either a citizen of the city or a foreigner, can walk and enjoy the city.

You were the first guide undertaking favela tours. How did clients and the locals of favela react? Were they surprised people were so interested?

Clients are mostly surprised with the development of the favelas that are “self-supplied cities”. They also love the chance of interacting with the inhabitants, some of them are talented artists. On the other hand, the inhabitants of the favela started to realize “we” want to know and care about them. And this sense of concern and belonging has opened their minds and helped them.

Where do your clients generally come from? 

Most of them from the U.S.A (especially NY and California), around 40% from Europe (especially England, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland) as well some Arabs and Japanese.

What are your plans for the World Cup? 

World Cup is a unique chance to introduce the city to many visitors that have never been here. Once they get to know the city and our several options, São Paulo increases its chances to be seen as a must in terms of tourism. This is my mission.

Let’s play favourites – favourite bar, restaurant, shop, place for coffee?

Bar: Skye  - one of the best views of the city on the roof top of an interesting design hotel called Unique.

 

Restaurant: – Dalva e Dito  - the chef is Alex Atala, owner of the 6th best restaurant in the world, according to the British magazine “Restaurant”, but it’s cheaper and the interior design is very special like the food.

Shop: Lá da Venda  - located in the trendy neighborhood of Vila Madalena, it is a mix of restaurant and store, with typical products of the Brazilian culture.

Coffee: Coffe Lab - considered one of the best in the world. All the attendants are fluent in English and coffee experts.

I believe you’ve visited Berlin, can you see any parallels between the cities?

All the options of Berlin, including nightlife, can be found in São Paulo. The city is also a well-known gay friendly spot. The biggest LGBT parade of the world takes place here. São Paulo has been seen as a trendy city. A lot of entrepreneurs have chosen São Paulo as the first place in the world to start a new entertainment business.

Thanks Flavia Liz.