Mouth + Food and Wine

imgres-1I could not think of a more perfect partnership, Mouth + Food and Wine.

Food and Wine is partnering with Mouth to showcase the top choices of products that F&W is curated monthly.  New products, new must haves and I dare anyone to spend less than 20 minutes on the site salivating over all the tasty products.

When I think about Mouth and what they are building I think this way.  Personal gifts, corporate gift giving and of course the most important gift is one for myself.  The best crackers, the best jerky, the best chocolates, the most unique collection of liquors, cheeses and…need I go on?

Click through and get a few goodies delivered to your home to start.  You will not be disappointed.  The packaging and branding is spot on too.

In full transparency I am an investor in

Last day in Berlin, dinner at Pauly Saal

breakfastIt has been a different kind of trip because we have been here before.  Instead of venturing out to a new place for breakfast every day we have just met upstairs in the hotel.  I have literally had the same breakfast 3 out of 4 mornings and for whatever reason today was not that good.  Toasted brown rye bread with avocado, chili flakes and a poached egg.  Weird how that happens.  Perhaps a new person in the kitchen.

cakesWe went over to Voo Store because the girls had not gone yet (I went earlier in the week).  Afterward, as true soldiers, we walked 15 minutes in pretty much pouring rain to get to this one coffee shop/bakery Katie’s Blue Cat that is supposedly really good.  We blew through an amazing greenmarket on the way but the rain kept us from any strolling.  We forgot umbrellas too.  Emily had been to Katie’s before.  Probably wasn’t worth the walk but it will not be the first time or the last time that we have stuck it out to go to the location we believe is the place we must go.  Obviously we had to taste some of their wares;  lemon pound and carrot cake.

kitchenI took a photo of their kitchen.  Love the homemade vibe.

sausagesWe decided the weather was not exactly made for walking so we would divide up.  Jessica went to a museum (the exhibit I had seen earlier in the week) and Emily and I went to KaDeWe.  KaDeWe is the oldest and largest department store in Berlin.  The food hall is on the entire sixth floor.  It is good but it is not like anything we have not seen before.  Although the sausage situation is top.  Emily and I went directly up to the food halls and tried a few dried sausages.  Delicious fatty and a serious treat if you like this stuff and we do.


Then we had a hot dog with sauerkraut and mustard to split.  When in Germany, etc.  We stopped by a few stores on the way back to the hotel.


We had dinner at Pauly Saal.  Pauly Saal is located in a building that used to be a Jewish girls school.  The restaurant is located in the old gymnasium.  Love the murano glass chandeliers and the large glass window opening to the kitchen in the back.  The building also houses Mogg & Meltzer, an excellent delicatessen where we had lunch earlier in the week.  There is also a few galleries including Eigen + Art Lab and The Kennedys filled with photos, videos of the Kennedys.  This is a must place to go for dinner including a walk around everything else housed there.


They bring out the bread basket to start.   A nice mixture of brown bread, flaky cheese bread and white sesame crusted bread.  This is served with salted butter and schmaltz butter (duck fat).

plate of apps

The menu is small yet the physical menu they give you is huge.  Old school.  We started off with a small selection of hand-made specialities.  Some were off the charts.  The poached white fish topped with caviar just melted in your mouth.


We also split the seared salmon topped with caviar, crispy skin and set in a foamy white sauce.


Everyone felt compelled to still order an appetizer even though we had all those treats to start.  Everyone seemed focus on the ravioli.   Tyrolean ravioli stuffed with ricotta and artichokes.  The split artichokes on the side were stuffed with a mixture of brown buttered bread crumbs.  This was a half portion.  They split up beautifully for us too. Delicious.


Jessica opted for the roasted eel encased in a crispy dough.   Small salad on the sides with beets rolled with a light whipped cheese.  Also a winner.


For dinner the house speciality appears to be Pomerian ox served two ways.  Emily and I split the glazed thick rib that is like braised beef ribs served with a watercress pesto.  It just fell off the bone and the presentation was beautiful.


On the side we had a mixture of mushrooms and a salad with shaved celery root.


Someone else split the Pomerian ox sirloin steak.  The meat was just more intense in flavor than a rib eye.


A few people had the fish of the day.  A mixture of fish and seafood lightly poached in a simple sauce.

chocolate:lemon macaroons

We were so full after the food and wine that we opted against dessert.  They brought over a few treats.  These are macaroons stuffed with a chocolate and lemon creme.  Nice way to make macaroons.

music at restaurant

The restaurant has a nice bar that houses easily 50 people that had a trio playing some music that we listened to a little bit before leaving.  There is also outdoor seating which is quite nice but it the weather that night was rainy.  I am glad that we ate inside, it is definitely the way to go.  Outside would be good for lunch.


Afterward we went to the Soundcloud party to celebrate the opening of their new office space.  Their offices overlook what is left of the Berlin wall which like the restaurant the reflection of history from Nazis to Communism to the next revolution.  What is amazing too is that Soundcloud has over 250 employees representing 30 different countries.  That is exactly what Berlin is today.  A mixture of people from all over the globe creating companies, art, food and innovation in many verticals; old vs new.

Great trip.  Amazing city.  Love returning to a place that continues to grow and change often.

Victoria Wellman, Oratory Laboratory, Woman Entrepeneur

victoria002Recently, I have not been consistent about doing the Woman Entrepreneur of the week every Monday.  I do realize how it resonates with so many as Victoria came to me through a friend who said you should talk to Victoria because she would be great for the Woman Entrepreneur of the week.  Right she was.   I think of artists, playwrights, book writers, people who are able to earn their keep on their creative brain as entrepreneurs.   Victoria took her creative passion and turned it into a business through a series of dot connectors.

Victoria grew up in the Chelsea area of London.  Her mother is Scottish from Glasgow.  She always worked but did not have the classic career per se.  She did editorial work for law firms including a weekly parliamentary paper that kept firms aware of what was happening in the legal world of England.  She also dabbled in real estate and most importantly was a mother.  Her father is a NYer at heart born in London with Polish parents but moved to NYC when he was 12 and stayed through college eventually traveling the world.  He identifies as an American even though he spent most of his life overseas.  Her parents met in Elba when someone recommended that her father let her mother water ski on his shoulders.  He has a serious sense of adventure even though he spent many of his days in suits working for big banks and now he is an advisor to aviation companies.

Victoria went to prep school in London until she was 11 years old before going to boarding school in the country.  It was your typical British boarding school but her last two years of school she transferred back to the city and went to Westminster.  After high school Victoria went to University of Bristol where she majored in language.  Between high school and college Victoria spent a year in Madrid.  She worked for a friend of the family who had worked at Sotheby’s in Madrid.   He had broken off and and started his own fine arts consulting company.  She says it was a funny way to spend your year off as most people go to Asia or somewhere exotic and just travel but she loved working.

At University of Bristol she took one year and lived in Barcelona.  You can essentially do whatever you want but it has to be in the city/country that you have chosen for your junior year.  Victoria worked in PR for a Spanish designer.

After graduation Victoria went to drama school.  It was something she always wanted to do but her parents said get a degree first and if you are still obsessed with drama we will support you to go afterward.  She went to Mountainview Academy of the Arts in London.  She said it was the best year.  She was completely entrenched in theater and loving every moment.  After graduating she spent time going to audition after audition for theater, movies, commercials, etc.  She was going to give herself a year to make money in her trade.

It was on her radar that moving to NYC might be the next best step.  Her sister and her Grandparents were already living here so it was would be easy to make the move.  Her sisters roommates had moved out and her sister said if you are going to do it, do it now.  That is how Victoria ended up living in NYC.   Once she got here she through herself into the actors life getting head shots, doing the auditions, the mailings etc just like London but in NYC she knew nobody.   She had to make money so the good news is that her sister knew an investor in La Esquina and got her a job at the door.  That was her entry into the hospitality world.

Victoria then ended up working in hospitality at The Box and the Norwood to make money.  She began to meet some amazing people.  She soon realized that she was actually not feeding her creativity by going to auditions.  Soon she began to write.  She had a lot to say about her experience being a Brit and making it work in NYC.  She had met a few people who worked for major publications and they became her mentors.  She says she has always been very opinionated and that came across in her writings.  She has mellowed as she has aged like we all do.  She was amazed how many people were willing to help her and as she says the accent goes a long way.

The writing turned into speeches.  She met her husband Nathan at an experimental theater show that they did in NYC.  They were friends and it eventually turned into dating.  They were traveling upstate to go to a wedding together discussing how awful the speeches were at weddings.  They both had this unique background that led to speech writing and speech delivery.  They compliment each other as she is a dry wordy English lady and he is a comic writer performer from Massachusetts.  They decided to start Oratory Laboratory together.

They built a site, had dinner with someone from Cool Hunting who picked them up and then Urban Daddy picked them up.  Before they knew it people were reaching out to them to help them write their speeches including help with the execution of giving the speech.  It was 2009.  Essentially they were a different agency.  People hire them to write pitches, do speeches, and stay on message and brand.  The first job they did was for a guy that was going to be on 60 Minutes and he wanted someone to help prepare for those 3 days of taping so that he was able to stay on message.  They also work on product demos and media training.  There is really no end to the importance of writing.  Even writing a good break-up letter.

Currently the company consists of just Victoria and her husband but I do believe they have stumbled on to something.  The importance of sticking on brand, being able to speak to an audience and writing something that truly articulates what you are trying to get across is a gift. Victoria obviously has that gift and she has turned that into a business.  Another woman entrepreneur taking what makes sense for her and building it into a business.   She thanked me for promoting the voices of bright, accomplished women all over the worldwide web who still find themselves at the mercy of draconian male gender discrimination.  Gotta love that.  

Le Soupe Populaire and Otto Piene

lasoupepopLa Soupe Populaire is a restaurant in Berlin built inside an old brewery.  The vibe and feel is quite unique and in many ways defines the vibe you get from Berlin.  Everything has been constructed around the past.

bathroom at soupe

You walk into a building that is a bit of maze before finding the restaurant. You pass the bathrooms en route.


There was an art exhibit below the restaurant which is located up in the rafters of the building.


The menu is put into a book which is kind of cool.  An eclectic charm even down to the plates.


This delicious plate is given to begin.  Bread and butter cornichons, tiny landjaeger sausage, horseradish butter and warm soft brown bread.  Perfect way to start the meal.


Jessica had the salmon.  Lightly poached in a white wine sauce with tarragon


Fred had the prawn cocktail which was a little too heavy on the sauce.


Emily and I had the duck pate.  Presentation is beautiful.


For dinner two of us had the cod poached in a cucumber sauce with tarragon.


The others (including me) had the chicken which was rolled up and poached with sliced asparagus, peas, sliced carrots and a white rich sauce.


For dessert we split three things.  Raspberries and whipped cream.


Bee sting cake that is apricots, cream and caramelized almond brittle on top


And the classic tart tartine.  The food is creative but a tad heavy.  Winter might be better for this place.


I really wanted to return to the Neue Nationalgalerie to see the Otto Piene exhibit.  We had some time to kill so we stopped in a bar that the girls knew about called the Green Door.  You have to literally ring the door bell and then they let you in.  Figure if you know where it is and you know what door bell to ring you get a pass.  Have not been to a place where people smoke cigarettes and cigars inside in a very very long time.


Afterward we went to the Otto Piene exhibit.  Really cool.  A brilliant man who mixed nature, technology and science into his works.  He taught at MIT for 20 years.  Unfortunately he died in a taxi after attending the opening installation of his work that day.  He was 86.  If you are in Berlin this is worth seeing.  Just a magnificent light show.


Back to the hotel and one more day to go.


Berlin, Day 4

I ventured out on my own today.  I decided to start my day at the local greenmarket that is only open on Thursdays.  There are many others around Berlin but I went to this one.  The hotel was having a hard time telling me the real story around my dinner reservation and I happened to walk by the restaurant en route to the greenmarket.  I stopped in and got the real deal and the manager figured out a way to get us in earlier.  So glad I happened to walk by.   Nothing like starting off the day knowing you are all set for the evening when traveling.


The greenmarket is located at Kollwitzplatz, in a small local park.  I say local because the neighborhood is so cute.  The park has a bunch of areas for kids to play and even ping pong tables.  The market takes place down one of the sides of the park where there are restaurants and stores too that open up to the market.  Really so nice.


Each food group is covered by one cart, no more.  Chicken and eggs.


Pasta maker and down the way a bread cart.


Cheese, coffee and wine table.  Super communal


I strolled back to a busier street to grab a cab and was overcome with the smell of strawberries.  On the corner of the street, just sitting there solo, was a kiosk of strawberries.  I bought a carton and indulged myself in the sweetest strawberries.


My next stop was the Neue Nationalgalerie.  The building in itself is worth going to see.  Designed and built by Mies van der Rohe in 1968.  There are two exhibits there right now.  I really went to see the Otto Piene exhibit but discovered that the exhibit is at 10pm every night so instead I saw the Expansion of the Combat Zone.  Rooms showing contemporary artists from 1968 to the present that represent the political issues of that time.  Mostly high profile artists.  I really enjoyed it.  I took a picture of this Gerhard Richter piece and that was it.  No photos allowed.


Around the corner from there are a bunch of galleries.  Many have moved from Mitte into the western area of Berlin due to the escalating real estate prices.  We had purchased a piece of art from the Barbara Wien gallery at the Frieze so I stopped in there first.  The show was from Adeagbo George.  A huge archeological type of exhibit where he has gathered fragments from his life.  A lawyer by training in the Ivory Coast who used to make these installations in his yard.  I liked this one hand written note.


I then stopped by another gallery that was showing Philip Gaston, an American artist, at Aurel Scheibler.theday

Then I stopped into Isabella Bortolozzi to see Wu Tsang, A day in the life of bliss.  Really interesting video installation of the artists Berlin underground scene.


It had started to rain, my phone was dying so instead of going to another gallery and there are many over there but you kind of have to hunt them out.  They are now front and center of the buildings but inside the buildings on floors.  I decided to make my way over to Bikini Berlin.


Bikini Berlin is a new mall concept.  The space is really open.  Almost loft like.  There are a few different floors.  Each floor is a bit different and one is outdoors.  There are art stores, small kiosks, larger stores with anything from home supplies and decor to food.


You even have to pay to pee.


The mall is butted up against the zoo so there is this huge glass window where you can see the monkeys play.

Essentially Bikini Berlin is what a mall should look like in the 21st Century.  Open, communal, mixture of culture and commerce, just not as stuffy as the ones built in the 70′s although when they first came on the scene they were considering amazing.  I am not so much a fan of malls but certainly when it is 5 degrees outside there is something to say for the indoor shopping experience.

I made my way back to the hotel afterwards and took it easy for a few hours before dinner.

Berlin, Day 3

The day began having coffee with an investor that Fred knows in Berlin.  Interesting hearing her insight and knowledge of all the companies that are being built in Europe.  Also she talked about the communities around tech.  People who are interested in the tech space have flocked to Berlin.  Each company has people working there from so many different countries.  There are other areas that have tech communities but Berlin and London are probably the top of the life.  Kind of like SF and NY although we are seeing LA and Chicago ramping up over the last few years.

Jessica and Emily decided about a month ago to join our trip which is a bonus.  They were at the hotel by the time our coffee ended.  After a quick shower and change of clothes they were ready to go.  They have both been here several times as well which makes it so much easier.  We know where we are and what we want to see or what we don’t need to see.  Berlin is certainly a city that we will come back to again and again.


We walked over to Mogg & Meltzer located in Mitte in buildings that used to be a Jewish girls school.  The restaurant has the flair of Mile End in NYC.  We decided to split everything.


We began with a peach gazpacho soup.  Nice zing with the sweetness of the peaches.


The sandwiches are delicious.  Super soft rye bread as the base.  This one is pulled pork with bbq sauce with slices of avocado and a chipotle mayo.  I might have to replicate this at home.  The cole slaw is also a winner.  Just like you want cole slaw to be.  Crunchy but not too laden with sauce.  No surprises I love pickles.  These have just a hint of spice that makes me want to eat an entire container at one sitting.  Simple brine with a kick.


Large chunks of pastrami with a brown mustard sauce.  Need I say more?


We wandered the rest of the day.  In a few stores, galleries.  Am a big fan of this product and I never see it in the states although you can order it online.  Some of these items through the same brand I have never seen.  I love the name….This Works.

local zodka

In Wood Wood they were selling a local vodka.  Love the packaging.

We got back to the hotel and took a chill before making our way out to dinner.  Dinner was at Kimchi Princess.  The place is hopping so be prepared to wait for drinks, food and the works.  The staff appears to be overwhelmed.


To start I went with a cocktail.  Not my norm but figured why not.  Soju, lime, cucumber sticks and ginger beer.  Pretty refreshing.


This is the classic Bibimbap.  A rice bowl with beef, veggies, a fried egg over the top and a very spicy sauce.  The sauce packs a powerful punch so remember that before making the dish messy.


Our waiter recommended the glass noodles with beef, vegetables and pieces of what might have been a thick pancake.  I actually liked this the best.

fried zeggies

Deep fried vegetables


There are a variety of Korean BBQ options that you cook at your table.  We went with the Argentine beef served with a chili-miso paste and sesame seed oil.

It was fun to eat outside and share the meal.   Obviously a huge hit in Berlin.

Berlin, Day 2

Today was a day devoted to companies.


After a leisurely breakfast I went over to the Kreuzberg area of Berlin where Clue is located.  Before meeting the team I stopped by Voo Store that is a concept store.  Big airy feeling with a coffee bar attached.  Will probably go back there this week and spend a little more time over there.


I met with the Clue team and had lunch right near the store at Anaveda, a vegetarian restaurant where they eat daily.  I had the curry plate.  Pea, carrots, cheese and rice.


We went back to their offices and talked for awhile.  Having this window in their office is so nice.

I jumped on the subway and made my way back to Mitte to meet with MiMi for about an hour plus.  Fred joined me and Clue and at MiMi.  It was fun to do these meetings with Fred.


Then afterward there was a party for the Atlantic Summer BBQ that is essentially all of Christophe Maire’s investments.  An impressive group.  Many of these companies are house at Soundclouds old office space so I have been on this rooftop before.  Great place for a party.


There was a crepe guy there who is friends with the entrepreneurs behind Clue.  Really delicious.  One of the drums is set at 250 and the other at 200.  Interesting  Never knew that.


Then Fred and I walked over to Borchardt.  We had gone the first time we were in Berlin.  Had fond memories.  The food is sub-par but we had a good time nonetheless.  We started with a dozen oysters that were plump briny and quite good.


We split both entrees.  The sea bass with a mixture of chopped tomatoes, avacado and something else on the side.  This really was not good at all.   Poor presentation and really not well cooked.


Their big thing is supposedly the best veal schnitzel in town.  It is fine.  Don’t rush.

tomatoesThe tomatoes on the side were at least a small taste of summer.

We went back to the hotel, had a glass of sweet wine on the roof to watch the sun set before calling it a day.

Note: I have found WordPress to change the way photos are uploaded daily.  Maybe it is Chrome but I find the whole process insanely frustrating.  If anyone has any suggestions please feel free to help me.


Back to Berlin

waterpipes The first time we came to Berlin was December 2008 so roughly 6 years ago. The amount of construction and change that has taken place since then has been mind boggling.  Urbanization is taking place around the globe but because Berlin has essentially rebuilt itself since 1989 the change here is even more significant.

Construction will be taking place here for decades to come.  This might look like an art installation but these purple/pink pipes are for construction sites to pump out the water before building.  Berlin is essentially built on a swamp so water must be pumped out quickly in order for the site not to be damaged from the get go.

It is seriously hot here and walking around town is a sweaty experience but none the less I did.  I met with an entrepreneur from Poland in a company I am investing in call CSTM.  The launch will be taking place in October in Europe first, US next.   I am really excited about what they have built and the opportunities moving forward.

Fred and I had dinner with an investor and his wife who both of us have invested with which was really great.  We went to Katz Orange.   The restaurant is located in a beautiful open area set inside a bunch of other buildings.  Very typical of Europe where there is a large courtyard in between a bunch of buildings to create light and air.   The restaurants food is sourced locally and continues to change based on the season. trout

Our first course was mostly salads.  Fred had the marinated trout along side a  a purple potato salad with spiced rhubarb and mustard seed.  The purple potato salad was amazing.

greenbean I had the green bean salad.  A variety of different green beans mixed with greens, pecorino cheese, dried barberry and sesame crisps.  Nice light summer salad. pork For dinner there are either entrees or slow cuisine entrees for two that have been roasted for over 12 hours at a very low temperature.  The slow cooked is more than likely one of their specialties.  They have three options.  Fred and I split the pork that comes with a spicy bbq sauce on the side and a garlic yogurt sauce which we did not touch.  The pork just falls apart when you slice it.  A tad heavy for the summer months but still good. sweetpotatoes We had two sides to go with that.  Simply roasted sweet potatoes. gingercarrot Carrot ginger puree. cheese Dessert was just a mix of cheese for all of us to share.  It seems like the slate plates are the rage here too. Beautiful setting and a nice stroll back to the hotel.

Is STEM still a four letter word for women?

imgresI can’t help but look back at my own education when it comes to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).  I was asked by Ravishly to write something about the question is STEM still a four letter word for women.  Here are my thoughts.

My parents were definitely not concerned or particularly interested in my education.  They trusted that I would just figure it out.  I was smart and I had to find my own way.  Not exactly what I would recommend as a parent myself but I had no choice.

I was always good at Math and actually enjoyed Science.  The apple did not fall from the tree so in many ways it is not shocking that I gravitated towards both of those subjects in 7th grade because they came easy.  My education at this point had not exactly been geared towards anything.  I spent both 5th and 6th grade at an elementary school that was trying out a new type of education.  It was based on pods.  There were a group of teachers so there was little structure if any.  Projects were set up around the open space for self-starters.  I was always a self-starter who could figure a way to get around anything so I became the tether ball and spit (card game) champion.  I basically ignored all other learning activities and so when I did get to 7th grade, in a typical junior high school structured environment I did not even know what a verb or noun was.  I kid you not.  The school separated me from the English class I was in and put me in a room of below average thinkers.  It took me about one month to crawl my way out and then I was moved into the smartest English class although I still suffered (and still do) for lack of that English training.

In Science and Math I excelled.  I was noted as the top science student in 7th grade and was sent with all the 8th and 9th graders to spend a day at the National Science event in DC.  It was a pretty big deal.  In Math I just flew through the work and loved it.  Fast forward, nobody at home really gave me pats on the back for this and by 9th grade I was lucky if I made it to Science class.  Math was always a slam dunk and I enjoyed it.   I remember taking a short course on computer programming (part of the math curriculum) and thinking this is so cool but there were just a few geeky guys who took over and I just let it go at that. By the time I got to high school I was concentrating on juggling three jobs which I took to easily.  I owned them, I made money and it gave me purpose.

The rest of my high school education is pretty much a blur. Perhaps if I had a mentor or someone who took me under their wing when it came to Math and Science then things would have turned out differently.  I just did not see the importance of Math and Science at that point.  I was interested in business and business only.  I knew I had a head for it and it was a ticket to bigger things.

Kids k-12 these days understand the importance of learning technology.  I believe people should follow their passions.  I had a passion for Math but nobody set me in that direction.  Not so sure if I had a passion for anything except for making money than expanding my brain and with that my horizons.  I read books like a fiend but otherwise that was my own education.  I didn’t get much direction but eventually I figured it out.

We are seeing more organizations make sure that they become those mentors to young women through Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code, Girls Develop It, Skillcrush and Webgrrls just to name a few.  It is fantastic.

So, is STEM still a four letter word for women?  Absolutely not.  S can also be for seeing their future, T can be for the importance of understanding technology at any level, E can be the importance of education, end of story and M can be the importance of mastering the language of technology.

I still believe you have to have passion for it and if you do, stick with it because STEM levels the playing field and that is the key to a better future for women.

NewCo returns to NYC

originalI participated in the OpenCo conference last year in NYC.   They have now changed their name to NewCo and are returning to NYC October 1-2.

What I really like about this conference is that is an “inside out” event.  The city becomes the event space.  Attendees can will go to companies around the city who have signed up to be a host.  They will spend roughly an hour touring the offices, talking about their product/vision and that is a bonus for the company and the attendees.

Companies that have participated in the past were anything from small start-ups with 10 people to Google, Dropbox and a museum.

NewCo is currently looking for mission driven companies to participate this fall.  You can apply here.  The application is due by July 29th.

Highly recommend opening up your doors to this.  It is smart and different.  The proof is in the pudding.  This year they will have more than 750 companies participate in 8 cities.


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