One of the “must-see” markets in Berlin is the Turkish market in Kreuzberg, held along the canal by the Schönleinstraße U-bahn stop. There’s a sizable Turkish population in the city, and to serve them, this semi-weekly market (Tuesdays and Fridays) offers special breads, spices, vegetables, household items, cloth, and more. There are also some great specialty jams, waffles, prepared meals from several African cuisines, and cheeses.
It was here, on one typical grey afternoon, I came across Natursprung, owned by dedicated cheesemonger Achim Freitag. When I happened upon him, he was helping another Anglophone customer, so I sidled up and asked him to show me some of the lovely cheeses of Germany. He pulled out Backensholzer Deichkäse Gold from the case, a gold-yellow raw cow’s milk cheese reminiscent of a gouda in some respects (I sensed a sweet, butterscotch undertone). Then there was Eifelwürze, an old ivory-colored aged raw goat cheese from Vulkanhof, a maker in the western part of Germany, that reminded me of fruit and almonds. I settled on two other cheeses for my refrigerator—a classic Tilsiter and a Kürbiskern Walnuss Käse, semi-hard goat cheese dotted with walnuts and sunflower seeds.
The Kürbiskern Walnuss cheese had a most unusual paste—it looked and felt like thousands of curds layered and pressed together. The paste flaked off in my mouth instead of dissolving, like geological striations. It was as though thousands of tiny cheeses joined together to create one aggregate wheel. The taste was quite delicate with elements of mushroom, umami, and flowers all rolled into one. I loved the rind of this cheese because that’s where the flavor was concentrated, giving off an element of sweet milk. The nuts throughout the cheese offered some body and a slight bitterness.
As for the Tilsiter, I found it brilliant. Achim the cheesemonger informed me that it’s quite common since it’s a traditional German cheese, but I think I’d have a hard time finding such a great one in the States. It is smear-ripened, wiped in a brine solution while it ages, so brace yourself when you sniff it! Getting past the sweaty feet smell, I found the flavors full and direct, honest as a traditional country cheese should be. There was a strong meaty beginning, which gave way to fruity (apple?) and nutty notes not unlike Gruyère. It dissolved easily; there was hardly any chewing needed. A little certainly went a long way, though.
Just another day at the market!