The genesis of our kitchen reaches back several months, almost half a year. Even before we signed the sale contract for our settler house at the notary, we sketched the first blueprints for the most important room in our house. We knew exactly how the kitchen should look like. Still, a sketch doesn’t make a ready kitchen. We had specific materials in mind, and we had to find the right people who can work them perfectly. Native materials like wood, steel and concrete should match the rustic room, the old barn, but also set a straight contrast to the old brick walls and wooden benches. Textures, structures, and materials were very important to us while designing the kitchen. All three materials will change their surface over time. Traces of usage will show which will make the structures even more beautiful. Beside the sheer optical and haptic aspects, practicability was also important to us. We wanted cooking to be fun for everyone, enough storage, some items to be hidden while others are specifically displayed.

The special part about designing a kitchen or an piece of furniture yourself is how you connect to it. The connection to the finished “product” is completely different. It is different than getting a kitchen delivered piece by piece in packages by a conveyance, and trying with a red head and high pulse to execute an incomprehensible manual.
It was important to us to participate in the formation process. We regularly went to the workshops, discussed details, checked models and adjusted them, and we were even allowed to see the founding of the worktop.
We could win Sascha from WertWerke* as a first expert for the realization of our plans. Concerning concrete nobody can fool him. His years of experience with this material, special techniques and a feeling for the material form wonderful, aesthetic yet rugged individual items. Just like the sink and the worktop of our kitchen island.

Sascha had the idea to cast the concrete for the worktop directly into the steel rack. It is an unusual technique giving the worktop vast stability, even with its small diameter.

The kitchen island’s worktop has another feature. While looking for a matching gas hob we found PITT cooking* and it was obvious these gas burners would fit in the worktop perfectly. We’ve never seen such premium burners before. We are not talking about any gas burners, but burnes made of cast iron and brass. We chose a version with three burners which allow – with enough space between them – to have three pots or pans on the stove at the same time. It’s sufficient for our style of cooking and demands. 

As said before, we not only want our kitchen to be beautiful, but also practical and simplify everyday cooking. Even if a kitchen island sounds antiquated and so 90s hobby cook, it provides the possibility to work from two sides simultaneously while still have enough storage, including the gas cylinder. 

Besides the modern hob and a high-tech steam oven, another highlight entered our kitchen. In hindsight, getting the 290kg beast into the barn  sounds way easier than it actually was. In winter, the woodstove will provide the room with the necessary heat, plus you can cook and  bake on it.

After all the months of chimeras, planning, renovating and executing we still can’t quite grasp how well everything colluded and worked out.

In the end, everything turned out the way we dreamed it to be. Maybe even better. It is an incredible feeling to give your ideas full scope, to implement within your own walls exactly what you want. Still, we want to form a symbiosis with the house, convert it with respect and use the resources optimally.

To go on a short trip to Italy just to eat some ice cream might sound a bit excessive, but when we were invited by Grom Gelato* we didn’t think long and accepted. After short research we found out that the founders Guido and Federico have the reputation of making the best gelato in Italy, maybe even in the whole world. We wanted to find out desperately if that’s true.
After a cancelled flight, waiting at the airport, a detour through half of Germany and searching for our lost suitcase we finally met one of the founders of Grom, Guido Martinetti, in Turin. We had a delicious dinner with regional specialities which eased the exertions of the last hours, or better: the last day. The most fabulous focaccia ever, agnolotti with Parmesan, perfect risotto, seasonal vegetables, and of course only the best wines were served. Not only listening to Guido during dinner was fascinating. It was at least as much fun just watching him. Spirited, he took from other’s plates, spooned the Parmesan directly from the bowl and cheered like a child when he saw the next course. Everyone else would have looked rude, but with him it was just plain adorable and it demonstrated his love to the Italian cuisine and to the carefully selected ingredients. It’s the keyword for their whole company. The Grom founders are followers of the slow food movement and with this, their story of success started. Until 2002, vintner Guido Martinetti and financial consultant Federico Grom had no idea how to produce ice cream. An article by slow food founder Carlo Petrini sparked Guidos interest and especially his ambition for this topic. In that article, Petrini vent on about how no one was producing traditional gelato anymore. Hard to believe, since ice cream belongs to the most praised Italian specialities. According to him, high quality gelato with seasonal fruits, without artificial flavours and all the other industrial additives did not exist anymore. This assessment should change only one year later. Guide persuaded his friend Federico of his idea to produce the best gelato you find on the market. With little money and even less clue they opened their first gelateria in Turin, and within short time, ice cream fans beat a path to their doors. With their fresh, unconventional ideas they changed the industry’s rules. Their lack of knowledge led to a completely different thinking about gelato and the production led to success. Until now, 15 years later, the founders study how to manufacture gelato to make Grom even more perfect. Their method is unique. They supply the stores not with the prepared, already frozen ice cream, but with a fresh gross mass which is creamed in an ice cream machine locally, thus getting the perfect consistency.
The knowledge and the recipes alone are not the guarantor for the taste adventure of Grom. Most important are the good ingredients. Here, the founders hit a wall. They couldn’t find products of their demand in Italy.

So they took the next step and built a farm in beautiful Piemont in 2007, the Mura Mura Farm. On the 20 hectare big organic farm in Costigliole d’Asti the best and tastiest types of fruit are grown. Still, they first had to find them. Thus, the farm is also a huge open-air experimental laboratory. While growing the fruits it’s not about aesthetics. Most producers focus on aesthetics because the customer on the market has to be excited about the fruits at first sight. However, the purpose on the Mura Mura Farm is to get the fruits with the best flavour. The apricots, for example, are smaller than those on the market and covered in dots, which is considered a flaw in beauty. On the other hand, the taste is special and can’t be found somewhere else. The same goes for the strawberries, which we passed around curious and excited. 28 different types are grown to choose the best for the gelato. We tried a breed which is part wood strawberry but without the tart after taste. Actually, we have never had such aromatic strawberries before! Beside the strawberries, peaches, pears, figs and melons are cultivated on the farm. A team decides in a blind tasting the best breeds for the gelato. These breeds are then planted numerously. The fruits may ripe on the plant until they reached their full flavour. Usually, fruits are often harvested long before they are ripe so they can be better transported and stored. This of course affects the taste and Guido and Federico won’t have it!To listen to Guido talking about all of this and watching him running around his farm with glittering eyes, describing all the different types of fruit, to show them, let them be tasted, was incredibly lovely. Those two live for their dream and their gelato. It’s bluntly obvious. Not only the gelato but also ice waffles and other delicious treats are produced by Grom: cookies, creams, jams. All in perfection.

Of course, we chowed through the whole menu. Pistacchio, raspberry, Crema di Grom, Sorbetto al Limone… Every type was heavenly creamy, fruity, delicious. Is it really the best gelato in the world? We cannot know, of course. However, we are confident it is something very special and it cannot be found like this anywhere else. 

The two days in and around Turin were not alone about ice cream. We love Italians for showing guests their cuisine fervently. So we also visited the hosts favourite restaurants to get to know local specialities, tried wines, enjoyed the hubbub in Turin on the biggest open air market in the world, the Mercato di Porta Palazzo, and from the Mole Antoelliana we had a view on the whole city. We will come back, no doubt! Until then we can enjoy the great Grom gelato in Germany: it will be delivered to selected supermarkets here.

For us it is not enough to renovate one house and to create a garden. No, we need to have a greenhouse too, as if everything else would not provide us with enough work. We wanted to taste all aspects of country life, instantly. The most important for us was to be able to harvest our own vegetables from our garden. We wish to grow tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers and more of vegetables, which need the warmth and humidity of a greenhouse to fully flourish. The decision process regarding our greenhouse was long. The factors which were essential to us were not only that it would need to be practical and give enough room for all kind of varieties, which we would like to grow, but it needed as well to merge in an aesthetic way within the nature of our garden. Finally we found it, on the website of BAUHAUS*, while actually searching for something completely different. Our dream house out of glass should become the Juliana Gärtner, with a proud area of 18,8 square meter. As loyal customers we were extremely happy to be supported by BAUHAUS in the realization of this project. Especially now, during our renovation phase, you will find us often in one of their stores. Their selection is huge and what we love most is that the company has not only high quality but as well environmentally friendly products. You can recognize these products by the seal „Pro Planet“ for example.

Before we begin to rhapsodize about the greenhouse itself, we would like to tell you about the way we needed to go to get it. All began in February with putting the first seeds in the soil of tiny breeding pots. Week-long we nourished and cherished our babies. We worried that they would not be able to make it, being without us for three days. Clearly, as parents of young plants you have a lot on your mind. But to care for the tiny ones was still the easiest task. Our way to build a home for our young plants was long and stony.

We visualized it beautifully and chose the place for the greenhouse carefully. A flat area is not to find on our ground. We only noticed how steep the place for our greenhouse was while we were, in pure heat, taking off the grass sod. A house needs to be build on a solid foundation, of course this does not only count for houses of stone. So, hard working we took away soil, dumped soil and made the area flat. And this was only the beginning.

Without a notion of how to manage such a project, we were overwhelmed pretty quickly by the task to build the foundation. For this the area does not only need to be flat but the foundation needs to be embedded in the ground without any frost. This meant that we needed to dig 80 cm deep holes. Luckily, our hero Jörg was rescuing our buts another time and came with his earth auger. Never before were we celebrating to have 10 deep wholes in the ground!

Being filled with concrete, measured thousand of times with a spirit level and a yardstick, the foundation was finally let to the ground. But that was not the end of the game. Thousands of pieces waited for us to be screwed and connected. The blistering heat was continuing and during the evenings hours full perspiration, we were in company of many midges. Strut over strut our construction was growing, and finally it was recognizable to be a house. The system of the Juliana green house is really simple and incredibly thought-out. Due to this, the construction of the house was good to manage by us two. Until again there was a moment, in which we would have been lost without Jörg. We experienced huge respect to place the glass plates into the roof. Some of these plates are about 2 meters high and to control them while standing on the ladder, without bringing the glass to vibrate too much, was already nerve-racking while being the observer. In addition there was always the worry that we could have made a mistake. That it might be that one missing screw or an oblique angle could ruin everything in the end. Quite often during this whole process we asked ourselves why we were doing all of this. Why we were torturing us to that degree, in order to be able to harvest a few tomatoes in the end. But once you are in this moment, when the perfect result is in front of you, you will glow from being proud and happy, or not? At least this was what we felt like. And this was why we wanted to celebrate this moment. To experience a cosy evening between all these young plants, was indescribable beautiful. The rays of sunlight which were reflecting in the glass, the glittering water drops of the previous extensive rain, the sounds, which were coming muted through the windows but which were still creating a feeling of outside. In this moment we thought that it would be a pity to give the greenhouse completely to the plants. Our dearest Jörg Schlinke gave even more to us for this occasion. With his Glow-Writing he created a wonderful, temporary installation in our greenhouse. Holding a refreshing drink we were sitting together and we had waited for the right moment. The moment, in which the light was perfect. The first stars were already emerging, the sun was shining with its last power a whiff of red on the horizon…

After this amazing evening it is not easy to give the house to our plants. On the other hand, we are looking forward to bring them into the well deserved soil. Of course we will tell you about news and about how the tiny ones will grow. Latest, once we are harvesting we will write a detailed post on the blog.

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