“My Somm Secret: Oysters with Fino!”

“My Somm Secret: Oysters with Fino!”

Maria Rehermann, sommelier at Arne Anker's new Berlin restaurant BRIKZ, speaks with us about the many facets of her profession, her love for sherry, and the moment when an unforgettable sauce changed her life.

Maria, you recently took on the position of a sommelier at BRIKZ, Arne Anker’s new restaurant in Berlin. Can you tell us a bit more about the restaurant and its concept? 

As you'd imagine, opening a new restaurant in the middle of the lockdown is perhaps less than optimal, but we've risen to the challenge and have worked hard to find creative 3 or 4-course menus, that work well as take-out. So far they've been selling really well! 

As soon as we are allowed to open our real doors, we can’t wait to share Arne's vision of a fantastic ‘homestyle’ experience with our guests. Each of our five team members agrees that we have all had enough of the traditional restaurant model. Long hours. Little appreciation. In my opinion, it's simply an outdated approach. At BRIKZ, we're looking to convey the ‘homestyle’ feeling. Four courses. One price. Great organic wine as accompaniment. A wonderful way to spend an evening with friends.

And at the center of it all: Arne's cooking. Delicate dishes with components that blend together perfectly and his trademark vein of acidity. For example, there’s a lively acid kick that shines through beautifully in his signature sauerkraut-and-Chinese cabbage dish that he calls “Anker as Jelly.” 

That sounds delicious! And what kinds of wines and beverages are you offering? 

A wine list is inherently a dynamic object. I look forward to pondering our list together with our guests, in order to adjust it to their liking. I will, without a doubt, shape the wine card using the customer’s feedback. But one thing is already clear: We will only serve organically produced wines. Handmade bottles through and through, preferably from small estates like Weingut Odinstal from Germany’s Pfalz winegrowing region.

Arne's cooking is fresh and marked with a bright acidity. It fits perfectly to my personal wine favorites, but it's also about more than just the wines — we want our guests to enjoy a complete sensory experience. I love the surprise and delight that comes when serving a cider, a beer or even a sparkling wine made from rhubarb alongside the different courses.

And right there you can see just how complex your profession is. You need to know your way around so many different areas: wine, juice, teas, cocktails, spirits, cigars... which of these aspects bring you the most joy and why? 

For me, they belong together. It doesn't really matter whether it’s tea, juice or wine. What's really important is identity, hand crafted products that have both a soul and story. The concept of terroir — meaning a product’s specific origins — plays a significant role as well.

Personally, I have a soft spot for sherry. It is, at least in Germany, a completely underrated beverage. I plan to offer a sherry with each of my menus to show the full nuance and potential of this specialty. Especially when you're working with a particularly aromatic cuisine like the Nordic style, sherry is pure pairing perfection. My somm secret of the day: fresh oysters with Fino sherry. A true explosion of flavours!

Maria Rehermann

From Vendôme in Bergisch-Gladbach to Hide Restaurant in London – you know your way around fine dining like few others. But let’s look at the other side. Where did you have your own most thrilling restaurant adventure as a guest? 

That's a tough one. There have been so many fantastic experiences. There was one time in Berlin, a few years ago — honestly, it might well be the reason that I'm working with Arne now. I was a sommelier at Reinstoff at the time. We took our team to lunch at Arne's Pauly Saal and had a great meal. And there was a sauciere on our table, with the last sip of the most incredible sauce I had ever tasted. Without thinking, I picked it up and drank it. Heavenly! Arne caught me red-handed and burst out laughing. A few months later I was eating at Pauly Saal again and as an "amuse-bouche," Arne sent me a small "sauce course." A thoughtful and memorable gesture. And that's why I continue to admire him today! 

Great story. Now that is customer service. We talked about your wine list at the beginning. But we haven't spoken about glassware yet. What do you look for when it comes to your glasses? 

Glasses are like a bespoke suit. It helps the wine become individual. That's what impresses me most about "Josephine.” The glass allows the wine to really shine. For young wines in particular, which are sometimes still a bit closed, it encourages the aromas to unfurl and emerge. Their true faces, if you will, are revealed in a "Josephine" glass. For me, that’s a fantastic experience. Anyone who takes their wine seriously will end up at “Josephine” sooner or later. I’m convinced!

You were on deck when "Josephine" launched. What was your first reaction?

Yes, that’s true. I was lucky enough to be a part of the "Josephine" journey from the very start. It was love at first sight. They feel so fantastic and are exceptionally delicate. I'm still a bit in awe at how robust they are. I haven't broken a "Josephine" yet! It's really one of the greatest strengths of the “Josephine” collection, especially when compared to other hand-blown glasses.

Maria Rehermann

Great feedback, thanks! You’re planning on serving wine at BRIKZ in Josephine glasses. What in your view makes them the right choice for the BRIKZ concept?

As I already mentioned, part of our vision is to create a familiar, familial experience for our guests. Never off the shelf, but rather always highly attuned to the individual. The foodstuffs that we use in the kitchen come almost entirely from small producers and fine manufacturers that we know and appreciate. The same is true of Josephinenhütte. Kurt Joseph Zalto's story is moving and inspiring. I’m not looking for mass-produced glasses, but rather individual works of art. And that is truly a perfect pairing with our vision.

In these dynamic times, it is essential for me as a glass designer not to stand still. I have made it my mission to build bridges between classic craftsmanship and trend-setting ideas. With the JOSEPHINE Decanter Brillant, we have shown that the true beauty of glassmaking lies in the combination of past and future.

Kurt Josef Zalto

"The German Design Award shows me that our efforts to combine traditional craftsmanship with modern design and functional aesthetics are appreciated internationally. However, the award is not only recognition of our work, but also a call to all glassmakers: we must constantly reinvent our craftsmanship to remain fit for the future. You can't do everything with a machine, and working only with machines would be extremely limiting for me as a designer. Innovation would consequently be lost if the craftsmanship of glassmaking was to disappear. In this respect, I am very grateful that our efforts are being recognized and awarded accordingly."

Innovative Design Development

The German Design Award, according to the company, "sets international standards for innovative design developments and competitiveness on the global market… It has set itself the goal of promoting the diverse transformation tasks of our time through design, because outstanding examples provide orientation for others."

This award encourages Kurt Josef Zalto to continue creating products with Josephinenhütte that are not only functional, but also artistic and inspiring. "For me, it's about keeping traditions alive and at the same time breaking new ground," says Kurt Josef Zalto.

Brilliant and functional

Kurt Josef Zalto was inspired by a diamond when designing the decanter. Accordingly, the decanter is minimalist in design and delicate in structure. This also convinced the international jury of leading experts from various design disciplines.

The iconic shape of the decanter ensures optimum aeration of the wine and thus extracts the last flavorful secret from premium wines. In addition to the characteristic bend of the JOSEPHINE series, the decanter has a cone at the bottom. This distinctive design element ensures that the wine is quickly enriched with oxygen when it is poured thanks to a spiral-shaped swirl, allowing one to perceive the wine’s colored nuances.