Monday, 20 May 2019
Taste- and love-less, standardised conventional breakfast buffets are still league in Berlin, but if you have the chance to decide where to stay you can easily start your day in a way that's good for you and the planet: If you don't mind hotel chains the easiest bet are the hotels of the Motel One chain. All over Germany they offer partially organic breakfast for 11.50 EUR in addition to the room charge. They promise organic dairy products, plant-based drinks, jam, honey, apple juice, coffee, tea, apples and muesli at all hotels, and if you are lucky there may be more organic and fairly traded options.
But you can have it even more luxurious, at welcoming, owner-run boutique hotels striving for a fully sustainable overall experience.
Both of them are located in the city centre, and you may even be surprised to find that they aren't necessarily more expensive than the chain.
If you do yoga or adhere to a minimalist lifestyle Hotel Almodóvar in Friedrichshain is a must-go (but neither of the two is a prerequisite to feel at home here). The reduced geometric minimalist chic in white and dark-brown, with carefully selected design objects to light the room, beanbags, and yoga mats generate a very special, focussed room atmosphere.
All food and drinks here are organic: In the morning you wake up to a gorgeous
vegetarian breakfast buffet with lots of regional produce and tasty home-made spreads and preserves at Bistro Bardot; on Sundays you can have brunch until 3 pm, with (among others)
vegan curry "sausage" and scrambled "eggs". Given the pleasantly styled location it's sad that the bistro isn't a public bar in the evening, but as a hotel guest you can have a glass of
organic wine to quit the day.
While the Almodóvar building is quite new (opened in 2013) the Guldsmeden hotel Lulu
in the vibrant neighbourhood of Potsdamer Straße in Tiergarten/Mitte is located in a
beautifully renovated 1850’s building. Part of a small Danish family-owned sustainable hotel chain which carefully and individually decorates the rooms you can expect
the lunch at their restaurant and bar dubbed Sæson (Danish for "season") to be fully organic. For breakfast, dinner and at the bar there may be some conventional exceptions.
Also here you can have predominantly organic brunch on Sundays even if you do not stay at the hotel, with live jazz music. The beer comes from the Moabit-based Brewbaker brewery, also juices, gin, and wine can be had organic.
I haven't had the chance to stay here yet but given my absolutely positive experience with the Guldsmeden hotels in Copenhagen and Oslo I'm pretty sure you won't regret your stay here. All body care products there are organic, so I expect them to be so at the Lulu, too.
[Berlin, organic, hotel, accommodation, breakfast, lunch, dinner, bar, restaurant]
Saturday, 18 May 2019
When you're captured in the boring conference centre Moa-Bogen (not far from the Berlin main train station, Hauptbahnhof) where not even the tea bags in the conference area are organic (with the notable exception of one type of simple black tea which was available from one single tea bag dispenser) all you want is to go for a stroll at lunch time.
But this is not Kreuzberg and it's not so easy to find organic food options. What I discovered in the vicinity were two vegan day cafes with more or less limited use of organic ingredients, both not more than a five minutes walk away (though in opposite directions).
Around Birkenstraße tube station
For cheap and simple, filling vegan food find the ice-cream-shaped neon light of
vegan Café Geh Veg next to the Birkenstraße tube station (the name is a mesh up of the literal translation of "go veg", the German word for pedestrian way -- Gehweg -- and the German phrase "Geh weg!" meaning "go away"). This small and somewhat shabby place serves breakfast until 2 pm as well as black bean burgers, salads, bagels, wraps and cakes. Unfortunately it’s only partially organic: The bagels, the tempeh and the soy and the oat drinks are organic, most of the tea bags and soft drinks are, too, but veges, yogurt alternatives and the ice-cream usually are not. The coffee is even cheap conventional supermarket fare.
Questions about the origin of the ingredients were dealt with in a friendly way, but the staff does not seem to be very knowledgeable. Note that the toilets are next door.
For way nicer surroundings in Spanish style walk in opposite direction: Directly located at the pleasant retreat of Stephansplatz with a nice children's playground surrounded by Wilhelminian style houses you'll find Valladares Feinkost. It's not only a
100% vegan café, but
also a small organic grocery selling organic dry products, dairy alternatives, wines, lemonades, water and even natural cosmetics.
The coffee is roasted in town but not organic, the plant-based drinks are.
According to the barrista fresh veges used in the dishes would usually be organic, but there's no commitment to what's organic and what not. Unfortunately the cakes aren't.
The oat-drink-based cappuccino I found too sweet (due to the brand), so here the one from Geh Veg was better, despite the inferior coffee.
From Birkenstraße take the U9 tube one stop to Turmstraße, and you're in the heart of Old Moabit, with busy shopping streets and pleasant residential areas. Here you'll find
the Domberger Brot-Werk, a true
artisanal bakery with an open bakehouse as part of the shop. It smells deliciously here and you may be surprised by the limited selection of items -- just a few types of bread and rolls, and one type of cake if you come in time for the latter. But the taste! I still regret that I did not buy a loaf of bread to take with me, since the Bavarian-style pretzl I had was overwhelmingly tasty: fresh from the oven, with an intense flavour of wheat and baking stone (although Bavarians would probably complain about the softness). The bakery itself is not certified organic, but uses
certified organic flour, eggs, and milk. The fruit for the cake and other ingredients come from the Kreuzberger Markthalle 7 and may not be organic. Needless to say that you can have a coffee, too, probably also in front of the place when the weather is nice.
For 100% organic ice-cream head for the
Eisbox ice-cream parlour a few corners away. Unfortunately I run short of time, so share your experience with me if you come here.
There's also an organic supermarket of the small Berlin-based LPG chain a few meters further west which also offers fully organic lunch. Their bakery counter opens an hour before the supermarket, at 7am.
The LPG groceries are organised as a co-operative with a focus on regional producers and neighbourhood welfare, offering discounts to its members. Its name matches the common abbreviation for the agricultural production cooperatives in former East Germany.
At the main train station
Within the city's huge main train station, Berlin Hauptbahnhof (which you can reach within a few minutes on the TXL bus from the Turmstraße stop located on Alt-Moabit street) it's hard to find a supplier of organic provisions (you'll have to fall back to the conventional Rewe supermarket or the Rossmann drugstore and check for organic labels). I could not find any eatery using organic ingredients, but you can at least have organic coffee drinks and tea at the Pret a manger self-service cafe. When you enter the station from the southern exit at Washingtonplatz this is the first place to the left. They use fresh organic milk from the Bavarian Andechser dairy, but unfortunately none of their cakes, cookies, sandwiches and other own-brand snacks are organic.
[Berlin, Moabit, organic, vegan, cafe, restaurant, eatery, coffee, ice-cream, supermarkets, grocery, bakeries]
Thursday, 16 May 2019
Nowhere in Germany it is easier to adhere to an organic lifestyle than in its capital -- provided you aim for appropriately inhabited neighbourhoods all you have to do is to keep your eyes open. Many of those neighbourhoods can be found in the administrative unit of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, and this blog will cover only the tip of the iceberg, i.e. the places I found during a two-days visit. The places covered in the first two sections are all located in Kreuzberg 61, the neighbourhood considered the bourgeouis part of Kreuzberg.
The German Museum of Technology near tube-station Möckernbrücke clearly is a place to spend hours in -- but what if you start to feel hungry or the urge for a coffee? For the occasional tourist this wonderful museum seems to be located in the middle of nowhere, but don't dispair! Head East and follow Tempelhofer Ufer back to the tube station, and turn to the right after the second traffic-light. A few steps into Großbeerenstraße you will find an organic gem with roots back in former West-Berlin's green-alternative past. Today it's a friendly though a little worn-out grocery cum eatery dubbed Ökotussi ("eco-Sheila") run by a bunch of practical women. Stop by for a hearty vegetarian (usually vegan) lunch (the vegan lasagna we had was delicious and sufficient for two), a salad or snack or an Italian-style coffee drink.
Follow Zossener Straße from tube-stop Gneisenaustraße in Southern direction, and you'll end up in a neighbourhood that most eco-conscious people will consider the ultimate paradise: three organic (or predominantly organic) whole-sale supermarkets, four organic bakeries, four at minimum partially organic restaurants and eateries, and a number of other shops offering selected organic products, everything within a five minutes walk, all with liberal opening hours compared to the rest of Germany. The eateries of this neighbourhood dubbed Bergmannkiez try to outdo one another in advertising their vegan options -- it seems a luxury to point out that vegan even here usually does not imply organic.
Restaurants and eateries
Promenading Bergmannstraße (which makes for the Southern border of Marheinekeplatz) to the West you will find Fratelli La Bionda, a decent Italian pizzeria using organic flour and tomatoes for their pizze. No place for lunch since the restaurant does not open before evening. If you take your seat around the tables on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant, opposing a park with a children's playground you will kindly be asked to move inside around half past 9 pm. Since the eateries covered below all close between 8 and 9 pm (or even earlier during the weekend) this place is the only option for your evening out covered in this post.
A few steps west enter crossing Friesenstraße to the left, and you'll find Glück to go, serving ayurveda-inspired healthy vegan or vegetarian burgers with organic buns alongside organic beer and softdrinks. Unlike the eateries within the Marheineke-Markthalle next to the playground this place is open on Sundays.
This nicely restored mall is a Mekka for foodies. Opposite Friesenstraße you will find Piechas Bio-Buffet, a slow-food whole-organic grill. Although vegan and vegetarian dishes are offered, too, their focus is clearly on organic meat, from nose to tail. Arguably Berlin's best beef burgers are served here, and unlike other places they won't cook your meat to death when you forget to order rare. If you want to try Berliner Currywurst (curried sausage) and other German meat dishes at all -- so here. Heavily frequented during lunch hours service can be a bit bumpy, and more frequent cleaning of the bar tables would often be nice. You can choose from an impressive range of organic softdrinks, or have beer or very decent cider made from apples organically grown in the wild of Berlin's surroundings. Mayonaise and ketchup for your fries have to be ordered separately.
If you walk around the booth you will find the counter of the organic butcher's shop where you can buy sausages, offal and all the cuts from free-range cattle and pigs kept well at small-scale organic farms in the vicinity and slaughtered respectfully.
Lunch and coffee drinks are also being served by organic bakery Beumer & Lutum, a few steps north on Zossener Straße. If you want your coffee on the go make sure to bring your own mug which entitles you to a small discount. While the two organic bakery boothes within the Marheineke mall -- Mehlwurm in the centre of the market hall, and Biobackhaus in the North-Eastern part -- are closed on Sundays and open at 8 am, Beumer & Lutum keeps open on Sundays and is catering for the early bird Monday through Saturday from 7 am. It also offers a small selection of organic food items to complete your breakfast table. In return the bakery boothes in the mall have longer opening hours in the evening, but do not serve coffee or lunch.
For the sweet tooth
Italian-style organic coffee drinks can also be had from the Tanne b ice-cream parlour on the crossing of Zossener and Bergmannstraße. They use organic milk for their all-natural ice-creams served in vegan cones, and offer vegan options, too. Children are served slightly smaller scoops for the price of 80 cents (instead of 1.20 euros for regular servings). In 2019 the ice-cream season has been announced to start 7th March.
Around the corner from Fratelli La Bionda you'll find cosy Cafe Conni Island where you can treat yourself with lovely home-made, partially organic cakes and a coffee drink made with organic milk. The place is run by an artist whom you can hire to paint your walls with art, and since she usually serves herself the opening hours are restricted to afternoons and the second half of the week.
Opposite Beumer & Lutum you will find Doçura Chocolate, a confectioner's shop offering a decent selection of organic chocolates and tisanes. Since about two-thirds of their sweets are conventional check for organic labelling.
With a branch of the vegan supermarket chain Veganz on the first floor of Marheineke-Markthalle facing Marheinekeplatz, a branch of Berlin-based organic wholesale chain Bio-Company on Bergmannstraße/Friesenstraße crossing and an Alnatura branch on the East-side of the park, all with liberal opening hours compared to German standards it's hard to find an excuse for not buying organic.
While the latter two sell exclusively organically certified items you have to be careful at Veganz: The grocery products and most of the German and Austrian brands on display are organic (and can be found in almost any other organic supermarket), but they also offer a lot of imported vegan products, and a great deal of them are not organic. Unfortunately these are not clearly marked on the shelves, so you should be familiar with organic branding outside the continent. On the plus side this Veganz supermarket introduced self-service dispensers offering more than 80 different dry products waiting to be filled in the containers you brought with you.
If you're on a shopping spree or in search for a gift, and the body care sections of the organic supermarkets seem too boring, there's an organic beauty shop dubbed Belladonna in Bergmannstraße. Light and inviting, with a great selection of all kinds of natural creams, body lotions, perfumes, hair care, make-up and much more, both for men and women, this is a must-go for everyone, not just beauty addicts.
Also need new clothes? One of the three Berlin-based shops of the Dresden-based organic fashion and interior design label Tranquillo is located right in the vicinity.
The Japanese go mad about Trippen shoes, and if you go for fairly and eco-consciously produced leather shoes of unusual design (some of the soles alone can be considered art) the Trippen factory outlet near tube stop Schlesisches Tor is definitely worth a visit. Unlike in their stylish flagship store within Hackesche Höfe you have to browse shoe boxes for your size, and all the pairs are remaining stock or have small defects like miscolourings. In return prices are well below usual market price. You will find children's, women's and men's shoes (even the ones better described as sculptures are astonishingly comfy), and the staff is very helpful.
If you happen to feel hungry after shoe-shopping pay a visit to Schulz&Korn, a small partially organic delicatessen cum eatery on your way from Trippen back to Schlesisches Tor. You can choose between two simple, predominantly organic vegetarian dishes (like pasta or baked potatoes with salad), and shop your daily supply of grocery. The dry goods, drinks and veges are organic, but most of the cheeses and meat-based products are surprisingly not. You'll probably want to avoid the Argentinian empanadas made by a friend of the shopkeepers as they are made using conventional minced meat. The staff is friendly and doesn't turn grumpy when you enquire about the origin of the ingredients and supplies. The shop looks like an organic grocery of old which has adapted itself to its neighbourhood, and is frequented by locals. Note that they are closed on Saturdays.
Another of the probably many organic groceries turned partially organic eateries and delis is Der Milchladen ("The milk shop") near tube stop Moritzplatz. More styled than Schulz&Korn, in the heart of what is dubbed the wild and autonomous migrant Kreuzberg you can have a hearty lunch, sandwiches, coffee and (cheese) cake as well as breakfast, vegan, vegetarian and omnivore.
The place is situated a few steps from the flagship store of one of the oldest eco-conscious Berlin fashion labels, Luzifer in Oranienstraße. All their clothes are made of linen and hemp, and unlike other labels they don't have short-lived collections: If you wore out your favourite dress, shirt or pair of trousers, you will usually be able to buy a replacement. When my favourite dress (of which I had two copies) after ten years continous use had too many holes they happily made a new one of the good parts for a very competitive price. They offer both, a men's and a women's collection, and you will often be served a tisane or a cookie in their light and friendly showroom.
The following places are closed for good:
[Berlin, Kreuzberg, organic, vegan, Italian, pizza, coffee, ice-cream, supermarkets, fashion, bodycare, household, shoes, deli, grocery, eatery, zero_waste, bakeries, butcher, burgers]
Wednesday, 15 May 2019
When I visited Salzburg for the first time more ten years ago I was delighted to find an organically certified Bio Hotel in the Altstadt neighbourhood: the romantic boutique hotel Wolf-Dietrich. Tempi passati -- in 2016 the only reminder of this time was a partially organic breakfast with organic cheese, yoghurt, tea, and fair-trade coffee. Bread, eggs and milk are of local origin, but may or may not be organic.
A disappointing experience, but fortunately I found more promising options: Hotel & Villa Auersperg is just a few corners away, a Bio Austria certified, family-driven, family-friendly place serving an about 95 percent organic breakfast buffet. When it comes to the contents of the mini-bar and the complimentary selection of tea and herbal tea on the room I was delighted to discover that many sweet and savoury snacks were organic, the same applies to tea bags and refreshments. Other pleasant surprises: the shampoo and liquid soap are organic and produced by a manufactury in town, the towels are washed with ecological detergents, and the complimentary good-night chocolate on the bed is organic and fairly traded.
The hotel also has a gastro bar cum cafe dubbed A* bar where you can have home-made organic soups and cakes, partially organic snacks, sandwiches, sweets, coffee as well as organic wines, teas and juices. Its small, yet carefully selected daily menu caters for vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike, with generous servings, until around 22:30 pm. With the relaxed atmosphere of a mundane hotel bar the place is also worth a visit when you're not staying at the hotel. By now their assortment of spirits for a relaxed drink at the bar also include organic ones:
Gin Bien, an organic gin made by Salzburg-based organic bee keepers, and the O gin and vodka, also of Austrian origin.
Speaking of bee-keeping: The hotel has their own bee cubes located in its pleasant garden.
Last but not least the hotel which consists of two spacious adjacent houses (the "hotel" and the "villa") is driven in accordance with the Economy for the Common Good principles. The only disappointment: What could be a pleasant park in the backyard of the villa (and certainly was a garden once upon a time) is an embarassing parking lot for guests (though with Tesla charging stations). This is also the place to fetch a bicycle for a city ride.
About ten minutes out of the city centre, in the neighbourhood of Maxglan, you will find another family-driven Bio Austria certified retreat, the Green Hotels member Hotel Zur Post. It consists of three houses which are less luxuriously designed, but clean and comfortable, and the town Villa Ceconi a little down the road. All rooms and apartments are equipped with organic cotton towels, organic soap from the local manufacturer mentioned above and organic tea bags. The hotel uses carbon neutral heating and produces its own photovoltaic electricity. Of course you will be served fully organic breakfast, including yummy cakes and home-made vegan and vegetarian spreads (try the pumpkin seed oil one!).
Unfortunately the hotel does not have a bar, and although it is listed as a bicyle-friendly bett-und-bike hotel there's no bike shelter for guests.
In the Eastern neighbourhood of Parsch you may try the Heffterhof, another Salzburg hotel emphasizing on local, predominantly organic supplies in their kitchen. It has a focus as a conference hotel and offers fully organic breakfast. Let me know about your experience when you stay there.
If you prefer to spend your nights in the quiet of a natural park, far from the city's noise and yet only 20 minutes by bus from Salzburg's main train station, Stadthotel St. Virgil in the neighbourhood of Aigen is the place to stay. The hotel is part of a modern, sustainably driven conference and educational complex and as such serves Bio Austria certified organic breakfast and lunch, preferably with seasonal Austrian ingredients. Its Parkcafe also offers breakfast and lunch to passers-by, a nice and comparatively cheap option if you're out for a walk in the surroundings of the Salzburg hills. Unfortunately there's no lunch on Sundays.
If you read my post on eating out in Salzburg you might be wondering whether the Hotel Stadtkrug in Linzergasse was offering (partially) organic breakfast. Unfortunately this is not so.
[Salzburg, organic, hotel, accommodation, breakfast, lunch, dinner, bar]
Decent artisanal ice-cream made from organic milk has been readily available in Salzburg's inner city for years, but the first 100 percent organic gelateria opened only in March 2019: Höfingers Eisladen located next to Mozart's birth place at Universitätsplatz may be new as a light and pleasantly decorated ice-cream shop, but the Höfinger family has been making ice-cream in town since 1933. (Given the year I'd expected some historical details on the company's website, but unfortunately there are none.)
At present the ice-cream is being sold from the very plastic containers that the manufacturer also delivers to restaurants like
Organic Pizza Salzburg, but the ice-cream tastes delightfully fresh and creamy and is well worth the 1.80 € the single scoop. Two scoops come at 3.40 €, three at 4.50 €, every additional flavour adds an extra 1.40 € to the bill. As for all other ice-cream makers in this blog post the ice-cream is heavier than you may be used from Italian gelaterie, and there's a range of flavours (like the poppy seed ice-cream) that are special to Austria. The place also sells coffee drinks from a small home-sized coffee automat, so if you fancy a coffee drink my advice is to proceed next door to ...
Fabi's Frozen Bio Yogurt located within the very building of Mozart's birthplace. This clean, no-frills ice-cream parlour uses organic milk, both for the extremely tasty frozen yogurt and for Italian-style coffee drinks from a real bar-sized Italian pressure machine.
In addition to the plain yogurt they occasionally have a passion fruit variety. Unfortunately the organic promise in the name of the place is restricted to the milk. Neither the toppings (with a notable exception of some caramelized nuts) nor the coffee sold here are organic. The yogurt comes in small, medium and large sizes, always in cardboard cups with a plastic spoon. So even if you choose to sit down with your frozen yogurt at one of their tables in- or outdoors you cannot avoid waste. This is not comprehensible as the coffee drinks are being served in creamware, and even worse: you pay less when taking it away in a one-way coffee cup.
The good news: This place keeps open throughout the year.
The most readily available ice-cream made from organic milk comes from a local chain dubbed Icezeit, preferring fairly traded and sustainably grown ingredients, with several shops both, north and south of the river Salzach. Creamy, and with a mouth-watering selection of flavours ranging from the usual suspects to greek honey yogurt or peanut caramel, this ice-cream is hard to resist. Avoid the (additional) toppings you can buy on top as none of them are organic.
During the warm season they also have a frozen yogurt shop opposite the ice-cream parlour in Kaiviertel near Residenzplatz where you pay by weight.
All Icezeit shops keep open longer than given below when outside temperatures are high while you may find them closed on extremely bad weather days. In the case of the latter opt for Cafe Timeless a few steps off the Linzergasse pedestrian area where no such restrictions appear.
A few steps away, directly located in Linzergasse, you'll find the Salzburg branch of Eis-Greissler, a Kulmbach-based organic dairy farm producing their ice-cream from the milk of their own cows, often scented with organic spices from the Sonnentor farms (which by coincidence, have a shop next door). Unfortunately the shop is closed during the entire cold season.
The second fully organic ice-cream shop in town is located in the neighbourhood of Gneis and specializes in vegan ice-cream: The Veganer Eisladen is affiliated with The Green Garden restaurant, cafe and bar and a pleasant destination for a bicycle tour.
Ceased to exist
The following places do no longer exist, even though you still might find references to them on the web:
[Salzburg, organic, vegan, ice-cream, frozen_yogurt]