Wednesday, 15 August 2018
The rough and pittoresque sandstone hills of Saxon Switzerland did not only inspire painters and componists of romanticism, but have been valued for centuries by both, alpinists as well as walkers and ramblers. Located at the border to the Czech republic it takes an urban train ride from Dresden (or a bicycle tour along the Elberadweg cycle route) to get here, either for a wee day out in the countryside or for a vacation inside the
National park. If you get off the S1 urban train in direction Schöna at the
stop Hirschmühle Schmilka, and take the ferry to the Northern shore of the Elbe river you'll reach the village of Schmilka which, to a large degree, has been developed into an organic resort during the past years. The ferry is operated on demand, so simply go down to the landing stage and wait until the coxswain will see and fetch you.
The nucleus of the organic village is Hotel Helvetia which you will find, turning West (i.e. to the left), after a five minutes walk along the river shore. Its organic cafe and restaurant dubbed Strandgut ("stranded goods") serves fine seasonal food drawing from the kitchen traditions of the region. If you stay overnight the hotel bar will be able to provide you with an organic nightcap. The hotel reception serves as check-in for all
eco-friendly overnight options in the village, among others
Villa Thusnelda next to the ferry stop with its luxury rooms.
The latter houses a
certified all organic, vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurant and cafe, historical Café Richter with its air of a classical spa coffeehouse. Here they serve organic pasta, crepes and light lunches as well as tarts, cakes and (vegan) ice-cream made by the confectionery in house.
Off-season (and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays) when the cafe is closed a sign will guide you to the
village's operating water mill, the Schmilk'sche Mühle further up the road in the direction of the forest, with its rustic mill restaurant, the Mühlenstube of Gasthof zur Mühle at the right hand side. Hearty local stews and soups (one vegetarian, one omnivore), pizza, bread and cake from the artisanal organic bakery opposite and tasty, heavy beer from the Braumanufaktur brewery which you cross on the way from the river are served here, either inside or in the beer garden. Order at the bar inside where you also can buy beer as well as bread and cakes to take home.
The bakery itself is open to the public, opening at dusk, and what hasn't been sold on closing time will be sold by the Mühlenstube. Opening hours of the brewery however are restricted to the guided tours on Wednesdays and Sundays. If you stay overnight at the mill (or another place within the resort) a small tour inside the mill and the brewery is included in the package.
- Hotel Helvetia, Schmilka 11, Bad Schandau
- Cafe Strandgut, Schmilka 11, Bad Schandau, daily from 12, closing time depends on weather and season
- Cafe Richter, Schmilka 24, Bad Schandau, opens mid of May, Tue-Mon 14-19, check opening hours here
- Gasthof zur Mühle, Schmilka 36, Bad Schandau, daily from 12, closing time depends on weather and season (off-season usually until 5pm)
- Bakery Schmilk'sche Mühle, Schmilka 36, Bad Schandau, daily 6–17 (or half an hour after sunset)
- Braumanufaktur, Schmilka 36, Bad Schandau, guided tour Wed,Sun 11–12
- Hotel zur Mühle, Schmilka 36, Bad Schandau
[Dresden, Bad_Schandau, Schmilka, Saechsische_Schweiz, Saxon_Switzerland, organic, vegan, coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, restaurant, pub, cafe, bakeries, breweries, hotel, accommodation, ice-cream]
Sunday, 12 August 2018
Traditional corner stores in general have been almost extinguished from the streets of Munich, surviving almost exclusively in the form of immigrant grocery stores which unfortunately only on extremely rare occasions stock organic items. However, there are a few survivers from the time when organic was an unknown word in supermarket chains: small supermarkets equipped with wooden shelfs and as crammed to the brim as possible for orderly German souls. Usually they have everything on offer needed for your daily life, and just give you fewer choice between brands. Sometimes you'll find delicatessen the big players don't stock, and fresh produce with few exceptions is as fresh as from their competitors. Prices may be a few cents higher than the cheapest option in one of the retail chains, but you may be surprised to learn that many products actually are less expensive in the corne shop. In addition you may have a chat with the shop owners and usually will be given a competent answer to questions you may have. Many of these shops have some tables and chairs where you can have a coffee, snack or vegetarian lunch.
Munich's oldest existing organic supermarket is the Kornkammer in Schwabing, just a minute away from Münchner Freiheit. It's located on two storeys, and you can comfortably sit upstairs with your coffee or smoothie, browsing your smartphone or reading a book. Unfortunately they stopped to serve lunch, but you can still have a piece of cake or a prefab organic spring roll. The range of goods available from the shop is a wild mixture of groceries, body care, bare foot shoes, esoteric articles and more. Mind you: If you happen to take the wrong street you might end up in front of the Denn's supermarket branch in Feilitzschstraße 7-9 -- Kornkammer is located on the next parallel street further north.
In Maxvorstadt, the vibrant university neighbourhood, you'll find Mutter Erde ("Mother Earth"), a crowded place during lunch time when you can have a simple vegan home-cooked meal, tea and coffee. On working days they serve lunch from 12 o'clock (as long as available), on Saturdays between 11 am and 1 pm. They stopped serving breakfast on Saturdays. Nearby zero-waste grocery Ohne is another option for lunch served from 12 o'clock. Note that Mother Earth no longer is a full retailer: Some time ago they exchanged their body care and cosmetics shelves with a table and bench to sit down with your meal.
A real full retail neighbourhood shop in Haidhausen is Lebascha run collectively by a bunch of friendly women. You will often find them in a brief chat with customers from the neighbourhood, and they will happily serve you coffee drinks and a delicious cake. During the warm season you can sit outside and relax in a relatively quiet street with beautiful houses. They don't have a freezer, but make up for it with arguably the biggest selection of liquorice in town (though only a few of them are organic).
You can bring along your own glasses and boxes in order to buy liquorice, cheese, antipasti and cakes or borrow Lebascha's returnable jars for a small deposit.
While these small supermarkets cater for all daily necessities including fresh fruits and veges there's no such thing as an all-organic immigrant grocery focussing on the latter and supplementing with a selection of dry goods and delicatessen from their owner's place of birth. The nearest you come is Giesinger Fruchtmarkt near tube-stop Kolumbusplatz. Since about three quarters of the fruits and veges as well as most of the Italian delicatessen are conventional you have to carefully watch out for the bio keyword. Apart from organic greens they also offer organic choices for olive oil, wine, pasta and cheese.
Specializing in cheese and supplements -- wine, olives, oil, herbs, condiments, to name a few -- the Luigino's booth in the Southern part of Viktualienmarkt, opposite the crossing of Reichenbachstraße and Blumenstraße is the perfect place to shop for a picknick or the no-frills romantic candle light dinner. Once an almost entirely organic cheese booth the percentage of organic products on sale has diminished during the past years: mainly due to the advent of artisanal, yet conventional Italian cured meats, partially due to a lesser focus on organic labels on the selection of cheeses.
When ordering an Italian-style sandwich to take away you may wish to enquire about the ingredients and probably stick to the vegetarian ones since the Italian cured meat products usually are not organic.
The owner once run a delicatessen in Maxvorstand which was replaced by an organic ice-cream parlour in 2018.
A very special mono-themed convenience store, Hanf -- der etwas andere Bioladen, sells everything containing THC-free hemp: beer, lemonades, cookies, bars, tea, ice-cream, chocolates, body care, clothes, liquids, pet food and more. Although the name suggests it not all products are certified organic, especially not in the non-food range, but the sheer number of goods based on this versatile plant is quite impressive. The shop isn't located in the most inviting part of town but can easily be reached, among others, from Leuchtenbergring urban train stop. Note that it is closed on Mondays.
Ceased to exist
The following places shut down and were replaced by other, not organic ones. So don't be confused when you find references to them on the web:
[Munich, Haidhausen, Schwabing, Maxvorstadt, organic, lunch, snacks, coffee, supermarkets, deli, grocery, Italian, vegan, hemp, fashion, bodycare]
Saturday, 11 August 2018
When I visited Salzburg ten years ago I was delighted to find romantic boutique hotel Wolf-Dietrich in the Altstadt neighbourhood, then a certified Bio Hotel. 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 all sweet and savoury snacks were organic, you only have to check on the teas 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 are 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. With the relaxed atmosphere of a mundane hotel bar the place is also worth a visit when you're not staying at the hotel. Their assortment of spirits for a relaxed drink at the bar however does not include organic ones as far as I could see. The kitchen closes around 22:30 pm.
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. This is also the place to fetch a bicycle for a city ride.
About ten minutes out of the city center, in the neighbourhood of Maxglan, you will find another Bio Austria certified retreat, the Green Hotels member Hotel Zur Post. Here as well you will be served a fully organic breakfast.
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]
Friday, 10 August 2018
To my knowledge there is no such thing as a fully organic ice-cream parlour in town, but as long as you are in the city center the next place offering decent artisanal ice-cream made from organic milk is just a short walk away.
The easiest bet, with several shops both, north and south of the river Salzach, is a local chain dubbed Icezeit, preferring fairly traded and sustainably grown ingredients. 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 Linzergasse pedestrian area where no such restrictions appear.
Extremely tasty frozen yogurt throughout the year can be had at
Fabi's Frozen Bio Yogurt located within the building of Mozart's birthplace at Universitätsplatz. This clean, no-frills ice-cream parlour uses organic milk, both for the frozen yogurt and for Italian-style coffee drinks. 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 the 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 on one of their tables you cannot avoid waste, in fact you pay less when taking away your coffee drink in a one-way coffee cup.
If you insist on 100 percent organic ice-cream pay a visit to Organic Pizza Salzburg on Franz-Josef-Straße. They do not offer a cone to go here but the ice-cream is locally produced by a long-established organic ice-cream maker.
A few steps away, back in Linzer Gasse, 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).
Ceased to exist
The following places do no longer exist, even though you still might find references to them on the web:
[Salzburg, organic, ice-cream]
Sunday, 05 August 2018
Organic supermarkets may introduce a larger audience to sustainable organic produce and thus spare the environment, but do not necessarily help to reduce the amount of one-way packaging, save plastics. As a conscious consumer you will without doubt prefer non-prepackaged fruit and veges, available from all organic groceries, supermarkets and market boothes, and hand your bag over the bakery counter, making it verbally clear that you do not need a paper bag, to avoid paper waste when buying bread and rolls.
You're also safe if you restrict your shopping of dairy products, juices and soft drinks to returnable glass bottles. Some organic shops (such as Vollcorner) offer a small selection of wine in deposit bottles.
Starting in 2017 the more dedicated organic supermarket chains have been introducing measures to reduce packaging and allow customers to bring their own containers to fill with selected goods.
Unless stated otherwise all shops mentioned in this post will help you out with clean and empty reusable glass jars or organic cotton bags which you -- depending on the shop -- can either buy or lend if you forgot to bring your own.
Farewell to plastics
The zero-waste pioneer in town is Naturlieferant, usually referred to as Plastikfreie Zone, a pleasant intimate shop in Haidhausen near Max-Weber-Platz where you won't find any plastic item but a lot of sustainable alternatives. The focus of the shop is an ever increasing range of sustainable household items, ranging from tooth brushes and toilet paper to glasses, lunch boxes and jute strings, but you may also shop a selection of food items like potatoes, pulses, nuts, flour, jelly-gums or the best Indian pepper in town. If you forget to bring your own jars your purchase will be packed in paper bags, or you can choose from re-used glass containers for free. You may also refill washing-up liquid, shampoo and liquid laundry detergent.
February 20th, 2016 the city's first and only zero-waste supermarket Ohne ("without") opened its doors in the neighbourhood of Maxvorstadt. Pleasantly furnished with wooden benches and self-made dispensers this modern version of a generously spaced mom-and-pop store
gives you a pleasant vacation from brands and logos.
It is offering bread, rolls and sweet pastries
from a local artisanal bakery, dairy products and vegan alternatives in returnable bottles, a small selection of fresh fruit and greens, spices and dried herbs, a huge selection of pasta, legumes, flour and cereals, but also baking powder, coffee, tahin, honey, locally distilled gin and bitter, oil, toothpaste tablets and solid shampoo. There are also refill stations for washing liquids and cleansers, and you can shop from a small range of household and bodycare products (including environment-friendly condoms which are the only items in shop prepackaged in non-reusable wrapping). Preserves (like mustard, pestos and pickles) are sold prepackaged in reusable glass containers.
Your shopping starts by measuring the weight of your glasses, boxes and bags on the scales next to the entrance door. Now you can fill them from the dispensers and finally pay by net weight.
This crowd-funded supermarket is strictly organic and vegetarian. When the shop is crowded waiting time at the till is a little longer than you might expect, but take your time and have a coffee and home-made cake in the small cafe corner. Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11 am.
Supermarket chains to follow
In autumn 2016 the local Vollcorner
supermarkets received an official permit by the Munich Department of Public Order (Kreisverwaltungsreferat) to fill their customers' jars and boxes with
cheese, antipasti, processed meat products or cake.
The Basic supermarket chain followed in summer 2017, and independent convenience stores often have done so anyway. So take appropriate containers with you when you go out to shop for food.
To avoid misunderstandings it is advisable to clearly point to your box before placing your order at the sales counter and tell the staff to tape the receipt to it. Otherwise you may end up not sparing any waste: In the beginning the staff at the Basic butcher's disk would use the sheet of plastic-covered paper they'd usually wrap the purchase with to hand it over to you, along with the receipt taped onto the paper bag they otherwise would have used as outer packaging. In the mean time they got used to the procedure but were ordered to decline customer requests to buy meat this way. So you'll better find your nearest Herrmannsdorfer grocery to buy meat in your own box, e.g. the one on Max-Weber-Platz.
At the Basic self-service cafes you may lend a Recup coffee cup for a deposit which you can return at any other shop participating in the retour scheme. The supermarket chain also introduced dispensers reliably offering a selection of pasta, nuts, dried fruit, sweets, and grains. Individual markets (e.g. Basic Bogenhausen) have coffee, tea and more. Basic supermarkets selling toiletries and household chemicals may have dispensers for detergents of the eco-friendly Sodasan brand. (The one in Bogenhausen does so.) These dispensers allow only to refill the standard volumes the choosen detergent is sold by when pre-bottled, i.e. you cannot refill smaller than the original bottles. So make sure you have at minimum a 1 l or 2 l bottle with you. If not refilling original bottles take one of the empty bottles from the shelf and scan its label before tapping to your own bottle.
To buy dry goods the procedure varies from branch to branch: Some like Basic Bogenhausen have prominently placed scales where you
measure the tax weight of your containers before filling them. The scales will print out a receipt which you must hand in at the cash desk for tax weight detraction.
Others like the one near Isartor expect you to fill provided scaled measuring jugs from the dry-goods dispensers, pay, and refill the content to the packaging you brought along (which can be quite tricky as they do not provide funnels). In the case of the latter
you may not use your own containers for loose-weight dried fruit from the cardbox displays in the green-grocery section. Recycle small plastic or paper bags to buy these or bring small, light-weight cotton-bags.
Neighbourhood groceries and farmers' markets
In Haidhausen the Lebascha neighbourhood grocery offers to fill all loose-weight products (cakes and bread, eggs, cheeses, olives, olive oil, jelly gums and liquorice -- only the latter is not organic) in bottles, jars and boxes you bring along. Ask for a deposit box (1 or 3 EUR according to size) in case you forgot to bring your own, and make sure to return it thoroughly cleaned. When buying eggs don't forget your own container as there will be a small surplus for a cardboard one filled on the counter. Also for the olive oil refill you must bring a clean bottle yourself (but you have to wait for it until autumn 2018 since the 2017 harvest has been sold out).
Household chemicals can be refilled at the Echt Bio Markt in Neuschwabing.
Once, sometimes twice a week farmers' markets are installed in many Munich neighbourhoods. Loose fruits and veges prevail here, and boothes selling organic produce (watch carefully for "bio" and "demeter" logos) will usually fill bread, cakes and pastries, antipasti, meat and dairy products into the containers you present. Notably at the boothes of the Tagwerk co-operative you may be surprised to see that you're not the only one coming with her own boxes and jars. On Saturdays mornings you can find them next to the West-facing entry of Mariahilf church, in the neighbourhood of Au where all boothes (except the French fish monger) in the market block next to the church, right below the carillon, are organic. If you feel adventurous on Thursday afternoons take the urban train S7 in direction Aying/Höhenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn/Kreuzstraße (or a bike ride) to the suburb of Neubiberg and pay a visit to the communal organic market on the pleasant premises of the Umweltgarten eco park, a true oasis within ugly suburbanity, with a small zoo, popular not only among kids. On Thursdays there's also an all-day market at Rotkreuzplatz. As on Mariahilfsplatz about half the boothes here are organic, though scattered all over the market area, with a cluster in direction Nymphenburger Straße.
Coffee to take away
Most cafes serving organic coffee are sufficiently aware of the coffee beaker waste issue that they will fill your own cup without hesitation. Some like Die Kaffee-Küche and the Basic self-service lunch bars will even give you a discount for sparing the environment. There is an increasing number taking part in the recup.com retour scheme, among others the Neulinger bakeries or Siggis coffee bar and restaurant.
[Munich, Neubiberg, Au, Haidhausen, Maxvorstadt, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, cafe, grocery, market, supermarkets, lunch]