Sunday, 20 October 2019
In a city that -- according to reliable hearsay -- has at minimum five zero-waste supermarkets it should be easy to find the next shop or restaurant selling and using organic produce. Unfortunately my stay -- a night and a few hours -- was too short for thorough research, so the reviews here are far from comprehensive.
Where to stay
Having said this it turned out that in the year of the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus it was impossible to find a place to stay sustainably and wake up to an at least predominantly organic breakfast at a short notice -- all the places below were sold out. I finally stayed at the DJH youth hostel and dropped the 100 percent conventional breakfast buffet with its abundance of small plastic-packages containing jams and spreads.
If you fancy a design hotel with (at least predominantly) organic breakfast in the very city centre there are three hotels of the Motel One chain, all in walking distance from each other.
The budget option if you can stay over night less central is the Home Planet hostel in Connewitz. They run washing machines and wireless on renewable energy, use eco cleaning agents, and seem to buy them from a package-free supermarket, Einfach unverpackt in the Südstadt neighbourhood. In the kitchen they use
organic milk and bake the bread themselves. Their Neapolitan chef directly imports olives and cheese from near organic farms in Italy, but although the breakfast is vegetarian and home-made the manager told me that using more organic produce would excel their price calculations. The reception recently moved a few steps in north-western direction, to the corner of Hammerstraße. There it takes the place of former bakery shop Nix Tonne which re-sold day-old bread and cakes and was turned into vegan-vegetarian cafe Cafe am Ende des Universums (alluding to "the restaurant at the end of the universe" by Douglas Adams) by the Home Planet folks.
Where to eat
I decided to combine my basic overnight stay with a luxury dinner at breathtakingly beautiful organic fine dining restaurant
Macis in the very city centre, a few steps from
Thomaskirche. The place aims to re-create the air of the great urban bars of the 1920s, and you will be waited at table in style. If you have the budget choose the menu, with impeccable wine selection on request. The food combining mediterranean traditions with local ingredients was an explosion of taste, with the most delicate grilled octopus I've ever had, and a perfectly balanced meat course (I admit I had difficulties to choose from the menu as the vegetarian courses were equally promising). Of course everything here is sustainably sourced, organic and to a great deal seasonal from local farms and suppliers. Make sure to use the bathroom as on the way, you will pass the ironwork of the house's historic lift (which unfortunately is taken out of service).
Lunch is less expensive, and during daytime you may also opt for a sandwich or coffee at the joint bakery cum cafe, or enter the beautiful Macis Biomarkt convenience store next door which stocks everything used in the restaurant kitchen and also offers salads made there.
I was pondering long whether I should list Café Central here -- as the city's foremost grand cafe back in the GDR it is an address to visit for its -- now of course completely exchanged and polished -- 1970ies-style interior -- or rather warn of greenwashing:
Although the menu advertises organic bread and focaccia (which wasn't available for breakfast), the eggs are no longer certified for reasons that clearly show that the managers have neither understood the goods of organic agriculture nor the basics of organic certification.
The only organic drink is tea (not even the milk for the coffee drinks is organic), the service unimpressing.
Just around the corner from the Macis restaurant you'll find the city's organic ice-cream maker, Tonis. Unfortunately I was too late after dinner and could only watch them closing. They also have a second branch in famous Könneritzstraße.
More to try
As I said before my time in Leipzig was limited (as was my upfront research) -- but here are a few more tips, for you to try (and tell me if you like):
[Leipzig, organic, breakfast, lunch, dinner, German, restaurant, hotel, accommodation, ice-cream, cafe, coffee, supermarkets, grocery, zero_waste, unverpackt]
Saturday, 05 October 2019
Small-scale artisanal ice-cream parlours are by far not as omnipresent in Paris as in Italy, or even in Germany, and although organic products are easy to find by chance you have to plan carefully if you want to have an at minimum partially organic ice-cream on the go.
Fortunately you have at least two options near one of the main tourist spots, the Centre Pompidou which itself is located near the tube stop Châtelet-Les Halles: Glace Bachir treats you with fully organic,
Lebanese dairy ice-cream which has a wonderfully light texture. The smallest serving are two flavours at 3.90 EUR:
Define the size of your purchase and pay first at the cash desk at the right-hand side, then move over to the left part of the shop where you present your receipt and order the flavours. My favourite is the delicate rose ice-cream which was so delicious that I did not even try the pistachio coated
Ashta ice-cream when I went there a second time.
If you prefer a (vegan) sorbet head to the nearby branch of the internationally operating French Italian ice-cream franchise Amorino: They serve their all natural ice-cream shaped as a rose in a wafer cone, and while the quite heavy dairy flavours aren't organic, they always have two or three types of certified organic sorbet on offer.
There are many more Amorino branches all over Paris, among others in the 14th district, Montparnasse, where they had
three types of organic sorbet: cassis, lemon and blood orange.
Avoid the so-called gourmet cups as well as the coffee at these places as you will produce easily avoidable extra waste (and it's not promised organic anyway).
More to try
For the sake of completeness: There are also more than a hand-full branches of the rivalling pan-European natural ice-cream chain, Unilever's Grom in town, one of them in the 6th district near Boulevard Saint-Germain, but since they do no longer promise organic ingredients you may as well stay away from it.
You'll better try to find
Ümmy, an organic frozen yogurt stall on the university campus of the
Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris in the 14th district.
A small serving of 100% organic frozen yogurt comes at 3 EUR.
Or you are lucky enough to pass by one of the two yellow
Marguerite du Pré
Citroën HY vintage food trucks which not only offer natural artisanal yogurt ice-cream made from organic milk, but also organic soft drinks, juices, smoothies, iced teas and coffee. The smallest ice-cream serving comes at 2 EUR.
[Paris, Parigi, organic, biologique, vegan, ice-cream, frozen_yogurt, Lebanese]
Friday, 27 September 2019
One of the oldest cities in Germany, with roots back in Roman history, a rich medieval history -- including the world's oldest intact social housing project, the Fuggerei --, and the birthplace of Bertolt Brecht, one of the most influential writers in modern theatre, Augsburg is without doubt worth a visit. Conveniently located on the railway tracks between Munich and Nuremberg, urban trains ("Regionalbahn"/"Regionalexpress") from Munich central station depart twice an hour (at day time) and can be used with the Bayernticket flat-rate ticket for Bavaria which is the budget option if you plan to travel from and to Munich on one day (one way takes about 45 minutes). Augsburg is also an ICE/IC train stop: These high velocity trains will save you about a quarter of an hour on this route, but tickets usually come at a significantly higher price.
If you plan to stay overnight there's a pleasant fully organic hotel about three kilometers from the main train station, the
Bayerischer Wirt, a certified Bio Hotel
in the suburb of Lechhausen, yet easily accessible by tram and bus or bike.
Although the hotel is located directly at a noisy main road, the outdoor seating area in the backyard is a peaceful oasis. The hotel restaurant serves Bavarian meat and fish dishes as well as internationally inspired vegetarian ones -- with varying results: While the roasted meat was perfectly done (rare as requested, caramelized yet melting), and served with the most delicate onion crisps I've ever tasted, the strips of veal in mustard cream were quite bland and uninspired -- health food with boringly blanched veges and saltless (though home-made) spaetzle. Instead of ordering bottled mineral water you may fetch tap water from the water dispenser at no cost. Needless to say that all drinks are organic, too, and the aperitifs were a pleasant refreshment in the summer heat. The dessert menu is quite limited -- prefab organic ice-cream, home-made cakes and a parfait when I visited.
If a healthy local kitchen with liberal opening hours does not satisfy your expectations of a city vacation, there are two promising day cafes easily reachable for cyclists on the way from the main station to Lechhausen:
Café Himmelgrün near the
banks of the river Lech in Berliner Allee serves fully organic breakfast, lunch, coffee and cakes, and you can also find sustainable gifts and nice things. The cafe is run by Augsburg-based organic bakery Schubert -- you may have come across the name at the bakery counters of organic supermarkets, both in Munich, Nuremberg and elsewhere in Bavaria.
In front of the cafe's outdoor area the bakery has installed a mobile sales booth for bread, snacks and cakes of yesterday's production, from the quality control desks, with short best-before date or small blemishes, all sold at low fixed prices: A kilogram of bread for example comes at 3 EUR, yesterday's savoury snacks at 1 EUR the piece, and six pieces of cake at 7 EUR. Customers are encouraged to reduce waste and take home their purchase in their own bags or boxes. Unfortunately the booth dubbed Grünfux deluxe is closed in the afternoon as well as on Mondays and on weekends.
Augsburg's long history of textile fabric production, print and trade is reflected in the Bavarian State Textile and Industry Museum, less than 10 minutes from the inner city hotspot Königsplatz by tram no. 6. The museum's cafe dubbed
nunó (from the Japanese word for "cloth") is not only a charming spot in an impressive industrial building of a former spinning mill, but also predominantly and certified organic, serving light and internationally inspired lunch, breakfast and Sunday brunch, and of course a recreational coffee. Meat, bread, veges, and eggs are reliably organic and of regional origin if possible while drinks at the bar are still predominantly conventional. As most museums the place is closed on Mondays and -- except for special occasions -- in the evenings.
If you are so unfortunate to strand before closed doors the next organic supermarket with a small bistro -- a branch of the Denn's Biomarkt chain -- is located in walking distance.
In the backyard of St. Anne's church, the Annahof next to the fenced city market, the church parish gives host to a lively all-day cafe restaurant cum bar dubbed Anna with a great outdoor area, which is open in the evenings, too. The place serves lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch inspired by international kitchens. Once it was certified organic, but since it no longer is the restaurant is not allowed to advertise with organic ingredients. Nevertheless the managing director assured me that they were still using as much organic produce as before: both eggs, milk and most fruit come from organic
farms and distributors in the vicinity. On the menu
you'll find organic beer (Lammsbräu), on occasions organic wine (ask for it), lemonade (charitea) and ice-tea. For breakfast you can have
organic crunchy cereals, and
the bread comes from the Schubert bakery. Unfortunately meat products usually aren't organic. During the warm season the cafe sells organic ice-cream to take away in a biscuit cone, delivered by the Cramer's confectioner's. Only plain flavours like vanilla, chocolate, plan hazelnut and lemon were available in July 2019, the scoop at 1.50 EUR.
For 100 percent organic, crystal-sugar free, vegan ice-cream made with dates, cashew nuts and berries try Juice 'n Cream in the
Ulrichsviertel neighbourhood. The small shop uses renewable energies, and when hungry you may opt for a lunch bowl and a fruit juice.
For both, cooked and raw vegan lunch or dinner or a wrap, soup or salad in between head a little south to
Mom's Table, a fully organic vegan restaurant cum cafe. They also offer raw and no-bake cakes, freshly made juices, smoothies and plant-based shakes, coffee and tea as well as vegan organic wines. The
kitchen closes an hour before the restaurant.
For a no-frills coffee, snack or lunch you may also head for the self-service cafe at the city branch of the Basic organic supermarket chain
between the state theater and the cathedral.
Around the main train station -- bakeries
For last minute travel provisions you can buy an organic snack or sandwich at the Hofpfisterei bakery branch five minutes from the main train station. Unfortunately it's closed both on Saturdays and Sundays.
If you have ten more minutes you may also proceed to the
Schubert branch at the tram hub of
Königsplatz. There used to be a serviced day cafe but after some reconstruction work the area of the bakery shop has diminished to the sales counter and a small self-service area where you may sit down with a sandwich or snack. When the weather is nice there are also chairs and tables outside. The coffee drinks from the automatic machine could taste better, but everything is organic.
There's another Schubert branch inside the city market, around the corner from St. Anne's church (and you'll find another Hofpfisterei branch there, too).
[Augsburg, Augusta, organic, vegan, vegetarian, breakfast, lunch, dinner, Franconian, German, restaurant, eatery, hotel, accommodation, ice-cream, cafe, coffee, supermarkets, grocery, bakeries, zero_waste]
Thursday, 26 September 2019
To find a place for an organic lunch, snack or a coffee break, both served and self-served, requires not more than keeping your eyes open. But the cultured evening out or a sumptuous weekend brunch can be a challenge if you don't know where to head for.
If you opt for 100 percent organic food and drinks, without compromises, within the city boundaries the TL;DR reads resihuber.
Given the French love for quality food one would expect all self-respecting French restaurants to use organic ingredients to a certain extent, but to actually find those which do proves to be harder than expected. In Munich head for brasserie La Bouche in Schwabing, a tastefully decorated place a few steps away from Münchner Freiheit. They promise to use organic ingredients throughout the menu, with three quite excusable exceptions: snails, seafood and Marsala wine.
In fact the exception list varies depending on daily supplies -- when I went there the lamb and the duck liver had been added -- but since it is all transparent and clearly stated on the menu you can adapt you order accordingly. The food itself is hearty French countryside fare, apart from the risottos (together with the Italian coffee the international touch to the menu) most dishes focus on meat or seafood. Since the main courses are very generous compared to other French restaurants, come hungry or skip the starter. In the meat-based stews we had -- coq au vin and an ox liver ragout -- the flavours of the ingredients were perfectly amalgamated and harmonic. The entrecote marinated in a pesto of fresh herbs -- although perfectly cooked rare -- however, did not live up to expectations, too perfumed, too imbalanced (and way too big) for my taste. Although the side dishes -- salads, stewed root vegetables, fried potatoes, and similar -- clearly play a supporting role they were well done and tasty. And the baguette served together with the starters was clearly one of the best I ever had.
Sadly the wines aren't organic, the soft drinks however are, and the bar offers organic pastis, gin and vodka. Note that the place is closed on Sundays.
With its rustic and cosy flair and garden tables under horse chestnut trees during the warm season Zum Kloster in the heart of the former village of Haidhausen a short walk from Wiener Platz makes the perfect surrounding for a laid-back chat with friends. They serve a selection of organic non-alcoholic beverages and up to three dishes on their meat-centric menu are marked as made with organic meat, eggs and flour, one of them being Spaghetti Bolognese. What a couple of years ago was simple, but perfectly eatable turned to be spoiled with what tasted like a conventional prefab seasoning so that I avoided the place for the last year. When I gave it a try yesterday it turned out that they obviously had a new chef: Both the liver on salad as well as the goulash stew were good home-made fare. Only the salad should better not have been as soaked in rapeseed oil as it was.
If heading for the classical Bavarian Wirtshaus -- rustic, but certainly missing the air of the students' and artists' pub present in "Zum Kloster" -- the Klinglwirt at the opposite end of Haidhausen near Rosenheimer Platz is the place to go. They serve organic meat from the nearby farm in Herrmannsdorf, organic cheese, bread, coffee, tea as well as Cramer's ice-cream. Unfortunately the side-dishes -- mainly potatoes, dumplings, sauerkraut, red cabbage and rustic salads -- usually are not organic, and there are no organic cold beverages on offer which is a pitty as it destroys the overall positive experience. The one notable exception is a delicious organic lager dubbed "Dachauer Schlossbräu", an organic brand of the Anheuser-Busch subsidiary Löwenbräu-Spaten, which goes perfectly well with the Klingwirt meat dishes. It does not appear on all menus yet but the friendly and helpful staff knows about it. Little guests are welcomed warmly, among others with a decent menu of their own (most kids will accept happily that the dishes listed there are almost free of greens). The restaurant is a member of Green Chefs, a network of eco conscious and socially responsible chefs.
For the 100% organic experience of Bavarian cuisine take the tram no. 25 from Rosenheimer Platz to its final destination in the suburb of Grünwald. A five-to-ten minutes walk from there you'll find the only organic hotel in reach, Alter Wirt, with its rustic, yet up-market restaurant. Children are welcome and often even allowed a visit to the kitchen, but the place is spacious enough that occasional little guests won't spoil your romantic candle-light dinner. There's a beergarden under horse chestnut trees, and the entire place is a real oasis in suburbia. The menu focuses on the meat- and fish-centric Bavarian Sunday kitchen completed with dishes of Italian origin. The food is extremely tasty, home-made, yet peppered with pleasant little twitches of ambitious chefs. Not the natural place for vegetarians, but if you happen to be the only vegetarian in a group of omnivores, there's a tasty meal in for you as well. In addition they offer a range of assorted organic spirits.
Early risers may also step by for breakfast.
If you fancy a day out in the Bavarian countryside take the chance and head for the Herrmannsdorfer farm about 30 kilometres from Munich, and its up-market 100 percent organic restaurant, the Wirtshaus zum Schweinsbräu.
At tube stop Poccistraße in Sendling, just across the street from the Vollcorner branch in Lindwurmstr. 80 the Goldmarie restaurant serves classical and modern versions of seasonal Bavarian, Austrian and North-Italian dishes -- quite palatable, but also a little boring. It's very obvious that the quality of the ingredients makes the difference here rather than the skills or visions of a chef: Usually the meat is organic and -- in this case -- marked "bio" on the menu. The veges are often organic, too, though not marked. Not organically certified meat and greens come from small-scale conventional farms in the region. Unfortunately the drinks (except for the gin and the herb tonic water) aren't organic. The place itself is often quite crowded, and for those who come to stay over night in Munich there are rooms available above the restaurant.
How contemporary Bavarian cuisine may look and taste like is being celebrated at the resihuber, the new ambitious 100 percent organic restaurant project of the Vollcorner founders near tube stop Brudermühlstraße.
Locally sourced ingredients are being combined and transferred into classy seasonal dinner and lunch courses by a skilled team of chefs -- more advanced in the evening, easier Italian-style for lunch. If you stay in the vicinity step by for a hearty, very palatable breakfast. Both, vegetarians, vegans and omnivores are catered for whole-heartedly, and the interior keeps a low contemporary profile, making it an inviting place for both, the casual visitor and the connoisseur. The restaurant is named after Resi Huber, a local peace activist and anti-fascist who died at the age of almost 80 in 2000.
Located directly on Leopoldstraße, a little south of Münchner Freiheit, a rustic
all day gastro bar dubbed Bapas is the perfect location for aimless city dwellers: Whenever you come during daytime, you will be served a hearty Bavarian "Brotzeit", consisting of cheese or cold cuts served with organic bread, and other filling meals of Bavarian, German and Austrian origin, though usually in smaller, comprehensible "tapas" size, hence the name of the place — Bavarian Tapas. From 9 am to 2pm breakfast is being served, lunch between 11:30 am and 4 pm, and full-fledged evening meals from 5 pm.
Bread and rolls as well as eggs are always organic, and if you stick to Riedenburger and Isar your beer is, too. The organic ice-cream is made in walking distance, and there are organic teas, herbal teas, lemonades and soft drinks (by Vio and the local Aqua Monaco). If you order your gin & tonic with Duke gin and Aqua Monaco or Red Bull organics tonic you even get a fully organic cocktail. Given these efforts the kitchen surely uses more organic ingredients but you have to ask about it.
They advertised "Highclass organic food" in the 2015 print issue of Spy city guide, and you will find them listed as organic on the web, too, but when I rang them up the staff ensured me repeatedly: No, we do not use organic ingredients. Since they themselves do not mention the word "bio" neither on their German website nor on the menu it's likely that lack of command of the English language lead to this misconception. So even though Roecklplatz restaurant is a socially responsible enterprise employing young apprentices in difficult life situations and/or without formal education and thus deserves support, I can't recommend it in this guide.
Eight years ago this blog would also have featured the Ratskeller townhall restaurant at
Marienplatz: Back then they had a separate organic menu. What is left of it today are organic fried potato patties ("Reiberdatschi"), spaetzle, some organic juices and softdrinks. But since this meat-centric restaurant does no longer serve any organic meat, I do not feel like recommending the place anymore.
Finding decent Indian restaurants in Munich can be hard but for delicious South-Indian Dosai and Nepali/Tibetan Momos you don't have to travel far: In the vicinity of the Pinakotheken art museums you'll find pleasant
Deli Dosa eatery which, in the evening, turns into
Picnic restaurant, then with the entrance next door. Most items on the menu (among them curries, Thai-inspired salads or -- at lunch time -- wraps) are dedicedly fusion but the potato dosa or the lamb-filled momo brings easily back memories from travels to the subcontinent. Meat, softdrinks and juices are all organic, and it is likely that other ingredients in the kitchen occasionally are organic, too. When asked about the latter the publican however would not commit himself stating that his emphasis was on freshly made food prepared from scratch from locally sourced ingredients. The result is definitely worth an evening out or a (hopefully extended) lunch break, for vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike.
Not a single word on their menu suggests that Miss Lilly's kitchen in Giesing prefers organic ingredients. But when tasting their huge and extremely yummy home-made burgers or Wiener Schnitzel it's perfectly reasonable that not only the meat (as confirmed by the staff) but also a good deal of the side-dishes are at least partially organic. Although vegetarians are catered for it's very obvious that Miss Lilly's chef prefers meat and does it perfectly. If you come with kids and ask for fries they will be served huge portions -- so don't order too many.
The place near tube stop Kolumbusplatz is famous for their American Cheesecake (I didn't feel for dessert after a sumptous dinner and rather opted for a -- proper Italian-style -- coffee)
and serves breakfast until 5 pm.
In the South-Eastern part of Giesing, near congested Tegernseer Landstraße yet tucked away in a pleasant neighbourhood at Alpenplatz you will find another rustic place, Das Edelweiß. Since it started as an organic restaurant about six years ago you will still find business cards and references describing it as organic, and you can still order organic softdrinks. Unfortunately the concept did not work out, and the focus has shifted from organic towards supporting local and small-scale businesses. Some of the ingredients such as the milk of the Sternenfair brand are produced according to near-organic principles, the tasty artisanal bread may sometimes be made from organic flour, if you come for breakfast on weekends you can have organic chocolate spread, maple syrup and hot chocolate, but you should rather expect artisanal conventional food. When I questioned the owner about it she assured me that she's trying to find a new chef with love for local and seasonal high-quality food, and hopefully a renewed focus on organic principles will follow.
A dedicated family restaurant in the queer and hip neighbourhood of Glockenbachviertel dubbed Kaiser Otto is the place in Munich closest to the cafe latte moms cliche. You may step by for a coffee break during the day, or have breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner while your kids may disappear to a dedicated playground room next to the cafe. The latter is however closing at 7 pm; during weekend brunch (10 am to 2pm) you can leave them in the care of a kindergarden teacher for a fee of 2,50 EUR per half an hour while finishing off tasty though not elaborate food often made from at least partially organic ingredients. Reliably organic items on the menu are coffee, eggs, bread, a selection of soft drinks as well as the meat served with one of the dishes to have for dinner. Greens, veges and pulses may or may not be organic, so you have to enquire, meat items served until 3 pm are definitely not.
The contrary of a family restaurant, i.e. a decent (American-style) bar cum burger restaurant is
The Potting Shed near Münchner Freiheit, a few steps from Brasserie La Bouce. Instead of french fries you're served yummy rosemary-flavoured potatoes, instead of prefab mayonnaise delicate home-made aioli, and the coleslaw was crisp, showing off the (organic) quality of the cabbage. The top of my burger bun was caramelised, adding an interesting twist to the taste, and the patty, announced as medium, still gorgeously pink. Unfortunately they do not do rare burgers which indicates that the meat is minced in advance. All meat products come from a organic-only local butchery, and the delicacy of the food indicates that most of the vegetarian ingredients are organic, too. For those not feeling like having a sumptuous high-calory burger plate (there's one veggie option) there was a tasty seasonal salad (with goat cheese) and a range of tapas, mezze and small starters, decidedly omnivore. Unfortunately the rich bar sports only a few organic drinks, namely an organic Cabernet Sauvignon, The Duke and Lyonel gins (the latter made a nicely balanced jasmin-tea flavoured gin and tonic) and fairly traded cachaça. Soft drinks including the tonic water however aren't organic at all. The bar itself values traditional bar etiquette: an observant yet not obstrusive waiter (who took care of our jackets when we came in), a skilful professional barman, pleasant background music at a volume allowing for effordless conversation (though I cannot say anything about the noise on a Friday or Saturday night), the walls adorned with interesting and tasteful art. Definitely recommended for a civilised evening out.
Predominantly a neighbourhood cafe cum gastro bar and the sister restaurant of the cosy Zimtzicke cafe next door,
Schneeweinchen & Rosenbrot in the neighbourhood of Haidhausen is an easy going place to meet friends or sit down by the artificial fireplace and read a book while you wait. Although it serves as a neighbourhood delivery point for a community-supported organic farm and the parents of the owner run an organic farm themselves, the food here isn’t as organic as you might expect.
However, almost all hot drinks are fully organic (as is the milk, coffee, hot chocolate, tea and herbal teas), there are organic lemonades and softdrinks (of the Bionade, Dietz and Charitea brands), and all eggs served are organic too. If you care ask about the ingredients of the sandwiches, cakes, and the home-made food, but given the hesitance of the staff to speak about it, do not expect too much.
Mix the interior of a trattoria in Italy with a Bavarian Wirtshaus, and you'll end up with
Hostaria Rò e Buni, a certified organic Italian restaurant in the heart of Schwabing. The name alludes to the dialect words used in the area of Bologna to steer bullocks to the left and to the right, and the tasty food served here has its roots in the country kitchen of the Emilia Romagna - not too fancy, hearty, receiving its fulfilling taste from high quality organic ingredients, many of them (especially the meat) sourced from farms in the greater region.
Unlike in many other certified restaurants almost all ingredients are organic indeed, those coming from conventional agriculture are clearly marked with a star on the menu. Vegetarian and vegan drinks and dishes can be easily distinguished by a leaf or flower label, respectively. Although the owner has Italian roots don't order a four course menu (antipasti, pasta, primo e secondo) a la carte unless extremely hungry -- the sizes of the dishes are adapted to the German habit of ordering a pasta or main course and perhaps a starter. If you feel Italian stick to the four course tasting menu suggested by the menu, or discuss with the affable publican. Don't leave without having tried their fresh home-made pasta, and an organic grappa to finish. If you fancy slow-cooked Italian meat classics like Osso Buco -- here's the place to try.
The kitchen closes half an hour before closing time, and the place itself keeps open evenings only.
A hidden gem in very upmarket locations, quietly located in a backyard of Maximilianstraße next to the Kammerspiele theater
is Max Trenta, a small Italian restaurant with an open kitchen where organic ingredients, often from small-scale farms, are frequently used, though neither promised nor advertised on the menu. Some of the courses are Italian dishes well-known outside Italy but since the friendly owner values the kitchen of his childhood his guests are so fortunate to taste Sardinian specialities like the fregula pasta type and the typical pane guttiau crisp bread which is served as an appetizer. Unfortunately these crackers tasted very bland, not comparable with the organic ones readily available in Munich's organic groceries. The extremely tasty and characterful natural open wines come from a Sardinian winery co-driven by one of the owner's relatives but aren't organically certified. In the summer you can sit outside where there's a little space for kids. Note that the kitchen closes already at 9pm.
No bosses and driven by consensus: Its unusual organization qualifies the Neuhausen based restaurant cooperative Ruffini for a recommendation on its own. Their Italian and Mediterranean food looks and tastes like mother's -- it is prepared with love though without the ambitions of a trained restaurant chef. Although they cater for vegetarians and omnivores alike only meat and eggs are organic. Which is sad -- the Imam Bayildi I had tasted bland as the eggplants did not have the concentrated flavour of organic ones. On the contrary their home-made croissants -- organic or not -- are without doubt worth a sin: You'll have to travel far to find equally full-flavoured ones, so take away (or come to shop at their bakery a few meters away). Have an organic ice-cream for dessert -- during the warm season it's also offered to take away.
If you love the cooking books by Sam&Sam Clark of the London-based restaurant Moro (which I unfortunately have not had the opportunity to visit) or simply are in the mood for refined yet down-to-earth oriental mediterranean food head for The Spice Bazaar tucked away in a big void between the ticket office of the Bayrische Staatsoper opera house, the Spanish Instituto Cervantes and the Hofgarten garden. In the evening you often won't find a soul on the place before the restaurant, but when you enter a breathtakingly decorated space prided with gold and ornaments is welcoming you -- not the bling-bling of an oriental bazaar, but its Bauhaus-inspired interpretation on two floors, the upper one an almost intimate but open gallery. All the meat is certified organic, and you can pick organic wines and soft drinks on the menu, but although many other ingredients most certainly are organic there's no promise to it. The menu and the staff encourage you to share your food with those you came along -- in this case all dishes will be placed in the middle of the table and an empty plate will be put in front of each of you. Be warned: the servings here are generous and deliciously spiced so that it's easy to eat far too much. A main course -- meat, seafood or vegetarian -- with a side dish will satisfy a hungry eater, so rather order less and share, especially if you also opt for one of the tempting first courses. At my first visit we made the mistake of ordering too much (delicately spiced caramellised nuts and bread with gorgeous olive oil as starters for our hungry crowd) so that I cannot say anything about the desserts yet. Prices are upmarket, but if you take into consideration the quality and the quantity they are more than fair.
With the explosion of sushi take-aways you may have to kiss many frogs on the quest for sushi worth its name. Arguably one of the best sushi restaurants in Munich is the Sushiya Sansaro in the Amalienpassage backyard passage in Maxvorstadt, a three minutes walk from the Northern exit of the Universität tube stop. As you might expect from a restaurant with love for -- in this case -- Japanese -- food they use some organic ingredients (eggs, spinach and pork for example), the soy sauce is organic and you can order organic beer, juice and some wine with your meal. The menu does not stop with sushi, instead you can get a good impression of the Japanese kitchen, both in its vegetarian and its meat-based variety. The place itself is pleasant but often crowded. If you cannot get a reservation do not dispair: You can also order by phone and step by to take away, or even better: Bring your own (bento) box, and wait while your sushi is being prepared.
The latest enterprise of prominent Munich publican, club manager and cooking book author Sandra Forster, herself a vegan, is the Blitz ("lightning") club located within the entrance building to the Museumsinsel island housing Deutsches Museum, the congress hall finished in 1935, formerly used as a cinema. Attached to the club is a Mexican-vegetarian restaurant, with dancing skeletons in colourful costumes adorning the walls. During the warm season enjoy a sugar cane cocktail and yummy fajitas or quesadillas, on a peaceful terrace outside facing the river Isar. About 80 percent of all ingredients used in the kitchen are organic and -- if possible -- sourced from farms in the greater Munich area. Exotic ingredients difficult to find in organic quality usually make an exception. If you want to avoid eggs and dairy products (which come from animal-friendly farms) do not hesitate to request a vegan meal.
My favourite vegan place, the Gratitude in the humming University quarter of Maxvorstadt, is fully organic when it comes to food and non-alcoholic beverages. While in the beginning the food was simple -- raw or inspired by ayurveda -- and sometimes a little bland, the kitchen has improved vastly since, reaching the level of Munich's legendary first (though no longer existing) vegan restaurant Zerwirk. They serve delicious cakes for dessert, and, fortunately, started again to offer lunch, although they are no longer open for an afternoon latte with soy or almond milk. For your evening out be aware that the cocktails aren't organic.
A few steps from Isartor, next to a branch of the organic supermarket chain Basic you'll find
Siggis vegan and fresh food, a 100% vegan place that from the outside looks like a coffee bar. In fact you can step by for a (cup) cake, vegan latte, organic coffee (in a recup.com retour cup if you're in a hurry) or partially organic sandwich, but the appearance is misleading: If you enter and follow the narrow aisle you'll be surprised to find yourself inside a small cellar vault restaurant perfectly suited for a romatic dinner. The kitchen uses a good deal organic ingredients for the quite casual menu offering pasta, sandwiches, bowls, and a few international main dishes. Most drinks are organic, though if you have a latte and specify your favourite vegan milk alternative be aware that the lupin milk isn't. Ask if unsure whether any of the ingredients are organic -- the stuff is helpful and willing to enquire in the kitchen if they don't know.
Unfortunately the place isn't open late night, its kitchen closes at 9 pm.
A third vegan restaurant is the Max Pett near Sendlinger Tor, run by a former Zerwirk chef. Unfortunately it's only partially organic, which is probably why the kitchen does not live up to expectations. The place is 100 percent non-alcoholic.
On a special occasion you may treat yourself with classy declinations of seasonal, predominantly organic vegetables at Gault Millau and Michelin awarded vegetarian restaurant Tian opposite Viktualienmarkt. For dinner you may choose between a vegan and a vegetarian set menu consisting of four, five, or six delicate courses. Alternatively you can order the items individually as well as combine your meal with (not necessarily organic) wines specially selected by the sommelier to match the course. Keep in mind that a single course is not meant to be filling -- the combination of several small dishes taking your time will however not leave you hungry in the end.
Juices and most of the soft drinks are organic. For a gourmet restaurant the place is frequented by a pleasantly mixed audience, but the interior has been designed to give you an undisturbed dining experience. Prices on the menu are indicated by naked integers and include the service of professionally trained waiters. If your budget does not allow for dinner (a five-course dinner including complimentary amuse-gueules is at 60 EUR without drinks) try to have lunch (19 EUR for three courses), it's a fascinating experience to taste what you can make of ever so boring veges like cabbage or beetroots.
The Tian cocktail bar (the place is a hotel restaurant) adjacent to the restaurant uses organic juices, but the alcoholics are not organic, not even the gin. Note also that the restaurant is closed on Sundays.
Another fully vegetarian, vegan-friendly restaurant is the Blitz described above.
Crisp and delicately spiced instead of greasy and cooked to death, this is how the Fei Scho eatery serves Vietnamese food with a Bavarian touch ("Fei scho" is a Bavarian dialect phrase indicating that the counterpart in a conversation should have known/done/recognised something already). The menu of the small place in the Glockenbach neighbourhood consists of a handful of rice and noodle dishes, as well as Vietnamese veg parcels. A few ingredients (namely eggs, chickpeas, and, during the summer, carrots, red cabbage, coriander as well as celery) are organic (unfortunately neither the meat nor the tofu), along with all the wines, the iced tea, the apple juice and the gin and tonic. For a while there was a second restaurant in Haidhausen with slow and forgetful service, but that's past.
More to try
Of the following places I found testimonies and other evidence for use of organic ingredients, but I have not been able to verify them by a personal visit. If you get there let me know whether they should be listed here, and I'll do my best to eat there, too.
Ceased to exist
The following places shut down, were replaced by other, not organic ones, or are (temporarily?) closed. So don't be confused when you find references to them on the web:
- Arepas, Müllerstr. 44 (Venezuelan)
- Cafe King, Müllerstr. 3 (vegan)
- Daylesford Organic, Ledererstr. 3 (international)
- Das Kranz, Hans-Sachs-Str.12 (gourmet)
- Emiko w/in Hotel Louis, Viktualienmarkt 6 (Japanese)
- Fei Scho Haidhausen, Pariser Str. 17
- Kaede, Sommerstr. 41 (Japanese)
- L'Amar, Pestalozzistr. 28 (Italian)
- Refettorio, Marstallplatz 3 (Italian) -- replaced by The Spice Bazaar
- Wood, Occamstr. 6, (clean eating -- the owners told me they were temporarily closed, but wouldn't specify when and whether they plan to re-open)
- Zerwirk, Ledererstr. 3 (vegan, gourmet)
- 1912 Restaurant & Bar,
Schwanthalerstr. 36 (partially organic hotel restaurant)
[Munich, Haidhausen, Maxvorstadt, Sendling, Schwabing, organic, lunch, dinner, market, deli, coffee, hotel, accommodation, restaurant, Asian, Bavarian, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mediterranean, Mexican, Oriental, Sardinian, Vietnamese, vegan, vegetarian]
Saturday, 21 September 2019
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, and recently renamed to Der plastikfreie Laden. At this pleasant intimate shop in Haidhausen near Max-Weber-Platz 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.
In March 2019 a tiny neighbourhood shop specializing in the latter opened in the Glockenbach neighbourhood: At Abgefüllt & unverpackt ("bottled and unpacked") the singer of the Munich-based band "Cat Sun Flower" warmly welcomes customers and passers-by and helps to (re)fill empty bottles with organic liquid household detergents. At the time of writing this shop was the only one in Munich selling washing powder by weight. In addition there are eco-friendly dishwasher tabs, body and hair soaps, fairly traded natural facecream in returnable glasses, towels, as well as upcycled and fairly traded bags and toiletry accessories.
Three years before, on February 20th, 2016 the city's first 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, vodka and bitter, oil, toothpaste tablets and assorted solid shampoos and soap bars.
There are also refill stations for washing detergents, cleansers and liquid hair and body washes, and you can shop from an ever increasing 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.
Inhabitants and passers-by in the neighbourhood of Haidhausen will be happy to learn that a second branch opened January 23, 2019 a few steps from Rosenheimer Platz S-Bahn station. This shop is also equipped with a proper espresso machine, and offers snacks -- you can have a sandwich, a slice of cake or a buttered pretzl. However, neither lunch nor fresh fruit and veges are available. In return the clean and pleasantly light shop keeps open a little longer on saturday evenings.
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. (If you forget to bring containers you can also get returnable glass jars for a deposit.)
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 an artisanal organic butcher's shop or your nearest Herrmannsdorfer grocery to buy meat in your own box, e.g. the one on Max-Weber-Platz. Here you will also be rewarded with a 4 cents discount per saved packaging.
At 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. Dispensers reliably offering a selection of pasta, nuts, dried fruit, sweets, and grains can be found in all branches I've visited so far, but the number of goods may vary from basic to covering most of your store cupboard except for dried herbs and spices, coffee and tea.
All Basic supermarkets in Munich (and no longer only the ones selling toiletries and household chemicals like the Neuhausen and the Bogenhausen branches) are now equipped with dispensers for detergents of the eco-friendly Sodasan brand. To refill here you must either come with an empty original bottle or buy one the first time. Your purchase will be weighted at the checkout and the weight of the original bottle will be detracted. When I asked the staff why I no longer was able to use a blank bottle they explained to me that a label with correct chemical declaration was required by law.
Prior to April 2019 you
could take one of the empty bottles from the shelf and scan its label before tapping the standard volumes the choosen detergent was sold by to your own bottle, and I cannot say whether Basic markets in other cities still run the dispensers in this mode.
To buy dry goods most of the Basic branches 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.
Some branches may still follow the scheme formerly employed at the one near Isartor where you were expected to fill provided scaled measuring jugs from the dry-goods dispensers, pay, and refill the content into the packaging you brought along (which was quite tricky as funnels were not provided). In this case
you were not allowed to use your own containers for loose-weight dried fruit from the cardbox displays in the green-grocery section.
Some Basic branches like the Basic Bogenhausen also offer freshly ground nut butters.
In the past the latter also had a refill station for frying and salad oils, shampoo and shower gel as well as tea and coffee dispensers but unfortunately no longer.
For refilling fresh milk from the grass-fed cows of the Nirschlhof farm in nearby Grafing take your milk bottles to the recently opened Vollcorner supermarket near Theresienwiese which also has a butcher's counter and a lunch cafe. It's the same milk as used in True&12 ice-cream.
Vollcorner supermarkets also stock package-free toiletpaper.
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 and the Hofbäckerei Steingraber you may be surprised to see that you're not the only one coming with her own boxes and jars. On Saturday 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.
Artisanal bakeries and butchers
Meat lovers will be happy to learn that Munich, the home of Weißwurst sausages and Leberkäse, still has an independent family-run organic butcher's shop: The Biometzgerei Pichler in Haidhausen does not only offer these Munich specialities to buy home or to eat on the spot but will happily fill your boxes with all kinds of meat cuts, sausages, cured and processed meat (both, German and Italian style), including tongues, ox tails, offal and other low-graded parts of the slaughtered animals, allowing you to follow the nose-to-tail principle. They also have a proper cheese counter and offer lunch on weekdays. If you are in the Maxvorstadt, the Pichler family also runs the meat counter within the Landmann's supermarket which offers lunch items to take away and often has pickled herrings and other traditional German fish preserves.
At the Munich branch of the Dachau-based family-run organic bakery Gürtner opposite the Lebascha grocery mentioned above in Haidhausen the staff is also used to fill cakes, rolls and bread into boxes or bags handed over the counter. They mill the flour slowly using a Zentrofan wholefood mill resulting in wholemeal croissants tasting fresher and almost as light as those baked with white flour. If you come here for an organic coffee or lunch break don't expect wonders from the automatic coffee machine and insist on using your mug if you order coffee to take along. For lunch the bakery offers readily prepared sandwiches or "Butterbrezn" (buttered pretzl). There's another Gürtner branch on the Pasinger Viktualienmarkt near the Pasing train station.
Coffee and food 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 the Neulinger bakeries and the Basic self-service lunch bars will even give you a small 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.
Most of the eateries reviewed here will fill your food into the boxes you provide for take-away as long as you make this clear before they start their usual routine which still means one-way packaging. Sushi to take away is available from Sushiya, and they will happily accept your bento boxes with your order.
[Munich, Neubiberg, Au, Haidhausen, Maxvorstadt, Pasing, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, unverpackt, cafe, grocery, market, supermarkets, lunch, bakeries, butcher, bodycare, household, sushi]