The Organic Traveller
Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Munich: Organic Pizza

The good news: As long as your organic supermarket is equipped with a freezer (which applies to all exceeding the size of a corner shop) you will be able to find some frozen pizza, and even if you feel the urge while most shops are closed, don't dispair! But come on, who really wants to feast on frozen pizza?

Italian pizza

If a bar stool will do, head for Bartu in Schwabing, a short walk from Münchner Freiheit. It's actually an ice-cream parlour with a hole in the wall to a pizza kitchen. Gorgeous, 100% organic pizza, and if you are lucky enough to live no more than three kilometers away they also will deliver home.

Pizza Verde Those living in the Neuhausen neighbourhood may do the same with Pizza Verde delivering within a radius of two kilometers. The pizza of course tastes much better when eaten directly from the (Italian) pizza oven, either on a bar table or in the guest room cum wine shop next door which has a table for twelve. Book this table in advance if you plan to come in company, it's a pleasant place to chat away an evening. The impressive menu offers all the classics, in addition to seasonally changing specials and creations of the house. Among the latter is a delicate combination of gorgonzola cheese, pears and walnuts and a surprising, though less convincing Vitello Tonato variety. Since all ingredients (and all drinks) are of high, purely organic quality, and the pizze made with great skill (The pizza base is pleasantly thin and crispy made of dough that was allowed to rest for a minimum of 24 hours.) it's hard to be seriously disappointed. Even the "Nutella" pizza for dessert (of course made with superior organic hazelnut spread) is palatable for those who are beyond thirty. You may also have a classical tiramisu or panna cotta, or simply step by for an Italian coffee shot.

If you'd rather opt for a waiter approaching you in mock-Italian, and TV screens on all walls Lo studente in Maxvorstadt near tube-stop "Universität" is the best bet. Don't forget to specify that you want organic pizza bun made with emmer wheat for your pizza. The toppings -- apart from fresh basil -- usually are not organic, but you may order a bionade organic soft drink. The pizza is good home-made fare of the best quality you can hope for with partially non-organic ingredients.

Manouche

Lebanese Manouche

For the Lebanese version of a pizza head for the neighbourhood of Sendling. A few steps from tube station Implerstraße you'll find a tiny restaurant named after this Levantine breakfast special, the Manouche, where it can be had all day around, alongside Lebanese soups, savoury pastries, mezze, Lebanese wine and sweets. All meat is local and certified organic, and most of the vegetables come from farms in the vicinity which, although not certified, embrace organic principles. Some of the beer ("Neumarkter"), juices and soft drinks are also organic. Unfortunately the flour is not organic which explains the tastelessness of the bread when eaten on its own but fortunately the mezze are full of flavour and cover up for it. Place your order at the desk, and help yourself with drinks from the fridge; your food, wine and coffee will be served. It's advisable to book in advance when coming as a group, to enjoy a glimpse of oriental atmosphere and friendliness in Bavaria. Note that the place is closed on Sundays, just like the falafel restaurant Beirut Berut diagonally across the street, run by the same owners.

Alsatian Tarte Flambe

The Alsatian version of a pizza, Tarte Flambe or Flammkuchen is a popular fast food on street festivals like the biannual Streetlife on Leopoldstraße or the triannual Auer Dult fair where you will find boothes selling it in organic quality.

Shut down

The following (partially) organic pizza places can still be find on the web but forget about them: They do not exist any more.

2018-03-21 07:40:00 [Munich, Schwabing, Maxvorstadt, organic, fastfood, lunch, delivery, coffee, pizza, wine, Italian, Lebanese] Link

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Monday, 12 March 2018

Munich: Chains good enough not to be boycotted

Organic and fair is going mainstream, and you will have to go a long way to find a big food retailer not stocking at least some appropriately labelled items. As long as you avoid the cheapest textile retailers you will also be able to needle-pick organic cotton fig leaves covering up for otherwise not exactly fair, social and environmentally conscious behaviour in many fashion outlets.

So even if you happen to be stranded in darkest suburbia, you will be able to survive somehow. In the Munich metropolitan area however, you have the choice of leaving your money at retailers more conscious than average. Some of them are local chains, others have outlets or franchise takers everywhere in Germany and sometimes even abroad.

Food and necessities

There's a wide range of organic full retailers as well as smaller organic supermarkets, so chances are good that you will find one in your vicinity. Most malls however, with their exchangeable shops and brands, stick to conventional supermarkets, and -- here's your choice -- a smaller health-food store (Reformhaus), often of the Vitalia chain. Larger and newer branches even offer a coffee or snack bar. Although some stores are up to 80 percent organic, check for organic labels, as up to half of their goods on sale may be conventional.

The DM Drogeriemarkt drugstore chain is being managed according to anthroposophical principles in such a successful manner that new branches have been popping up in almost every newly or re-opened shopping complex during the past years. It has always had a focus on organic and eco-friendly products (alongside the conventional stuff) and is most certainly the reason for that its competitors Müller and Rossmann now also stock a wide range of organic dry food products, sweets and drinks, as well as natural cosmetics. While the big Müller branches stock an impressive selection of natural cosmetics brands and recently stepped in for DM as a reseller of the Alnatura food brand, DM has a broader focus, with a series of eco-friendly household items such as nappies, detergents, dishwasher tabs, or organic cotton pads of the "nature" own-brand alongside the own-brands "DM Bio" (food), and "Alverde" (cosmetics and toiletries). In addition DM branches sell a growing selection of reputable organic and eco cosmetics brands, such as "Weleda", "Lavera", "Sante", "I+M Berlin", "Dr. Bronner" (all products fully natural) or "Eos organic", "Dresdner Essence" and "Kneipp" (watch out for eco labels). Products of the "Alnavit" brand for nutrition and allergene avoiding food and sweets are usually organic, as are the own brand of the vegan supermarket chain Veganz. Since they kicked out Alnatura as their exclusive organic food brand a variety of products by various organic producers has been showing up in the shelves. For detergents stick to products of the "Ecover" and "You" brands. Also a word of warning towards the nature washing detergent: It's labelled with the Blue Angel environmental label, but nonetheless contains synthetic perfumes which accumulate in your clothes.

Thus said: Fresh food aside you will find everything you need for a daily eco-conscious lifestyle. It should however not go unnoticed that DM own brands comply with minimum standards for organic food and natural bodycare only. Food products complying with higher organic standards such as the biodynamic corn products by Alnatura were replaced when the chain rearranged their product selection. DM is said to treat its employees fairly, though this may of course vary with the branch management. And if you are not satisfied with a product (like I was with the washing liquid) or simply bought the wrong one they guarantee that you may return it in any chain store, opened or sealed, even without receipt. I did it, and it always worked like a charm.

Lunch, snacks and coffee

All branches of the Basic supermarket chain have a self-service coffee and lunch bar, but the entrance area of a supermarket might not be the place for a read or chat while having a coffee. In the latter case you might opt for a franchise of the San Francisco Coffee Company coffee house chain, offering organic coffee, tea and soft drinks in several of the central Munich neighbourhoods. Their cakes usually are not organic but sometimes there is an organic option on offer, and recently organic croissants and pains au chocolate were added to the menu. Always on sale are organic and vegan nut and fruit bars of the Foodloose brand which make a good (uhm, and healthier) replacement.

The second franchise-based coffee house chain serving exclusively organic coffee is Black Bean. Unfortunately only the coffee itself (and some soft drinks) are organic -- no organic milk or pastries. For early birds in the Schwabing/Maxvorstand area they are a good option to aim for as branches usually open as early as 7 am on weekdays, and they are open on Sundays and bank holidays, too, with (comparatively) liberal opening hours. Both, Black Bean and San Francisco, offer free wifi.

Interestingly one of the major bakery chains in Munich is an organic one: Hofpfisterei branches will usually sell you organic sandwiches (made of typically German sourdough bread) or pretzl with butter ("Butterbrezn" is not just a children's favourite), but on less frequented locations they may be outsold by early afternoon. In this case you may still shop organic spread (cheese or vegetarian) or sausages along with your breadrolls or opt for a sweet pastry. Most shops offer organic coffee-to-go, mineral water and softdrinks, and the bigger ones usually have a bar table or two. Both Hauptbahnhof and Ostbahnhof train stations have a Hofpfisterei outlet, although the latter one is closed on Sundays. An hour before closing Hofpfisterei offers a discount on breads, breadrolls and pastries, and many branches cater for the early bird, often opening at 7am.

For hearty Mexican fast food head for one of the Pureburrito branches.

Clothes

Both, the C&A and H&M fast fashion chains have been extending their range of products made from organic cotton, recycled and eco-friendlier materials in the past years. C&A shops label their sustainable collection clearly visible on the price tag (look out for small hearts and the "Bio Cotton" string), but the product range is restricted to basic items such as t-shirts and underwear, and apart from this unreliable. Kids and teens are better catered for than adults. Since they are only randomly presented together you may find yourself fine-reading labels.

H&M covers a broader range of sustainable products -- you will even find the occasional dress for women. Products of the "H&M conscious" brand can be distinguished by their green tag. They are presented together in separate areas, both, within the women, kids, and men stores, and hence easy to find. According to Greenpeace both companies are taking serious measures to reduce hazardous chemicals in the production process and to introduce fairer production.

2018-03-12 18:00:03 [Munich, Schwabing, supermarkets, coffee, snacks, lunch, bakeries, grocery, fashion, bodycare, household] Link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.

Monday, 08 January 2018

Hamburg: Fair and organic Hafencity

An inner-city district to be developed from scratch is the most exciting thing in the life of city planners, and Hamburg's Hafencity with its recently opened Elbphilharmonie concert hall is Europe's biggest inner-city development in modern times. When finished it will consist of ten often quite different neighbourhoods, with many sustainability aspects considered. If you have the time take part in one of the guided tours (free of charge) or pay a visit to the Sustainability Pavillion Osaka 9. The latter houses a small fair-trade cafe bar dubbed Die kleine Elbfaire where you can have a coffee or soft drink and buy pre-packaged fairly traded sweets.

Elbfaire

With its name drawing from the similarity of the words "fair" and "Fähre" ("ferry") the little coffee bar is a spin-off of Elbfaire, a fair-trade lunch cafe and meeting place with a pleasant backyard run by the ecumenical association of 17 Hamburg-based churches. On weekdays you can come here for an organic vegetarian lunch between 12 am and 14:30 pm, or step by for a fairly traded organic coffee drink together with home-made organic cakes.

Another organic lunch option is the self-service day cafe of the nearby Alnatura supermarket.

Not organic

When looking for healthy organic food in the Hafencity you may be guided to Greenlovers, a lunch restaurant serving soups, stews, bowls and salads using predominantly locally sourced ingredients. Unfortunately the promising name is misleading since the place does not have an organic agenda. However, I was assured that tofu and eggs always were organic, and if you dare to ask you may occasionally find one or another organic vegetable used in the dishes. There's a second branch near the townhall with longer opening hours, keeping open Monday through Saturday until 7 pm.

2018-01-08 12:30:00 [Hamburg, Hafencity, organic, fair, vegetarian, eatery, cafe, lunch, supermarkets, coffee] Link

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Friday, 05 January 2018

Hamburg: (Partially) organic restaurants

While organic lunch options aren't difficult to find (namely in the neighbourhoods around Altona station) the organic evening out requires some more research. The list I am presenting here surely isn't exhaustive since it is the result of a two-days stay, so I'm glad for additional contributions.

Mediterranean

Italian antipasti, oriental mezze, Spanish tapas or a simple pasta dish -- the organically certified wine restaurant Piccolo Paradiso serves vegetarian food from the Mediterraneans. The intimate, organically certified place breathes the atmosphere of an Italian trattoria, the home-made food owes its taste to the quality of the organic ingredients rather than the skills of an ambitious chef. So do not expect a fine dining experience, instead come to enjoy mother's versions of vegetarian starters. Advanced booking is advisable, and you shouldn't arrive too late as the kitchen closes around 10 pm. Note that the restaurant keeps closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Burgers

A small chain consisting of two restaurants Edelsatt is not an ordinary burger place: What you get here are tasty game burgers served without bread or in organic buns from the Springer organic bakery. No smoke-ladden air as in many, also high-end burger grills, tasteful decoration and reusable cotton towels in the bathrooms -- the restaurant in the Karolinenviertel neighbourhood is most certainly a place for the extended evening out with friends or the romantic dinner. A small assortment of organic softdrinks and beer (of the Stralsund-based Störtebeker brand) are being offered to accompany your meal, and if you don't feel for a game burger you may opt for a salmon, vegan quinoa or vegetarian aubergine-mozzarella one, or for a change, a game sausage. The second (older) restaurant is located in Winterhude.

If burger means fast-food to you, head for Dulf's Burger a few minutes walk in Western direction. The burgers served here are made from organic beef, and the queue in front of the place was most impressive when I decided against waiting in the rain during the "Hamburger Dom" fun fair next door. If you come here I'd be glad to hear about your experience.

More to try

Here's a list of evening-open (partially) organic restaurants and eateries I found during my research but did not have time to visit. Your impressions are appreciated!

Ceased to exist

The following places shut down or were replaced by other, not organic ones, although you still find them on the web:

2018-01-05 12:00:02 [Hamburg, Altona, organic, vegetarian, restaurant, burgers, lunch, dinner, takeaway] Link

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Saturday, 30 December 2017

Organic Steinkjer

Norwegian smalltowns can be a frustrating experience for those used to organic food, hunting-gathering the nation-wide chains as described here. What a surprise when I spent the time waiting for a bus in Steinkjer with a stroll through the town's main street, Kongens gate. Five minutes from the train station you'll find Grønn bølge ("Green Wave"), a small friendly organic convenience store cum day cafe where you not only can buy daily supplies (surprisingly much of it from local producers, including a small selection of fresh seasonal fruit and veges) but also have a smoothie, plain coffee, home-made cookie or seasonal soup. Until 2016 the shop was located in a side street a few steps away.

For a more substantial meal in the afternoon or evening simply cross the street. Here you'll find Ox Steak House, where you can have grilled or cured beef, burgers (with home-made buns), sausages, and more from free-ranging highland cattle from a small-scale farm about 15 kilometers north-west. The animals are allowed to keep their horns, but neither the farm nor the restaurant is certified organic. The place was however recommended to me by another local farmer in the course of an exchange on free-range and organic farming. You can also order food to take away.

To dine in style at a decidedly committed organic farm you'll have to book in advance and take a taxi 12 kilometers out of town to Bjerkem organic farm and cultural heritage center. Since September 2017 the farm has been playing host to the new organic gourmet restaurant of acclaimed Norwegian (formerly London-based) chef Kim Tore Sjøbakk, the Experience. The tasting menu consisting of 14 courses comes at 1250 NOK per person, together with matching wine and drinks at 2250 NOK. Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to dine there yet, so let me know about your experience.

Closed

2017-12-30 14:00:02 [Steinkjer, organic, supermarkets, grocery, eatery, restaurant, burgers, fastfood] Link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.