Sunday, 09 July 2017
If there is a city in the world where tourists watch tourists doing touristy things -- it's probably the beautiful old city center of Venice, Venezia in Italian. Which makes it difficult to follow the traveller's rule: When it comes to food do as the locals do.
Fortunately the odd Coop supermarket has a reasonable selection of organic (though usually pre-packaged) fruit and veges, drinks, cookies and food. This may save your life, especially since they usually keep open on Sundays, and since it can be difficult to spot one of the
three long-established independent organic convenience stores
in the maze of the city's beautiful old houses.
These are now affiliated under the Cuore Bio label of Italian organic supermarkets. Here you will also find organic bodycare, eco-friendly detergents and more.
If you're looking for an eatable or drinkable souvenir pay a visit to Pantagruelica, a crammed delicatessen shop
at the western end of Campo San Barnaba. It
stocks mainly certified organic items and food at least partially produced adhering to organic principles. If departing the waterbus at Ca' Rezzonico stop you can't miss it when following the only way into the open of the square and keep an eye on the left side. The shopkeeper can be a little annoying with his ever almost identical rants on the quality of his products, but he doesn't mind being cut short, and instead being drawn into a real chat.
[Venice, Venezia, biologico, organic, deli, supermarkets, grocery]
Tuesday, 09 May 2017
Nowhere in Germany it is easier to adhere to an organic lifestyle than in its capital -- provided you aim for appropriately inhabited neighbourhoods all you have to do is to keep your eyes open. Many of those neighbourhoods can be found in the administrative unit of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, and this blog will cover only the tip of the iceberg, i.e. the places I found during a two-days visit. The places covered in the first two sections are all located in Kreuzberg 61, the neighbourhood considered the bourgeouis part of Kreuzberg.
The German Museum of Technology near tube-station Möckernbrücke clearly is a place to spend hours in -- but what if you start to feel hungry or the urge for a coffee? For the occasional tourist this wonderful museum seems to be located in the middle of nowhere, but don't dispair! Head East and follow Tempelhofer Ufer back to the tube station, and turn to the right after the second traffic-light. A few steps into Großbeerenstraße you will find an organic gem with roots back in former West-Berlin's green-alternative past. Today it's a friendly though a little worn-out grocery cum eatery dubbed Ökotussi ("eco-Sheila") run by a bunch of practical women. Stop by for a hearty vegetarian (usually vegan) lunch (the vegan lasagna we had was delicious and sufficient for two), a salad or snack or an Italian-style coffee drink.
Follow Zossener Straße from tube-stop Gneisenaustraße in Southern direction, and you'll end up in a neighbourhood that most eco-conscious people will consider the ultimate paradise: three organic (or predominantly organic) whole-sale supermarkets, four organic bakeries, four at minimum partially organic restaurants and eateries, and a number of other shops offering selected organic products, everything within a five minutes walk, all with liberal opening hours compared to the rest of Germany. The eateries of this neighbourhood dubbed Bergmannkiez try to outdo one another in advertising their vegan options -- it seems a luxury to point out that vegan even here usually does not imply organic.
Restaurants and eateries
Promenading Bergmannstraße (which makes for the Southern border of Marheinekeplatz) to the West you will find Fratelli La Bionda, a decent Italian pizzeria using organic flour and tomatoes for their pizze. No place for lunch since the restaurant does not open before evening. If you take your seat around the tables on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant, opposing a park with a children's playground you will kindly be asked to move inside around half past 9 pm. Since the eateries covered below all close between 8 and 9 pm (or even earlier during the weekend) this place is the only option for your evening out covered in this post.
A few steps west enter crossing Friesenstraße to the left, and you'll find Glück to go, serving ayurveda-inspired healthy vegan or vegetarian burgers with organic buns alongside organic beer and softdrinks. Unlike the eateries within the Marheineke-Markthalle next to the playground this place is open on Sundays.
This nicely restored mall is a Mekka for foodies. Opposite Friesenstraße you will find Bio-Buffet, a whole-organic burger place. Although vegan burgers, soups and fries are served, too, their focus is on organic meat. Arguably Berlin's best beef burgers are served here, and unlike other places they won't cook your meat to death when you forget to order rare. Heavily frequented during lunch hours service can be a bit bumpy, and more frequent cleaning of the bar tables would often be nice. You can choose from an impressive range of organic softdrinks, or have beer or very decent cider made from apples organically grown in the wild of Berlin's surroundings. Mayonaise and ketchup for your fries have to be ordered separately.
On the first flour of the mall you will find Goodies, a Berlin-based vegan snack and coffee bar. Order salads, bagels, wraps, smoothies, cereals, coffee and sweets, predominantly made from organic ingredients. The latter are clearly marked on the menu.
Lunch and coffee drinks are also being served by organic bakery Beumer & Lutum, a few steps north on Zossener Straße. While the two organic bakery boothes within the Marheineke mall -- Mehlwurm in the center of the market hall, and Biobackhaus in the North-Eastern part -- are closed on Sundays and open 8 am, Beumer & Lutum keeps open on Sundays and is catering for the early bird Monday through Saturday from 7 am. In return the bakery boothes in the mall have longer opening hours in the evening, but do not serve coffee or lunch.
For the sweet tooth
Italian-style organic coffee drinks can also be had from the Tanne b ice-cream parlour on the crossing of Zossener and Bergmannstraße. They use organic milk for their all-natural ice-creams served in vegan cones, and offer vegan options, too. Children are served slightly smaller scoops for the price of 80 cents (instead of 1.20 euros for regular servings).
Around the corner from Fratelli La Bionda you'll find cosy Cafe Conni Island where you can treat yourself with lovely home-made, partially organic cakes and a coffee drink made with organic milk. The place is run by an artist whom you can hire to paint your walls with art, and since she usually serves herself the opening hours are restricted to afternoons and the second half of the week.
Opposite Beumer & Lutum you will find Doçura Chocolate, a confectioner's shop offering a decent selection of organic chocolates and tisanes. Since about two-thirds of their sweets are conventional check for organic labelling.
With a branch of the vegan supermarket chain Veganz on the first floor of Marheineke-Markthalle facing Marheinekeplatz, a branch of Berlin-based organic wholesale chain Bio-Company on Bergmannstraße/Friesenstraße crossing and an Alnatura branch on the East-side of the park, all with liberal opening hours compared to German standards it's hard to find an excuse for not buying organic.
While the latter two sell exclusively organically certified items you have to be careful at Veganz: The grocery products and most of the German and Austrian brands on display are organic (and can be found in almost any other organic supermarket), but they also offer a lot of imported vegan products, and a great deal of them are not organic. Unfortunately these are not clearly marked on the shelves, so you should be familiar with organic branding outside the continent.
The Japanese go mad about Trippen shoes, and if you go for fairly and eco-consciously produced leather shoes of unusual design (some of the soles alone can be considered art) the Trippen factory outlet near tube stop Schlesisches Tor is definitely worth a visit. Unlike in their stylish flagship store within Hackesche Höfe you have to browse shoe boxes for your size, and all the pairs are remaining stock or have small defects like miscolourings. In return prices are well below usual market price. You will find children's, women's and men's shoes (even the ones better described as sculptures are astonishingly comfy), and the staff is very helpful.
If you happen to feel hungry after shoe-shopping pay a visit to Schulz&Korn, a small partially organic delicatessen cum eatery on your way from Trippen back to Schlesisches Tor. You can choose between two simple, predominantly organic vegetarian dishes (like pasta or baked potatoes with salad), and shop your daily supply of grocery. The dry goods, drinks and veges are organic, but most of the cheeses and meat-based products are surprisingly not. You'll probably want to avoid the Argentinian empanadas made by a friend of the shopkeepers as they are made using conventional minced meat. The staff is friendly and doesn't turn grumpy when you enquire about the origin of the ingredients and supplies. The shop looks like an organic grocery of old which has adapted itself to its neighbourhood, and is frequented by locals. Note that they are closed on Saturdays.
Another of the probably many organic groceries turned partially organic eateries and delis is Der Milchladen ("The milk shop") near tube stop Moritzplatz. More styled than Schulz&Korn, in the heart of what is dubbed the wild and autonomous migrant Kreuzberg you can have a hearty lunch, sandwiches, coffee and (cheese) cake as well as breakfast, vegan, vegetarian and omnivore.
The place is situated a few steps from the flagship store of one of the oldest eco-conscious Berlin fashion labels, Luzifer in Oranienstraße. All their clothes are made of linen and hemp, and unlike other labels they don't have short-lived collections: If you wore out your favourite dress, shirt or pair of trousers, you will usually be able to buy a replacement. When my favourite dress (of which I had two copies) after ten years continous use had too many holes they happily made a new one of the good parts for a very competitive price. They offer both, a men's and a women's collection, and you will often be served a tisane or a cookie in their light and friendly showroom.
[Berlin, Kreuzberg, organic, vegan, Italian, pizza, coffee, ice-cream, supermarkets, fashion, shoes, deli, grocery, eatery]
Sunday, 01 January 2017
Nuremberg has a lot of independent small shops worth visiting in the main pedestrian area of the city centre (as long as you avoid the lanes occupied by global chains), and quite a number of them care about sustainability, fairness and the environment in some way or the other. The following shops except one are all located within walking distance within the city walls, and the list is totally biased, doing injustice to shops I simply did not recognise.
Drawing from Nuremberg's history as an important medieval trade centre on the crossroad of horizontal and vertical trade routes is the
Wurzelsepp herbalist shop.
In fact the
shop was established in 1933, and you may question whether this should be positively connoted advertisement. I at least would have preferred to find a discussion of the shop's history in the Third Reich on their website. It's missing, so all you are left with is this beautiful
shop, a realm of spices, teas, dried herbs, natural body care and perfumes, real frankincense, hand-made sweets, and more. Roughly estimated a quarter of it is organic, so check for labels or ask the helpful staff.
The abundance of exotic spices from the spice route traders and honey from the nearby forests caused the rise of the profession of the
honey cake bakers ("Lebküchner") in the medievals. So even though Pfefferkuchen or Lebkuchen are a Christmas tradition you probably do not want to leave Nuremberg without locally produced gingerbreads. From end of October through December they are easy to find in every
organic grocery, but outside the season your best bet is the
gingerbread shop Wicklein
offers a small selection of organic varieties. They can be found at the back of the cashier's desk in green packaging, so simply head for the counter. And if you do not feel like gingerbread try their gorgeous chocolate-covered sourdough chips of the organic "Heidi backt" ("Heidi bakes") series.
Both shops are directly located on Hauptmarkt and keep open on Sundays during Christkindlesmarkt advent market.
Nuremberg proudly presents itself as a Fairtrade Town, and unlike in other cities fair trade shops can be found in the middle of the urban city centre. They are run by volunteers from church parishes, and traditionally offer a selection of sweets, herbs, spices, tea and coffee, dry goods, jewellery, fashion items, body care, stationary, home textiles, candles and other colourful gifts. Eatable items are predominantly organic, gifts and household items often made from recycled materials. Fresh food is not available, though both of the following shops sell bananas.
Easier to find is
Fenster zur Welt ("Window to the World") near Hallplatz. It's also the spacier one of the two, and consequently offers a bigger selection. They do not hide the fact that they are a parish enterprise but there's definitely no proselytisation ongoing.
Lorenzer Laden (also referred to in its abbreviated form, Lola) is more intimate. Tucked away in a small alleyway East of Lorenzer Kirche it is totally secular in its presentation, and although their product range overlap to some extend, you will find a lot of things that the other shop does not offer.
More sweets, wines and gifts
Cosy confectioner's shop Chocolat close to Weißer Turm is a paradise for chocolat lovers. They offer a huge range of high quality chocolates of international provenience, often fairly traded, and to a noteworthy part organic. Check for labelling or ask the friendly ladies behind the bar. You can also treat yourself with a hot chocolate, though it's not organic.
The entrance is facing Hutergasse, so do not be fooled by the address.
Once a start-up, nowadays a veritable organic specialist's chain, MyMüsli has a store near Hauptmarkt where you can buy dozens of cereals and porridges, and of late tea and coffee. They also offer free wifi.
If you fancy wine and a bicycle ride to the North-Eastern edge of town step by Die Weinhalle near Nordostparkt which I personally have not visited yet -- it was recommended by a friend. They specialize in natural wines, and a good selection of organic ones are among them. Alongside you can choose from a selection of delicatessen -- Italian antipasti, coffee, chocolates, etc., among them many organic ones. In the webshop you'll find organic products with a simple search for the "bio" keyword.
If you happen to be in Nuremberg in December, don't miss the
annual sustainable winter market Winterkiosk at Künstlerhaus art's centre opposite the central station. It's always happening on a weekend, in 2016 December 10/11.
Stroll around and let you inspire from art and handicraft. Most eatable and drinkable items are organic.
The market charges a small entrance fee for adults (five euros in 2016).
If you wonder how a luxury organic department store looks like visit Grüne Erde at Hallplatz, a branch of a small Austrian chain. Traditionally they sell fairly produced furniture, bedding, cushions, home textiles, bathroom items and interior design stuff, all made from sustainably sourced natural and often organic materials. It would not be a department store if it did not offer luxury organic bodycare, candles, chocolates, sweets, dry goods and delicatessen as well as a small selection of liquors. Recently they added fashion basics like t-shirts to their sales mix. A pleasantly silent and nicely smelling oasis after a busy day -- until it comes to payment. They will ask you for your name and address to send you their catalogue and track your purchase, so be polite and tell them you do not want to be neither registered nor tracked (unless you really want it). Usually the shop assistants will comply without further questions, so don't feel tricked into giving details (or be prepared to give false information).
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:
- Frankenfein, Königsstr. 78 (partially organic farmer's shop cum delicatessen)
[Nuremberg, organic, fair, fashion, spices, deli, gifts, shopping, bodycare]
Saturday, 31 December 2016
All big supermarket and drugstore chains in Germany by now offer a decent selection of organic products. Thus I'll restrict myself to mention places where you can avoid checking each item for an organic label thanks to the fact that they do not offer conventionally produced food.
The leading organic full retailer in Nuremberg is a local chain dubbed ebl Naturkost operating 13 supermarkets within the city boundaries, and more in the greater metropolitan area including the town of Fürth. The bigger ones incorporate a day cafe. Apart from this you will also find two branches of the nationwide operating Denn's supermarket chain.
While these supermarkets allow you to shop for daily necessities in a swift and efficient way, a more personal atmosphere is guaranteed in neighbourhood groceries like Bio und nah and Lotos in Gostenhof, Der grüne Laden ("The Green Shop") north-east of Friedrich-Ebert-Platz or the second Lotos branch at Unschlittplatz.
All of them cater for vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike, but there's also a 100% vegan grocery, Lebe gesund ("live healthy") at Josephsplatz. The shop is part of a small chain offering fresh greens from their own fields as well as bread and cakes, yummy dried apple slices, pickles and preserves, vegan spread and sausages, pasta, pestos and more, all made from the harvest of their farm. The latter is driven in accordance with the ancient principle of three-field crop rotation justifying the upmarket prices. Some may however be hesistant to shop here as the chain is owned and driven by a controversial religious cult.
If you're fond of huge round loafs of German sourdough bread there's a less controversial source in town: the Munich-based organic bakery chain Hofpfisterei has a branch on the way from Hallplatz to Lorenzer Platz.
Ceased to exist
The following places shut down and where replaced by other, not organic ones. So don't be confused when you find references to them on the web:
[Nuremberg, organic, grocery, supermarket, bakeries, vegan, vegetarian]
Thursday, 29 December 2016
Apart from the omnipresent fast fashion stores of H&M and C&A where it is, according to Greenpeace's Detox Catwalk, morally acceptable to buy cheap organic clothes, Nuremberg offers a selection of concept stores of smaller independent fashion labels with sustainable approaches. Although very different they have something in common: awareness for the environmental and social impact of fashion right from the start, durable products eco-consciously made in Europe, and slower fashion cycles.
Of course, all of them sell online as well.
For streetware and young designer labels opt for Glore north of Weißer Turm, on your way downhill to the river Pegnitz. This is the place to look for fresh, exciting styles and vegan fashion, both, for men and women. All items on sale are certified, bearing trustworthy organic and fair-trade labels. They also have a small range of organic bodycare on sale.
Colourful ethno-inspired clothes for women, predominantly made from organic materials can be found at
Gudrun Sjödén at the eastern end of Josephsplatz. The Swedish designer is an eco fashion pioneer, and presents her collections on models of all ages. Apart from clothes you will also find home textiles.
A few steps away in north-eastern direction, south of Karlsbrücke you'll find Deerberg, a concept store of a family-run business which started as a mail order firm for sustainably produced shoewear. Since they have been extending into clothes for women sustainably made in Europe which is the focus of the store. Unfortunately there are few organically produced textiles, and the styles are comparatively boring, but the shoes are worth a look as long as you do not shun leather.
[Nuremberg, organic, fashion, shoes, fair, vegan, bodycare, shopping]