The Organic Traveller
Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Munich: Organic delicatessen, groceries and corner stores

Traditional corner stores in general have been almost extinguished from the streets of Munich, surviving almost exclusively in the form of immigrant grocery stores which unfortunately only on extremely rare occasions stock organic items. However, there are some survivers from the time when organic was an unknown word in supermarket chains: small supermarkets equipped with wooden shelfs and as crammed to the brim as possible for orderly German souls. Usually they have everything on offer needed for your daily life, and just give you fewer choice between brands. Sometimes you'll find delicatessen the big players don't stock, and fresh produce with few exceptions is as fresh as from their competitors. Prices may be a few cents higher than the cheapest option in one of the retail chains, but you may be surprised to learn that many products actually are less expensive in the corne shop. In addition you may have a chat with the shop owners and usually will be given a competent answer to questions you may have. Many of these shops have some tables and chairs where you can have a coffee, snack or vegetarian lunch.

Groceries

Munich's oldest existing organic supermarket is the Kornkammer in Schwabing, just a minute away from Münchner Freiheit. It's located on two storeys, and you can comfortably sit upstairs with your coffee or wholefood lunch, browsing your smartphone or reading a book. Mind you: If you happen to take the wrong street you might end up in front of the Denn's supermarket branch in Feilitzschstraße 7-9. Don't dispair in this case -- Kornkammer is located on the next parallel street further north.

In Maxvorstadt, the vibrant university neighbourhood, you'll find Mutter Erde ("Mother Earth"), a crowded place during lunch time when you can have a simple vegan home-cooked meal, tea and coffee. On working days they serve lunch from 12 o'clock (as long as available), on Saturdays between 11 am and 1 pm. They stopped serving breakfast on Saturdays. Nearby zero-waste grocery Ohne is another option for lunch served from 12 o'clock. Note that Mother Earth no longer is a full retailer: Some time ago they exchanged their body care and cosmetics shelves with a table and bench to sit down with your meal.

A real full retail neighbourhood shop in Haidhausen is Lebascha run collectively by a bunch of friendly women. You will often find them in a brief chat with customers from the neighbourhood, and they will happily serve you coffee drinks and a delicious cake. During the warm season you can sit outside and relax in a relatively quiet street with beautiful houses. They don't have a freezer, but make up for it with arguably the biggest selection of liquorice in town (though only a few of them are organic). You can bring along your own glasses and boxes in order to buy liquorice, cheese, antipasti and cakes or borrow Lebascha's returnable jars for a small deposit.

Immigrant shops

While these small supermarkets cater for all daily necessities including fresh fruits and veges there's no such thing as an all-organic immigrant grocery focussing on the latter and supplementing with a selection of dry goods and delicatessen from their owner's place of birth. The nearest you come is Giesinger Fruchtmarkt near tube-stop Kolumbusplatz. Since about three quarters of the fruits and veges as well as most of the Italian delicatessen are conventional you have to carefully watch out for the bio keyword. Apart from organic greens they also offer organic choices for olive oil, wine, pasta and cheese.

Delicatessen

Specializing in cheese and supplements -- wine, olives, oil, herbs, condiments, to name a few -- Luigino's in Maxvorstadt is a delicatessen of the classical type: light and clean, yet missing the noisy atmosphere of its cousins in Italy. The perfect place to shop for a picknick or the no-frills romantic candle light dinner. Many cheeses and most of the pre-packaged items in the self-service area are organic, but when ordering an Italian-style sandwhich to take away you may wish to enquire about the ingredients and probably stick to the vegetarian ones since the Italian cured meat products for sale are artisanal, though usually not organic.

The owner also runs a market booth in the Southern part of Viktualienmarkt, opposite the crossing of Reichenbachstraße and Blumenstraße. Once an almost entirely organic cheese booth the percentage of organic products on sale has diminished during the past years: mainly due to the advent of conventional Italian cured meats, partially due to a lesser focus on organic labels on the selection of cheeses.

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:

2017-09-13 12:00:00 [Munich, Haidhausen, Schwabing, Maxvorstadt, organic, lunch, snacks, coffee, supermarkets, deli, grocery, Italian, vegan] link

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Friday, 08 September 2017

Bremen: Organic restaurants and fast food eateries

Bremen offers plenty opportunities for an organic lunch ranging from a cheap and simple meal at a University refectory to the posh organic business lunch. For dinner there's significantly less choice -- you may opt for fast food or a friendly place to meet friends, but to have an organic candle light dinner will be difficult. Don't expect highly sophisticated international cuisine -- Bremen restaurants are best when it comes to local dishes based on regional ingredients (which are totally different from e.g. the meat-centric Bavarian cuisine) and rather adapt international influences than aim at an -- whatever the definition may be -- authentic experience of a foreign cuisine.

Indian

The food served in "Indian" restaurants in Germany usually does not have much in common with the food actually served in India -- and the Punjabi food served at the -- to my knowledge -- oldest organic restaurant in Bremen, the Krishna a short walk from the Southern end of either Wilhelm Kaisen or Bürgermeister Smidt bridge is also adapted to this idea of how Europeans are likely to like Indian food. This is probably not a surprise since the restaurant generates its main business from its delivery and take-away service. The good news about it -- there's always a spare table in the restaurant which now after more than ten years looks a little worn, resembling actual restaurants in India.

Since the main ingredients of the pakoras, curries and tandoori dishes -- meat, dairy products and vegetables -- are organic the food is much more palatable than in conventional "Indian" restaurants. You can choose between rice and naan bread as a side dish, and each curry comes with a salad (dressed with a balsamico-based dressing) in advance. The menu hasn't changed much in all these years -- lamb, chicken, fish, cheese (paneer) and/or vegetables in a gravy, and as a recent addition gravy with tofu as a vegan alternative. You might wish to start your meal with an (organic) yogurt drink (lassi) and finish with a cup of chai or hot saffron milk. There's also a selection of cold organic drinks available. If you have the chance take a chat with the friendly Punjabi owner, but do not expect much flexibility from his staff which often even cannot remember the dishes and will ask you for the number on the menu when ordering. Note that the restaurant is open evenings only.

Italian

If you are in the mood for basic Italian food, organic breakfast or coffee head for the Lei in the Viertel neighbourhood. Their menu changes daily -- usually you can choose from seasonal salads, soups, a risotto, a pasta dish and three types of pizze, all entirely made of certified organic ingredients. For dessert or together with a coffee drink you may order home-made cheesecakes, sometimes brownies or other cake varieties. The pizza toppings usually are not the classical Italian ones, instead they use seasonal local ingredients on a gorgeous crisp and thin pizza base -- very tasty as was the risotto. Disappointing their interpretation of a lasagna -- the tomato-based meat or tofu fill was predominantly made of carrots. Healthy perhaps, and in line with the Bremen tradition for health food, but not the delight I hoped for.

The kitchen closes at 9 pm but as long as there are people having another drink the place keeps open in the evenings. So you might try your luck after 9 pm, to have a gin and tonic (among the gins and tonics there is one organic variety each) or sample from a good selection of craft beers, a few of them organic.

If you are not into football try to avoid the place while Werder Bremen is playing. Although usually closed on Sundays, the restaurant opens at 12 o'clock on match Sundays to broadcast the match. During the warm season there's a nice terrace in front of it where you can avoid to watch the TV screen and nevertheless mingle with locals. It shouldn't go unnoticed that the toilet avoids one-way paper towels and offers organic liquid hand-wash. A throughout pleasant place if you ask me.

Regional -- International

For a coffee or lunch break you have another opportunity in the vicinity: the Bio-Biss im Alten Fundamt, a recreational place which has been offering organic food for many years, formerly under the name "Mundart im Alten Fundamt" and now in the second generation of tenants, as "Bio-Biss". In summer it's a pleasure to eat outside in the large backyard, with a kindergarden and a home for the elderly as neighbours. The menu changes daily and offers tasty seasonal food using predominantly local ingredients from their own farm or other organic farms nearby. The dishes are based on local food traditions or derived from Italian or Oriental cuisines, and always served both, as a regular and a small portion. You may also have an organic ice-cream from the Kaemena farm.

A less sophisticated yet filling organic lunch for a cheap price can be had at the Bio-Biss refectory on the University campus opposite Universum. On weekdays you can choose from two dishes, one of them vegetarian, and a soup. Don't expect a mouth-watering pleasure, it's good old canteen food, but since the ingredients are organic it tastes better than comparable food at the university Mensa. Also their fully organic coffee drinks are of superior quality (though a bit more expensive) compared with the coffee machine fare you get at the latter. Ask for a real cup which you will get in exchange for an euro deposit (otherwise you will be handed a one-way paper cup as students have proved to be unreliable in returning them). Most soft drinks are organic here, too. A brief friendly exchange makes the staff happy and you will be served with a smile, too.

The nearest you can get to a romantic evening out is the Canova restaurant behind Kunsthalle. Many of their supplies come from organic farms in the greater Bremen area, and it's a pleasure to sit on their terrace in summer.

Fastfood

If you rather opt for fast food there are two options, both of them only a few steps away from each other, in the city's central shopping area. Opposite the back entrance to the Kaufhof department store you can find 1885 Burger, a self-serving American-type diner using organic beef and bacon in their burgers. Start queuing at the left side and choose the type of patty and home-made bun you prefer. While the patty is being grilled before your eyes move to the right and specify the sauces, vegetables and condiments as well as your drinks (I'd suggest the organic Störtebeker beer). Some of the veges are organic, too, and most of them as well as the cheeses are sourced locally. Vegetarian cheese and vegan lentils patties are available, but you have to enquire whether they are organic. Pay at the till in the middle of the restaurant when you're ready to leave. Although the place is popular among supporters of the local football club Werder Bremen, it should be noted that there's no TV screen.

A short walk in Western direction, through the mall area will lead you to Scharfrichter, a sausage place offering the hottest currywurst in town. Invest the small difference of 50 cents and order an organic Bio-Bratwurst together with an organic softdrink (Bionade), and specify the spicyness of the (not organic) sauce. The organic ice-cream from nearby Kaemena farm will calm your burning gums if necessary. Vegan sausages are available, but it's advisable to ask whether they are organic.

More to try

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

Closed

2017-09-08 18:00:00 [Bremen, organic, coffee, lunch, dinner, snacks, restaurant, burgers, pizza, fastfood, takeaway, Indian, Italian, vegan, vegetarian] 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.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Bremen: Organic coffee and tea houses

A hotspot for the coffee and tea trade the Hanseatic city of Bremen has a tradition for exotic beverages, and has always been a place with room for a subtler and more sophisticated approach to these beverages than the conventional mass-market. Organic and ecological projects have been blooming here for much longer than elsewhere, and so you can expect to find long established organic places blossoming alongside recent start-ups. What you will rarely find however are shiny, polished hipster cafes.

Neustadt

For the quick and dirty coffee shot step by Falko‘s Faire Bohne a ten minutes walk from Leibnitzplatz. It's actually a shop selling coffee equipment, with a shabby-chic sofa and coffee table and a few chairs outdoor as long as the weather allows for it, for the customer to sample the organic and fairly traded coffee she wishes to buy home. Falko also offers a selection of locally sourced juices (not labelled organic) and fairly traded sweets and cookies. Have a chat with him and take a breath of the atmosphere of the Neustadt neighbourhood.

If you have to describe this quarter in a sentence you'd probably point to the omnipresence of flee market-purchased furniture and objects in its lovingly and individually decorated independent shops and cafes. The beer tables on the pleasant garden terrace of Cafe Radieschen ("radish") as well as its indoor walls are all painted pink! If you come hungry first have a predominantly organic vegetarian or vegan pasta dish or sandwich before you turn to their impressive choice of home-made, predominantly organic cakes. Most drinks as well as the milk are organic, you can have an organic vegan ice-cream in the summer, and ingredients are sourced locally as far as possible. Lunch is usually offered between 12 am and 3 pm, and instead of the weekend the place is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The cafe plays host to a lot of neighbourhood activities, among them home-cooking events with young refugees from the house across the street.

Another cosy and serene place for an Italian-style coffee drink is the Lei bistrot reviewed in the restaurant post.

Schnoor

The city's narrowest lanes are to be found in tourist hotspot Schnoor at the other, Northern shore of the river Weser. To enjoy the atmosphere of this oldest part of town dating back to the 15th and 16th century, follow the Wüstestätte ("waste site") alleyway until the end and have a tea in a beautiful yet narrow two-storey tea house and shop dubbed Teestübchen ("little tea parlour"). Nice weather provided you can also sit outdoor and enjoy breakfast or tea time with a home-made cake, or a high tea with a pasta, typical local dishes, or Alsatian "pizza" (Flammkuchen). Many ingredients are organic, but you might want to be picky when choosing the tea since not all of them are. Note that the kitchen closes at 9:30 pm.

At the university campus

University refectories usually are no gourmet temples, but it is nevertheless a pity that the Mensa refectory on the campus stopped to offer organic side dishes. What you still can have is an organic and fairly traded coffee drink with locally sourced organic milk from the coffee vending machines at Cafe Central. It's not a delight, though -- the coffee tastes bitter from too high a temperature inside the machine, but it's cheap (1.30 EUR) and ethical.

Closed

2017-08-31 12:00:03 [Bremen, Neustadt, Schnoor, Worpswede, organic, fair, vegan, vegetarian, coffee, tea, lunch, cafe, breakfast] 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.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Bremen: Sunday and late-night addresses for organic stuff

Organic and eco-conscious trade in the city of Bremen is still dominated by smaller shops and supermarkets closing already between 6 and 7 pm, and between noon and 2 pm on Saturdays. Although outlets of the Alnatura and Aleco organic supermarket chains keep open until 8 pm, you might end up quite frustrated if your schedule doesn't allow for day-time-on-weekdays shopping. Fortunately shops within Hauptbahnhof, the main train station, have quite liberal opening hours, hence unless you're longing for fresh veges or frozen food, you're safe, even on Sundays and in the evening.

A small selection of fresh fruit, dairy products (and non-dairy alternatives), drinks, dry food, sweets, natural cosmetics and a full-fledged range of bread, rolls, and pastries (both, sweet and savoury) can be found at the BetterLife health-food shop (Reformhaus). Apart from the bakery booth, you have however to check for organic labels as about half the products on sale aren't organic or certified natural cosmetics.

With their natural cosmetics own brand "Alterra" Rossmann drugstores like the one you'll enter when climbing the stairs to the right after entering the central station from the Bahnhofsplatz tram and bus hub offer an alternative for the small purse. The branch keeps open 16 hours a day (14 on weekends on bank holidays) and stocks a good selection of organic dry goods (check for organic labels).

2017-08-26 17:00:00 [Bremen, organic, supermarkets, grocery, bodycare] 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.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Bremen: Organic Ice-cream

If you fancy a freshly made organic ice-cream in Bremen be prepared to work out -- hope for good weather, rent a bicycle and do as many locals do: Set out on a 15 kilometers ride, first in direction University, and then on the dyke safeguarding the land against the river Wümme to a dairy farm run by friendly family Kaemena in Niederblockland. On the embankment cars are allowed with a special permit only, but an astonishing number of locals come here by bicycle, foot or skating to enjoy an organic ice-cream (the scoop goes for 1.50 EUR), filtered coffee or cold organic drink and enjoy the farm and the countryside. There's a nice playground for children, and if you want to stay longer (minimum one week) the family rents out several pleasant holiday apartments (but make sure to book well in advance for holiday seasons). Opening hours on pleasant summer days may be longer than announced. Don't miss the poppy seed ice-cream and the varieties based on buttermilk.

On the farm you can also tap raw or pasteurized milk into your own bottle, the liter for 1.20 EUR. If you did not bring one you can buy a returnable 1 l milk bottle for the price of 80 cent. While the milk vending machine is serviced throughout the year the ice-cream parlour is closed in winter.

Since April 2017 a mobile ice-cream booth has been placed inside newly opened Markthalle Acht, located just to the right when you enter from Domshof square, a few meters away from Schlüsselkorb tram stop. It will continue to sell yummy organic ice-cream until the end of August, 2017, and there's hope that Kaemena's fresh Snuten lekker ice-cream will be served here after this date, too, probably from a different shop keeper.

2017-08-25 09:00:01 [Bremen, organic, ice-cream, cafe, accommodation, zero_waste] 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.