The Organic Traveller
Friday, 15 December 2017

Munich: Zero Waste

Organic groceries, supermarket and market boothes offer a large selection of non-prepackaged fruit and veges to take away in your own basket or bag, and as long as you hand your bag over the counter, making it verbally clear that you do not need a paper bag, you can avoid paper waste when buying bread and rolls.

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, meat products or cake. Since the Basic supermarket chain followed in summer 2017 and independent convenience stores often have done so anyway equip yourself with appropriate containers 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 not allow you to buy unprocessed meat this way. At the Basic self-service cafes you may lend a Recup coffee cup for a deposit which you can return at any other shop participating in the retour scheme. Recently the supermarket chain also introduced dispensers offering pasta, nuts, dried fruit and grains and more to fill into a returnable glass container or reusable cotton bag bought on the spot. If you bring your own jars fill your purchases into the measuring jugs provided, take them to the till, pay and fill them into your containers at the end. Unfortunately you may not use these jugs for loose-weight dried fruit from the cardbox displays in the green-grocery section. Recycle small plastic or paper bags to buy these or bring small, light-weight cotton-bags as they will not detract the tax weight at the cash desk.

In Haidhausen the Lebascha neighbourhood grocery offers returnable jars and glass boxes for a deposit of 1 and 3 EUR respectively in case you forgot to bring your own. Make sure to return them thoroughly cleaned.

Most cafes serving organic coffee are sufficiently aware of the coffee beaker waste issue that they will fill your own cup without hesitation. Some like Die Kaffee-Küche and the Basic self-service lunch bars will even give you a discount for sparing the environment.

As long as you restrict your shopping of dairy products, juices and soft drinks to returnable glass bottles you're safe. Some organic shops (such as Vollcorner) offer a small selection of wine in deposit bottles. But what about sweets, baking ingedients or detergents? Until a couple of years ago Mutter Erde in Maxvorstadt had been offering refill for cleansing agents and washing liquids, but no longer. For these products you have to find your way to a decidedly zero-waste shop which unsurprisingly gives you a vacation from logos and trademarks, too.

Farewell to plastics

The zero-waste pioneer in town is Naturlieferant, usually referred to as Plastikfreie Zone, a pleasant intimate shop in Haidhausen near Max-Weber-Platz where you won't find any plastic item but a lot of sustainable alternatives. Don't forget to bring your own bags, glasses and boxes for potatoes, pulses, nuts, flour, jelly-gums or the best Indian pepper in town. If you forget them your purchase will be packed in paper bags, or you can choose from reused glass containers for free. The main focus of the shop, however, is not food but an ever increasing range of sustainable household items, ranging from tooth brushes and toilet paper to glasses, lunch boxes and jute strings. You may also refill washing-up liquid, shampoo and liquid laundry detergent.

No wrappings

February 20th, 2016 the city's first and only zero-waste supermarket Ohne ("without") opened its doors in the neighbourhood of Maxvorstadt. Pleasantly furnished with wooden benches and self-made dispensers this modern version of a generously spaced mom-and-pop store is offering bread, rolls and cakes from local Neulinger bakery, dairy products in returnable bottles, a small selection of fresh fruit and greens, a few spices, a huge selection of pasta, legumes, flour and cereals, but also baking powder, locally distilled gin and bitter, oil, and solid shampoo. There are also refill stations for washing liquids and cleansers, and you can shop from a small range of household and bodycare products (including environment-friendly condoms which are the only items in shop which are prepackaged in non-reusable wrapping). Preserves (like mustard, pestos and pickles) are sold prepackaged in reusable glass containers.

From the dispensers you fill your own glasses, boxes and bags and pay by weight. If you forget to bring your own packaging you can buy reusable glasses and organic cotton bags on the spot. 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 roll in the small cafe corner. Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11 am.

2017-12-15 17:00:00 [Munich, Haidhausen, Maxvorstadt, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, cafe, grocery, supermarkets, lunch] 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, 24 November 2017

Munich: Organic and partially organic restaurants

To find a place for an organic lunch, snack or a coffee break requires not more than keeping your eyes open, but the evening out or a sumptuous weekend brunch can be a challenge if you don't know where to head for.

French

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.

German/Bavarian

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 end station 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 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. On offer is the meat- and fish-centric Bavarian Sunday menu completed with dishes of Italian origin. The food is extremely tasty, home-made, yet peppered with pleasant little twitches of ambitious chefs. Not the 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.

The Herrmannsdorf farm mentioned above has its own upmarket 100% organic restaurant, the Wirtshaus zum Herrmannsdorfer Schweinsbräu, for meat lovers definitely worth the troubles of getting there -- an up to 1.5 hours affair (one-way) by public transport from Ostbahnhof station. Take a regional (faster) or urban train (S4) to Grafing Bahnhof, continue with bus no. 440 to Westerndorf, and walk about ten to 15 minutes over the fields to the farm. The rustic and newly refurbished restaurant offers high-standard traditional Bavarian cuisine based on freshest ingredients including the farm's famous own beer and assorted spirits. If you are wondering what you are going to eat stroll through the farm and greet the pigs and piglets. During the warm season you can also sit outside under horse chestnut trees, and if you happen to forget the time and your food shopping, there's a beautiful delicatessen cum supermarket in another farm-house opposite the restaurant. It is advised to book your table a few days in advance, and mandatory if you come on the weekends when the farm gives host to its traditional arts and crafts markets (in May, before Easter and Christmas). Especially the advent market is a pleasant alternative to the commercial Christmas markets in town. On market days a free bus transfer is provided from and to Grafing Bahnhof.

They advertise "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.

Seven years ago this blog would also have featured the Ratskeller townhall restaurant at Marienplatz: Back then they had a separate organic menu. But since what is left of it are organic fried potato patties ("Reiberdatschi"), spaetzle, some organic juices and softdrinks, and they as a meat-centric restaurant do not serve any organic meat, I do not feel like recommending the place anymore.

Indian

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.

International

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-station 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.

Italian/Mediterranean

As far as I know there's only one 100 percent organic restaurant in Munich, L'Amar, in the Glockenbach neighbourhood. Crammed and cosy with a cellar vault for small concerts and play readings they serve lovingly home-made Italian food and arguably the best restaurant-made risotto in town, exceptionally prepared meat as well as an (often ayurveda inspired) vegan dish. Vegetarians and vegans are catered for with the same care and love as omnivores, and their wines, cocktails, non-alcoholic drinks, coffee and cakes are simply delicious. Their short menu usually changes daily, and during the weekend you can indulge yourself in a sumptuous breakfast if you like.

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.

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.

Japanese

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-station. 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 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.

Lebanese

See here.

Mexican

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.

Vegan/Vegetarian

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, and more of a cafe bar than a restaurant. They serve delicious cakes and you can have your latte not only with soy but also with almond milk. While in the beginning the food was simple -- raw or inspired by ayurveda -- and sometimes a little bland, the kitchen has improved vastly, reaching the level of Munich's legendary first (though no longer existing) vegan restaurant Zerwirk at my last visit. 100 percent recommended both for lunch and your evening out, although the cocktails aren't organic.

Another 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 to 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.

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:

2017-11-24 20:00:02 [Munich, Haidhausen, Schwabing, Maxvorstadt, organic, lunch, dinner, market, deli, coffee, hotel, accommodation, Japanese, French, Italian, German, Mexican, 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.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Munich: Organic coffee and tea houses

To find a self-respecting restaurant or supermarket snack bar not equipped with a restaurant-size Italian espresso machine can be difficult, and even the tiniest organic corner shop will try to offer you ubiquituous Italian-style coffee drinks. Likewise you can have organic tea bag teas and infusions of usually decent quality. But for the modern nomad on the job, the afternoon chat with friends or the traveller in search of a undisturbed place for a break or observations, the dedicated coffee or tea house is a far more appropriate place to spent hours. Common for all the places listed here that they are closed in the evening -- usually around 6pm, some keep open until 8pm. Note that weekend opening hours may be even more restricted.

Viennese style coffee houses

The headline is misleading -- even if an increasing number of cafes see themselves in the tradition of Viennese coffee houses when it comes to the stuccoed interior, the dark wooden furniture, a selection of daily newspapers as well as the menu, they will usually serve Italian-style coffee drinks. The perfect place for breakfast and a coffee break at any time of the day, you will also be served lunch and snacks throughout the day. Expect however to order more of the deliciously handcrafted cakes than you initially intended to.

My favourite is Cafe Reichshof in Haidhausen, covered in detail in my ice-cream post.

Organic to a much lesser degree -- they promise to serve organic milk and eggs throughout their menu, i.e. also as ingredients in drinks, cakes and dishes -- is Kafehaus Karameel in Neuhausen, opposite the terminal loop near tram stop Neuhausen. Romantically decorated on two storeys connected by a flight of winding stairs it's the perfect place to have a look at their impressive selection of daily newspapers, let time pass by and have a Viennese-style coffee. Crowded on weekends, so book your table in advance. During the warm season a generous number of outdoor tables overlooking the tram tracks and a little park will increase your chances.

Oriental style coffee

The best Turkish coffee in town in arguably made on Orleansplatz in Haidhausen. Iunu is a perfect place to meet a friend for a chat or have a recreational lunch or coffee break (they also serve espresso, cappuccino and latte). The mainly organic meals are vegetarian and ayurvedic, good wholesome food which tastes of its ingredients, however with quite restricted use of herbs. If you rather feel for a chat with the owner have your seat at the coffee bar and enjoy her irresistible cakes. With a small but carefully chosen range of wines, delicatessen and selected household items the place will also save you when in need for an unplanned last minute gift. On Saturdays Iunu is often unexpectedly closed due to arrangements, so check in advance.

If you happen to come in vain, take the short walk along Breisacher Straße where another hidden gem, Saladins Souk will quench your thirst for an oriental style coffee.

Italian style bars

Pop in, have a coffee, a chat, a sweet, and pop out again -- the Italian bar is the hotspot of a neighbourhood. And so is the Emilo coffee bar in the self-proclaimed Northern-most city of Italy, run by a small scale local coffee roaster of the same name. Though it is situated only a little walk from Isartor or party hotspot Gärtnerplatz in the hip Glockenbach neighbourhood it's mainly frequented by regulars whom the barista, Mr. Filser with his rustic Bavarian charme greets personally. Since only a selection of their coffees is organic you may wish to order organic coffees explicitely. They use organic milk throughout the menu, and the eggs and spelt flour used in their rustic but yummy Bavarian home-made cakes are all organic, too (the only exception are the croissants made by a French bakery). Apart from Italian style coffee drinks you can also order cold brews and shop from the roasters coffee specialities. An insider's tip all worth the detour from your usual route through the city..

In the middle of humming Viktualienmarkt market North of the crossing Reichenbachstraße/Frauenstraße there's Kaffeerösterei Viktualienmarkt, a vibrant market booth with bar tables under a roof. So even if the weather is bad and you're outside there's no reason to give up plans for an Italian style coffee drink made with sustainably sourced (though not organically certified), locally roasted coffee. The milk is organic and comes from traditionally working mountain farms in the Berchtesgadener Land district.

Shabby chic and homely places

You might expect this type of recycled art garden house furnished place in the university quarters, but here you are on Rosenheimer Platz, opposite the Vollcorner supermarket, to find Die Kaffee-Küche. A pleasantly mixed audience populates the chairs, tables and shelves partially made of wooden wine cases, and you may find that the place is popular among young mothers with prams. They use organic milk and partially organic coffee by a local coffee roaster, and before ordering a coffee drink to take away in a disposable beaker consider buying a bio-degradable dishwasher-prove multitrip cup right away. If you come with your own cup to take away your coffee or tea you will receive a discount of 0.50 EUR. On the menu are home-made cakes, sandwiches, salads and a soup dish, most of them suffering from the absence of organic ingredients. A generally nice retreat, especially recommended during the advent season while the Christmas market on Weißenburger Platz keeps open. (Their mulled wine and other warm alcoholic drinks are of superior quality when compared to the market booth fare.) Occasionally there are small concerts. Another nice service: The ladies' restroom will help you out with (conventional) hairspray, handcream, tampons and other toiletries if needed.

A much smaller, and (apart from the softdrinks) seriously organic cafe with do-it-yourself charm is just a five minutes walk away (although you have to cross busy Rosenheimer Straße): I'm covering the Cafe Plaisir social enterprise in my ice-cream post.

On your way from "Kaffee-Küche" to "Cafe Plaisir" directly located on Rosenheimer Straße is Emmi's kitchen, a small, decidedly vegetarian place offering smoothies, salads, stews and soups, coffee drinks and cake with a focus on locally sourced, predominantly vegan food. They use organic milk and brown sugar. More organic ingredients may be hidden (the apple used to decorate the yummy still warm vegan cinnamon roll I had was organic), but they won't promise anything. The place opened in summer 2016 and still is a hidden gem where you will easily find a place to sit down, read or work -- more demanding customers may encourage a stricter organic focus. Since the cafe is directly facing the noisy and highly polluted street you may prefer a visit on cold days when the door usually is closed. The owners are still experimenting with their opening hours, so even though they advertise evening opening hours until 20 pm you might find the place closed earlier, especially on Saturdays. If you order by Deliveroo or come to take away without your own food container they fill your meal into disposable containers made from sustainable or recycled resources.

Not far from Ostbahnhof station Kosy*s cafe promises to be "your second living room". As long as you have some tolerance towards cake stands filled with kitschy sweets guaranteed free from natural colourings and a decidedly vintage feel you can have an organic tea or soft drink, a coffee drink made with organic milk, organic eggs and cereals for breakfast or a hearty lunch often entirely made from organic ingredients in a leisurely atmosphere. The good thing is that organic ingredients aren't shamefully hidden -- when it's organic they'll make it transparent on the menu. The bad news: their homemade cakes unfortunately are not organic, not even the eggs.

Another cosy living room dubbed Zimtzicke is tucked away in comparatively quiet Elsässer Straße, this also just a five minutes walk from Ostbahnhof. All their teas, coffees, the milk and eggs are organic. Their lunch dishes, although mainly not organic, are tasty. However, when I enquired about the ingredients of the individual dishes on the menu, the staff wasn't able to tell whether they contained organic ingredients. The tiny place smells lovely of home-make cakes, some of them vegan. A perfect location to warm up after a winter walk in the city, and a pleasant retreat to welcome spring or to enjoy a summer day in the city on a table in front of it.

Another option to mingle with natives is a homely shabby chic neighbourhood cafe cum gallery in the neighbourhood of Au, on the Eastern shore of river Isar near Deutsches Theater. The audience of Café Käthe is mixed, coffee, milk, tea, rolls and cakes as well as most of the softdrinks are organic. They don't serve hot food, but you can have breakfast, sandwiches, cereals, and salads all day. Many but not all ingredients are organic, so ask if you care but be prepared that the service personnel isn't prepared to answer on the spot.

Big enough to almost guarantee a free seat for the visitor-by-chance is Cafe Katzentempel in the Maxvorstadt university quarter. You must however not suffer from a cat allergy as this rather special vegan place is inhabitated by six cats, and the once nice wallpaper on the wall with the scratch pole facing the entrance has already become rather shabby. Most of the softdrinks are organic as are all soy products and the cow milk (on request used for non-vegan coffee and tea-based drinks). The place offers an impressive range of organic nuts and grain milks to be ordered for your latte. The food and home-made cakes may include additional organic ingredients, although they aren't generally organic, just of local origin if possible. Students and apprentices are entitled special prices Tuesday through Friday, and free wifi is available. Depending on your table you may find the slightly aggressive sales presentation of the Katzentempel brand t-shirts disturbing -- overall a place to either love or detest.

Muesli and more

On the Eastern edge of Viktualienmarkt, a few steps from Marienplatz you'll find the Munich branch of a very special chain -- MyMuesli, a web order shop for organic cereals and porridges which keeps opening offline branches throughout the German-speaking countries. No cakes to be had here but Italian style coffee drinks, juices, and of course mueslis, porridges and cereals in case you are a little hungry or in need for an organic breakfast. The major aim of the shop is of course to sell their products but for a quick WLAN or coffee break in the busy heart of the city the functionally styled place isn't a bad option. They also have a second shop (offering free WLAN though without cafe) on ground floor of the Pasing-Arcaden mall in case you are stranded on München-Pasing train station.

Campus canteens

If you happen to strand in the urban desert of office blocks between the tube stops of Karl-Preis-Platz and Sankt-Martin-Straße head for the Neue Balan campus, a former industrial area where in the past Siemens produced semiconductors. Quite centrally you'll find Balan Deli, a modern yet comfortably furnished day cafe run as a not-for-profit company providing fair employment for an inclusive team of people with and without handicaps. The cafe was founded by the nearby inclusive Montessori school and designed by a Hamburg based artist. You can have a healthy lunch, partially based on organic ingredients, or simply an organic coffee, tea, wine or soft drink, often sourced from local producers, in a pleasant environment. Unfortunately the service staff is not very knowledgeable (yet) about organic and sustainably produced food (when I enquired about the milk they told me it was organic although they actually use the cheaper conventional product of the Berchtesgadener Land dairy which also offers an extended range of organic dairy products), but was happy to ask the kitchen staff about the origin of the chicken in the Thai curry (which was not organic).

Self-service coffee house chains

See here.

Tea houses

For those seriously into tea the ultimate target in town is Tushita Teehaus in the Glockenbach neighbourhood, near the Western exit of tube station Fraunhofer Straße (and a five minutes walk South of Gärtnerplatz). To taste their around 150 organic and often fairly traded tea and tisane varieties (which aren't exhaustively listed on the menu) can take some time, but you can buy them to take with you. With every order the staff will hold a microscopic tea ceremony for you, and hot water for a second extraction is served in a small thermos aside. In the past they often used too hot water for some of their delicate green teas resulting in a bitter beverage, but this fortunately had changed to the better at my last visit. In addition they serve small vegan dishes as well as yummy home-made cakes, all organic, and there's a Japanese touch to both, the decoration, the food and the subtle focus on Japanese tea and matcha. Consequently the place is frequented by visitors of Japanese origin as well as the occasional Indian gentleman or the German hippie or university professor reading their daily. Given how frequented the place often is there's a quiet, pleasantly concentrated atmosphere to it.

Closed

The following places ceased to exist, although you still may find references to them on the web:

2017-11-17 10:00:00 [Munich, Haidhausen, Maxvorstadt, organic, coffee, tea, breakfast, lunch, snacks, fair, cafe, ice-cream, restaurant, Italian, Japanese] 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, 14 October 2017

Munich: Organic Ice-cream

Every organic supermarket big enough to be equipped with a freezer will sell you iced-lollies or pre-packaged cups of ice-cream, at least during the warm season. But for the real thing you need to know where to find your small scale artisanal organic ice-cream parlour. Fortunately there are sufficient options to check out for your favourite, unfortunately only a few of them sell their fare in organic cones.

Arguably the best ice-cream in town is made by former shoe-pusher Thomas Bartu and his crew in Schwabing. Just like the best ice-cream parlours in Italy they cover their 24 types of ice-cream hygienically instead of displaying them for show-off. All ingredients are listed on big and nicely layouted wallpapers, leaving no questions open for vegans or people with allergies. Children under 13 years pay less (1.30 €) for the scoop than adults (1.80 €). You can also have a good (though not organic) cup of Italian-style coffee or an organic soft-drink, and a yummy organic pizza. If you haven't had enough you can choose from an ever changing selection of Bartu ice-creams to take away in reusable containers. And the best: They don't close their shop during the cold season. On the other hand don't count on opening hours longer than the regular 10 pm.

While Thomas Bartu has been extending his sales with various pop-up stores he doesn't seem inclined to expand his business into a chain. So here was a niche which Stefano di Giglio of Del Fiore is trying to fill: He and his team started up in 2017 with three gelaterie at once, and sale of ice-cream boxes in several local organic supermarkets. While most of the ingredients were confirmed to me to be organic Del Fiore tries to hide this. Their icecream is neither certified nor do they announce its organic content. While both, the milk-based flavours and the sorbets, are extremely palatable the emphasis is on lifestyle, not on sustainability -- the Del Fiore ice-cream parlours are the only ones covered by this post where you are forced to enjoy your ice-cream in a cardboard cup with a plastic spoon as they simply do not offer eatable wafer cones. The scoop goes for 1.50 or 2 € depending on the flavour, and with one of the branches on the Gärtnerplatz party spot you have another option for a summer night organic ice-cream. The other two branches, located at the university quarter's entrance to Englischer Garten, and on Roecklplatz have more restricted opening hours.

Where would you expect organic and vegan ice-cream to go if not in the university quarter? A two-minutes walk from the Northern exit of the tube station "Universität" in the Maxvorstand neighbourhood you'll find IceDate serving date and cashew-based ice-cream varieties. I prefer their strong flavours like the chocolate varieties or wild berries; the more subtle ones like hemp or green tea still need polishing. During their winter break (November through April) their ice-cream can be had in in small cardboxes from Cafe Katzentempel. A scoop goes for 2.20 EUR, and every serving is topped with a small quantity of an additional flavour. Bad weather is no issue since they have a pleasant indoors sitting area. A mobile IceDate booth can also be found on many street festivals in the city.

A little further north there's also a traditional Italian ice-cream parlour near Elisabethplatz square: Trampolin.All of their dairy ice-creams are made with organic milk. Apart from standard varieties like vanilla or chocolate they also offer less common flavours like guava or dried prunes and lavender, the scoop for 1.50 EUR. Unfortunately the place is closed from late autumn through spring, but on warm crowded summer evenings they often keep open significantly longer than the announced 10 pm. In addition to ice-cream they also sell Italian-style coffee.

In the neighbourhood of Haidhausen you have the choice of three possible targets: Cosy though buzzing Cafe Reichshof a five minutes brisk walk from Ostbahnhof station offers home-made ice-cream spring through early autumn, though you may be tempted to indulge yourself in one of their gorgeous cakes instead (or have both?) The stuccoed ceiling with a candelabra play well together with the wooden shelves of the bakery display, making for an inviting yet not overwhelming interior. During the warm season you may prefer to sit outside facing relaxing Bordeauxplatz. The cafe is the only sunday-open branch of Bäckerei Neulinger, an organic bakery with two older shops in the neighbourhood of Neuhausen and a new cafe cum bakery located in the former meat-packing district, the Schlachthofviertel. Be prepared to queue on nice-weather days, but since the service is swift, efficient and friendly waiting will usually take shorter time than expected. The Neulinger's ice-cream season also ends in autumn. A scoop goes for 1.30 EUR, and since the shop participates in the Brot am Haken ("bread on the hook") campaign you may buy a coffee, ice-cream, bread or cake voucher for someone in need as you go. During the high season ice-cream to take away is occasionally sold in nice returnable preserving glasses, with a deposit of 2 EUR.

Less frequented and just around the corner of Rosenheimer Platz you will find tiny Cafe Plaisir serving organic crepes, cakes, cookies, tin soups and coffee drinks apart from usually eight types of ice-cream (1.20 EUR the scoop). During the cold season they have home-made chocolates, and you might ask for the one type of ice-cream still hidden away in the freezer. Be patient and kind if the serving personnel does not respond immediately -- the shop is a social enterprise run by longterm-unemployed persons.

If you fancy an ice-cream during your evening stroll head for fancy True & 12 opposite the Gasteig cultural center. Their milk comes from a family-run organic farm half an hour away by urban train (plus five minutes by bus plus half an hours walk), and other ingredients like hazelnuts and eggs are organic, too. All non-organic ingredients are of course all natural, and the result is lip-smacking delicious. They come up with interesting flavour combinations like lavender and cassis (dubbed "Haidhausen"), the scoop for 1.60 EUR, and for an additional euro it will occasionally be served in a hand-rolled cinnamon-flavoured cone, so ask for availability! To much regret also this place is closed from end of October to mid of March; in 2017 Oct 22 is their last day.

In Neuhausen organic ice-cream to go can also be had from Cafe Ruffini, described in my restaurant post.

The classical Italian ice-cream parlour -- ice-cream to go, and not much ado -- you'll find with Gelateria Artefredda in Giesing near Ostfriedhof on busy Tegernseer Landstraße. On the right-hand side of their display you have their organic varieties for 1.50 EUR the scoop -- about eight ones to choose from. The unpretentious eco-styled walls make it a light and pleasant place to have a short coffee break. Closed during the cold season, usually during November through March. On bad weather days they often open up to a quarter of an hour past their announced opening time, nice weather provided they will often keep open longer than announced.

If you happen to be on Viktualienmarkt during the warm season step by Beim Trübenecker, the organic grocery booth offering the best selection of organic fruit and greens on the market. On the Southern side of their booth you can choose from six to eight fully organic, innovative and extremely palatable diary as well as vegan ice-cream varieties to go, made by an artesanal ice-cream maker in the vicinity of Munich. The scoop goes for 1.70 EUR.

In addition Munich hosts a franchise of the French-Italian ice-cream chain Amorino in the Karstadt department store's window front a few steps outside Hauptbahnhof. They claim to use organic eggs and otherwise only natural ingredients, and the ice-cream, though rather expensive, is indeed delicious and lovingly made into flower-shapes. The menu promises two certified organic sorbets (chocolate and a mixed citrus fruit variety).

If you happen to attend a street festival in Munich like the biannual Streetlife on Leopoldstraße or the annual Munich Sports Festival on Königsplatz watch out for a pink-blue food truck selling Cramer's Speiseeis in cones. The Cramers run a family-driven organic bakery cum pastry shop in Gauting near Munich, where they also make their ice-cream, so be brave when you're in the vicinity and give their spicy ginger or chocolate-chili varieties a try.

Ceased to exist

The following places do no longer exist, even though you still might find references to them on the web:

2017-10-14 20:00:00 [Munich, Haidhausen, Schwabing, organic, ice-cream, coffee, cafe, Italian] 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, 12 October 2017

Munich: Organic supermarkets

Organic supermarkets can be found on almost every second corner in Munich as long as you happen to be in the "right" neighbourhood.

Apart from a local organic supermarket chain, Vollcorner (consisting of 17 markets in Munich and around), Munich hosts several branches of Germany's biggest organic chains, Basic (8 markets), Alnatura (14 markets in Munich and surroundings) and Denn's (10 markets in the greater Munich area, 7 within the city boundaries). In addition you will find a branch of a small regional chain, Landmann's, many small independent supermarkets, often equipped with a Biomarkt sign, and even some homely, surviving corner shops.

Recently, both, Basic and Vollcorner, have made efforts to support zero-waste shopping.

On weekdays all chains and most other supermarkets keep open between 9 am and 8 pm, Vollcorner and Basic markets open at 8 am. Saturday opening hours vary, the big retailers and Vollcorner close 8 pm. All groceries except the Biokultur supermarket in the basement of the central train station are closed on Sundays.

Apart from these full range retailers there is a local food only chain, Herrmannsdorfer, specialising in meat products and bakery items produced in the Herrmannsdorfer Landwerkstätten in Glonn, somewhat outside Munich.

Very few of the full retail outlets mentioned above offer food only; usually you will be able to buy toiletries and detergents, too -- some smaller independent markets making an exception.

In 2015 a branch of the hyped Italian Eataly delicatessen chain opened within the architectonically interesting glass and iron construction of Schrannenhalle near Viktualienmarkt. It's true, they offer a good range of organic products, and organic food items are labelled as such on the shelves, but it's nevertheless a disappointing experience: Almost no fresh organic fruit and veges (not even the fresh herbs are organic), only pre-packaged organic meat (forget about the well-assorted meat counter), and the organic wines and spirits in the basement are not marked "bio" on the shelves, so it's very hard to find them.

Independent full-retailers

If you want to support the local economy, both Vollcorner, Munich-based Basic and Herrmannsdorfer shops are all fine, but you may prefer to support independent markets where the owners are actually running the stores and create a homely and personal atmosphere. Often you will find products not on sale by the big chains.

When traditional Grüner Markt chain closed down end of September 2014, their main house in the Altperlach neighbourhood made an exception. Housed in a vault it has a pleasant italophilic, somewhat venerable atmosphere, definitely worth a visit. The perfect surroundings when shopping for delicatessen, and a must-go during the Christmas season. It's now dubbed Mohrhof Perlach.

The other big independent is Schmatz ("smack") in the Glockenbach neighbourhood, step by if only for the lovely decoration of their bodycare section. Kids are invited to play in an old-fashioned corner shop, and selected items are lovingly set on display.

For the pittoresque yet upmarket farmshop feeling in the city aim for Stemmerhof on top of the Sendlinger Berg. Once upon a time a wealthy village farm opposite the village church the nicely restored houses are now the home of an organic supermarket (as well as an organic fashion and toy store for smaller children dubbed Natur und Kind). Their butcher's cum delicatessen disk will happily sell lunch snacks to eat on the spot or to take-away. The same enterprise also runs a second branch in the suburb of Grünwald, just a street crossing opposite of Alter Wirt hotel and restaurant.

Clean, but not as hip and cosily-polished -- the shop was opened in 2000 -- is the Erdgarten supermarket a ten-minutes walk away from Pasing trainstation (or two minutes from Pasing Marienplatz square). Monday through Thursday from 12 am you can step by for an organic and vegetarian wholefood self-service lunch prepared by the Grüner Markt catering kitchen or a coffee break. They also have a nicely decorated bodycare section and -- to my knowledge -- are the only organic supermarket in Munich catering for knitters: They offer a nice selection of organic wool.

If you by chance happen to strand near the Klinikum Harlaching hospital, don't dispair: two tramstops in North-Eastern direction on the left side (just follow the tram line along Grünwalder Str.) you'll find Biowelt, a crammed independent organic supermarket with a suberb selection of frozen convenience products: All you need if visiting a friend or relative in the hospital in urgent need of a proper meal. Starting with lunch time they offer a helping of organic soup and a small selection of snacks. You may ask for a sandwich made on the spot.

Attending a conference at one of the huge Bogenhausen hotels near Effnerplatz? Your lunch break should be sufficient to follow Bülowstraße in Western direction to Herkomerplatz. Here you'll find not only a Herrmannsdorfer butcher's shop cum grocery cum eatery and the Hofpfisterei bakery branch next to it, but also a pleasant family-owned organic supermarket dubbed Biovolet. The Riemensberger family placed some bar tables in the entrance area to have a snack, and there is a second branch in Eching (formerly a Grüner Markt branch). Pay with your EC (VPay) debit card, and they donate a few cent to the BioBoden co-operative which buys farm land in order to lease it to organic farmers. On Thursdays you will receive a 10 percent discount if your shopping cart is worth more than 50 euros.

A short walk from the shores of the river Isar near the Southern end of the island housing the Deutsches Museum into the neighbourhood of Au you will find Biochicco cafe and convenience store. Formerly dubbed Auryn it was one of the first organic supermarkets in town which took over the premises of a conventional one. The shopping area has diminished since, and so has the superstore feeling in favour of a personal, homely atmosphere. In 2016 a young team took over from the previous shopkeeper and has put a lot of effort into refurbishing the then somewhat worn location. They opened a vegan snack bar cum cafe facing Ohlmüllerstraße where you can sit down in cinema chairs for an organic lunch or coffee and home-made cake. The shop is the only supermarket I've seen so far printing its receipts on paper not containing bisphenol A plasticiser.

Crossing Ohlmüllerstraße and continuing south along Entenbachstraße you will bump into Entenbach Naturkost, an organic convenience store of old which is now driven by a young family. The location is clean and spacious, and at the same time preserves the homely atmosphere of small owner-run organic corner stores.

Waste-free supermarkets

By 2016 the first wrapping free supermarket made it into town: Check the zero-waste post for a review of the Ohne shop in Maxvorstadt.

Closed down

The following organic supermarkets do no longer exist although you will still find references to them on the web:

2017-10-12 17:00:00 [Munich, Bogenhausen, Haidhausen, Maxvorstadt, organic, supermarkets, lunch, snacks, deli, Italian] 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.