The Organic Traveller
Sunday, 18 November 2018

Mannheim: Cafes, gastro pubs and restaurants

Eating out organic in Mannheim is different than in other cities: First it means vegetarian and vegan-friendly (almost) without exceptions. Second there seem to be no places serving national kitchens -- no German Wirtshaus, no French cuisine, no Turkish fastfood and not even a mock Italian place. And finally organic here means organic for everyone, not just for a wealthy, hip and urban clientele. As a result you may miss cleverly designed cool places as much as refined coffeehouses or classy gourmet restaurants. The good news is that Mannheim's organic restaurants and cafes are extremely affordable.

Bio-Bäckerei Bihn

For breakfast (or a snack or coffee during the day) head for Bio-Bäcker Bihn on the ground floor of the Stadthaus housing the city library and other communal facilities and staging the city's part of the Mannheim/Heidelberg International Film Festival. Enter the complex from the north-eastern entry facing Paradeplatz, and you'll find the unpretentious bakery cum self-service cafe at the right hand site. The breakfast options served on work- and Saturdays until noon are sufficient for two not too hungry ones; you can choose from a menu which also boosts three vegan varieties or combine yourself. Coffee or tea on the go is possible, but you should rather bring your own refillable cup (or buy one on the spot) as a one-way paper beaker righteously will be charged with 25 cents. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays freshly prepared sandwiches can be had at 3,90€ each; Tuesdays are (non-veg) hot-dog days where the hot dog goes at 2.50 €. The coffee comes from an automat, and the rather cheap-looking interior design maintains a low threshold. If you come with a family or friends pay together which will give you a small discount (10% above 20 €, 12% above 30 € and 15 percent of a total above 50€).

Hellers Vegetarisches Restaurant & Café<

100 percent organic wholefood is being served at the Hellers self-service restaurant next to the organic Alnatura supermarket on the Kaiserring ringway from the main train station to the Wasserturm landmark. Take a tray and a plate, fill it from the various stations offering salads, mueslis, soups and warm dishes, proceed to the cash counter and find a place in the winter-garden like dining hall. During the busy lunch hours (usually between noon and 2 pm) there's also a separate station offering a pan-fried dish of the day in small or regular size. It's located next to the entrance and you also have to pay there. The food follows the principles of health food, seasonal and low in spices (the "hot" rice dish I had was rather bland). At the entrance to the sitting area there's a coffee and cake bar also serving ice-cream (1.50 € the scoop). The cake at around 3 € the piece and the coffee drinks compensate for the rather low lunch prices: 4.15 € for a large (that is: what elsewhere would be regular sized) latte and 2.50 € for a small espresso from a coffee dispenser is more than you'd pay in much more pricey cities. The audience is quite different than in organic restaurants you may be used to: a lot of elderly people meet here for lunch and coffee. Unfortunately the place doesn't serve breakfast -- the kitchen opens half an hour after the cafe opens and closes one hour (on Sundays and public holidays two hours) before closing time. Also good to know: The soap dispenser in the bathroom contains organic handwash.

Rohkosteria

The hippest and most expensive place I found is the Rohkosteria in Lindenhof south of the railway tracks. This 100 percent organic raw and vegan restaurant opened in lieu of the former "Bio-Stadel" eatery and uses preferably biodynamic ingredients. What you get here: salads, soups, burgers, wraps, falafel, vegetable "pasta", smoothies, shots, cakes and cookies -- no high-end raw gourmet food, rather driven by health ideology than made for connoisseurs: My zucchini spaghetti seemed to come right from the fridge which gave the otherwise tasty mock-bolognese style dish an unpleasant imbalance. Although the place is open in the evenings no alcohol is being served here -- even the beer and wine is non-alcoholic. The pleasantly designed interior and the unexcited atmosphere however make it an ideal place to stay for a while. Note that the restaurant is closed on Tuesdays, a recent change which -- at the time of writing -- hadn't made it to their website yet.

Kombüse

For an organic coffee, spritzer (of fruit juice and sparkling water) or wine head for the north-western neighbourhood of Jungbusch. The vegetarian, vegan-friendly gastro pub Kombüse serves Mexican-style fastfood as well as a daily changing soup and main course, on availability (but not reliably) using organic veges. It keeps open until late and may give you an impression of the city's subculture. The place also offers a take away service, but kindly invites guests to bring their own re-usable cups and jars. You will be charged the extra expense if you insist on one-way packaging.

Bicycle lovers must not miss out the city's first bike cafe in the Neckarstadt north of the river Neckar. The Café Flamme Rouge (dubbed after the red flag displayed one kilometer before the end of a bike race) was established in 2005 and serves organic bread and rolls from the Lummerland organic bakery with biodynamic vegetarian spreads, partially organic coffee, home-made pesto, pancakes and a lunch dish (the menu changes on Mondays and Thursdays).

More to try

I had two more places on my research list but did not have time to make it there. Here they are:

Closed

Of the following places you may find remnants on the web but be assured: They do no longer exist.

2018-11-18 19:30:00 [Mannheim, organic, breakfast, lunch, coffee, cafe, eatery, vegan, vegetarian, restaurant, bakeries, ice-cream] Link

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Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Munich: Shopping organic stuff late and on Sundays

Bavarian opening hour regulations are far from liberal, hence your shopping options on Sundays and after 8 pm are limited to, uhmmm, petrol stations, more or less. Not the kind of place you'll expect to find organic food, toiletries or other necessities in eco-conscious quality.

But the times, they are changing, and for the organic Munich traveller or inhabitant, there's no reason to despair anymore. Your best bet are railway stations, namely Hauptbahnhof (main station) and Ostbahnhof.

Biokultur

On Hauptbahnhof enter the basement from Elisenhof in Western direction, following the S-Bahn signs (if you come from the trains head straight ahead to the Eastern exit to enter the basement). Opposite the entry to S-Bahn (urban trains) you'll find Biokultur, a full-fledged organic supermarket. It's you're only choice for fresh organic fruit and veges on Sundays and offers everything you'll expect from a full retailer (including wine, household cleaning items, toiletries, ...) as well as a pleasant shopping atmosphere. It keeps open daily until 9pm.

Next to it you find a branch of the local organic Hofpfisterei bakery chain. As all of their branches it also stocks a small range of organic drinks, dry and dairy products as well as organic cold cuts.

Unfortunately the Hofpfisterei branch at Ostbahnhof train station does no longer keep open on Sunday mornings, but a five minutes brisk walk from the station you'll find one of those family-owned bakeries that are becoming so rare these days. Leave the station at Orleansplatz exit, cross the square and follow the tram tracks along Wörthstraße. At the end of Bordeauxplatz square, corner Metzstraße, you'll find Cafe Reichshof run by the Neulinger family, a lovely coffeehouse cum pastry shop. Treat yourself with their delicious organic cakes, icecream or a savory organic snack like the traditional Bavarian Weißwurst (sausage) breakfast. If you don't feel intrigued to stay shop from a huge range of organic bread, rolls, and cakes. You can also buy a small selection of prepackaged cheese and meat cuts, butter, milk and jams from the fridge opposite the coffee machine.

Fritz Mühlenbäckerei Haidhausen

Everything you need for a sumptious breakfast or cold snack (except fresh fruit and veges) can be bought from Fritz Mühlenbäckerei near Rosenheimer Platz. Between 1987 and 2010 this cosy artisanal baker's shop was the headquarter of one of Munich's eldest organic bakeries. Now the scent of warm bread fresh from the oven is gone -- all the production takes place in modern facilities in the outskirts of Aying. The shop however is still here and open on Sunday mornings, including a small grocery section equipped with a large fridge.

Back at Ostbahnhof trainstation, directly at the southern exit of the U-Bahn station into the Ostbahnhof building you'll find the place that will save your life after 8pm: This branch of the DM-Drogeriemarkt chain does not only stock the usual excellent range of natural bodycare, organic dry products, vegan alternatives and eco-friendly household helpers, but boosts a capable selection of dairy products, eggs and even a freezer stocked with organic pizza, berries, icecream, ... Unfortunately -- and unlike other DM branches -- organic choices and certified natural cosmetics aren't clearly marked on the shelves, so watch out for organic and natural cosmetics labels, and brands.

If you need a really good bottle of wine or spirit or another gift on a Sunday, treat yourself with a real Italian coffee, snack or sumptuous meal at L'Amar organic restaurant in queer-friendly Glockenbach neighbourhood. The place features a few shelves from which you can shop along. All of their cakes and antipasti are to go, and everything is guaranteed a 100 percent organic and yummy.

2018-10-24 16:00:00 [Munich, organic, wine, coffee, gifts, snacks, lunch, breakfast, bakeries, grocery, supermarkets, trainstation] Link

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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 (1.50 €) 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; in fact they often close about ten minutes before.

Bartu Maxvorstadt Summer 2018 saw the opening of a second Bartu ice-cream parlour in the Maxvorstadt. The nicely styled cafe -- with tables and all -- is located next to the Gratitude restaurant. If you fancy a caffe affogato (Italian espresso with ice-cream) have it the Italian way, with Fior di latte instead of vanilla ice-cream.

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. Most of the ingredients (80 percent or more) are organic, and both, the milk-based flavours and the sorbets, extremely palatable. The emphasis of the founder however, seems to be on lifestyle, not actually 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 1.70 or 2.20 € depending on the flavour (children pay 1.20 or 1.70 resp.), 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 March) 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.

During the cold season vegan food trucks take over the premise, so you still can step by and buy prepackaged IceDate ice-cream.

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.

Cafe Reichshof

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. 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 1.40 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.

Neulinger Gotzinger Str.

The cafe is the only Sunday-open branch of Bäckerei Neulinger, an artisanal 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. The latter is a light and quiet place to have lunch while watching the bakers working the dough. Have an ice-cream on top as you leave. And since the Neulinger family opened its new headquarter in 2018 (also this one includes a cafe) there's an ice-cream and lunch stop in Sendling, too.

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 keeping grass-fed cattle half an hour away by urban train (plus five minutes by bus plus half an hours walk) -- if you want to buy this milk in town, turn to the milk vending machine inside the Vollcorner supermarket on Schwanthalerhöhe. Other ingredients like hazelnuts and eggs are also organic, and the non-organic ingredients of course all natural. The lip-smacking delicious result comes in original flavours like lavender and cassis (dubbed "Haidhausen") as well as standard flavours like chocolate or vanilla, both of unusually high quality. The scoop goes for 1.60 EUR, with one exception in 2018: Due to exorbitant market prices for real vanilla you have to pay 2 € for the vanilla delight. For an additional euro you will 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, but on Sundays in November and December 2018 you may at least come by to buy re-usable family-size containers of ice-cream to take with you, between 15 and 22 euros the liter.

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. The right-hand side of their display features their organic varieties for 1.70 EUR the scoop -- about eight ones to choose from. With its unpretentious eco-styled walls the cafe makes a light and pleasant place to have a short coffee break (prepared with organic milk). Most sundaes can be had with organic ice-cream, but unfortunately neither fully organic nor in re-usable cups. Artefredda keeps closed during the cold season. On bad weather days they often open up a quarter of an hour past their announced opening time, nice weather provided they will often keep open longer than announced.

In the Western neighbourhood of Pasing you may set out for a stroll to Sweet Monkeys, a newly founded artisanal ice-cream parlour. Neither the ice-cream nor the wafers are organic by design, but they use only organic milk from the Berchtesgadener Land dairy. Unfortunately the place is too far from the Pasing train stop to be reached while waiting for a connecting train.

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.

If you happen to attend a street festival in Munich like the semi-annual 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.

Greenwashed or no longer organic

Ceased to exist

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

2018-10-24 11:30:00 [Munich, Haidhausen, Schwabing, Werksviertel, Pasing, organic, ice-cream, coffee, cafe, Italian, bakeries] Link

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Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Schmilka near Dresden: An organic day out in Saxon Switzerland

The rough and pittoresque sandstone hills of Saxon Switzerland did not only inspire painters and componists of romanticism, but have been valued for centuries by both, alpinists as well as walkers and ramblers. Located at the border to the Czech republic it takes an urban train ride from Dresden (or a bicycle tour along the Elberadweg cycle route) to get here, either for a wee day out in the countryside or for a vacation inside the National park. If you get off the S1 urban train in direction Schöna at the stop Hirschmühle Schmilka, and take the ferry to the Northern shore of the Elbe river you'll reach the village of Schmilka which, to a large degree, has been developed into an organic resort during the past years. The ferry is operated on demand, so simply go down to the landing stage and wait until the coxswain will see and fetch you.

Villa Thusnelda

The nucleus of the organic village is Hotel Helvetia which you will find, turning West (i.e. to the left), after a five minutes walk along the river shore. Its organic cafe and restaurant dubbed Strandgut ("stranded goods") serves fine seasonal food drawing from the kitchen traditions of the region. If you stay overnight the hotel bar will be able to provide you with an organic nightcap. The hotel reception serves as check-in for all eco-friendly overnight options in the village, among others Villa Thusnelda next to the ferry stop with its luxury rooms. The latter houses a certified all organic, vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurant and cafe, historical Café Richter with its air of a classical spa coffeehouse. Here they serve organic pasta, crepes and light lunches as well as tarts, cakes and (vegan) ice-cream made by the confectionery in house.

Schmilk'sche Mühle

Off-season (and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays) when the cafe is closed a sign will guide you to the village's operating water mill, the Schmilk'sche Mühle further up the road in the direction of the forest, with its rustic mill restaurant, the Mühlenstube of Gasthof zur Mühle at the right hand side. Hearty local stews and soups (one vegetarian, one omnivore), pizza, bread and cake from the artisanal organic bakery opposite and tasty, heavy beer from the Braumanufaktur brewery which you cross on the way from the river are served here, either inside or in the beer garden. Order at the bar inside where you also can buy beer as well as bread and cakes to take home.

Mühlenstube

The bakery itself is open to the public, opening at dusk, and what hasn't been sold on closing time will be sold by the Mühlenstube. Opening hours of the brewery however are restricted to the guided tours on Wednesdays and Sundays. If you stay overnight at the mill (or another place within the resort) a small tour inside the mill and the brewery is included in the package.

2018-08-15 09:16:00 [Dresden, Bad_Schandau, Schmilka, Saechsische_Schweiz, Saxon_Switzerland, organic, vegan, coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, restaurant, pub, cafe, bakeries, breweries, hotel, accommodation, ice-cream] Link

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Saturday, 30 June 2018

Göttingen: Zero Waste

Wunderbar unverpackt

Arriving in a university city you will no longer be surprised to learn there's a crowdfounded organic zero-waste shop in town. And what's even better -- the Wunderbar unverpackt ("Wonderfully devoid of packaging") grocery that opened May 2018 is (to my knowledge) the next organic supermarket when coming from the train station. Directly opposite St. Marien church you'll find all kinds of organic dry food, sweets, dairy products and beverages in retour glass bottles, organic body care and household detergents in this beautifully furnished corner shop. They even have a cheese counter, but no fresh fruits and veges. Weigh your empty jars on the scales by the window, put down the weight, and fill them on the self-service dispensers. Re-usable jars can also be bought on the spot, and the friendly owner will help you promptly when approached.

The tip for "Wunderbar unverpackt" came from the Naturalia grocery at Wöhlerplatz which itself offers a small assortment of dry food (pasta, cereals, nuts, rice and the like) in self-service dispensers, and apart from this is a friendly traditional crammed organic wholesale shop where eggs, bakery items, fruits, veges and cheese can be taken home in your own jars and bags. In addition it is also a tea shop -- so bring your tea boxes for refill.

Naturalia

Loose-weight fruits and veges can of course be bought in all organic groceries, so support the small local dealers who will happily support you when you ask them to put bread, eggs, cheese and more into the bags and boxes you present. One of them is Das Backhaus, an organic bakery turned neighbourhood grocery next to Cafe Inti. This organic "baking house" in fact is a branch of a bakery based in Klein Lengden with shops both there and in Göttingen, delivering to many organic markets in the greater region.

Another one is the Gemüseladen in the Western suburb of Geismar, near the church of St. Martin, an organic greengrocery offering lots of regional produce. Of course, there are many more, but these were all I managed to visit on my one-day stay.

Household items supporting a package-free lifestyle can also be found at the factory outlet of the eco postal order shop Waschbär near Geismartor.

2018-06-30 09:10:01 [Goettingen, Geismar, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, grocery, supermarkets, bodycare, household, tea, bakeries] Link

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