The Organic Traveller
Monday, 18 June 2018

In and around the Euganean Hills: Organic farmstays

An hours' bicycle ride from Padua or one and a half hours from Vicenza gets you to La Buona Terra near the village of Cervarese Santa Croce, an organic farmstay, popular party location with families, educational farm for kindergardens and farm restaurant. You can stay either in one of the clean, rustic guest rooms and holiday homes located inside various farm buildings (advanced booking required), or on the camping site on the farm. A popular place with children -- there are not only pigs, cows, chickens, horses, donkeys, dogs (not cats), rabbits, goats, and frogs here, but also a spacious swimming pool. (Less popular among the kids: to ask the farmers, Luisa and Domenico, to remove the cleaning robot in the mornings.) If you do not come by bicycle you can lend one to explore the surroundings, or to have an ice-cream or coffee in Selvazzano Dentro.

La Buona Terra

After breakfast (organic with a few exceptions, and usually with freshly home-made crostata cakes) you may pre-order lunch and/or dinner (around 8 pm), except on Mondays. Expect hearty home-made farmer's kitchen, home-made pasta, left-over soups, a grilled chunk of home-made bread topped with olive oil and an equally thick slice of sopressa salami from the farm's own pigs, freshly grilled vegetables, rustic meat courses from the farm (you may even be served a hearty stew of chicken necks) and (often) organic wines from nearby wineries. On weekends the farm restaurant is open to the public, but you are asked to phone in in advance (+39 328 077 0977). Vegans will probably stay away, but vegetarians are gladly catered for: The vegetarian four-courses dinner ("menu verde") comes at 25 €, the omnivore "menu rosso" at 28 € (prices without wine), and children pay 15 €.

There's also a farmshop selling the farm's home-made products: eggs, sopressa, preserves and liquors. Officially it keeps open on weekends between 15:30 and 19:30, but unless there's a bigger party of visitors around take this with a grain of salt and ask Luisa or an employee if you want to buy something.

One of the bicycle tours may lead you to the South-Western slopes of the Euganean Hills, to Ca' Orologio in Baone. Among vineyards and olive groves you will find Maria Gioia Rosellini's dedicated organic winery, producing natural wines of exclusive taste. You may enter the 16th century Venetian villa to taste and buy, or decide to rather stay in these magical surrondings and make use of the bed-and-breakfast offer (better book in advance, though). The breakfast itself is only partially organic, depending on the availability of organic products in the village supermarket (which is rather limited). You have the opportunity to cook lunch and dinner yourself, and serve it with a glass of Ca'Orologio wines.

2018-06-18 07:10:00 [Italy, Veneto, Colli_Euganei, Euganean_Hills, Padova, Padua, Cervarese, Baone, organic, biologico, accommodation, farms, agriturismo, camping, cycling, wine, breakfast, lunch, dinner, restaurant] 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.

Organic Vicenza

Its lively main street, the Corso Palladio dates back to imperial Rome and, still today, is framed by buildings of the arguably most influential medieval architect, Andrea Palladio.

Silene

When feeling hungry while you stroll through the Unesco World Heritage head for spacious, wholesale organic supermarket Silene in a quiet side way a few meters North off Corso Palladio. As you enter you will notice the self-service coffee bar immediately, open for a coffee, healthy drink or snack even before the supermarket opens itself. But there's a real restaurant when you proceed into the building: At the left hand side you'll pass the open kitchen, and arrive at a water tap where you can refill your drinking bottle with both, plain and sparkling water. There you are: more tables to sit down, you will be served.

The small menu offers vegan and vegetarian Italian wholefood, tasty pasta and risotti of course, but also surprising twists as the hearty risotto-style oat porridge with spring vegetables I had, or carrot-based falafel (which I liked less). A refreshing surprise was the alcohol-free "sangria". Unlikely you can have the same, though, as the menu changes according to season and daily availability of fresh ingredients. Needless to say that the coffee was a delight, too, and the staff helpful and friendly. If you're looking for the toilets: They are hidden at the opposite, right wall of the supermarket, and open for guests.

The supermarket itself will provide you with all daily necessities, all types of fresh and dry food as well as organic household chemicals and a superb choice of organic body care. Unlike other groceries it keeps open throughout the day without an afternoon break. There's a second Silene supermarket a little further west, without a day restaurant though.

For a treat of ice-cream follow Corso Andrea Palladio to its Western end and proceed straight ahead, past the Giardini Salvi park to the right. In less shiny neighbourhood San Felice another gem is hidden: Gocce di Bio ("gocce" meaning "drops"), a vegan-friendly fully organic ice-cream parlour. With its modest window front the spot-free place with its fresh-green painted walls is easy to oversee, but unlike other shops it sports a clearly visible organic logo over the entrance. On the premises of a traditional neighbourhood gelateria it's one of the ice-cream and no frills (not even coffee) places you'll rarely find outside Italy serving a mouth-wateringly creamy all-organic delight. Unless you avoid alcohol try the Malaga variety, and you will be cured for all time from that fake yellowy sweet and flavoured stuff with raisins and perhaps low quality alcohol going under this name elsewhere: The Malaga ice-cream here has distinct, melting flavours -- cream, grappa and raisins of highest organic quality, delightfully combined. The smallest serving comes at 2.50 €, with every additional flavour for another 1 EUR.

Ceased to exist

A few years ago the following gelateria served very nice organic ice-cream but unfortunately did not survive:

2018-06-18 03:30:00 [Vicenza, biologico, organic, vegan, ice-cream, coffee, supermarket, grocery, eatery, restaurant, breakfast, lunch] link

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Saturday, 09 June 2018

Padua: Organic restaurants and eateries

Uneasiness with industrial agriculture often starts with the brutal reality of how we treat animals, and consequently eggs and meat often are the first ingredients restaurants use from organic farming. In many cities this means that conscious omnivores have a better chance to find a place to eat than vegetarians or vegans. With Padua this is different: All organic or partially organic restaurants I found within the city boundaries focus on vegetarian courses, and all of them are vegan-friendly.

Biofood For breakfast, coffee, lunch or a small meal until late in the afternoon head for BioFood RistoBar located between Piazza Garibaldi and Piazza dei Frutti. Although the place looks like a self-service eatery it is not. Take a seat, and you will be served salads, pasta, and a few side dishes from the buffet bar inside. Most of it is vegetarian or even vegan, and everything very healthy, though not 100 percent organic. Taste comes from the goodness of the ingredients, there's little seasoning to it. In the morning it is a pleasant place to have breakfast, and later in the afternoon you'll probably want to drop in for an aperitif or an apericena -- a little snack before dinner time. Needless to say that the coffee is good at any time of the day. Organic drinks are clearly marked "bio" on the menu. However, don't be fooled: Although the opening hours at the entrance suggest that the place keeps open on Sundays -- it is most definitely closed this day of the week.

More to try

Unfortunately my time in Padua was very limited, so here's a number of places I'd like to try but haven't had the opportunity yet:

Fully organic and vegetarian (needless to say these days: vegan-friendly) restaurant Vegetariamoci a little North-West and over the bridge from the Giardini dell' Arena park is the brainchild of organic pioneers in the region. Unfortunately closed Mondays through Wednesdays.

Also in the neighbourhood of Arcella, North of the main train station, the Osteria di Fuori Porta offers uncomplicated organic dinner, and, on weekdays, lunch, the latter also at a fixed price for 12 EUR including a beverage and coffee. If you take the tram leave at stop "Borgomagno".

Food, art, and concerts -- that's the concept of the Ca'Sana cultural space offering organic brunch on Sundays, and apart from Mondays, late night food. The place is situated a little out of town, near the airport.

If you fancy a pizza Daltrocanto seems to be the place to go. There's more on the menu, all vegetarian and vegan-friendly.

2018-06-09 05:30:00 [Padova, Padua, biologico, organic, vegetarian, vegan, eatery, restaurant, breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee] 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.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

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 is 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). Some of the coffee, the milk and some staples like agave syrup are organic, but they use fewer organic ingredients now than in the past, especially the veges for vegetarian and ayurvedic lunch dish usually are not organic. What you get is nevertheless good wholesome food, 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 delicatessen 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, packaged by the co-operatively driven Berchtesgadener Land dairy which, in 2017, banned the use of glyphosate for all its farmers, not only the organic ones.

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.

Another, for my likings cosier place to have a vegan latte is Siggis near Isartor which I reviewed here.

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

Balan Deli

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. The bread for the sandwiches comes from a local organic bakery. 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:

2018-03-21 11:00:00 [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.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Salzburg: Hotels serving organic breakfast

When I visited Salzburg ten years ago I was delighted to find romantic boutique hotel Wolf-Dietrich in the Altstadt neighbourhood, then a certified Bio Hotel. Tempi passati -- in 2016 the only reminder of this time was a partially organic breakfast with organic cheese, yoghurt, tea, and fair-trade coffee. Bread, eggs and milk are of local origin, but may or may not be organic.

A disappointing experience, but fortunately I found more promising options during my recent visit to Mozart's place of birth: Hotel & Villa Auersperg is just a few corners away, a Bio Austria certified, family-driven, family-friendly place serving an about 95 percent organic breakfast buffet. When it comes to the contents of the mini-bar and the complimentary selection of tea and herbal tea on the room I was delighted to discover that all sweet and savoury snacks were organic, you only have to check on the teas and refreshments. Other pleasant surprises: the shampoo and liquid soap are organic and produced by a manufactury in town, the towels are washed with ecological detergents, and the complimentary good-night chocolate on the bed are organic and fairly traded.

The hotel also has a gastro bar cum cafe dubbed A* bar where you can have home-made organic soups and cakes, partially organic snacks, sandwiches, sweets, coffee as well as organic wines, teas and juices. Its small, yet carefully selected daily menu caters for vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike, with generous servings. With the relaxed atmosphere of a mundane hotel bar the place is also worth a visit when you're not staying at the hotel. Their assortment of spirits for a relaxed drink at the bar however does not include organic ones as far as I could see. The kitchen closes around 22:30 pm. Due to reconstruction work the A* bar will be closed January, 7 through March, 4 2018. During the first part of this period, i.e. through February, 18, French breakfast will be served on the room as the breakfast room will be closed.

Last but not least the hotel which consists of two spacious adjacent houses (the "hotel" and the "villa") is driven in accordance with the Economy for the Common Good principles. The only disappointment: What could be a pleasant park in the backyard of the villa (and certainly was a garden once upon a time) is an embarassing parking lot for guests. This is also the place to fetch a bicycle for a city ride.

About ten minutes out of the city center, in the neighbourhood of Maxglan, you will find another Bio Austria certified retreat, the Green Hotels member Hotel Zur Post. Here as well you will be served a fully organic breakfast.

In the Eastern neighbourhood of Parsch you may try the Heffterhof, another Salzburg hotel emphasizing on local, predominantly organic supplies in their kitchen. It has a focus as a conference hotel and offers fully organic breakfast. Let me know about your experience when you stay there.

If you read my post on eating out in Salzburg you might be wondering whether the Hotel Stadtkrug in Linzergasse was offering (partially) organic breakfast. Unfortunately this is not so.

2017-11-12 13:45:00 [Salzburg, organic, hotel, accommodation, 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.