The Organic Traveller
Friday, 26 October 2018

Munich: Organic delicatessen, groceries and corner stores

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

Groceries

Munich's oldest existing organic supermarket is the Kornkammer in Schwabing, just a minute away from Münchner Freiheit. It's located on two storeys, and you can comfortably sit upstairs with your coffee or smoothie, browsing your smartphone or reading a book. Unfortunately they stopped to serve lunch, but you can still have a piece of cake or a prefab organic spring roll. The range of goods available from the shop is a wild mixture of groceries, body care, bare foot shoes, esoteric articles and more. Mind you: If you happen to take the wrong street you might end up in front of the Denn's supermarket branch in Feilitzschstraße 7-9 -- Kornkammer is located on the next parallel street further north.

Mutter Erde

In Maxvorstadt, the vibrant university neighbourhood, you'll find Mutter Erde ("Mother Earth"), a crowded place during lunch time when you can have a simple vegan home-cooked meal, tea and coffee. On working days they serve lunch from 12 o'clock (as long as available), on Saturdays between 11 am and 1 pm. This week the place is closed due to renovation work, and will re-open September, 10th. In the meantime step by zero-waste grocery Ohne where fully organic lunch is being served from 12 o'clock. Note that Mother Earth no longer is a full retailer: Some time ago they exchanged their body care and cosmetics shelves with a table and bench to sit down with your meal.

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

A few corners away from tube stop Implerstraße in Sendling the neighbourhood grocery Hollerbusch ("elderbush") offers vegan and vegetarian lunch as well as yoga, pilates or singing lessons in a backroom. The shop is also a delivery hub for the Munich based community supported agriculture project Kartoffelkombinat.

Immigrant shops

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

Delicatessen

Specializing in cheese and supplements -- wine, olives, oil, herbs, condiments, to name a few -- the Luigino's booth in the Southern part of Viktualienmarkt, opposite the crossing of Reichenbachstraße and Blumenstraße is the perfect place to shop for a picknick or the no-frills romantic candle light dinner. Once an almost entirely organic cheese booth the percentage of organic products on sale has diminished during the past years: mainly due to the advent of artisanal, yet conventional Italian cured meats, partially due to a lesser focus on organic labels on the selection of cheeses. When ordering an Italian-style sandwich to take away you may wish to enquire about the ingredients and probably stick to the vegetarian ones since the Italian cured meat products usually are not organic. The owner once run a delicatessen in Maxvorstand which was replaced by an organic ice-cream parlour in 2018.

Hanf

Special shops

A very special mono-themed convenience store, Hanf -- der etwas andere Bioladen, sells everything containing THC-free hemp: beer, lemonades, cookies, bars, tea, ice-cream, chocolates, body care, clothes, liquids, pet food and more. Although the name suggests it not all products are certified organic, especially not in the non-food range, but the sheer number of goods based on this versatile plant is quite impressive. The shop isn't located in the most inviting part of town but can easily be reached, among others, from Leuchtenbergring urban train stop. Note that it is closed on Mondays.

Ceased to exist

The following places shut down and were replaced by other, not organic ones. So don't be confused when you find references to them on the web:

2018-10-26 06:00:00 [Munich, Haidhausen, Schwabing, Maxvorstadt, organic, lunch, snacks, coffee, supermarkets, deli, grocery, Italian, vegan, hemp, fashion, bodycare, eatery] 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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Saturday, 13 October 2018

Budapest: Sustainable shopping

At the first glance Budapest is full of organic health (food) shops, Bio Bolt in Hungarian, however, most of them predominantly deal in pills and powders. So unless dietary supplements (including super foods, plant-based milk alternatives, flours, nuts and other ingredients to prep up your cereals) are what you're looking for or the shop (like the recently opened Bio Egészség Biobolt behind the Synagogue) is on your track anyway, it's much easier to stick to one of the many branches of the German DM chemist's chain for travel supplies like organic dry goods, fruit juices, vegan alternatives, eco detergents and natural bodycare. Check for organic labels as (especially for cosmetics and toiletry products) there's increased green-washing in conventional product lines which also are available here. The DM own brands "DM Bio" (food) and "Alverde" (body care) are both good value and safe if your budget is tight or you're in a hurry.

BioABC

Food souvenirs

What you won't find there are typical food souvenirs from Hungary: paprika, salami and wine. To buy these you need to find a proper biobolt or farmers' market, and these aren't as easy to find as one might expect. A reliable source is BioABC, a small, yet well assorted organic supermarket in Belváros, located between Astoria and Kálvin tér. They have only a small selection of wines (above the fridges), the salami is tucked away in a separate fridge in the right-most corner next to the shop's window front, and you can choose from several types of Hungarian paprika powder. Apart from this they stock local fresh produce, dairy products, sweets and cookies, preserves as well as natural body care, both of local origin as well as imported goods, in short all daily necessities. Bring your own containers for buying loose-weight dry goods.

A second option is the Mennyország Szíve Bio Bolt a few steps from the Keleti Palyaudvar train station. Here you can also have a coffee, breakfast or vegan lunch just after arrival or before departing. However, the place is closed on weekends as well as public holidays which is why I cannot give an account of the quality of neither the food nor the range of goods sold here.

Cultivini For high-end Hungarian wines pay a visit to Cultivini Wine Cellars and Tasting in Belváros (5th district). The place is very upmarket, with the opportunity for wine tasting, and specializes in Hungarian wines. If you ask for organic and natural wines the sommeliers will competently advise and answer questions, but you have to be bold on your interest in organic wines as they will point you to conventionally produced wines in the course of the discussion if you aren't firm.

Massolit (the backyard)

Books, coffee and tea

The classical bookstore you know from French movies does still exist -- and has adapted to modern times by becoming a cafe and co-working space in Erzsébetváros: The English language bookstore cum cafe Massolit does not only sell hand-picked English literature, a few tourist books, a small selection of stationary and fairly-traded coffee drinks or organic tea, but also offers quiches and cakes for both, a breakfast or the casual snack in between. While the milk for the coffee is organic (though not certified), the origin of the ingredients of the bakery items isn't easy to tell, for a good reason: Both, the bagels, cakes and quiches are hand-made by friends of the shop owner from the neighbourhood who earn an additional income this way. While some of them will certainly use eggs or milk from a properly working local farmer, conventional supermarket supply is also part of the game. If you want to stay here for work buy a co-working card, take a seat in the pleasant backyard or at some of the wooden tables inside. Water and wifi is for free but note that the place is closed on Mondays.

More to try

When I asked locals about where to buy organic fruit I was directed to the Fény utcai piac marketplace near Széll Kálmán tér. Unfortunately, none of the market stalls showed signs of the key words "bio" or "öko", or of any organic labels or certificates. Since I don't speak Hungarian (and the command of foreign languages among the farmers was limited, too), the topic was too difficult to handle -- let me know if you're able to find out more. On weekends there are two dedicated organic or at least partially organic farmers' markets, pay a visit -- I'm glad if you'd share your experience with me.

Closed

References on the web do often exist longer than shops and venues themselves. The following places I found abandoned when I stepped by.

2018-10-13 15:00:00 [Budapest, organic, wine, grocery, market, supermarkets, vegetarian, vegan, zero_waste, lunch, breakfast, coffee, tea, books] Link

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Friday, 21 September 2018

Budapest: (Partially) organic ice-cream

Astonishingly many of the artisanal ice-cream parlours in town present their products in the hygienically correct way for the storage of unadultered natural ice-cream, and the city seems to be a heaven for vegan ice-cream lovers. However, and this is the bad news, there seems to be no such thing as fully (bio-)organic ice-cream. But there are places using organic milk.

Gelarto Rosa One of them is a major tourist spot next to Szent István (St. Stephen's) cathedral. With the impressive queue in front of Gelarto Rosa on hot summer days there's often no need to watch out for the art nouveau-styled rose sign priding the entrance (see image) -- you simply can't miss the place. All dairy flavours here are made from organic milk, and there are fruity, vegan flavours, too, though without the promise on the use of organic fruit. Your dish of ice-cream is skillfully made into a rose which helps justifying the hefty price: A small rose made of two flavours comes at 700 Ft., the medium one with three flavours at 800 Ft., and a large rose with four flavours and three rows of petals at 900 Ft.

If you don't insist on dairy ice-cream you may skip the queue and walk around the corner along Szent István tér. Only a fews steps away you'll find a second branch dubbed Gelarto Rosa Bistro -- vegan hedonism. It is in fact a small bistro with outdoor seating serving vegan bowls, sandwiches and desserts predominantly made from organically produced (though not necessarily certified) ingredients from local farmers as well as Italian-style coffee. On summer days however you will rarely notice the food since the focus is on ice-cream roses. As in the older shop around the corner, first queue at the cash counter, specify the size of your ice-cream and pay upfront, then move on to the ice-cream desk and order the flavours. Here you'll find predominantly vegan sorbets, although you might spot one, at maximum two dairy flavours, too, and the queue is significantly shorter than the one around the corner. With food and coffee orders you will be served (after having paid at the cash desk) at your table.

Kedves Krem For a much less touristy place head for the Buda side of the Danube river: Kedves Krém ("lovable cream") in Víziváros, a few corners from Széll Kálmán tér is a lovely neighbourhood ice-cream parlour cum cafe most frequented by locals. The creamy, all-natural dairy ice-cream here comes at 270 Ft. the scoop. With clearly accentuated flavours and stored in deep, steel-covered containers used by only the most serious artisanal ice-cream makers this is definitely the best ice-cream I had in Budapest. Unfortunately I couldn't get a confirmation for whether all ingredients were organic, most likely most of them, first of all milk and cream are sourced from local farms working according to organic principles. If you speak Hungarian and are able to inquire in depth, let me know about it.

2018-09-21 20:00:00 [Budapest, organic, vegan, ice-cream, cafe, eatery, coffee, snacks, lunch] Link

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