The Organic Traveller
Monday, 26 December 2016

Nuremberg: Self-service cafes and eateries

As in most German cities addresses of organic groceries are an easy bet if you're on the lookout for an organic sandwich or coffee on the go during the day. But Nuremberg has more to offer: A good selection of casual organic restaurants and burger grills as well as some nice day cafes, all within walking distance from inside the walled city centre.

Gostenhof

The newest of them is The Green in the neighbourhood of Rosenau, a few steps west off the traffic machinery of Plärrer. You'll enter a cleanly designed vegetarian, predominantly vegan cafe cum eatery in black-brown-white optics perfectly suited both, to sit down and work or to meet friends. Their speciality are freshly prepared smoothies and super food drinks. In addition they offer a daily changing home-cooked lunch as well as coffee drinks. Between 80 and 90 percent of the fruit is organic, and the seasonal veges, predominantly sourced from a farmer in the vicinity, are so according to availability. Bread and lenses are organic, too, as is a selection of soft drinks (though the coffee and the pasta are not). The owners are happy to answer all your questions concerning the origin of the food, hence do not hesitate to enquire. Note that they are closed on Wednesdays.

Two corners away you'll find Bio und nah, the neighbourhood's only remaining (and fully organic) grocery, co-operatively driven on the premises of a former bakery. On weekdays they serve a simple (vegetarian) soup or stew at lunch time, and you can have a coffee drink and cake or sandwich throughout the day. Matching the atmosphere of a farm shop they are pioneering the zero waste approach in town with suspenders for dry goods. These are re-financed by the sale of organic cotton bags which you purchase to fill with legumes, corn, pasta, cerials, nuts and more, and re-use thereafter.

Located in south-western direction from Am Plärrer, in a neighbourhood with many nice Wilhelminian houses and a lot of Turkish and Arab shops right before the railway tracks you'll find an organic institution of old, the Lotos grocery and cafe. Their latest brainchild is a hole-in-the-wall 100 percent organic veggie doner and falafel shop dubbed Falafelei next to the main entrance which was opened in March, 2016. The falafel "extra" dürum I had was very tasty, just the prefab dürum bread would be better replaced with a freshly baked one.

You do not have to eat on the go -- simply tell them you're going inside and have it in the light and cosy winter garden in the back of the shop or on the roofed terrace during the warm season. Here you are also served coffee (or tea), cakes and, from noon, a tasty, daily changing hearty vegetarian or vegan meal inspired by ayurvedic principles (and not bland at all). All items of the set menu -- salad, main course and dessert -- can be ordered separately; you may also choose a small helping of the main course (which is just a small serving indeed). While you place your order for coffee and cake at the bakery counter (which will be served) you have to order and fetch your lunch from the kitchen window. Specify if you prefer the vegan version. You'll pay at the grocery's cash desk before you leave. They also offer breakfast in the morning and diner until 7:30 pm.

On your way back to the walled city centre, on Gostenhofer Hauptstraße you'll find a branch of the local organic supermarket chain, Ebl, a spacious venue with a street-facing self-service day cafe. Between 11 am and 2 pm they offer a vegetarian lunch on weekdays, and you can have a coffee or tea and/or cake or sandwich all day at one of the high tables.

Within the walled city

On December 7, 2016 the supermarket chain opened their newest branch, central Ebl city opposite the Germanisches Nationalmuseum which also incorporates a day cafe.

For the recreational sip of coffee you may prefer a walk through the pedestrian area in north-western direction to Josephsplatz. At the walk-through to Ludwigsplatz facing Weißer Turm you will find a branch of the Black Bean coffee chain where you're offered free wifi with your coffee at liberal opening hours perfectly suited for work. Unfortunately only the coffee itself and some of the softdrinks are organic. They have a second branch at Hallplatz with shorter opening hours.

A five minutes walk north off Josephsplatz, with a view of the river Pegnitz, you'll find the second branch of Lotos Unschlittplatz, another cosily crammed grocery with a vegetarian lunch kitchen opening at noon. At the entrance turn to the left to find your way to the kitchen where you place and fetch your lunch order (they share the menu with the eatery in Hessestraße). You can have it on high tables in front of the kitchen or move to the room to the right of the entrance where you can sit down and relax. Coffee and cakes have to be ordered from the bakery counter where you also pay.

Ceased to exist

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

2016-12-26 14:00:12 [Nuremberg, organic, lunch, coffee, cafe, eatery, grocery, supermarket, vegan, vegetarian, zero_waste, fastfood, doner_kebap, falafel] Link

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Friday, 28 October 2016

Munich: Organic Living Rooms

In theory we all love them: The small owner-driven shops that surprise us with their unusual selection or combination of goods and food made with love and care, vibrant places with a special and welcoming atmosphere or homely places of peace where we can sit and wonder and get inspired. Shops who's owners create a place from their ideas of a human world, who are ready for a chat if desired but not pushy in their sales attitude. Places that are somehow home away from home, places for a rest or for inspiration. Places where we hopefully buy stuff since we're not forcibly persuaded by aggressive marketing.

And yes. There are these places, and it doesn't come as a surprise that many of these shops offer organic items.

Books and more

Imagine the dry fruit and sweets display of an oriental bazaar stall, and put it in the middle of a crammed book shop filled with mediavistic and orientalistic literature. Sit down in front of the shop or at the bar table inside and order oriental-style coffee, tea, mezze, and -- most recently -- also organic Japanese fried chicken (karaage) or matcha cake, prepared by a Japanese chef. Have a chat with the owner and scroll the book shelves while you wait -- you will find interesting media on medieval arts and crafts, food, biographies of historic persons, films, facts and fiction in German, English, and even French. Your meal -- the falafel, soups as well as occasional Japanese food -- will be fully organic as are the drinks and many of the dried fruit. Not everything else, but where in Munich will you find sweets imported from Damaskus? You will also find earthen oil lamps, soaps from the now sadly destroyed soap shops in Aleppo, home-made rose jams, aged Turkish Arak and more. Saladins Souk, also dubbed Haidhauser Oase as the blackboards in front of it have it can be found in the beautiful quarter of Haidhausen a few minutes North-West from Ostbahnhof station. Be prepared to find an always changing display of (not always organic) delicatessen often brought by the owners from their travels or made by their friends. (As of today the shelves are filled with French delicatessen, unfortunately most of them conventional produce.) The deep-fried lunch items are prepared more healthily in a low-fat fryer, and birch sugar is used as sweetener throughout the menu. You can also order lunch delivery as long as you phone in between 10 and 12 am.

Love to sit down with a good book and a glass of good wine? No question, the two are a perfect match, and even if you're more into an organic softdrink (Bionade), the Buchhandlung Lentner bookstore near Rosenheimer Platz with its cosy cafe is a place where you can stay for hours sitting, watching, chatting with the staff and reading. If you're not able to read German shop of their carefully selected wines, some of them organic. They will also order English books for you (send e-mail, phone in or use their webshop in advance), but this may sometimes take longer than the usual overnight order service for German books. Unfortunately, neither the coffee nor the milk are organic, but if you ask they'll perhaps offer it next time.

Fashion and design

In the vicinity of the Gärtnerplatz party hotspot step by Cafe Phasenreich, a lovingly curated organic fashion and design temple. You'll find t-shirts, trousers, shirts, jackets, underwear and accessoires for both, men, women, and toddlers, as well as sustainably produced bags, watches, radios, design objects, postcards and even confetti. Enjoy an organic coffee drink, smoothie, sandwich or cake before you take a second look to find the unexpected item that you always wanted to own. They moved recently, so don't be surprised if you find them listed elsewhere under their old address in Baaderstraße 33.

2016-10-28 12:00:13 [Munich, Haidhausen, organic, cafe, coffee, tea, deli, books, lunch, delivery, Japanese, French, falafel, shopping] Link

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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Kochi (Cochin): Organic cafes and restaurants

Among India's middle classes a healthy lifestyle and care for the environment is gaining momentum, hence the keyword "organic" is no longer something targeted at Western travellers in the first place. To give an example the local section of "The Hindu" covered a Kochi based home-cooked food distribution and delivery network during my stay: Tastejet allows you to order meals on a subscription scheme, the food is cooked in homes nearby you and freshly delivered. The start-up works so well that it plans to invest in a centralised kitchen, to grow some greens by means of aquaponic and -- as emphasized by the newspaper -- to migrate entirely to organic produce. If you happen to come to Kochi and use this service let me know about its progress.

Cafes

Nevertheless it does not come as a surprise that cafes focussing on Western travellers pioneer organic items on their menus. One of them is Kashi Art Cafe in Burgher Street, a fine art gallery cum airy European-style cafe and a travellers institution of years (which is why I won't go into details here). Their coffee comes from an organic plantation, as do green tea, rice and quinoa. More sustainably grown or even organic produce is used depending on availability (the menu promises a largely pesticide free meal). Vegetarians are catered for, but the place is decidedly non-veg. The cafe does not offer "mineral" water in plastic bottles, instead they serve their own filtered water in reusable glass bottles.

Less frequented since it opened just recently is the Solar Cafe at the North-Eastern shore of Fort Kochi. Its focus is on organic food -- depending on availability between 20 and 80 percent of the ingredients used are organic, eggs and coffee guaranteed organic. Some of it comes from their own organic farm, the Lunar Garden, which can also be booked as a farm stay.

To find the place head East to the Ernakulam Ferry (customs) jetty and watch out for a sign advertising Solar Cafe on white background on the left (sea-)side of Calvetty Road. Cross the street and climb the stairs to the first floor hidden between two street facing shops. Here you'll find a nicely restored predominantly pink and white painted room under the roof, furnished with book shelves and bureaus serving as tables. Fans over each table will give you a welcome breeze, especially during the hot season. The two helpful owners and the two friendly ladies running the kitchen are serving tasty Italian-style food with an Indian touch to it: penne dressed in a tomato sauce spiced with fresh green chili and topped with melted cheese, bruschetta-inspired toasts dubbed "sandwiches" and a variety of salads as well as a yummy home-made soup, all vegetarian. The menu also offers local-style dishes, both seafood and vegetarian, but they were not available due to the low season. Freshly made juices, lassis (note that plain lassi is sweet), milkshakes, fresh lime sodas (the default without sugar) and Italian or local style coffee round up to a perfect lunch. Don't miss the tropical shake made of pineapple and coconut -- a worthy virgin colada. The place is closed during the evenings but makes a perfect place for breakfast instead. Since the restaurant room is a little laid back it is a quiet place, the street traffic is only bothering those sitting in a tiny separate room for two facing the street.

Restaurants

In order to dine with style head for Saffron restaurant, the hotel restaurant of Spice Fort boutique hotel. Local eco-tourism chains in the luxury class (namely CGH and the Dune Eco Group) advertise with organic farms as part of their sustainability efforts, but contrary to CGH (which e.g. runs the Brunton Boat Yard or Spice Coast Cruises houseboats) Dune boosts of its restaurants as organic gourmet restaurants. The food at Saffron is very tasty indeed (the best appams we had on our Kerala tour), spiced as subtly as you can do with confidence only with the best ingredients at hand. The staff proudly told us about four farms growing organic fruits and veges, vanilla and coffee. The latter two are marked as always organic on the menu, other ingredients depend on availability.

The menu offers North and South Indian as well as "continental" dishes (the latter inspired by mediterranean kitchens), both, vegetarian, fish and meat, and the restaurant operates a huge fama espresso machine as it is usually found in Italian bars. For lunch I'd highly recommend the vegetarian set menu, and as a dessert the local version of creme brulee -- Watalappam. With its simple, clear interior design promoting spices and the colour red the restaurant facilities could easily be located in an European metropolis.

Closed

The following place, a friendly, 100 percent organic grassroots Indian restaurant cum grocery moved to Bangalore and does no longer work out of Kochi:

2016-08-23 16:00:05 [Kochi, Cochin, organic, lunch, coffee, restaurant, cafe, eatery, hotel, accommodation, delivery] Link

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Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Amsterdam: Organic food on Schiphol airport

Airlines and airport eateries have been pretending to serve first class food for so long it may come as a surprise that most airports and nearly all food served on flights are still 100 percent free for organic ingredients. With the notable exception of Amsterdam Schiphol airport which was a pioneer when opening "Fair Taste Cafe" within the central food court in April 2011, a coffee-and-sandwiches-to-go eatery which was serving fairly traded and sustainably sourced food and drinks, with a high percentage of organic items. Unfortunately only four years later this pleasant retreat was replaced by yet another Starbucks coffee branch.

Schiphol nevertheless remains a first class option for the food-concerned traveller since other food stalls in the transit zone started to offer a few organic options -- be it organic raisin buns or prepackaged dried fruit/nut blends. Their number has been increasing since, so if your transfer time is long enough you will probably be able to collect a sumptuous family picnic. In any case scan the displays carefully for the "organic" keyword. Mind you that prices are stiff, but this concerns both, conventional and organic options alike.

On my last transfers the Mediterranean Sandwich Bar opposite Starbucks in the central food court (Lounge 1) offered two types of tasty paninis made with organic bread as well as organic milk in half-liter boxes and yummy caramelized and salted pecan and cashewnuts. Unfortunately the milk they use for coffee drinks is not organic (nor is the coffee). While hurrying to the B apron I noticed a newly established (though much smaller) Fair Cafe on the right hand site. I did not have time to take a close look, but I noticed the afore-mentioned organic raisin buns and nut mixture. In addition the airport website claims offerings of organic meat at the Harvest Market in Lounge 2 at the D-concourse, so keep your eyes open and ask.

When leaving the airport there are branches of the Albert Heijn supermarket chain offering a decent selection of organic food items.

In-flight meals

Flying KLM from Munich into Amsterdam I was pleasantly surprised by the economy sandwich I usually decline: It wasn't the usual conventional fare but made of organic rye bread and cheese made from near-organic milk. The cake offered on the corresponding flight wasn't organic, but the carrier claims that their coffee is fairly traded (though not organic). Business class passengers may enjoy organic yoghurt and ice-cream.

2016-03-30 16:00:04 [Amsterdam, organic, lunch, coffee, airports, fair] Link

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Friday, 28 August 2015

Organic Pesaro

Missing the mondane reputation of neighbouring Rimini eating out in Pesaro is not about posh restaurants. All the organic places I found offer simple, home-made food that suits both, lunch and dinner: pizza and the local variety, piadina (a warm wrap made of thin bread and a veg or non-veg pizza fill), simple pasta dishes, risotti and main courses.

A few meters from Teatro Rossini in Centro storico, the old city center, the small friendly Pizzeria Bio al Teatro serves pizza to go along with organic soft drinks, beer, prosecco and wine by the bottle. All pizze are a 100 percent organic and vegetarian if not vegan, pre-baked on trays in the kitchen behind the sales counter, sold by the piece and re-heated while you wait. Decent fast food, although their pizza base resembles an airy foccacia rather than the thin, crispy traditional pizza round baked in a wood-fired stone oven. There are some bar chairs and tables inside to sit and eat on the spot as well as a couple of recycled wooden benches outside. The place opens only in the evening.

For lunch (or dinner) head for Da Peppe Pesaro Centro, approximately five minutes away located in a traffic-calmed street connecting busy Via 11 Febbraio and Viale Donato Bramante. This local restaurant chain uses organic flour for their home-made pasta and piadine, offers grain-based organic salads, and some of the veges as well as the olive oil are also organic. Unfortunately drinks, non-vegetarian and some other ingredients are not. When ordering pasta you have to specify the pasta shape and the sauce to go with. The food is simple and tasty, and since it is prepared on the spot requires a little patience. The staff is friendly, but expect the service to be relaxed.

A further five-minutes walk East-North-East leads you to Chiccoteca, a cosy, simply-styled certified all-organic restaurant cum cafe open daily all day, with an arbour in front facing (comparatively) silent Via Buozzi. It will serve you both, breakfast, and simple meals for lunch and dinner (including -- you guess it -- home-made pizze and cascioni, pizza pockets similar to a calzone), and of course the obligatory coffee (tisane if you prefer) cum cake. Very unusual for no-frills eateries in Italy you will be served glass and earthenware, no plastics.

Supermarkets

Just around the corner you will find the Chiccoteca supermarket, a small, pleasantly furnished organic full-retailer, closed on Sundays. If you are in need for organic food items on a Sunday make sure you arrive near Teatro Rossini before 1 pm, in time for the nearby Coop supermarket branch stocking a decent selection of organic veges, dairy products, cookies and other food items.

Ice-cream

Apart from Coop supermarkets, there's a second chain in Italy you can trust to offer real fare: the ice-cream makers of Grom. In Pesaro, however, there is no Grom branch, so you have to rely on the following rule of thumb: Avoid gelaterie where the ice-cream is piled up and heavily decorated to attract customers from a distance. Real ice-cream presented this way would melt, not to mention hygienic reasonings. So stick to the ones where the ice-cream is hidden in steel containers buried in the freezer and preferably covered with a lid.

The one I found is Panna & Cioccolato near Teatro Rossini. Apart from generally yummy all-natural ice-creams, ice-cakes and smoothies (centrifughe) they also have one organic ice-cream variety on offer: Mascarpone. As with other gelaterie making artisan all-natural gelato the interior is cleanly furnished in lab-style, the workshop proudly presented, and you may have a glimpse on the ice-cream makers at work through the shop's window front.

The beach

Although overpriced low-quality fast-food on the beach promenade still is the norm, Pesaro beach offers better options: For the full-fledged beach experience including organic cocktails head for Bottega Beach within Bagni Alfredo right in front of the lower building of the Hotel Excelsior. During the high season you can party day and night indulging in vegan organic ice-cream, piadine, pizze, salads, alcoholic as well as non-alcoholic beverages and small meals. During the low season starting with a party at 3pm on the last Saturday in April this beach shack keeps open on weekends and public holidays. All food and beverages are also available to take away.

The only organic place in town calling itself a restaurant is Da Peppe Pesaro Mare located a short walk westwards next to Bagni Tina. Noisy with efficient, though not overly polite staff it serves basic, but delicious seafood dishes which are not on offer in other Da Peppe branches in addition to the regular Da Peppe fare consisting of partially organic home-made pasta, piadine, soups and salads.

Acommodation and bicycles

About half an hour by bicycle, west of Pesaro Centro a pleasant family-driven organic farm, Badia, offers bed and partially organic breakfast in clean and simply furnished rooms under the roof of the farm house. The owner, Federica, will happily help you to rent reasonably priced bicyles from the compentent Pesaro Bici workshop.

In case you plan to stay for a longer period you may try to register for the city's free bike sharing scheme C'entro in bici in the comunal information desk (Sportello Informa&Servizi del Comune di Pesaro) behind piazza del Popolo. You are required to fill in a form available from their website, pay a 10 Euro deposit and will receive a personal key for the bikes.

Both, the bike shop and the information office will provide you with a cycle map covering the Bicipolitana in Pesaro, a nicely constructed and signposted network of dedicated bicycle lanes. Number 3 (in Openstreetmap marked as Pista ciclopedonale Umberto Cardinali) leads you from the city center alongside the banks of the river Foglia -- crossing allotments, abandoned factory buildings and a maze of six-foot tall reed -- to Centro Rossini, halfway to the Badia farm.

2015-08-28 12:35:10 [Pesaro, organic, biologico, pizza, ice-cream, supermarkets, coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, fastfood, vegetarian, vegan, farms, accommodation, vegan, takeaway, cycling, Italian, agriturismo] Link

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