The Organic Traveller
Tuesday, 09 May 2017

Berlin: Organic Kreuzberg

Nowhere in Germany it is easier to adhere to an organic lifestyle than in its capital -- provided you aim for appropriately inhabited neighbourhoods all you have to do is to keep your eyes open. Many of those neighbourhoods can be found in the administrative unit of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, and this blog will cover only the tip of the iceberg, i.e. the places I found during a two-days visit. The places covered in the first two sections are all located in Kreuzberg 61, the neighbourhood considered the bourgeouis part of Kreuzberg.

Near Deutsches Technikmuseum

The German Museum of Technology near tube-station Möckernbrücke clearly is a place to spend hours in -- but what if you start to feel hungry or the urge for a coffee? For the occasional tourist this wonderful museum seems to be located in the middle of nowhere, but don't dispair! Head East and follow Tempelhofer Ufer back to the tube station, and turn to the right after the second traffic-light. A few steps into Großbeerenstraße you will find an organic gem with roots back in former West-Berlin's green-alternative past. Today it's a friendly though a little worn-out grocery cum eatery dubbed Ökotussi ("eco-Sheila") run by a bunch of practical women. Stop by for a hearty vegetarian (usually vegan) lunch (the vegan lasagna we had was delicious and sufficient for two), a salad or snack or an Italian-style coffee drink.

Around Marheinekeplatz

Follow Zossener Straße from tube-stop Gneisenaustraße in Southern direction, and you'll end up in a neighbourhood that most eco-conscious people will consider the ultimate paradise: three organic (or predominantly organic) whole-sale supermarkets, four organic bakeries, four at minimum partially organic restaurants and eateries, and a number of other shops offering selected organic products, everything within a five minutes walk, all with liberal opening hours compared to the rest of Germany. The eateries of this neighbourhood dubbed Bergmannkiez try to outdo one another in advertising their vegan options -- it seems a luxury to point out that vegan even here usually does not imply organic.

Restaurants and eateries

Promenading Bergmannstraße (which makes for the Southern border of Marheinekeplatz) to the West you will find Fratelli La Bionda, a decent Italian pizzeria using organic flour and tomatoes for their pizze. No place for lunch since the restaurant does not open before evening. If you take your seat around the tables on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant, opposing a park with a children's playground you will kindly be asked to move inside around half past 9 pm. Since the eateries covered below all close between 8 and 9 pm (or even earlier during the weekend) this place is the only option for your evening out covered in this post.

A few steps west enter crossing Friesenstraße to the left, and you'll find Glück to go, serving ayurveda-inspired healthy vegan or vegetarian burgers with organic buns alongside organic beer and softdrinks. Unlike the eateries within the Marheineke-Markthalle next to the playground this place is open on Sundays.

This nicely restored mall is a Mekka for foodies. Opposite Friesenstraße you will find Bio-Buffet, a whole-organic burger place. Although vegan burgers, soups and fries are served, too, their focus is on organic meat. Arguably Berlin's best beef burgers are served here, and unlike other places they won't cook your meat to death when you forget to order rare. Heavily frequented during lunch hours service can be a bit bumpy, and more frequent cleaning of the bar tables would often be nice. You can choose from an impressive range of organic softdrinks, or have beer or very decent cider made from apples organically grown in the wild of Berlin's surroundings. Mayonaise and ketchup for your fries have to be ordered separately.

On the first flour of the mall you will find Goodies, a Berlin-based vegan snack and coffee bar. Order salads, bagels, wraps, smoothies, cereals, coffee and sweets, predominantly made from organic ingredients. The latter are clearly marked on the menu.

Bakeries

Lunch and coffee drinks are also being served by organic bakery Beumer & Lutum, a few steps north on Zossener Straße. While the two organic bakery boothes within the Marheineke mall -- Mehlwurm in the center of the market hall, and Biobackhaus in the North-Eastern part -- are closed on Sundays and open 8 am, Beumer & Lutum keeps open on Sundays and is catering for the early bird Monday through Saturday from 7 am. In return the bakery boothes in the mall have longer opening hours in the evening, but do not serve coffee or lunch.

For the sweet tooth

Italian-style organic coffee drinks can also be had from the Tanne b ice-cream parlour on the crossing of Zossener and Bergmannstraße. They use organic milk for their all-natural ice-creams served in vegan cones, and offer vegan options, too. Children are served slightly smaller scoops for the price of 80 cents (instead of 1.20 euros for regular servings).

Around the corner from Fratelli La Bionda you'll find cosy Cafe Conni Island where you can treat yourself with lovely home-made, partially organic cakes and a coffee drink made with organic milk. The place is run by an artist whom you can hire to paint your walls with art, and since she usually serves herself the opening hours are restricted to afternoons and the second half of the week.

Opposite Beumer & Lutum you will find Doçura Chocolate, a confectioner's shop offering a decent selection of organic chocolates and tisanes. Since about two-thirds of their sweets are conventional check for organic labelling.

Supermarkets

With a branch of the vegan supermarket chain Veganz on the first floor of Marheineke-Markthalle facing Marheinekeplatz, a branch of Berlin-based organic wholesale chain Bio-Company on Bergmannstraße/Friesenstraße crossing and an Alnatura branch on the East-side of the park, all with liberal opening hours compared to German standards it's hard to find an excuse for not buying organic.

While the latter two sell exclusively organically certified items you have to be careful at Veganz: The grocery products and most of the German and Austrian brands on display are organic (and can be found in almost any other organic supermarket), but they also offer a lot of imported vegan products, and a great deal of them are not organic. Unfortunately these are not clearly marked on the shelves, so you should be familiar with organic branding outside the continent.

Around Schlesisches Tor

The Japanese go mad about Trippen shoes, and if you go for fairly and eco-consciously produced leather shoes of unusual design (some of the soles alone can be considered art) the Trippen factory outlet near tube stop Schlesisches Tor is definitely worth a visit. Unlike in their stylish flagship store within Hackesche Höfe you have to browse shoe boxes for your size, and all the pairs are remaining stock or have small defects like miscolourings. In return prices are well below usual market price. You will find children's, women's and men's shoes (even the ones better described as sculptures are astonishingly comfy), and the staff is very helpful.

If you happen to feel hungry after shoe-shopping pay a visit to Schulz&Korn, a small partially organic delicatessen cum eatery on your way from Trippen back to Schlesisches Tor. You can choose between two simple, predominantly organic vegetarian dishes (like pasta or baked potatoes with salad), and shop your daily supply of grocery. The dry goods, drinks and veges are organic, but most of the cheeses and meat-based products are surprisingly not. You'll probably want to avoid the Argentinian empanadas made by a friend of the shopkeepers as they are made using conventional minced meat. The staff is friendly and doesn't turn grumpy when you enquire about the origin of the ingredients and supplies. The shop looks like an organic grocery of old which has adapted itself to its neighbourhood, and is frequented by locals. Note that they are closed on Saturdays.

Kreuzberg 36

Another of the probably many organic groceries turned partially organic eateries and delis is Der Milchladen ("The milk shop") near tube stop Moritzplatz. More styled than Schulz&Korn, in the heart of what is dubbed the wild and autonomous migrant Kreuzberg you can have a hearty lunch, sandwiches, coffee and (cheese) cake as well as breakfast, vegan, vegetarian and omnivore.

The place is situated a few steps from the flagship store of one of the oldest eco-conscious Berlin fashion labels, Luzifer in Oranienstraße. All their clothes are made of linen and hemp, and unlike other labels they don't have short-lived collections: If you wore out your favourite dress, shirt or pair of trousers, you will usually be able to buy a replacement. When my favourite dress (of which I had two copies) after ten years continous use had too many holes they happily made a new one of the good parts for a very competitive price. They offer both, a men's and a women's collection, and you will often be served a tisane or a cookie in their light and friendly showroom.

2017-05-09 16:00:06 [Berlin, Kreuzberg, organic, vegan, Italian, pizza, coffee, ice-cream, supermarkets, fashion, shoes, deli, grocery, eatery] Link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Nuremberg: Groceries and bakeries

All big supermarket and drugstore chains in Germany by now offer a decent selection of organic products. Thus I'll restrict myself to mention places where you can avoid checking each item for an organic label thanks to the fact that they do not offer conventionally produced food.

The leading organic full retailer in Nuremberg is a local chain dubbed ebl Naturkost operating 13 supermarkets within the city boundaries, and more in the greater metropolitan area including the town of Fürth. The bigger ones incorporate a day cafe. Apart from this you will also find two branches of the nationwide operating Denn's supermarket chain.

While these supermarkets allow you to shop for daily necessities in a swift and efficient way, a more personal atmosphere is guaranteed in neighbourhood groceries like Bio und nah and Lotos in Gostenhof, Der grüne Laden ("The Green Shop") north-east of Friedrich-Ebert-Platz or the second Lotos branch at Unschlittplatz.

All of them cater for vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike, but there's also a 100% vegan grocery, Lebe gesund ("live healthy") at Josephsplatz. The shop is part of a small chain offering fresh greens from their own fields as well as bread and cakes, yummy dried apple slices, pickles and preserves, vegan spread and sausages, pasta, pestos and more, all made from the harvest of their farm. The latter is driven in accordance with the ancient principle of three-field crop rotation justifying the upmarket prices. Some may however be hesistant to shop here as the chain is owned and driven by a controversial religious cult.

If you're fond of huge round loafs of German sourdough bread there's a less controversial source in town: the Munich-based organic bakery chain Hofpfisterei has a branch on the way from Hallplatz to Lorenzer Platz.

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:

2016-12-31 16:00:09 [Nuremberg, organic, grocery, supermarket, bakeries, vegan, vegetarian] Link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.

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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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Organic Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum)

Perhaps even more than in Europe an environmentally friendly lifestyle seems to primarily concern (a fraction of) the more affluent, and hence you will not be surprised that buying organic is best done in the well-off neighbourhood of Kowdiar. It's here that the city's only fully organic grocery, the Organic Bazaar, is located. Climbing the stairs to the first floor you will find a neat and clean farmer's shop driven by friendly staff and backed by an NGO, Thanal. Good for the traveller: Everything on sale can be carried home safely since none of the items needs cooling. Apart from a huge selection of pulses, grains (among others types of rice the average European has never heard of), flours, sugar, cereals and spices from all over India you will find honey, chutneys and other preserves as well as locally grown fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables. They do not offer juices or other refreshments since these would need the addition of preservatives, but you will find a sufficient selection of household detergents, washing powder, toothpaste, shampoo, soap bars and skin care. As local customers tend to shop their veges on Wednesdays be prepared to find a diminished selection of greens on Wednesday afternoons. If you stay long enough to consume your purchase make sure to return the plastic packing to the shop (fresh veges will be packaged in bags made from recycled newspapers). In case you happen to go wild and, in search of the place end up in Thanal's office in OD-3, Jawahar Nagar (the former home to Organic Bazaar) don't hesitate to ask for the way -- we were even accompanied the ten minutes walk to the shop.

More spices, pulses, grains, dried and candied fruit, teas and tisanes as well as natural body care products can be found a 15 minutes walk away at upmarket Fabindia, with upmarket price tags. Fabindia specializes in handmade Indian fashion and home textiles made from natural Indian fabrics -- very colourful and of high quality, but -- apart from some clothes for babies -- these are not (yet?) made of organically produced cotton or silk. A pleasant and quiet shopping retreat, one wonders howewer how fairly the profit of this exquisite boutique is distributed among the growers and makers of these beautifully and tastefully done textiles. Note that their "Organics" trademark for food items does not guarantee certified organic ingredients, for these to find you have to watch out for the keyword "organic" on the labels and ingredients lists.

Another -- local -- chain supposed to trade in pesticide-free, partially organic grocery is Aroma Fresh which also operates a branch near Kowdiar. Let me know if you can give an account on it.

As always in India you cannot always trust in names. Also in Kowdiar you will find Organic One cafe, but although they serve very tasty milkshakes, ice-cream, lassis and juices made of natural ingredients only, they are not serving anything organic.

Pathayam A five minutes walk from the State Secretariat of Kerala (go Y.M.C.A road to Southern block and swing to the left) you'll find what appears to be the city's only organic restaurant, purely vegetarian (predominantly vegan) Pathayam. Take the outside stairs to the right of the entrance to Hotel Navaratna Upendra, and you'll find a South-Indian eatery where you can have a traditional South-Indian meal and freshly pressed fruit juices. Boiled herb water is being served as a complementary refreshment if you ask. The Organic Special Meal consists of cut fruit and a veges salad, a soup, a chappati plus rice blended with veges served together with chutneys and curries of the day as well as three small cups of rasam, payasam and (in our case ginger-)flavoured buttermilk. The Ordinary Meal omits the salad (which also can be had separately) and fruit starter while the Chapati Meal consists of soup, four chapatis, curries, condiments and a slice of fruit. When you finish off your curries and chutneys a second helping is promptly filled onto your tray. The place focusses on health food, with one of their slogans being "taste comes second" which explains the rather bland taste compared with other Kerala food.

The restaurant consists of two rooms -- an A/C cooled room with a hand wash in the back and a lively non-A/C entrance hall where you can eat watching the fruit juices being prepared. The latter also houses a small organic grocery where you can shop all the ingredients used in the restaurant kitchen. Most supplies come from a Coimbatore farm, and the place is supplied by KADA, an organic online delivery service operating out of Trivandrum.

Another organic delivery service in town (which I haven't used though) is Sabarimala. Not only does it act as a grocery but also as a pizza delivery service. I did not have the time to visit neither their nor KADA's locations within Technopark (near train stop Kazhakootam) and hence am unable to tell whether they have shops on premise. Let me know if you happen to be there!

Closed

Thanal also operated a Zero Waste Centre in Kovalam which, apart from organic food, body and homecare products, offered recycled artisanal stationary and other items made from handmade paper, textiles, bags as well as household items made from coconut shell, natural fibres, cane and bamboo. This office cum shop was however shut down in April 2016 and is now working out of Thanal's office:

2016-08-29 16:00:10 [Thiruvananthapuram, Trivandrum, Kovalam, organic, grocery, supermarkets, fashion, bodycare, household, restaurant, pizza, zero_waste, vegan] 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.