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

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Venice: Organic pizza

The city being more or less a lively and living outdoor museum has one major disadvantage compared with other Italian cities: When it comes to eating out it is difficult to follow the rule: "Follow the natives". Arguably it might be the only place in Italy where spotting tasty, or even reasonable food is a real challenge -- especially when your tastebuds are used to organic food. But things have improved vastly since I first visited Venice.

Oke

For a decent lunch or dinner with a romantic view of the Giudecca island try Pizzeria Oke on Fondamento delle Zattere between waterbus stops Zattere and S. Basilio. The place looks quite touristy, with US-nostalgic interior, but in fact it is not just a decent pizzeria using organic kamut flour for the dough and organic veges, but a full-blown restaurant. They serve tasty, local-style food prepared with high quality ingredients. If you like give their seafood dishes a try. Wine lovers should try "Calaone'", the product of a pleasant organic vineyard in the nearby Euganean hills, and there are more organic wines on the menu.

For the informal pizza snack head for Bella&Brava, a 100 percent organic fast food pizzeria. Although you may sit down on a bar stool to have a crispy, tasty pizza and an organic softdrink, beer or filtered tap water they do not own any real dishes, not even a single glass for water. Whether you eat on the spot or order to take away -- your pizza is always served in stylefully designed alveolar cardboard boxes, producing a lot of waste. Although comparatively small the pizza itself is surprisingly filling since the dough is made from aromatic wholemeal. Apart from the seafood pizza "Venexiana" all pizze are vegetarian, and four of the six varieties are vegan. Loves for taste and first class ingredients, the organic soap in the bathroom as well as for the tasteful and clean interior but thumbs down for the throw-away mindset.

2018-06-13 17:00:00 [Venice, Venezia, biologico, organic, pizza, dinner, lunch, Italian, restaurant, eatery, takeaway] 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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Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Munich: Zero Waste

Organic supermarkets may introduce a larger audience to sustainable organic produce and thus spare the environment, but do not necessarily help to reduce the amount of one-way packaging, save plastics. As a conscious consumer you will of course prefer non-prepackaged fruit and veges, available from all organic groceries, supermarkets and market boothes, and hand your bag over the bakery counter, making it verbally clear that you do not need a paper bag, to avoid paper waste when buying bread and rolls.

You're also safe if you restrict your shopping of dairy products, juices and soft drinks to returnable glass bottles. Some organic shops (such as Vollcorner) offer a small selection of wine in deposit bottles. Starting in 2017 some organic supermarket chains have been introducing measures to reduce packaging to the effect that -- unless stated otherwise -- all shops in this post will help you out with reusable glas jars or organic cotton bags to buy on the spot, as well as deposit glass jars if you forgot to bring your own.

Farewell to plastics

The zero-waste pioneer in town is Naturlieferant, usually referred to as Plastikfreie Zone, a pleasant intimate shop in Haidhausen near Max-Weber-Platz where you won't find any plastic item but a lot of sustainable alternatives. The focus of the shop is an ever increasing range of sustainable household items, ranging from tooth brushes and toilet paper to glasses, lunch boxes and jute strings, but you may also shop a selection of food items like potatoes, pulses, nuts, flour, jelly-gums or the best Indian pepper in town. If you forget to bring your own jars your purchase will be packed in paper bags, or you can choose from re-used glass containers for free. You may also refill washing-up liquid, shampoo and liquid laundry detergent.

No wrappings

February 20th, 2016 the city's first and only zero-waste supermarket Ohne ("without") opened its doors in the neighbourhood of Maxvorstadt. Pleasantly furnished with wooden benches and self-made dispensers this modern version of a generously spaced mom-and-pop store gives you a pleasant vacation from brands and logos. It is offering bread, rolls and sweet pastries from a local artisanal bakery, dairy products and vegan alternatives in returnable bottles, a small selection of fresh fruit and greens, spices and dried herbs, a huge selection of pasta, legumes, flour and cereals, but also baking powder, coffee, tahin, honey, locally distilled gin and bitter, oil, toothpaste tablets and solid shampoo. There are also refill stations for washing liquids and cleansers, and you can shop from a small range of household and bodycare products (including environment-friendly condoms which are the only items in shop prepackaged in non-reusable wrapping). Preserves (like mustard, pestos and pickles) are sold prepackaged in reusable glass containers.

Your shopping starts by measuring the weight of your glasses, boxes and bags on the scales next to the entrance door. Now you can fill them from the dispensers and finally pay by net weight.

This crowd-funded supermarket is strictly organic and vegetarian. When the shop is crowded waiting time at the till is a little longer than you might expect, but take your time and have a coffee and home-made cake in the small cafe corner. Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11 am.

Supermarket chains to follow

In autumn 2016 the local Vollcorner supermarkets received an official permit by the Munich Department of Public Order (Kreisverwaltungsreferat) to fill their customers' jars and boxes with cheese, antipasti, processed meat products or cake. The Basic supermarket chain followed in summer 2017, and independent convenience stores often have done so anyway. So take appropriate containers with you when you go out to shop for food.

To avoid misunderstandings it is advisable to clearly point to your box before placing your order at the sales counter and tell the staff to tape the receipt to it. Otherwise you may end up not sparing any waste: In the beginning the staff at the Basic butcher's disk would use the sheet of plastic-covered paper they'd usually wrap the purchase with to hand it over to you, along with the receipt taped onto the paper bag they otherwise would have used as outer packaging. In the mean time they got used to the procedure but were ordered to decline customer requests to buy meat this way. So you'll better find your nearest Herrmannsdorfer grocery to buy meat in your own box, e.g. the one on Max-Weber-Platz.

At the Basic self-service cafes you may lend a Recup coffee cup for a deposit which you can return at any other shop participating in the retour scheme. The supermarket chain also introduced dispensers reliably offering a selection of pasta, nuts, dried fruit, sweets, and grains. Individual markets (e.g. Basic Bogenhausen) have coffee, tea and more. Basic supermarkets selling toiletries and household chemicals may have dispensers for detergents of the eco-friendly Sodasan brand. (The one in Bogenhausen does so.) These dispensers allow only to refill the standard volumes the choosen detergent is sold by when pre-bottled, i.e. you cannot refill smaller than the original bottles. So make sure you have at minimum a 1 l or 2 l bottle with you. If not refilling original bottles take one of the empty bottles from the shelf and scan its label before tapping to your own bottle.

To buy dry goods the procedure varies from branch to branch: Some like Basic Bogenhausen have prominently placed scales where you measure the tax weight of your containers before filling them. The scales will print out a receipt which you must hand in at the cash desk for tax weight detraction. Others like the one near Isartor expect you to fill provided scaled measuring jugs from the dry-goods dispensers, pay, and refill the content to the packaging you brought along (which can be quite tricky as they do not provide funnels). In the case of the latter you may not use your own containers for loose-weight dried fruit from the cardbox displays in the green-grocery section. Recycle small plastic or paper bags to buy these or bring small, light-weight cotton-bags.

Neighbourhood groceries

In Haidhausen the Lebascha neighbourhood grocery offers to fill all loose-weight products (cakes and bread, eggs, cheeses, olives, olive oil, jelly gums and liquorice -- only the latter is not organic) in bottles, jars and boxes you bring along. Ask for a deposit box (1 or 3 EUR according to size) in case you forgot to bring your own, and make sure to return it thoroughly cleaned. When buying eggs don't forget your own container as there will be a small surplus for a cardboard one filled on the counter. Also for the olive oil refill you must bring a clean bottle yourself (but you have to wait for it until autumn 2018 since the 2017 harvest has been sold out).

Household chemicals can be refilled at the Echt Bio Markt in Neuschwabing.

Coffee to take away

Most cafes serving organic coffee are sufficiently aware of the coffee beaker waste issue that they will fill your own cup without hesitation. Some like Die Kaffee-Küche and the Basic self-service lunch bars will even give you a discount for sparing the environment. There is an increasing number taking part in the recup.com retour scheme, among others the Neulinger bakeries or Siggis coffee bar and restaurant.

2018-05-22 22:50:00 [Munich, Haidhausen, Maxvorstadt, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, cafe, grocery, supermarkets, lunch] 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.