The Organic Traveller
Sunday, 13 August 2017

Stockholm: Organic and partially organic restaurants

Restaurants in Stockholm may surprise the foreign visitor with practicalities: Most places have unisex toilets, and an increasing number of places trade entrepreneur safety against customer's data privacy and the right to pay her bill anonymously: They do no longer accept cash, only cards. Given the high resolution of current cameras which make it easy to spy your pin code it sounds fun when shop owners argue with customer safety here, but alas, it is the sad reality, so be prepared.

Nordic fastfood

Eating out at lunchtime in Sweden often means "smørgås", in the restaurant version a slice of bread heaped with salads. Its modern interpretation with fusion influences can be found at fully organic Kalf & Hansen at Mariatorget. Choose a set menu and organic, partially home-made drinks from the fridge, pay, sit down and be served. Five of the menus ("Oslo", "Stockholm", "Nuuk", "København", and the children version dubbed "Vimmerby") are variations of the same theme: Swedish "falafels" made of fish, meat or vegan -- you choose. What's different is the bread, the veges of the season and condiments to go with. If this is not what you're up to you may opt for the soup of the day or a cheese sandwich or simply step by for a coffee and (vegan) cake. Rhubarb lovers will be delighted by the rhubarb lemonade -- less sweet than elsewhere a refreshing delight. Note that the place does not have a public toilet and closes early in the evening. There's a second branch in Hammarby Sjöstad which keeps open during lunch hours only.

Summer nights may be long in Stockholm, and everybody is enjoying themselves outside. At this time of the year an evening with a light predominantly organic meal at a terrace overlooking the waterways is one of the most pleasant things to do. So head for Koloni Strömparterren, a summer only self-serving kiosk at the northern end of Helgelandsholmen next to Norrbro bridge. Have a refreshment, a sumptuous salad, smörgås, baked potato, or cake and coffee drink. If you are in the mood for a traditional shrimps sandwich: Here's the place to try. And if you insist you'll get a real drinking glass instead of a disposable plastic cup for your water or soft drink.

There's another self-service kiosk inside Skansen theme park, located next to the dance floor. If you can tolerate the musical accompaniment it's the best option to get decent food (including pancakes with berries and whipped cream) and coffee in the park, although everything is served in one-way dishes.

The third Koloni summer kiosk is located on Saltsjö beach, and they run three indoor branches all the year around, too.

Nordic gourmet

For a posh evening out head for the Fotografiska museum's ambitious restaurant sporting a nice sea view to Djurgården and Skeppsholmen. It's a short (though ugly) walk from Slussen traffic hotspot which is currently being rebuild in a cyclist friendly and human way. The restaurant's focus is on 100 percent organic ingredients and zero food waste, although the first does not apply (yet?) to the contents of the bar. During the restaurant's summer break an informal and easy-going outdoor grill takes its place, the Veranda with a simple vegetarian set menu (one for children and a bit more elaborated one for grown ups) which you can complement with grilled sweet water fish (røding), a pork steak or sausages. The aperitif cocktail ("grogg") was nicely balanced although based on inferior Beefeater (the bar has better gins on offer), and there's a non-alcoholic version, too. Wine and other drinks can be choosen from the bar's menu. Unlike the museum itself the restaurant still takes cash.

Vegan

It's easy to be vegan at the places mentioned above, but if you fancy a purely vegan restaurant playing with a bunch of cliches mount the flight of stairs behind Fotografiska to Hermans Trädgården. Before you take a seat in- or outdoors to adore the fine sea view be reminded that an all-you-can-eat place run with the slogan "Give peas a chance" most certainly is somewhat special. During rush hours (between 6 and 7:30 pm when I was there) you may find yourself confused in a crowd of people queuing inside. There are two queues: One for the organic self-service buffet, and one for the cash desk. Find the end of the last one (the one made of people without plates), tell the friendly staff how many grown ups, children and students you are, order your beverages and pay. During lunch hours (11-15) the set menu goes for 135 SEK, at dinner time and on weekends you pay 195 SEK per person, students are entitled a 50 percent discount (as long as they sport a valid student ID and buy a drink), and children pay according to age.

You are provided with a plate, so now it's the time to join the second queue which will lead you to a richly laid table offering soup, bread, warm and raw salads and dishes, a hearty mingle-mangle inspired by European and Asian cuisines. Organic tea, tisanes and coffee from a self-service side-board come free with your menu, with oat milk if you like. Help the staff to clean the tables -- as soon as the rush is over it's easy to have a small talk, and try a vegan cake for dessert.

International

In the heart of Gamla Stan, directly located at Stortorget with its bloody history you'll find Grillska hus which got its name after its former owners, the Grill family. Today it is run as a socially responsible enterprise and houses a cafe cum restaurant sporting a one star certification from KRAV ("matboden") as well as a bakery cum pastry shop ("brödboden"). The one star makes it the restaurant in this post scoring last in the percentage of total organic ingredients. If you don't mind the touristy buzz in general here's a responsible place for lunch, early dinner or coffee amidst the crowd.

More to try

Here's a list of (partially) organic restaurants I found during my research but did not have time to visit or found summer-closed. I'll be happy if you'd share your impressions with me!

Ceased to exist

The following places shut down and were replaced by other, not organic ones even though you find references to them on the web:

2017-08-13 13:00:02 [Stockholm, organic, lunch, dinner, vegetarian, vegan, bar, restaurant, eatery, coffee] link

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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 14:00:11 [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.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Nuremberg: Organic and partially organic pubs and restaurants

Each year Nuremberg plays host to what probably is the world's most important organic trade fair, Biofach, and the city has been wisely using the publicity that comes with the event. If you happen to be in Nuremberg around fair time you will see several communal events around organic food and agriculture. In 2016 the city organized an organic gourmet week during which participating restaurants and eateries offered fully organic gourmet meals at fixed prices even when they otherwise do so only partially. Visitors and citizens could download communally sponsored discount vouchers for these meals. Thanks to efforts like this Nuremberg has become a city where the extra effort to find organic lunch or dinner is comparatively small.

French

The first address in town is a cosy, almost 40 years old organic creperie, Ye'chet mad in the Südstadt neighbourhood. The audience is dominated by students, artists, theatre and cinema goers, professionals in art and culture and those interested in the resulting atmosphere. Many combine a visit with a movie in the adjacent arthouse cinema. You will be served a huge variety of fully organic whole-meal crepes, pleasantly thin, both sweet and savoury, as a main course and/or dessert. French salads, soups and appetizers round up the menu.

Franconian

A five minutes brisk walk from tube station Friedrich-Ebert-Platz you will find an organic pub of old, the Frankenstube. As you might expect they serve rustic local dishes, but there's a long list of vegan and vegetarian versions. Indeed, the vegan cabbage roll served with a hearty tomato sauce and pasta was very tasty, and not bland at all. All organic dishes are clearly marked as such on the menu but you should be aware (especially when it comes to meat dishes) that the ones without the bio keyword are conventional fare. The beer isn't organic (nor are the cakes), but the wine is. The place seems to be a favourite among locals, crowded even on a weekday evening.

Vegetarian

A vegetarian restaurant for many years the Chesmu (formerly known as Polidori) near the fortress has long been recommended as an organic restaurant. When I was there some years ago they were no longer committed to organic food, just used a selection of organic ingredients whenever it fit in. Hence I was pleasantly surprised to hear at my recent visit that they're back on track, gradually trying to re-increase the amount of organic ingredients in their food, so it's worth asking again. The place has a pleasant informal atmosphere, a mixture of eco and modern chic, with students as a main audience. Their home-made vegan and vegetarian food with a focus on local and seasonal crops is tasty though often a little boring, typical filling meals served at places with a predominantly collegiate audience. Apart from Sundays, they do no longer offer lunch. You can choose from a large selection of organic drinks -- both coffee drinks, yogi tea, beer, wine, local spirits, and soft drinks. Disappointingly the complimentary spice cookie served with warm drinks was cheap conventional supermarket fare.

Burgers

Shabby chic with comic and neon elements make the environment for Klein August in Sankt Peter south of the railway tracks. Unusually for a burger grill it's not self-service but a family-friendly pub popular with women. The kitchen closes at 10 pm, and the place is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Some beer and soft drinks are organic as are the burger buns which are made from spelt. Make sure you order organic beef which is a little more expensive. They have a good selection of vegan and vegetarian burgers, too.

If you have an hour to wait for your train cross the street and walk inside Künstlerhaus K4 north of the central station to have a delicious organic burger, sandwich, a hearty soup or stew or simply a coffee drink at Auguste. The entrance from outside is a little hard to find, enter from within Künstlerhaus (e.g. from Filmhauskino art house cinema) or from Königstorgraben. You will find a rustic pub with a nice wooden ceiling, wooden floor and upcycled wooden chairs and tables.

All meals are certified organic: German soups, lever, sandwiches, burgers, fries, and more. Organic coffee in your organic coffee drink costs an additional 30c. While the milk as well as many juices and softdrinks are organic, cakes and beers (except for the organically labelled crafts beer by Klosterbrauerei Weißenohe) are not. They also serve an organic single malt dubbed Ayrer's red distilled in town, as well as a selection of organic wines (labelled bio on the menu).

Expect to pay between 10 and 20 EUR for a filling burger (which on request is served without bun). Monday is veggie day when all vegan and vegetarian burgers go for 8.90 EUR. The kitchen closes at 10:30 pm, a time when you can expect to have a beer loving group of males on your neighbouring table.

During my chat with the waitress I got the impression that the owners mean what they tell you in their self-description -- to be fair to customers, employees, and farmers, aiming at sustainability, and CO2 compensating. She seemed to be happy to work at the place, positively emphasizing on the team and the working conditions.

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:

2016-12-16 19:00:06 [Nuremberg, organic, vegan, vegetarian, lunch, dinner, French, Franconian, German, fastfood, burgers, restaurant, trainstation] 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 12:00:11 [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 16:00:04 [Kochi, Cochin, organic, lunch, coffee, restaurant, cafe, eatery, hotel, accommodation, delivery] 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.