Monday, 30 October 2017
Leaving the train at Altona station does not bring you to the heart of the city but to the vibrant neighbourhoods of Altona (to the East) and Ottensen (to the West) offering a great choice of lively (partially) organic places. None of them are very posh as the distinguished bourgeouis citizens usually live and roam elsewhere, and there's a good chance to mingle with locals.
Where to stay
As long as you are satisfied with a basic yet clean and well-kept hotel room head for
the Schanzenstern. The name derives from its original location in the Sternschanze neighbourhood, but even though the hostel moved to its current location surely ten years ago references to its old address haven't vanished from the net completely. Most rooms are
equipped with bunk beds, and you are well advised to book in advance especially if not travelling alone.
The entire building is painted in clear basic colors, orange and blue the rooms, yellow the hallway. Since rain water is used
for flushing the toilets its colour can be explained easily, and the soap dispensers in the bathroom are filled with liquid organic hand wash.
If you're travelling by bicycle there's a locked shed where you can store it safely overnight.
The hostel's 100% organic breakfast buffet keeps open daily from 7:30 to 10:30, but is not included in the price for the night. For 8 additional Euro you can order it until late on the evening before. The restaurant also serves organic lunch on weekdays, and there are board games and journals to spend the time with.
Breakfast and lunch alternatives are located within five-minutes walking distance:
For one there's the Zeit für Brot ("time for bread") artisanal show bakery next to a branch of the Denn’s organic supermarket chain in Ottenser Hauptstraße. Through a window you can watch the bakers at work, and buy German bread fresh from the oven. If stepping by for a coffee or another non-alcoholic drink, a pastry, cake, savoury snack, or a light lunch (all organic) queue with the other customers and place your order at the till. Find a place at one of the tables inside or -- during the warm season -- outside under a sunshade also sheltering from the occasional rain shower and enjoy the gorgeous smell of real bread together with your snack.
Cafes and lunch restaurants
Another organic breakfast alternative is cosy cafe Lillisu offering 100% organic food and drinks. In addition to breakfast the women owners also serve sandwiches, filled pasta, spaghetti, soup and salads for lunch, both vegetarian and omnivore, prepared in the tiny kitchen in view of their guests.
Place your order at the counter
and add a home-made cake from the display.
You'll be served but are expected to return to the counter for payment.
Set breakfast plates are served on weekends only.
Decorated in pastel colours this is also the place to buy nostalgic presents and some organic delicatessen (chocolates, olive oil, coffee, ...) as well as "Glück in Gläsern" ("happiness in jars"), (in)famous 100% non-organic nostalgic sweets many Germans will remember from their childhood, sold by the piece.
As in the Schanzenstern restaurant a selection of magazines from Hamburg-based publishers are there to be read by the guests.
If your budget calls for a cheap lunch you may head for the uninspiring self-service restaurant on the first floor of the IKEA branch in Altona. On their website they do not announce organic food, but when I was there they offered two organically certified pasta dishes. If they do not have an organic dish when you visit or you would like to have an organic drink afterwards just walk a few steps in Eastern direction where you find yet another Denn's supermarket branch which also serves snacks at their self-service cafe.
For a sweet threat head back to Altona train station (where you by the way will find another organic supermarket, this time an Alnatura branch).
Since 1913 there has been an Italian ice-cream parlour in Ottenser Hauptstaße, which, after world war II became Eiscafe Venezia. Today, the owners are no longer of Italian origin, but use
organic milk for all of their about 20 flavours. Unfortunately the ice-cream isn't fully organic itself; the scoop goes for 1.20 EUR. Usually the cafe closes at midnight, but you may find it closing earlier on bad weather.
More to try
Here's another organic cafe and a bakery I found during my research but did not have time to visit. I'll be happy if you'd share your impressions with me!
The following places do no longer exist although you might find them referenced on the web:
[Hamburg, Altona, Ottensen, organic, coffee, ice-cream, supermarkets, grocery, eatery, lunch, breakfast, cafe, hotel, accommodation, bakeries]
Friday, 08 September 2017
Bremen offers plenty opportunities for an organic lunch ranging from a cheap and simple meal at a University refectory to the posh organic business lunch.
For dinner there's significantly less choice -- you may opt for fast food or a friendly place to meet friends, but to have an organic candle light dinner will be difficult. Don't expect highly sophisticated international cuisine -- Bremen restaurants are best when it comes to local dishes based on regional ingredients (which are totally different from e.g. the meat-centric Bavarian cuisine) and rather adapt international influences than aim at an -- whatever the definition may be -- authentic experience of a foreign cuisine.
The food served in "Indian" restaurants in Germany usually does not have much in common with the food actually served in India -- and the Punjabi food served at the -- to my knowledge -- oldest organic restaurant in Bremen, the
Krishna a short walk from the Southern end of either Wilhelm Kaisen or Bürgermeister Smidt bridge is also adapted to this idea of how Europeans are likely to like Indian food.
This is probably not a surprise since the restaurant generates its main business from its delivery and take-away service. The good news about it -- there's always a spare table in the restaurant which now after more than ten years looks a little worn, resembling actual restaurants in India.
Since the main ingredients of the pakoras, curries and tandoori dishes -- meat, dairy products and vegetables -- are organic the food is much more palatable than in conventional "Indian" restaurants. You can choose between rice and naan bread as a side dish, and each curry comes with a salad (dressed with a balsamico-based dressing) in advance.
The menu hasn't changed much in all these years -- lamb, chicken, fish, cheese (paneer) and/or vegetables in a gravy, and as a recent addition gravy with tofu as a vegan alternative. You might wish to start your meal with an (organic) yogurt drink (lassi) and finish with a cup of chai or hot saffron milk.
There's also a selection of cold organic drinks available. If you have the chance take a chat with the friendly Punjabi owner, but do not expect much flexibility from his staff which often even cannot remember the dishes and will ask you for the number on the menu when ordering.
Note that the restaurant is open evenings only.
If you are in the mood for basic Italian food, organic breakfast or coffee head for the
Lei in the Viertel neighbourhood.
Their menu changes daily -- usually you can choose from seasonal salads, soups, a risotto, a pasta dish and three types of pizze, all entirely made of certified organic ingredients. For dessert or together with a coffee drink you may order home-made cheesecakes, sometimes brownies or other cake varieties.
The pizza toppings usually are not the classical Italian ones, instead they use seasonal local ingredients on a gorgeous crisp and thin pizza base -- very tasty as was the risotto.
Disappointing their interpretation of a lasagna -- the tomato-based meat or tofu fill was predominantly made of carrots. Healthy perhaps, and in line with the Bremen tradition for health food, but not the delight I hoped for.
The kitchen closes at 9 pm but as long as there are people having another drink the place keeps open in the evenings. So you might try your luck after 9 pm, to have a gin and tonic (among the gins and tonics there is one organic variety each) or sample from a good selection of craft beers, a few of them organic.
If you are not into football try to avoid the place while Werder Bremen is playing. Although usually closed on Sundays, the restaurant opens at 12 o'clock on match Sundays to broadcast the match. During the warm season there's a nice terrace in front of it where you can avoid to watch the TV screen and nevertheless mingle with locals.
It shouldn't go unnoticed that the toilet avoids one-way paper towels and offers organic liquid hand-wash. A throughout pleasant place if you ask me.
Regional -- International
For a coffee or lunch break you have another opportunity in the vicinity: the
Bio-Biss im Alten Fundamt, a recreational place which has been offering organic food for many years, formerly under the name "Mundart im Alten Fundamt" and now in the second generation of tenants, as "Bio-Biss". In summer it's a pleasure to eat outside in the large backyard, with a kindergarden and a home for the elderly as neighbours. The menu changes daily and offers tasty seasonal food using predominantly local ingredients from their own farm or other organic farms nearby. The dishes are based on local food traditions or derived from Italian or Oriental cuisines, and always served both, as a regular and a small portion.
You may also have an organic ice-cream from the Kaemena farm.
A less sophisticated yet filling organic lunch for a cheap price can be had at the
Bio-Biss refectory on the University campus opposite Universum. On weekdays you can choose from two dishes, one of them vegetarian, and a soup. Don't expect a mouth-watering pleasure, it's good old canteen food, but since the ingredients are organic it tastes better than comparable food at the university Mensa. Also their fully organic coffee drinks are of superior quality (though a bit more expensive) compared with the coffee machine fare you get at the latter. Ask for a real cup which you will get in exchange for an euro deposit (otherwise you will be handed a one-way paper cup as students have proved to be unreliable in returning them). Most soft drinks are organic here, too. A brief friendly exchange makes the staff happy and you will be served with a smile, too.
The nearest you can get to a romantic evening out is the
Canova restaurant behind Kunsthalle. Many of their supplies come from organic farms in the greater Bremen area, and it's a pleasure to sit on their terrace in summer.
If you rather opt for fast food there are two options, both of them only a few steps away from each other, in the city's central shopping area.
Opposite the back entrance to the Kaufhof department store you can find 1885 Burger, a self-serving American-type diner using
organic beef and bacon in their burgers. Start queuing at the left side and choose the type of patty and home-made bun you prefer. While the patty is being grilled before your eyes move to the right and specify the sauces, vegetables and condiments as well as your drinks (I'd suggest the organic Störtebeker beer). Some of the veges are organic, too, and most of them as well as the cheeses are sourced locally. Vegetarian cheese and vegan lentils patties are available, but you have to enquire whether they are organic. Pay at the till in the middle of the restaurant when you're ready to leave. Although the place is popular among supporters of the local football club Werder Bremen, it should be noted that there's no TV screen.
A short walk in Western direction, through the mall area will lead you to
Scharfrichter, a sausage place offering the hottest currywurst in town. Invest the small difference of 50 cents and order an organic Bio-Bratwurst together with an
organic softdrink (Bionade), and specify the spicyness of the (not organic) sauce. The organic ice-cream from nearby Kaemena farm will calm your burning gums if necessary. Vegan sausages are available, but it's advisable to ask whether they are organic.
More to try
Here's a list of (partially) organic restaurants and eateries I found during my research but did not have time to visit. Your impressions are appreciated!
[Bremen, organic, coffee, lunch, dinner, snacks, restaurant, burgers, pizza, fastfood, takeaway, Indian, Italian, vegan, vegetarian]
Thursday, 31 August 2017
A hotspot for the coffee and tea trade the Hanseatic city of Bremen has a tradition for exotic beverages, and has always been a place with room for a subtler and more sophisticated approach to these beverages than the conventional mass-market. Organic and ecological projects have been blooming here for much longer than elsewhere, and so you can expect to find long established organic places blossoming alongside recent start-ups. What you will rarely find however are shiny, polished hipster cafes.
For the quick and dirty coffee shot step by Falko‘s Faire Bohne a ten minutes walk from Leibnitzplatz. It's actually a shop selling coffee equipment, with a shabby-chic sofa and coffee table and a few chairs outdoor as long as the weather allows for it, for the customer to sample the organic and fairly traded coffee she wishes to buy home. Falko also offers a selection of locally sourced juices (not labelled organic) and fairly traded sweets and cookies. Have a chat with him and take a breath of the atmosphere of the Neustadt neighbourhood.
If you have to describe this quarter in a sentence you'd probably point to the omnipresence of flee market-purchased furniture and objects in its lovingly and individually decorated independent shops and cafes. The beer tables on the pleasant garden terrace of Cafe Radieschen ("radish") as well as its indoor walls are all painted pink! If you come hungry first have a predominantly organic vegetarian or vegan pasta dish or sandwich before you turn to their impressive choice of home-made, predominantly organic cakes. Most drinks as well as the milk are organic, you can have an organic vegan ice-cream in the summer, and ingredients are sourced locally as far as possible. Lunch is usually offered between 12 am and 3 pm, and instead of the weekend the place is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The cafe plays host to a lot of neighbourhood activities, among them home-cooking events with young refugees from the house across the street.
Another cosy and serene place for an Italian-style coffee drink is the
Lei bistrot reviewed in the
The city's narrowest lanes are to be found in tourist hotspot Schnoor at the other, Northern shore of the river Weser.
To enjoy the atmosphere of this oldest part of town dating back to the 15th and 16th century, follow the Wüstestätte ("waste site") alleyway until the end and have a tea in a beautiful yet narrow two-storey tea house and shop dubbed Teestübchen ("little tea parlour"). Nice weather provided you can also sit outdoor and enjoy breakfast or tea time with a home-made cake, or a high tea with a pasta, typical local dishes, or Alsatian "pizza" (Flammkuchen).
Many ingredients are organic, but you might want to be picky when choosing the tea since not all of them are.
Note that the kitchen closes at 9:30 pm.
At the university campus
University refectories usually are no gourmet temples, but it is nevertheless a pity that the Mensa refectory on the campus stopped to offer organic side dishes. What you still can have is an organic and fairly traded coffee drink with locally sourced organic milk from the coffee vending machines at Cafe Central.
It's not a delight, though -- the coffee tastes bitter from too high a temperature inside the machine, but it's cheap (1.30 EUR) and ethical.
- Cafehaus Moma,
Straßentor 1, Worpswede (partially organic cafe closed since August 22, 2017)
[Bremen, Neustadt, Schnoor, Worpswede, organic, fair, vegan, vegetarian, coffee, tea, lunch, cafe, breakfast]
Saturday, 26 August 2017
Organic and eco-conscious trade in the city of Bremen is still dominated by smaller shops and supermarkets closing already between 6 and 7 pm, and between noon and 2 pm on Saturdays. Although outlets of the Alnatura and Aleco organic supermarket chains keep open until 8 pm, you might end up quite frustrated if your schedule doesn't allow for day-time-on-weekdays shopping.
Fortunately shops within Hauptbahnhof, the main train station, have quite liberal opening hours, hence unless you're longing for fresh veges or frozen food, you're safe, even on Sundays and in the evening.
A small selection of fresh fruit, dairy products (and non-dairy alternatives), drinks, dry food, sweets, natural cosmetics and a full-fledged range of bread, rolls, and pastries (both, sweet and savoury) can be found at the BetterLife health-food shop (Reformhaus). Apart from the bakery booth, you have however to check for organic labels as about half the products on sale aren't organic or certified natural cosmetics.
With their natural cosmetics own brand "Alterra" Rossmann drugstores like the one you'll enter when climbing the stairs to the right after entering the central station from the Bahnhofsplatz tram and bus hub offer an alternative for the small purse. The branch keeps open 16 hours a day (14 on weekends on bank holidays) and stocks a good selection of organic dry goods (check for organic labels).
[Bremen, organic, supermarkets, grocery, bodycare, trainstation]
Sunday, 20 August 2017
As you might have noticed from the restaurant reviews Stockholm is full of small-scale local food chains -- the majority of them with two or three branches when counting in the day-open cafes covered by this post.
When entering Stockholm C train station through the main entrance and immediately descending to the basement you'll notice the bright green signature colour of the Coop supermarket store (which, by the way, should be able to provide you with sufficient organic food for your trip). With its entrance in your back you'll easily discover a branch of the city's first and so far only fair-trade coffee chain
Barista. Fine when you're on the go, but they also have a real cafe in Söder. Coffee and milk are organic as is the yogurt you may have for breakfast and the majority of all ingredients used in salads, sandwiches and scones. Their aim is to have a fully organic store cupboard in the very near future but do not promise anything for fresh produce. If you stay in Stockholm for a while you may consider a customer card which entitles you for a ten percent discount on your purchase and an Ethiopian school child for a free meal.
If you're looking for a place to work alongside a tasty coffee drink (made with organic milk if not plain) head
Johan&Nyström coffee roaster's bar and co-working space in Kungsholmen. You can rent a working place
or meeting room by the
hour, day or month, and enjoy organic
juice or iced tea. Not all the coffees and teas you may want to buy for use at home are organic, and you have to ask about the ingredients of the (absolutely tasty)
toasted sandwiches and pastries. Note that the place accepts
There are two more Johan&Nyström cafes in town, one near Mariatorget (shop, class room, coffee and tea bar) and a coffee house in Östermalm. The latter will offer co-working space and meeting rooms starting autumn 2017.
Note that the opening hours given below apply in summer. In the dark season many shops including these open later and close earlier.
If you walk or cycle along Folkungagatan in Söder you might pay attention to a shop window filled with bicycles.
Bicycle shops aren't an attraction on its own right in bicycle-friendly Stockholm, but you may want to have a closer look at this one, as Café Le Mond isn't just a bicycle (repair) shop, but a cyclist cafe offering partially organic breakfast, soups, salads and sandwiches. On Tuesdays and Fridays there's a breakfast buffet (cyclists are entitled a discount), and on weekends you can have brunch.
On weekdays between 11am and 2pm there's free coffee with your meal.
Since I could not make it inside, I'm happy to hear about your experience.
In and around museums
If you're on a tourist's track you may find relieve in that an organic coffee drink at Moderna Museet on Skeppsholmen is easy to have -- not at the museum's cafe bar itself, but at the entrance to
Arkitektur - och designcentrum next door. Here you find Café Blom, a cosy self-service cafe with a serene outdoor terrace accessible without a ticket to the museum. Bread and pancakes, most lemonades and some of the ingredients of the tasty and nourishing salads or sandwiches are organic but stay away from shrimps, mayonnaise, chicken and meat products.
For an all organic coffee or lunch break head for Fotografiska cafe inside the museum of photographic art. Unlike the museum's restaurant it is however not accessible without a ticket to the exhibition.
Arriving early at Stockholm C and fancy a 100 percent organic breakfast? Take the short walk to
Café Genuin, a somewhat hidden organic bakery. For later on the day
lunch sandwiches, wraps and salads
are available, too, and of course a coffee or soft drink, roll or fancy pastry.
In the heart of Gamla Stan you'll find Naturbageriet Sattva, a holistic, predominantly vegan organic bakery, not using refined sugar. Step by for a soft drink, decent coffee (with organic cow's milk if you like) and a tasty cinnamon roll (kanelsnurra), but scan the organic labels on the pre-packaged beverages as not all of them are organic. In summer they also offer pre-packaged vegan organic ice-cream. Seating is limited, especially when the weather disallows for outdoor tables on the street.
When the weather is nice the island of Djurgärden is humming with locals and tourists alike, and all places covered in this section keep open only when a steady stream of visitors can be predicted.
In winter all of them are closed, and opening hours outside the light summer season quite restricted. Places inside the theme parks require the purchase of a ticket.
On the water-facing promenade inside Gröna Lund entertainment park the Boardwalk Café offers organic and fairly traded coffee drinks and tea on the go. Note that the cinnamon roll adverted as a package with the coffee is neither of both. The opening hours match those of the entertainment park.
Inside Skansen outdoor museum you'll find a self-service Koloni outdoor cafe covered by the eateries and restaurants section. Note that the opening hours of this predominantly organic place are more restricted than those of the museum itself.
Open to all tour goers on Djurgården is decidedly sustainable
Rosendals Trädgårdskafé. Unfortunately I couldn't make it there during their opening hours, so no review here (yet). Note that the place accepts cards only.
Waiting for a flight is tedious, and having an overpriced coffee at an uninspiring airport coffee bar an efficient way to kill the time. Fortunately Arlanda allows you to do this with a better conscience, with tea brewed from an organic tea bag or an organic, fairly traded coffee drink served with organic milk in a real ceramic cup instead of a one-way plastic or cardboard one. To do so
on international terminal 5 watch out for the Lavazza sign presiding over an otherwise boring place dubbed Food market. They also offer 0.2l tetrapaks with organic orange or pear juice.
There are also two Johan & Nyström coffee bars at terminals 2 and 4.
[Stockholm, organic, coffee, breakfast, lunch, snacks, fair, cafe, Arlanda, airports, trainstation]