Sunday, 13 August 2017
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
[Stockholm, organic, lunch, dinner, vegetarian, vegan, bar, restaurant, eatery, coffee]
Saturday, 12 August 2017
If you believe that ice-cream was something for sunny and warm weather places take a trip to Stockholm and learn about the Swedes love for "glass" (the word is derived from French "glace"). Since Texas-born (and Paris-trained) pastry chef Nicole Emson started her local ice-cream chain Stikki Nikki in 2008 your next organic ice-cream parlour is always just a few steps away.
The pink-coloured branches do not offer coffee or pastries, just delicious mouth-licking ice-cream on the go in generous helpings. Even the crunchy ingredients like caramel, cookie dough, or roasted coconut chips are prepared in the shop at Mariatorget. Mind you that the scoop (draped with a spatula the Italian way) for 35 SEK is huge, comparable with two scoops elsewhere. Which is sad as this makes it difficult to try all the tempting flavours available (fruity vegan options among them). Bigger helpings (55 SEK for two, and 65 SEK for three scoops) are available, or you buy by the (half) liter to take home. Unfortunately most places keep closed during the winter.
Open all year around is 18 smaker ("18 flavours") near Mariatorget, and the reason for this is that they share the venue with Cheesecake Palace. So it's up to you to decide whether you go for predominantly organic ice-cream or cheesecake. I did not try the latter, but the ice-cream is delicious and goes for 32 SEK the small scoop (you decide whether you want to have one or two flavours the scoop). Two big or three small helpings cost 46 SEK, and for 60 SEK you may decide upon three or four flavours. Some of them (like the Polkagris variety containing crushed red-and-white-striped candy) may contain conventional ingredients, but vegans can't complain about choice. Note that you pay first and specify the flavours afterwards.
When you feel for an ice-cream in tourist hotspot Gamla Stan
your second option besides Stikki Nikki is Lisa's coffee, tea and sweets shop offering prefab organic ice-cream of the Danish brand Hansens. Since 2017 all Hansens ice-cream pops have been certified organic, so this is a safe bet in convenience stores, too.
[Stockholm, organic, vegan, ice-cream, coffee, cafe]
Friday, 11 August 2017
Whether you arrive in Stockholm by train or the airport train Arlanda Express -- your next business hotel serving (partially) organic breakfast is just
a stone's throw away: When you exit Stockholm Central station using the Arlanda Express exit you'll find a sign pointing you towards Nordic Light Hotel promising a predominantly organic breakfast buffet. It's included if you stay overnight, otherwise adults pay 195 SEK and children between 4 and 12 years 110 SEK.
Turning right at the airport train exit you will find yourself at the entrance of Hotel C immediately. Given the size and the ugliness of this unpersonal building the interior of the rooms is surprisingly pleasant and the staff helpful and of a natural friendliness that suggests a fair working place. In the bathroom you'll find Natrue certified natural bodycare -- body lotion, shampoo, conditioner, face cleanser and cream, and liquid soap with the (less strict) Nordic Eco label. There's also a complimentary selection of organic coffee (and milk for the coffee) on the room.
The large (included) breakfast buffet is certified by KRAV but since there are several levels of certification the organic label in this case means more than 25 percent organic or 15 items only. This is disappointing especially since all the cold cuts, warm breakfast items, fruits and veges were conventional while I stayed here. Black tea, coffee, milk (cow, oat, and soy), yogurt (cow and soy), cranberries, a cerial, some seeds, crisp bread, orange and strawberry marmelade and honey sported an additional KRAV or Eko label, and the herring was MSC certified.
[Stockholm, organic, hotel, accommodation, breakfast]
Sunday, 09 July 2017
If there is a city in the world where tourists watch tourists doing touristy things -- it's probably the beautiful old city center of Venice, Venezia in Italian. Which makes it difficult to follow the traveller's rule: When it comes to food do as the locals do.
Fortunately the odd Coop supermarket has a reasonable selection of organic (though usually pre-packaged) fruit and veges, drinks, cookies and food. This may save your life, especially since they usually keep open on Sundays, and since it can be difficult to spot one of the
three long-established independent organic convenience stores
in the maze of the city's beautiful old houses.
These are now affiliated under the Cuore Bio label of Italian organic supermarkets. Here you will also find organic bodycare, eco-friendly detergents and more.
If you're looking for an eatable or drinkable souvenir pay a visit to Pantagruelica, a crammed delicatessen shop
at the western end of Campo San Barnaba. It
stocks mainly certified organic items and food at least partially produced adhering to organic principles. If departing the waterbus at Ca' Rezzonico stop you can't miss it when following the only way into the open of the square and keep an eye on the left side. The shopkeeper can be a little annoying with his ever almost identical rants on the quality of his products, but he doesn't mind being cut short, and instead being drawn into a real chat.
[Venice, Venezia, biologico, organic, deli, supermarkets, grocery]
Tuesday, 09 May 2017
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
[Berlin, Kreuzberg, organic, vegan, Italian, pizza, coffee, ice-cream, supermarkets, fashion, shoes, deli, grocery, eatery]