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]
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]
Friday, 16 December 2016
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
[Nuremberg, organic, vegan, vegetarian, lunch, dinner, French, Franconian, German, fastfood, burgers, restaurant, trainstation]
Monday, 29 August 2016
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.
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!
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:
[Thiruvananthapuram, Trivandrum, Kovalam, organic, grocery, supermarkets, fashion, bodycare, household, restaurant, pizza, zero_waste, vegan]
Tuesday, 23 August 2016
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.
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.
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.
The following place, a friendly, 100 percent organic grassroots Indian restaurant cum grocery moved to Bangalore and does no longer work out of Kochi:
[Kochi, Cochin, organic, lunch, coffee, restaurant, cafe, eatery, hotel, accommodation, delivery]