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]
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]
Friday, 28 August 2015
Missing the mondane reputation of neighbouring Rimini eating out in Pesaro is not about posh restaurants. All the organic places I found offer simple, home-made food that suits both, lunch and dinner: pizza and the local variety, piadina (a warm wrap made of thin bread and a veg or non-veg pizza fill), simple pasta dishes, risotti and main courses.
A few meters from Teatro Rossini in Centro storico, the old city center, the small friendly Pizzeria Bio al Teatro serves pizza to go along with organic soft drinks, beer, prosecco and wine by the bottle. All pizze are a 100 percent organic and vegetarian if not vegan, pre-baked on trays in the kitchen behind the sales counter, sold by the piece and re-heated while you wait. Decent fast food, although their pizza base resembles an airy foccacia rather than the thin, crispy traditional pizza round baked in a wood-fired stone oven. There are some bar chairs and tables inside to sit and eat on the spot as well as a couple of recycled wooden benches outside. The place opens only in the evening.
For lunch (or dinner) head for Da Peppe Pesaro Centro, approximately five minutes away located in a traffic-calmed street connecting busy Via 11 Febbraio and Viale Donato Bramante. This local restaurant chain
uses organic flour for their home-made pasta and piadine, offers grain-based organic salads, and some of the veges as well as the olive oil are also organic. Unfortunately drinks, non-vegetarian and some other ingredients are not. When ordering pasta you have to specify the pasta shape and the sauce to go with. The food is simple and tasty, and since it is prepared on the spot requires a little patience. The staff is friendly, but expect the service to be relaxed.
A further five-minutes walk East-North-East leads you to Chiccoteca, a cosy, simply-styled certified all-organic restaurant cum cafe open daily all day, with an arbour in front facing (comparatively) silent Via Buozzi. It will serve you both, breakfast, and simple meals for lunch and dinner (including -- you guess it -- home-made pizze and cascioni, pizza pockets similar to a calzone), and of course the obligatory coffee (tisane if you prefer) cum cake. Very unusual for no-frills eateries in Italy you will be served glass and earthenware, no plastics.
Just around the corner you will find the Chiccoteca supermarket, a small, pleasantly furnished organic full-retailer, closed on Sundays. If you are in need for organic food items on a Sunday make sure you arrive near Teatro Rossini before 1 pm, in time for the nearby Coop supermarket branch stocking a decent selection of organic veges, dairy products, cookies and other food items.
Apart from Coop supermarkets, there's a second chain in Italy you can trust to offer real fare: the ice-cream makers of Grom. In Pesaro, however, there is no Grom branch, so you have to rely on the following rule of thumb: Avoid gelaterie where the ice-cream is piled up and heavily decorated to attract customers from a distance. Real ice-cream presented this way would melt, not to mention hygienic reasonings. So stick to the ones where the ice-cream is hidden in steel containers buried in the freezer and preferably covered with a lid.
The one I found is Panna & Cioccolato near Teatro Rossini. Apart from generally yummy all-natural ice-creams, ice-cakes and smoothies (centrifughe) they also have one organic ice-cream variety on offer: Mascarpone. As with other gelaterie making artisan all-natural gelato the interior is cleanly furnished in lab-style, the workshop proudly presented, and you may have a glimpse on the ice-cream makers at work through the shop's window front.
Although overpriced low-quality fast-food on the beach promenade still is the norm, Pesaro beach offers better options: For the full-fledged beach experience including organic cocktails head for Bottega Beach within Bagni Alfredo right in front of the lower building of the Hotel Excelsior. During the high season you can party day and night indulging in vegan organic ice-cream, piadine, pizze, salads, alcoholic as well as non-alcoholic beverages and small meals. During the low season starting with a party at 3pm on the last Saturday in April this beach shack keeps open on weekends and public holidays. All food and beverages are also available to take away.
The only organic place in town calling itself a restaurant is Da Peppe Pesaro Mare located a short walk westwards next to Bagni Tina. Noisy with efficient, though not overly polite staff it serves basic, but delicious seafood dishes which are not on offer in other Da Peppe branches in addition to the regular Da Peppe fare consisting of partially organic home-made pasta, piadine, soups and salads.
Acommodation and bicycles
About half an hour by bicycle, west of Pesaro Centro a pleasant family-driven organic farm, Badia, offers bed and partially organic breakfast in clean and simply furnished rooms under the roof of the farm house. The owner, Federica, will happily help you to rent reasonably priced bicyles from the compentent Pesaro Bici workshop.
In case you plan to stay for a longer period you may try to register for the city's free bike sharing scheme C'entro in bici in the comunal information desk (Sportello Informa&Servizi del Comune di Pesaro) behind piazza del Popolo. You are required to fill in a form available from their website, pay a 10 Euro deposit and will receive a personal key for the bikes.
Both, the bike shop and the information office will provide you with a cycle map covering the Bicipolitana in Pesaro, a nicely constructed and signposted network of dedicated bicycle lanes. Number 3 (in Openstreetmap marked as Pista ciclopedonale Umberto Cardinali) leads you from the city center alongside the banks of the river Foglia -- crossing allotments, abandoned factory buildings and a maze of six-foot tall reed -- to Centro Rossini, halfway to the Badia farm.
[Pesaro, organic, biologico, pizza, ice-cream, supermarkets, coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, fastfood, vegetarian, vegan, farms, accommodation, vegan, takeaway, cycling, Italian, agriturismo]