The Organic Traveller
Saturday, 13 October 2018

Budapest: Sustainable shopping

At the first glance Budapest is full of organic health (food) shops, Bio Bolt in Hungarian, however, most of them predominantly deal in pills and powders. So unless dietary supplements (including super foods, plant-based milk alternatives, flours, nuts and other ingredients to prep up your cereals) are what you're looking for or the shop (like the recently opened Bio Egészség Biobolt behind the Synagogue) is on your track anyway, it's much easier to stick to one of the many branches of the German DM chemist's chain for travel supplies like organic dry goods, fruit juices, vegan alternatives, eco detergents and natural bodycare. Check for organic labels as (especially for cosmetics and toiletry products) there's increased green-washing in conventional product lines which also are available here. The DM own brands "DM Bio" (food) and "Alverde" (body care) are both good value and safe if your budget is tight or you're in a hurry.

BioABC

Food souvenirs

What you won't find there are typical food souvenirs from Hungary: paprika, salami and wine. To buy these you need to find a proper biobolt or farmers' market, and these aren't as easy to find as one might expect. A reliable source is BioABC, a small, yet well assorted organic supermarket in Belváros, located between Astoria and Kálvin tér. They have only a small selection of wines (above the fridges), the salami is tucked away in a separate fridge in the right-most corner next to the shop's window front, and you can choose from several types of Hungarian paprika powder. Apart from this they stock local fresh produce, dairy products, sweets and cookies, preserves as well as natural body care, both of local origin as well as imported goods, in short all daily necessities. Bring your own containers for buying loose-weight dry goods.

A second option is the Mennyország Szíve Bio Bolt a few steps from the Keleti Palyaudvar train station. Here you can also have a coffee, breakfast or vegan lunch just after arrival or before departing. However, the place is closed on weekends as well as public holidays which is why I cannot give an account of the quality of neither the food nor the range of goods sold here.

Cultivini For high-end Hungarian wines pay a visit to Cultivini Wine Cellars and Tasting in Belváros (5th district). The place is very upmarket, with the opportunity for wine tasting, and specializes in Hungarian wines. If you ask for organic and natural wines the sommeliers will competently advise and answer questions, but you have to be bold on your interest in organic wines as they will point you to conventionally produced wines in the course of the discussion if you aren't firm.

Massolit (the backyard)

Books, coffee and tea

The classical bookstore you know from French movies does still exist -- and has adapted to modern times by becoming a cafe and co-working space in Erzsébetváros: The English language bookstore cum cafe Massolit does not only sell hand-picked English literature, a few tourist books, a small selection of stationary and fairly-traded coffee drinks or organic tea, but also offers quiches and cakes for both, a breakfast or the casual snack in between. While the milk for the coffee is organic (though not certified), the origin of the ingredients of the bakery items isn't easy to tell, for a good reason: Both, the bagels, cakes and quiches are hand-made by friends of the shop owner from the neighbourhood who earn an additional income this way. While some of them will certainly use eggs or milk from a properly working local farmer, conventional supermarket supply is also part of the game. If you want to stay here for work buy a co-working card, take a seat in the pleasant backyard or at some of the wooden tables inside. Water and wifi is for free but note that the place is closed on Mondays.

More to try

When I asked locals about where to buy organic fruit I was directed to the Fény utcai piac marketplace near Széll Kálmán tér. Unfortunately, none of the market stalls showed signs of the key words "bio" or "öko", or of any organic labels or certificates. Since I don't speak Hungarian (and the command of foreign languages among the farmers was limited, too), the topic was too difficult to handle -- let me know if you're able to find out more. On weekends there are two dedicated organic or at least partially organic farmers' markets, pay a visit -- I'm glad if you'd share your experience with me.

Closed

References on the web do often exist longer than shops and venues themselves. The following places I found abandoned when I stepped by.

2018-10-13 15:00:00 [Budapest, organic, wine, grocery, market, supermarkets, vegetarian, vegan, zero_waste, lunch, breakfast, coffee, tea, books] Link

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Friday, 21 September 2018

Budapest: (Partially) organic ice-cream

Astonishingly many of the artisanal ice-cream parlours in town present their products in the hygienically correct way for the storage of unadultered natural ice-cream, and the city seems to be a heaven for vegan ice-cream lovers. However, and this is the bad news, there seems to be no such thing as fully (bio-)organic ice-cream. But there are places using organic milk.

Gelarto Rosa One of them is a major tourist spot next to Szent István (St. Stephen's) cathedral. With the impressive queue in front of Gelarto Rosa on hot summer days there's often no need to watch out for the art nouveau-styled rose sign priding the entrance (see image) -- you simply can't miss the place. All dairy flavours here are made from organic milk, and there are fruity, vegan flavours, too, though without the promise on the use of organic fruit. Your dish of ice-cream is skillfully made into a rose which helps justifying the hefty price: A small rose made of two flavours comes at 700 Ft., the medium one with three flavours at 800 Ft., and a large rose with four flavours and three rows of petals at 900 Ft.

If you don't insist on dairy ice-cream you may skip the queue and walk around the corner along Szent István tér. Only a fews steps away you'll find a second branch dubbed Gelarto Rosa Bistro -- vegan hedonism. It is in fact a small bistro with outdoor seating serving vegan bowls, sandwiches and desserts predominantly made from organically produced (though not necessarily certified) ingredients from local farmers as well as Italian-style coffee. On summer days however you will rarely notice the food since the focus is on ice-cream roses. As in the older shop around the corner, first queue at the cash counter, specify the size of your ice-cream and pay upfront, then move on to the ice-cream desk and order the flavours. Here you'll find predominantly vegan sorbets, although you might spot one, at maximum two dairy flavours, too, and the queue is significantly shorter than the one around the corner. With food and coffee orders you will be served (after having paid at the cash desk) at your table.

Kedves Krem For a much less touristy place head for the Buda side of the Danube river: Kedves Krém ("lovable cream") in Víziváros, a few corners from Széll Kálmán tér is a lovely neighbourhood ice-cream parlour cum cafe most frequented by locals. The creamy, all-natural dairy ice-cream here comes at 270 Ft. the scoop. With clearly accentuated flavours and stored in deep, steel-covered containers used by only the most serious artisanal ice-cream makers this is definitely the best ice-cream I had in Budapest. Unfortunately I couldn't get a confirmation for whether all ingredients were organic, most likely most of them, first of all milk and cream are sourced from local farms working according to organic principles. If you speak Hungarian and are able to inquire in depth, let me know about it.

2018-09-21 20:00:00 [Budapest, organic, vegan, ice-cream, cafe, eatery, coffee, snacks, lunch] Link

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Saturday, 08 September 2018

Vienna: Organic ice-cream

Fortunately an increasing number of small-scale organic cattle farmers find creative ways to survive for the good of all of us -- and with some dairy cow farmers like the Kaemenas in Bremen or the Greisslers in Lower Austria the good is simply the best -- mouth-watering artisanal ice-cream!

Eis-Greissler Rotenturmstr. In the case of Eis-Greissler the ice-cream isn't fully organic -- it's made from organic milk and often flavoured with organic Sonnentor spices. The home-base for the ice-cream parlours with the chequered, pastel-shaded doll's house interior is Vienna, and usually you will be able to recognise the tiny shop near Stephansdom by the queue in front of it. The blackboard with the ice-cream flavours you'll notice when queueing from the right lists only the vegan flavours, there's a second blackboard left to the entrance listing the dairy varieties. A small scoop comes at 1.60 €, two flavours at 3 €, three at 4.20 €.

Prices however aren't the same everywhere: The bicyle-powered mobile ice-cream boothes (supplied with fresh ice-cream by cargo bikes) on the grounds of Schönbrunn castle and zoo charge a hefty 2.20 € the scoop.

More to try

During my research I also found the following ice-cream parlours trustworthily using organic ingredients, but I did not have the time to try them myself. If you do so let me know about your experience!

2018-09-08 12:10:00 [Vienna, Wien, organic, vegan, ice-cream, cafe, coffee] Link

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Friday, 07 September 2018

Organic Prague

The Bohemian kitchen serves a lot of (conventional) meat, and vegetarian places usually do neither use organic ingredients -- eating out can be quite a challenge in beautiful and historial Prague. My favourite restaurant from many years ago unfortunately does no longer exist, so I had to start almost from scratch, and my time in the city was limited. The good news: You have no longer to be a strict follower of a wholefood diet if you prefer organic food. But compared with capitals of neighbouring countries there's still a gap to close.

Country Life Melantrichova

Daily necessities

Founded in the 1990-ies the organic grocery Country Life has developed into a small organic supermarket chain since. The shops still look like small health food shops and concentrate on wholefood, but provide you with a sufficient selection of fresh and dry organic food, dairy products as well as vegan alternatives. Bread, rolls and pastries bought by the piece as well as fruits and veges aren't pre-packaged, and there is a good selection of dry food available from zero-waste dispensers, so come with your own bags and containers. Note that, except for the one in the old town, all Country Life shops are closed on both, on Saturdays and Sundays, and all of them close as early as between 6 and 7 pm.

Also in Prague you will find a number of franchises of the German DM chemist's chain which will provide you with a good selection of organic dry goods and natural bodycare. Their own brands "DM Bio" (food) and "Alverde" (body care) are affordable even if your budget is tight.

Restaurace Country Life

Eating out

If you found the Country Life grocery in the old town, Stare Mesto, head into the small alleyway to its left, where you find Prague's eldest still existing organic restaurant, the Restaurace Country Life. The interior resembles a typical Czech beer restaurant, and the place serves hearty Bohemian food indeed, however all vegetarian and dairy-free. Note that this self-service place -- just like the grocery -- is closed on Saturdays.

There is also an eatery on the premises of the Country life shop in Dejvice (Mind the quite restricted opening hours), and the convenience store in Jungmannova street will provide you with snacks.

Puro Kaprova

Coffee and ice-cream

For the hip coffee bar cum ice-cream parlour head for one of the Puro shops in town who decidedly do not sell "zmrzlina" but "gelato". The one nearest to tourist tracks is located two street corners from tube stop Staromestska, where you almost cannot miss the red-white checkered window front which hides a pastell-coloured self-service cafe. Queue, order, pay and pick up your certified kosher ice-cream made from organic milk. A small scoop (one flavour) comes at 50 crowns, a medium one (two flavours) at 90 crowns. If you ordered coffee drinks, milk shakes made with organic milk or cakes they will be served later on the seat you choose. Coffee and chocolate unfortunately aren't organic, only certified by the Rainforest alliance, and it is not quite clear whether the shop also uses the organic brown sugar which is on sale as the sugar served with the coffee is not organic.

More to try

During my research I found the following places that seemed likely to sell or serve at least partially organic food and drinks, but I did not had the time to check them out myself. If you do I'd appreciate if you let me know whether they actually do so!

Eco but not organic

The following hotel, located in a former baroque monastery claims to be an eco hotel but confirmed not to serve any organic breakfast items. If you intend to stay there ask for it in the hope that customer demand may have the power for change.

Ceased to exist

The following places are temporarily closed, shut down or were replaced by other, not organic ones, and are listed here as you still find them on the web:

2018-09-07 08:00:00 [Prague, Praha, Prag, organic, vegetarian, vegan, kosher, zero_waste, cafe, grocery, supermarkets, coffee, ice-cream, snacks, lunch, bodycare, household, hotel, accommodation, eatery] Link

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Thursday, 06 September 2018

Munich: Self-service eateries and streetfood

For an organic or at least partially organic lunch you have far more options than full-fledged restaurants or cafes with lunch options: There are a lot of eateries mainly catering for people working or studying nearby, shopping or travelling. You order your food and drinks at the counter, pay and find a place to sit down with your tablet. However, if you come off the peak hours you will often be served, or the staff will offer to bring your coffee to your table after you finished your meal.

Just a few years ago this type of eating opportunity was almost exclusively offered by owner-run organic groceries, usually taking the form of hearty vegetarian wholefood and sandwiches. Nowadays it's a much more volatile market -- hip places come and go more frequent than in other categories. Many of them have opening hours matching those of the cornershops -- closed on Sundays, in the evening, and often also on Saturday afternoons. Pommesboutique

Near the university (Maxvorstadt)

The streets near the university buildings in Maxvorstadt are a natural place to look for places offering organic food, and they've seen a lot of shops popping up and closing down. Two long-established, though very different eateries are worth a try, both located in Amalienstraße: the Mutter Erde grocery offering vegan meals and the Pommesboutique grill. The latter was one of the first places in town to take no compromises with regard to meat, but it is following a more laissez-faire approach when it comes to the veges and condiments. So you have to ask about the origin of the latter if you care. All the sausages, burger patties, köfte and other (minced) meat come from an organic farm in the vicinity, and you can choose from a huge range of sauces. If you prefer your fries chewy -- this is the place for you. Sometimes the tables are a bit too greasy for my liking, but with a little luck you come along when they have live music.

If you prefer your meat the Mexican way walk around the corner into Schellingstraße for Pureburrito, the second branch of a small climate-neutrally cooking local fast food chain serving burritos, tacos, and quesadillas. Unfortunately only pork and beef are organic, not the chicken, and you will find organic softdrinks of the Bionade brand in the fridge. There's another branch (much) farther up the street, near tube station Theresienstraße. All Pureburrito branches are closed on Sundays.

City center

To find organic food late on an evening out is a challenge in itself -- night birds usually do not tend to be picky about the origin of calories at this hour. But if you enter the party zone Sonnenstraße (or spend an evening in one of the cinemas) the Bikini Mitte deli and bar comes to the rescue, conveniently located opposite a petrol station. During the day it's a decent, partially organic eatery offering bowls and sandwiches, usually made with organic veges, alongside organic soft drinks of the Proviant and Charitea brands. Bread and meat (apart from the occasional pulled pork) are not organic. Apart from Sunday the place keeps open until midnight, catering until the early hours Thursday through Sunday, and since the bar stocks locally produced organic gin, wodka and amaro (alongside a wide range of conventional spirits) your drinking can always be responsible. The place may be known as "Bon Valeur" to locals as this is its former name (and the name of the company running it).

Byoo Another organic institution of old is Byoo near Isartor, formerly known as "Basic Bistro" which had to change name when the organic supermarket on the first floor opened its own self-service eatery. But claim the stairs to this 100 percent organic place run by a friendly Vietnamese family, their extremely tasty, perfectly spiced (vegan) Saigon soup is worth it! Vegans, vegetarians and omnivores are all catered for with a happy fusion cuisine, often with an oriental touch. If you can't decide for one of the usually two soups and six main courses on the daily changing menu you can still pick from the antipasti and salads bar. A family-friendly place they will happily heap a helping of a side dish on your plate if you ask. They usually do not offer dessert, instead have a freshly squeezed smoothie or an Italian-style coffee and cake, or simply a freshly brewed mint tea made from fresh herbs. Bring along your own jars if you you wish to take your food with you.

When taking a stroll through the Viktualienmarkt market gourmet restaurants like the Tian aren't your only lunch option: A few steps away (opposite Schrannenhalle) you'll find Yum 2 Take, an (evening open) Thai eatery and take-away serving organic meat.

Hearty, fully organic German lunch is being served at the Bistro ÖQ in the back of the Virtualienmarkt branch of the Herrmannsdorfer Landwerkstätten organic butcher's. Usually you will be waited but better keep your eyes open whether it seems more appropriate to order directly from the open kitchen and at the end go and pay there. Naturally this is a place for omnivores and meat-lovers but there's always a tasty vegetarian dish available. The kitchen draws both, from German and Italian countryside kitchen traditions, serving mouth-watering risotti and pasta dishes as well as a piece of meat or fish with side-dishes, following seasonal availability and properly prepared. For the real Munich experience do not miss their potato salad (not suitable for strict vegetarians, though)!

Carnivores and beer-lovers are also catered for a few steps away, in the mumble-jumble of Viktualienmarkt: The market stall of Kleiner Ochs'nbrater ("little ox grill") serves Munich fast food specialities, which naturally means beer and meat. Have a Leberkäs (meat loaf), sausage or pork roast (Schweinebraten) -- (except for the beef and some side dishes) it's all organic, locally sourced and tasty -- as are the Brezn (pretzel) and the drinks (beer, wine, softdrinks). It can be difficult to find a place to sit down, so watch out before you order a dish on a plate. Even though the Viktualienmarkt is a tourist hot spot, it's one where tourists and locals mingle (opposed to e.g. the legendary Hofbräuhaus). On nice weather days the grill may keep open a little longer than 6 pm. Note that it is closed both, on Mondays and Sundays.

Near Ostbahnhof station

Haidhausen with its majority vote for the Green Party has several organic hotspots, and one of them is Elsässer Straße East of Bordeauxplatz. A few steps from Haidhauser Oase, next to an organic bakery and opposite the organic neighbourhood grocery Lebascha you'll find Erbil's, the only vegan doner kebap shop in town. Instead of meat you'll get organic seitan, and some (but not all) of the vegetables also are organic. Choose an organic softdrink or beer from the fridge, but have an eye on organic labels since not everything is organic. They also serve organic tea or tisanes.

On the East side of the railway tracks, inside the developing Werksviertel party, start-up, and cultural area there's a Pureburrito branch serving Mexican style street food with organic pork and beef (see here). Unfortunately party-goers will be disappointed since it offers only lunch -- on weekdays.

Bogenhausen

There's a second Herrmannsdorfer Bistro ÖQ near Effner-Platz (also see here), and the Basic supermarket near tube-stop Richard-Strauss-Straße offers sandwiches, salads and hearty (though quite boring) stews for lunch.

Schwabing

The Yum 2 take Thai restaurant has a second branch on Hohenzollernplatz.

If you are near Hohenzollernplatz anyway (a tube stop of the U2 line) you may also take some extra steps along Herzogstraße in Eastern direction to get a 100 percent bio-organic breakfast, lunch, snack or even dinner as reward: The Basic Biobuffet on the corner of busy Schleißheimer Straße offers a daily changing fully organic menu including both, vegan, vegetarian, fish and meat options, salads, antipasti, soups and cake. Not a place for the early bird, but leisurely open until 9 pm including Saturdays, but not Sundays.

Ludwigsvorstadt and Sendling

A few meters from tube station Goetheplatz you'll find the mother branch of the Pureburrito chain.

Tube stop Implerstraße is the right direction for the best (and partially organic) falafel in town: The Beirut Beirut offers outdoor seating (and a few bar stools inside) only, but it's definitely worth it even when the weather is bad. In this case (or my general advise) have a falafel and continue your break at the sister restaurant Manouche diagonally across the street offering Levantine "pizza", coffee, sweets and other delicious snacks.

Hadern

A short walk from tube stop Großhadern you'll find a Vollcorner supermarket with a work day open, 100 percent organic breakfast and lunch restaurant, boringly dubbed Cucina. From 11:30 am to 3 pm you can choose between a soup, salads and three or four daily changing, freshly prepared main courses, one of them meat or fish, the remaining ones vegan and vegetarian, drawing from local and mediterranean kitchens. In the morning you may step by for breakfast, on Fridays also in the Bavarian version as Weißwürste (veal sausage) and Leberkäs (meat loaf). Quiches, cakes, coffee and snacks are to be had until closing time at 4 pm.

Westend

The newly opened Vollcorner supermarket on Schwanthalerhöhe (next to Theresienwiese and hence good to know if you attend the annual Oktoberfest beerfest) has a deli cum cafe which invites for a small meal or snack.

Shut down

The following (partially) organic eateries are closed for good:

2018-09-06 20:40:00 [Munich, organic, bar, eatery, breakfast, lunch, coffee, vegan, vegetarian, Bavarian, German, Lebanese, Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, grill, burgers, doner_kebap, falafel, streetfood, Maxvorstadt, Haidhausen, Hadern, Schwabing, Sendling, Werksviertel, Westend] Link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.