The Organic Traveller
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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Saturday, 30 June 2018

Göttingen: Zero Waste

Wunderbar unverpackt

Arriving in a university city you will no longer be surprised to learn there's a crowdfounded organic zero-waste shop in town. And what's even better -- the Wunderbar unverpackt ("Wonderfully devoid of packaging") grocery that opened May 2018 is (to my knowledge) the next organic supermarket when coming from the train station. Directly opposite St. Marien church you'll find all kinds of organic dry food, sweets, dairy products and beverages in retour glass bottles, organic body care and household detergents in this beautifully furnished corner shop. They even have a cheese counter, but no fresh fruits and veges. Weigh your empty jars on the scales by the window, put down the weight, and fill them on the self-service dispensers. Re-usable jars can also be bought on the spot, and the friendly owner will help you promptly when approached.

The tip for "Wunderbar unverpackt" came from the Naturalia grocery at Wöhlerplatz which itself offers a small assortment of dry food (pasta, cereals, nuts, rice and the like) in self-service dispensers, and apart from this is a friendly traditional crammed organic wholesale shop where eggs, bakery items, fruits, veges and cheese can be taken home in your own jars and bags. In addition it is also a tea shop -- so bring your tea boxes for refill.

Naturalia

Loose-weight fruits and veges can of course be bought in all organic groceries, so support the small local dealers who will happily support you when you ask them to put bread, eggs, cheese and more into the bags and boxes you present. One of them is Das Backhaus, an organic bakery turned neighbourhood grocery next to Cafe Inti. This organic "baking house" in fact is a branch of a bakery based in Klein Lengden with shops both there and in Göttingen, delivering to many organic markets in the greater region.

Another one is the Gemüseladen in the Western suburb of Geismar, near the church of St. Martin, an organic greengrocery offering lots of regional produce. Of course, there are many more, but these were all I managed to visit on my one-day stay.

Household items supporting a package-free lifestyle can also be found at the factory outlet of the eco postal order shop Waschbär near Geismartor.

2018-06-30 09:10:01 [Goettingen, Geismar, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, grocery, supermarkets, bodycare, household, tea, bakeries] Link

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Saturday, 09 June 2018

Padua: Organic restaurants and eateries

Uneasiness with industrial agriculture often starts with the brutal reality of how we treat animals, and consequently eggs and meat often are the first ingredients restaurants use from organic farming. In many cities this means that conscious omnivores have a better chance to find a place to eat than vegetarians or vegans. With Padua this is different: All organic or partially organic restaurants I found within the city boundaries focus on vegetarian courses, and all of them are vegan-friendly.

Biofood For breakfast, coffee, lunch or a small meal until late in the afternoon head for BioFood RistoBar located between Piazza Garibaldi and Piazza dei Frutti. Although the place looks like a self-service eatery it is not. Take a seat, and you will be served salads, pasta, and a few side dishes from the buffet bar inside. Most of it is vegetarian or even vegan, and everything very healthy, though not 100 percent organic. Taste comes from the goodness of the ingredients, there's little seasoning to it. In the morning it is a pleasant place to have breakfast, and later in the afternoon you'll probably want to drop in for an aperitif or an apericena -- a little snack before dinner time. Needless to say that the coffee is good at any time of the day. Organic drinks are clearly marked "bio" on the menu. However, don't be fooled: Although the opening hours at the entrance suggest that the place keeps open on Sundays -- it is most definitely closed this day of the week.

More to try

Unfortunately my time in Padua was very limited, so here's a number of places I'd like to try but haven't had the opportunity yet:

Fully organic and vegetarian (needless to say these days: vegan-friendly) restaurant Vegetariamoci a little North-West and over the bridge from the Giardini dell' Arena park is the brainchild of organic pioneers in the region. Unfortunately closed Mondays through Wednesdays.

Also in the neighbourhood of Arcella, North of the main train station, the Osteria di Fuori Porta offers uncomplicated organic dinner, and, on weekdays, lunch, the latter also at a fixed price for 12 EUR including a beverage and coffee. If you take the tram leave at stop "Borgomagno".

Food, art, and concerts -- that's the concept of the Ca'Sana cultural space offering organic brunch on Sundays, and apart from Mondays, late night food. The place is situated a little out of town, near the airport.

If you fancy a pizza Daltrocanto seems to be the place to go. There's more on the menu, all vegetarian and vegan-friendly.

2018-06-09 05:30:02 [Padua, Padova, biologico, organic, vegetarian, vegan, eatery, restaurant, breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee] Link

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Monday, 26 March 2018

Organic Trondheim

A university city and a cultural hotspot in Norway it does not come as a surprise that Trondheim offers sufficient opportunities to almost effordlessly adhere to a 100% organic and eco-conscious lifestyle. This hasn't been always like this, but during the past few years more and more shops and eateries offering organic items have opened, and the availability of organic products in general has increased dramatically.

Eating out

For a sandwich for breakfast or lunch head for the cafe in the backroom of the organic Godt Brød bakery near Nordre gate, one of the pioneers of organic food in Norway. Choose the filling of your sandwich or savory bread roll (most ingredients except the meat-based ones are organic), have a decent coffee drink (the milk is organic), tea, a sweet organic bread roll ("bolle"), and/or an organic juice (e.g. from the nearby Rotvoll juicery in Ranheim which has its own organic grocery on their premises). About half of the cold drinks are not organic, so check for the "økologisk" keyword. During the warm season, treat yourself with a pre-packaged organic ice-cream from Reins Kloster. Everything is offered to take away, too. What you probably would not expect: The dough for the sweet bread rolls is dairy-free, the bakery uses porridge made from oat and water and rapeseed oil instead of milk.

Heartier food like organic egg and bacon for breakfast or lamb burgers for lunch or dinner, together with organic softdrinks can be had at Ramp Pub and Spiseri at Svartlamon. Vegetarian options are available. Service at this shabby-homely place may be a little slow, and not all of the ingredients are organic. Formerly entirely furnished with formica tables and chairs the interior has improved since, but gentrification hasn't replaced the proletarian chic yet. The kitchen closes at 9 pm.

For pizza and beer head for Selma, one of the many pubs in the former ship repair workshops at Solsiden. Unfortunately none of the drinks (apart from a fresh cassis-flavoured nordic sour) is organic, and most of the food isn't organic either, but they use organic flour for the best pizza dough in town and have some organic ingredients among the toppings. Their store cupboard being a part of the interior you can see that they, among others, use both, organic and conventional tomatoes, organic vinegar and syrup. Some of the fresh herbs are organic, although the basil wasn't at my visit. The best pizzas here aren't the classical Italian ones but their own creations which go extremely well with beer. They happily omit the meat toppings if you ask so but expect to pay the full price anyway. Make sure to place your orders at the bar (and pay at once), taking with you the drinks. The food will be served.

Real organic food, vegan and vegetarian, is served at Cafe Stammen in Kongens gate. Unfortunately they are closed for refurbishment until January 18, 2018, so I am still unable to pay a visit. Let me know about your experience if you happen to eat there before me.

Fortunately an organic pioneer in the city, vegetarian eatery Persilleriet is not far away. It has been offering predominantly organic wraps and sandwiches since 2005, both to eat at the spot and to take away. There is a second self-service lunch restaurant on the premises of St. Olavs hospital which unfortunately is closed not only on Sundays, but also on Saturdays.

For a cosy, almost entirely organic and Sunday-open cafe take a stroll through the Bakklandet neighbourhood with its small and beautiful wooden houses on the Eastern shore of the Nidelva river. Kafe Soil on the premises of former "Annas Kafe" serves yummy organic cakes, cinnamon rolls, lemonades, juices, smoothies, tea and more. The coffee is often organic, too, and there's usually a vegan soup or stew for the hungry on the entirely vegetarian, generally vegan-friendly menu. When the cafe was opened it shared its venue with a micro brewery. The latter has moved since but as a result you still can come here for a beer (although the organic beer is imported from Germany). Also worth a note: The soap in the bathroom is organic, which takes an extra effort in Norway where certified natural body care isn't sold by conventional supermarket chains yet. Kafe Soil occasionally plays host to intimate concerts, vegan community arrangements, clothes exchange gatherings and other grass-roots sustainability arrangements. Closed for holidays until January 10th, 2018.

Food and daily necessities

The city's first address for zero-waste shopping is a cosy fair-trade grocery, Etikken: Bring along your own bottles and boxes to refill with organic detergents, grains, and dried fruit. This not-for-profit undertaking partially run by volonteers offers a good selection of organic food, drinks and sweets, along with household necessities like eco-friendly baking sheets and detergents. They offer a decent selection of preserves and vegan alternatives, but no fresh fruit and veges. The shop is also a reliable source of organically certified make-up, skin and hair care, organic wipes, tampons and menstruation cups.

In 2016 Etikken moved to a new and bigger venue in Olav Tryggvasons gate between Nordre and Søndre gate (next to the Norwegian handicraft shop "Husfliden"), but many sources on the web still list its old address in Fjordgata.

Helios

For fresh food head for the city's organic pioneer, the Helios convenience store in Prinsens gate. At the end of 2016 the shop closed down but was taken over by new owners immediately and is now as reliable as before. You will find all daily necessities -- food, toiletry, detergents etc. -- in organic quality, including frozen pizza, ice-cream, unhomogenised fresh milk and Norwegian caramelized brown cheese. The frozen "lefser", Norwegian "pancakes" topped with butter, cinnamon and sugar and folded together, are not organic but nevertheless worth trying -- simply defrost and enjoy.

At Trondhjem torv a farmers' market, Bondens marked is being held every second week on Saturday. Local small scale farmers sell their produce, but it takes a little effort to find the organic ones.

When it comes to conventional supermarkets, a quite impressive range of organically certified food is on offer at the Meny hypermarket Solsiden and the various Coop supermarkets with their Änglamark own brand (see also here). To avoid green-washed products and misleading marketing while cherry-picking through these markets check for the "økologisk" keyword and organic labelling (mainly Debio, KRAV and the European organic label, but you will also find Soil Association and USDA certificates). Dairy products by Røros meieriet, meat products by Grødstad Gris, ice-cream and beer from Reins Kloster, "Helios" and "Manna" products as well as "Go green" grains and pulses are all safe. Some of them can also be found in Sunkost or Life healthfood shops.

Shopping

A few steps from Godt Brødt the Miss Organic perfumery offers the city's biggest selection of natural and organically certified body care and cosmetic products in a styled shopping environment.

For fashionable clothing and yarn made of organic wool take a stroll to Baklandet where you find Nøstebarn. As the name hints babies and toddlers were the original focus, but the product range has extended since to cater for adults, too, and not only for those who enjoy knitting. So here's the place to look for woollen underwear and other accessories for the Nordic winter.

Where to stay

The hotels of the Choice chain advertise with organic breakfast items and are certified with the Debio label in bronce which is awarded to food places offering at minimum 15 percent organic items. In the case of the otherwise boring conference hotel Augustin at the corner of Kongens and Prinsens Gate this allowed for an organic breakfast consisting of apple juice, crispy oat-cerials with a tasty type of sourmilk ("tjukkmjølk") or low-fat milk from Røros meieriet, alternatively soy milk, crispbread with honey, peanut butter, brie and a blue-mould cheese as well as hard-boiled eggs a few years ago. On a recent stay at Comfort Hotel Park at the corner of Prinsens gate and Bispegata the 15 percent mixture consisted of all organic coffee and fat-free cow milk (but conventional oat and soy milk), organic Earl Grey tea, dark rye bread and one type of crisp bread, a good selection of organic cerials, raisins, apples, orange marmelade, peanut butter, honey, and boiled eggs. The Park hotel bar's fridge next to the entrance offered organic lemonade and cola (of the "Oskar Sylte" brand) as well as canned organic iced coffee mixes.

Unfortunately the city's hotel institution Britannia in Dronningens Gate, once a certified eco lighthouse is closed for renovation until minimum spring 2018. During my last stay a few years ago they offered a small selection of organic veges and bread at the breakfast buffet, and I'm confident that they will do even better after reopening.

Just a few steps west, crossing Nordre and Jomfrugate you will find Hotel City Living Schøller a budget option which was recommended to me by Alicia from Portland, Oregon after reading this blog. She described her room as having "zero perfume -- none on the sheets nor in the cleansers. The room felt fresh and healthy, if quite simple." The hotel provides guests with a 15 percent discount at nearby Godt Brød bakery cum cafe for breakfast, and offers a kitchen for guest use.

At the airport

If you happen to strand at Trondheim Airport Værnes spend your airline food vouchers at Caffè Ritazza between gate 31 and 32 (behind security) which uses organic full-fat milk for their coffee drinks. They also offer a selection of fair-trade (though not organic) chocolates.

Permanently or temporarily closed

The following places are closed, with references remaining on the web, or ceased to offer organic items:

2018-03-26 22:40:03 [Trondheim, organic, fair, vegetarian, vegan, zero_waste, bakeries, cafe, grocery, market, supermarkets, takeaway, coffee, ice-cream, snacks, lunch, dinner, hotel, accommodation, pizza, fashion, airports] Link

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Monday, 08 January 2018

Hamburg: Fair and organic Hafencity

An inner-city district to be developed from scratch is the most exciting thing in the life of city planners, and Hamburg's Hafencity with its recently opened Elbphilharmonie concert hall is Europe's biggest inner-city development in modern times. When finished it will consist of ten often quite different neighbourhoods, with many sustainability aspects considered. If you have the time take part in one of the guided tours (free of charge) or pay a visit to the Sustainability Pavillion Osaka 9. The latter houses a small fair-trade cafe bar dubbed Die kleine Elbfaire where you can have a coffee or soft drink and buy pre-packaged fairly traded sweets.

Elbfaire

With its name drawing from the similarity of the words "fair" and "Fähre" ("ferry") the little coffee bar is a spin-off of Elbfaire, a fair-trade lunch cafe and meeting place with a pleasant backyard run by the ecumenical association of 17 Hamburg-based churches. On weekdays you can come here for an organic vegetarian lunch between 12 am and 14:30 pm, or step by for a fairly traded organic coffee drink together with home-made organic cakes.

Another organic lunch option is the self-service day cafe of the nearby Alnatura supermarket.

Not organic

When looking for healthy organic food in the Hafencity you may be guided to Greenlovers, a lunch restaurant serving soups, stews, bowls and salads using predominantly locally sourced ingredients. Unfortunately the promising name is misleading since the place does not have an organic agenda. However, I was assured that tofu and eggs always were organic, and if you dare to ask you may occasionally find one or another organic vegetable used in the dishes. There's a second branch near the townhall with longer opening hours, keeping open Monday through Saturday until 7 pm.

2018-01-08 12:30:00 [Hamburg, Hafencity, organic, fair, vegetarian, eatery, cafe, lunch, supermarkets, coffee] Link

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