Tuesday, 30 October 2018
The impression may be due to my lack of command of the Hungarian language, but most places in Budapest advertising the use of organic produce surely aim at the affluent tourist -- carefully designed places offering sophisticated Hungarian kitchen, vegan food or the ubiquitous expensive Italian coffee machine and hand-made organic sandwiches and cakes. What they all have in common: gorgeous food, a relaxed and (family-) friendly atmosphere and the complete absence of red-nosed binge-drinking tourists.
To dine in style head for the golden-blue shimmering premises of Hilda Food and Mood in Lipótváros
serving carefully modernized standards of the Hungarian farmers' kitchen like the
goulash soup or
chicken paprikash with dumplings as well as advanced sandwiches or salads. The focus here clearly is on organic meat from responsibly raised animals, grilled to the point, but vegetarians are catered for with equal love, with often organic greens, crisp or perfectly done. There's also a selection of organic soft drinks and wines.
Unfortunately the restaurant is closed on Sunday evenings but you may also come here for breakfast, brunch or lunch, and if only to marvel at the grand-hotel flair, the mosaic walls, and the dusky pink-golden restrooms.
Just a few corners in Eastern direction you'll find Naspolya Nassolda, a light and clean cafe serving raw, vegan, gluten-free sweets, savoury snacks, healthy drinks and coffee, using a great deal organic ingredients. Prepackaged wafers and cookies from the shop can also be bought from the BioABC supermarket.
If you feel for a more lively coffee house atmosphere find your way to the Vörösmarty utca metro station in Terezváros and enter a stunning neo-renaissance building of the World Heritage Site of Andrassy avenue to find the Ecocafe.
This cafe could be transfered to any other Western metropolis, and you wouldn't notice -- the Italian-style coffee drinks, the wooden tables, the hand-made croissants and sandwiches, the freshly pressed smoothies and small glass bottles with juice, the clean and understated eco design, the families, the students and the digital nomads, a welcoming, yet non-intrusive atmosphere -- it's all here, and you'll feel at home at once.
And the best of it all: The place keeps open on national public holidays like St. Stephen's day when everything else (including the main post office within Keleti pu.) is closed.
Right in the vicinity of Keleti station you may check out the Mennyország Szíve Bio Bolt for lunch or snacks, or -- hopefully soon again -- the
Házikó Bisztro ("farm bistro") which currently is closed. Both are closed on weekends and public holidays. The Házikó has a second branch in Buda on the premises of the socially and environmentally responsible MagNet bank. Here you can have not only a coffee, but also lunch, snacks or an early dinner made from predominantly organic local produce according to season.
More to try
During my research I also found the following places that seemed likely to (at least partially) serve organic food and drinks, but I did not had the time to try them myself. If you do so let me know whether they are worth to be listed here!
[Budapest, organic, lunch, dinner, coffee, restaurant, cafe, eatery, vegan]
Saturday, 13 October 2018
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.
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.
For high-end Hungarian wines pay a visit to
Cultivini Wine Cellars and Tasting
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.
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.
References on the web do often exist longer than shops and venues themselves. The following places I found abandoned when I stepped by.
[Budapest, organic, wine, grocery, market, supermarkets, vegetarian, vegan, zero_waste, lunch, breakfast, coffee, tea, books]
Friday, 21 September 2018
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.
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.
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.
[Budapest, organic, vegan, ice-cream, cafe, eatery, coffee, snacks, lunch]
Saturday, 30 June 2018
Cities with major universities have had organic shops long before the arrival of the big organic supermarkets, and Göttingen doesn't make an exception:
Probably the eldest still existing organic cafe in town is
serving tapas, sandwiches and small dishes with a Bolivian touch to it, or at least what a students' cafe is offering as such: good and filling due to proper organic ingredients, but far from any ambition for authenticity. The "Inti-Tasche" for example isn't a corn tortilla wrap but a plain white ciabatta-type roll filled with Italian-style antipasti. Needless to say that they offer Italian-style fairly traded coffee drinks and yummy cakes, and what's even better: They serve breakfast until 2pm. A welcoming place all day around if you like places with a liberal collegiate atmosphere whereof there are quite a number in the city.
Another one of them is
Dabis Kaffeestube, an alternative cultural hotspot and meeting place a few steps longer East. Among others, this cafe cum tea room serves
organic cakes from Das Backhaus.
If all you want is a coffee shot head for the city's only organic coffee roasters', the
Contigo. This fair-trade shop cum cafe also sells colourful gifts, fashion items, organic coffee and chocolates.
A fully organic dinner restaurant I wasn't able to spot during my shorter than one-day stay, but
lokal neun, directly located at the market place Am Wochenmarkt serves organic burgers and steaks, and is a pleasant place to enjoy a summer evening outside.
[Goettingen, organic, fair, coffee, tea, breakfast, lunch, dinner, cafe, restaurant, gifts]
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.
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.
[Goettingen, Geismar, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, unverpackt, grocery, supermarkets, bodycare, household, tea, bakeries]