Thursday, 12 August 2021
Bremen offers plenty opportunities for an organic lunch ranging from a cheap and simple meal at a 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.
For an organic pizza slice, a chili stew, sometimes pasta and
fairly traded organic coffee sailed from Honduras to Europe and transported by bicycle
pay a visit to the Biten food truck at the farmer's market at the Domshof in front of Markthalle 8.
Mind you that the truck leaves early in the afternoon and some days simply won't be there.
Clean and raw
Formerly located inside the Markthalle 8 food court Noras Deli took over the location of the Lei in the Viertel neighbourhood and now is simply dubbed Noras.
The place was refurbished in lounge style, and although the menu starts with two savoury dishes -- a very palatable Buddha Bowl and a properly spiced chickpeas curry -- it's more of a cafe during daytime turning into an American bar in the evening. It
offers coffee drinks, breakfast, pancakes, smoothie bowls, freshly made juices and shots as well as healthy sweets without refined sugar (don't miss the filled dates by the piece), both to eat here and to take away. There's a small range of carefully choosen wines and fully organic cocktails.
You can sit outside and indoors.
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
Leckerbiss refectories run by the Bio-Biss caterers on the Radio Bremen campus in Vahr
within the refectory of the Bremen Senator for Children and Education in the city center.
On weekdays you can choose from two wholefood dishes, one of them vegetarian, and a soup. In addition there is coffee and some snacks. Not all ingredients and drinks however are organic. The
Bio-Biss refectory on the University campus opposite Universum unfortunately was closed in 2020, probably due to covid-19 restrictions.
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.
The team also runs the Cafe Sylvette inside the art museum.
In the covid-19 pandemic summer of 2021 there's also a food truck in the Wallanlagen park opposite of the Kunsthalle, run in co-operation with the Kukoon cultural center.
Directly located at the Contrescape park, at the edge of the picturesque Fedelhören neighbourhood with its small owner-run shops
Café Heinrich is a popular day cafe serving classic German dishes like potatoes in their jacket and internationally inspired ones like Flammkuchen, the Alsatian pizza, predominantly made with ingredients from the region. The menu lists organic soft drinks and promises organic cheeses, bread and salami, but you should probably take these promises with a grain of salt and ask beforehand: When I was there the milk from the free-ranging cows of
a farm from the region turned out to be conventional supermarket-fare of the "Frischli" brand.
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.
Inside the Karstadt department store the
Scharfrichter sausage place offers 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. Unfortunately they closed their original location.
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, raw, covid, corona]
Monday, 02 August 2021
If you are looking for pioneers in the German zero waste movement you'll find one of them in Dresden's Neustadt neighbourhood:
Pack a selection of glasses, containers and bags and stop by Lose ("loose-weight"), a cosy zero-waste corner store in Böhmische Straße. Unlike other package-free supermarkets this one does not only sell dry food, natural body care and household chemicals but also offers veges and has a cheese counter. Although most of the products are organic some are not, so you might want to check the labels on the suspenders for the bio keyword or ask.
The interior of the shop was refurbished recently and is now much lighter and seems spacier than before. The reason for this is that the coffee corner which had been there before the corona pandemic has decreased and the serviced counter for bakery products, cheeses, antipasti and coffee moved from the entrance area to the backpart of the shop. Mind you: like other package-free shops Lose does not have an illuminated window front, so be brave to try the door handle -- the place may look quite dark even when open.
In April 2019 a second zero waste supermarket opened its doors in the neighbourhood of Pieschen:
crowd-funded Quäntchen (the name of an old weight unit, denoting about 4 grams). Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to step by yet, but I'm sure it's a friendly and inviting place.
Supermarkets with zero-waste stations
Moreover all shops of the co-operatively organised local wholesale chain VG Biomarkt offer a good selection of loose-weight organic dry goods (in addition to an abundance of often locally produced fruit and veges and dairy products and drinks of all kinds in returnable glass bottles).
Their main shop is located near
Bahnhof Mitte train station, an entire organic warehouse on the premises of a former newspaper printing plant. Standing back from the main street the first floor is occupied by an organic convenience store supporting your zero-waste efforts. On the second floor there's a well assorted organic fashion store mainly for babies, children and women, with a section offering organic body care, household chemicals, sustainably produced toys, stationary and more.
For members prices are lower, but the warehouse is open to everyone.
On weekdays the self-service bistro directly facing the street offers delicious lunch (only snacks on Saturdays), and there's a cafe cum bakery shop featuring young local artists which (except on Mondays) opens half an hour before the supermarket itself, and closes at 7 pm on weekdays. Watch out on Mondays: The shop including its bistro opens at 1 pm this day. Opening hours on Saturdays before Christmas are extended to 4 pm.
VG Biomarkt also has branches in the neighbourhoods of Neustadt (Hechtviertel), Striesen, and Loschwitz, of which the one in Hechtviertel including its bistrot is members only.
The Loschwitz branch dubbed VG Balsamico is conveniently located
opposite the downhill station of the cable-run suspension railway ("Schwebebahn") next to
Körnerplatz at the northern end of Blaues Wunder ("blue wonder") bridge.
While these local groceries were early adopters a number of nation-wide operating organic supermarket chains have been following. In Dresden all branches of the Berlin-based supermarket chain Bio Company introduced dry food suspenders for use with your own jars.
In 2021 the Denns Biomarkt was the first branch of this chain where I found a dedicated shelf with fairly traded dry food in retour glasses and a few gravity bins with nuts, seeds, rice and noodles. A start at least, although I have my doubts that this small selection will be sufficient to nudge people towards the extra effort it takes to bring along glasses and jars.
When you take the Elberadweg bicycle route on the southern shore in direction Niederwartha you'll pass a nice old farmyard, the organic Bauernhof Franz in Niedergohlis. It runs a subscription scheme -- phone or e-mail your order until Wednesday and collect it from the farmshop on Fridays and Saturdays, but if you happen to step by on one of these days and there's someone around you may be able to buy vegetable oil and perhaps also potatoes or other produce from the farm.
[Dresden, Neustadt, organic, coffee, vegan, zero_waste, unverpackt, cafe, grocery, market, supermarkets, bodycare, household]
Sunday, 01 August 2021
Forget about sushi, pizza, pasta, burgers, curries and other globalized commonplaces -- in Dresden it's much easier to find hearty home-cooked dishes made from locally sourced ingredients rooted in local and regional food traditions. This does not necessarily mean German -- mind you that the borders with Czechia and Poland are close, so many menus reflect influences rather from Eastern than Western or Southern European cuisines.
Many dishes include meat, yes, but all the places I am covering here have a decent selection of tasty vegetarian options readily available.
Old town and university campus
A few steps from the Altmarkt, just across Kreuzkirche you'll find Cafe Aha which is covered here. Longer west, facing the modern building of the University of Music in Schützengasse you may be surprised to find a small island of baroque buildings with a wild garden, housing the city's environmental centre, and a great disappointment: The cosy rustic wholefood restaurant on ground flour dubbed Brennnessel ("stinging nettle") once used organic ingredients and still can be found listed as an organic restaurant, but alas! -- no more.
South of the main train station however, on the campus of the Technical University the fully organic students' refectory
Biomensa U-Boot ("submarine") offers
one vegetarian and one omnivore meal at a very competitive price -- as a guest you pay 3.20 € on top of the student's price which -- depending on the dish -- ranges from 3.50 to 6.50 EUR. All food and drinks are also certified organic.
During the warm season outdoor seating is available. The bad news: The place is closed on weekends.
For rustic food and surroundings head for one of the oldest independent pubs in town, the Planwirtschaft ("planned economy") in the Neustadt neighbourhood, popular since its beginnings as an illegal pub in the late GDR. On mezzanine level they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as coffee and cake while the basement houses a pub which opens in the evening. When it comes to their supplies they focus on buying from local farms and enterprises as the (unfortunately not organic) independent butcher's directly across the street or a tea shop next door from which they also source the organic teas on offer. The goat cheese is always organic. They used to have an organic meat dish (which was marked as "bio" on the menu), but unfortunately no longer. Have a tasty organic apple cider (no more organic beers at my last stay), and ask about organic ingredients.
Young German kitchen is the promise of the Lila Soße ("purple sauce") gastro bar within the eccentric
Kunsthofpassage with its small boutiques and lovely places. Apart from daily changing main courses (most of them meat or fish, and often with an Italian touch) you can order tasty German "tapas" to your liking -- warm, cold and sweet -- served in a glass as well as dips and bread. None of the courses are fully organic, but many ingredients are, and chances are high that you can combine cleverly if you ask. They offer organic softdrinks, but no organic alcoholic beverages.
Out of town
If you take the urban train number 2 from the Neustadt train station, either on the way to the airport or to a stroll in the woods of Dresdner Heide, get off Bahnhof Klotzsche (one stop before the airport) and have breakfast, lunch, tea or a snack in its 110 years old railway station. Since the folks of Vorwerk Podemus took over and restored the historical building in 2015 it has been home to a bicycle shop, an artist's studio, an organic supermarket, and the now fully organic station restaurant dubbed Bio-Bahnhofswirtschaft with its pleasant beergarden.
On Friday evenings from 5 pm the place also serves dinner or, May through September, a barbecue. Make sure to arrive well before 9pm as the kitchen keeps closing at this time. Travellers and ramblers may be glad to hear that they can fetch an organic breakfast or packed lunch on the go, though
unfortunately not on Sundays as the restaurant is closed that day.
The vineyards on the slopes of the river Elbe around Dresden form Europe's smallest, most northern wine region, and fortunately the Saxon state winery of Hoflößnitz in Radebeul turned organic. The small town located west of Dresden on the northern shore of the river is famous for the writer of travel fiction, Karl May and its Museum of North American Indian Culture and can be reached easily, both by urban train, tram no. 4 and bicycle. Follow the Elberadweg cycle route on the southern shore, cross the bridge at Niederwartha and turn back east on the northern shore cycle route through Radebeul until you find signposts pointing to the vineyards on the hill.
The Hoflößnitz winery has a small self-service restaurant, the Hoflößnitzer Weinschänke, with an outdoor seating area shaded by horsechestnut trees from where you have a great view over the grapewines and the valley while tasting the local wines. All wines, but not all the food are organic: Your best choice is the "Winzerplatte" -- home-made white bread with pickles, a little salad and a number of spreads of your choice of which the bread and the vegan spreads are organic.
There's also a small museum with information on all Saxon wineries and a wine shop where you can buy their products, mainly white and sparkling wines. Stick to Hoflößnitz for organic ones.
The following places ceased to exist, although you still may find references to them on the web:
Lilisou, Louisenstr. 58 (vegetarian, burgers, soups, curries)
- Lingner, Lingnerpl. 1 (German, international)
ElectricLotus, Louisenstr. 58 (vegetarian, ayurvedic, Indian)
- Abutheke, Alaunstr. 68a (Middle-Eastern)
- roots, Hauptstr. 35 (vegan fast food)
[Dresden, Radebeul, Elbe_cycle_route, Elberadweg, Neustadt, organic, coffee, lunch, dinner, snacks, restaurant, pub, wine, beergarden]
Sunday, 11 July 2021
The epicentre of co-operative organic agriculture in Bavaria is surely the small town of Dorfen in the municipality of Erding, within half an hour easily reachable by local train from Munich. Departing from Ostbahnhof train station you can take your bike with you once per hour to reach a small Bavarian town that has been the home of the organic Tagwerk co-operative of local organic farmers since 1984 and prides itself to be a bee-friendly municipality. Though finally in vain a significant part of the population had been standing united against the environmentally harmful federal state infrastructure project of the A94 Isentalautobahn for about 40 years and is currently opposing the plans for the new B15 highway of the Bavarian state government.
The train station in Dorfen is the starting point of the Veldenbahn bicycle route (as part of the Vilstal bicycle route) on the rail trail of the historic line linking Dorfen with Velden (Vils).
To get from the train station into the beautiful town you have to surpass the hell of highly frequented Jahnstraße, and right before the nice and pedestrian-friendly bicycle route starts you may stop by the Tagwerk-Laden supermarket which demonstrates how a faceless interchangeable supermarket building in a car-centric environment may be turned into a human-friendly place. Usually this spacious organic supermarket with friendly employees and a relaxed atmosphere not only offers a lot of organic products from the region but also coffee drinks, snacks and cakes in its self-service cafe area, but unfortunately not during covid-19 restrictions. From mid of September 2020 they plan to offer lunch again each Thursday from 12 pm.
From here follow by all means the bicycle route through the
beautiful alley of Bahnweg where you'll come by an art&crafts shops offering all kind of things made from the exceptionally aromatic wood of the Swiss pine ("Zirbe"): Das Aromaholz Zirbe keeps open on Thursdays, Fridays and the first Saturday of each month.
When you arrive in town on one of these weekdays pay a visit to
Power Plant Ape for music, skateboards, and fair and organic fashion.
The shop also used to stock the emission-free organic chocolate delivered by the Schokofahrt cyclists.
The shop is located in baker's lane, and there is in fact an organically certified artisanal baker just around the corner: The flour used by Martins Backstube is daily ground from the corn of Tagwerk farmers. As for most modern bakeries there's a day cafe where you can have a coffee, cake or snack, and if you cannot make it here do not dispair: As many other Tagwerk products you can buy their bread from all Vollcorner supermarkets.
For fairly traded food, sweets and drinks, natural body care as well as colourful fashion accessoiries, gifts and household items pay a visit to the Fair-Weltladen in the very town centre.
As most of its kind it's run by local volonteers which makes it the perfect place for a chat with locals.
Bypassing the very town centre for a bicyle tour on the Skulptour II bicycle route which links seven wood sculptures commissioned by local artists in 2015, you'll reach Biogärtnerei an der Isen, a beautiful organic market garden. The place doesn't have a farm shop but in June and early July you can come here to harvest yummy organic strawberries from their strawberry field (the official 2021 season unfortunately is over, but if you have time to harvest some late berries, ring in advance). To buy their produce step by the Bauernmarkt farmers' market which is being held every Friday in Dorfen town - or find their market booth in Munich, at Mariahilfplatz on Saturdays and at Rotkreuzplatz on Thursdays.
The Tagwerk co-operative run a low-budget family and bicycle friendly hotel just a few steps from the train station but since they re-organized and moved the Tagwerk wholesale activities to a bigger location in Garching it does no longer exist although you still find the place mentioned on the web.
[Munich, Dorfen, Tagwerk, organic, fair, market, fashion, cycling, farms, accommodation, supermarkets, bakeries, coffee, lunch, snacks, Skulptour, Skulptour_cycle_route, Vilstalradweg, Vilstal_cycle_route, Veldenbahnradweg, Veldenbahn_cycle_route, covid, corona, fair]
Saturday, 03 July 2021
My stay in Verona in the covid-19 summer of 2021 was short: The idea was to fill the time between two trains with a refreshment in form of an organic ice-cream in the old town. Unfortunately the plan didn't work out: 2 pm on a Tuesday afternoon turned out to be the wrong time.
My first stop was a fully organic ice-cream shop which must have been established somewhen between my first visit to Verona a few years ago and now. Unimaginably dubbed Come una volta ("Just like once upon a time") as many other organic shops in Italy it's situated on a street corner in the old town but unfortunately it is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Hence I proceeded to known territory: The partially organic ice-cream parlour L'Arte del Gelato has been serving artisanal ice-cream since 2002 using organic sugar, chocolate, mint extract and fruit. The milk is produced by South-Tyrolean farms but not certified organic. I was really looking forward to taste their ice-cream again as it had been a lip-smacking creamy experience a few years ago, but unfortunately I met barred doors also here, with a display of tempting ice-cream cakes behind -- but closed on Tuesdays, too.
On the aforementioned day-trip to Verona I also tried to find Gelateria Natù in the neighbourhood of Santa Croce, with little success which again had to do with a train to catch too soon. However, since their website is kept up to date there's sufficient evidence that the place is alive and serving natural artisanal ice-cream made from organic milk and nuts.
Apart from the milk-based varieties there are also some vegan fruit flavours and a number of lactose and glutine free nut and chocolate flavours made with rice drink. Besides they use agave syrup instead of sugar.
You may also come here for a coffee, pastry or aperitif but I cannot say whether you have organic options here. Note that this place obeys the typical Italian closing time around noon.
[Verona, organic, biologico, vegan, ice-cream, cafe]