Sunday, 16 August 2020
A hotspot for the coffee and tea trade the Hanseatic city of Bremen has a tradition for exotic beverages, and has always been a place with room for a subtler and more sophisticated approach to these beverages than the conventional mass-market. Organic and ecological projects have been blooming here for much longer than elsewhere, and so you can expect to find long established organic places blossoming alongside recent start-ups. What you will rarely find however are shiny, polished hipster cafes.
If you have to describe this neighbourhood in a sentence you'd probably point to the omnipresence of flee market-purchased furniture and objects in its lovingly and individually decorated independent shops and cafes. The beer tables on the pleasant garden terrace of Cafe Radieschen ("radish") as well as its indoor walls are all painted pink! If you come hungry first have a predominantly organic vegetarian or vegan pasta dish or sandwich before you turn to their impressive choice of home-made, predominantly organic cakes. Most drinks as well as the milk are organic, you can have an organic vegan ice-cream in the summer, and ingredients are sourced locally as far as possible. Lunch is usually offered between 12 am and 3 pm, and instead of the weekend the place is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The cafe plays host to a lot of neighbourhood activities, among them home-cooking events with young refugees from the house across the street. They always take a summer vacation and will be back 19th August, 2020.
Closer to Wilhelm Kaisen bridge and a few steps from the Kaemena ice-cream parlour you'll find a sweet art cafe dubbed Cafe Frida. They serve organic tea, soft drinks and soy milk for your coffee drink alongside home-made cakes, but neither the cakes nor the coffee, milk and oat milk are organic. You may however buy
organic fairly traded Slokoffie coffee sailed from Honduras and distributed by bicycle to have at home. Due to covid-19 restrictions you can not have breakfast here for the time being.
Whether you visit the Kunsthalle museum of art or just come by on your way into the alternative neighbourhood of the Viertel you may step buy for museum's
Cafe Sylvette inside the art museum. It's run by the crew of the Canova restaurant behind the museum.
Another cosy and serene place for an Italian-style coffee drink is the
Lei bistrot reviewed in the
The city's narrowest lanes are to be found in tourist hotspot Schnoor at the other, Northern shore of the river Weser.
To enjoy the atmosphere of this oldest part of town dating back to the 15th and 16th century, follow the Wüstestätte ("waste site") alleyway until the end and have a tea in a beautiful yet narrow two-storey tea house and shop dubbed Teestübchen ("little tea parlour"). Nice weather provided you can also sit outdoor and enjoy breakfast or tea time with a home-made cake, or a high tea with a pasta, typical local dishes, or Alsatian "pizza" (Flammkuchen).
Many ingredients are organic, but you might want to be picky when choosing the tea since not all of them are.
As long as covid-19 measures are in place you're kindly asked to book a table in advance (+49 421 32 38 67) as the place is tiny.
During the summer of 2020 the coffee bicycle of Coffee Bike offers Italian-style organic coffee drinks to city dwellers. Looks environment-friendly? Well, you can top it -- with a fairly traded organic coffee transported to Bremen without climate emissions by sailship and bicycle, in an earthenware cup, at the Biten food truck on the Domshof market.
At the university campus
University refectories usually are no gourmet temples, but it is nevertheless a pity that the Mensa refectory on the campus stopped to offer organic side dishes. What you still can have is an organic and fairly traded coffee drink with locally sourced organic milk from the coffee vending machines at Cafe Central.
It's not a delight, though -- the coffee tastes bitter from too high a temperature inside the machine, but it's cheap (1.30 EUR) and ethical.
If you want to invest into regular supermarket prices, the new branch of the local Aleco organic supermarket chain on the campus of the economics (Wirtschaftswissenschaften) school of the university has a self-service cafe where you can get organic snacks and coffee drinks. Their coffee machine however is a fully automatic one, so do not expect serious barista fare here neither. Due to covid-19 restrictions the self-service cafe is closed for the time being, but you can get coffee and cake to take away, simply don't forget to bring your own mug and lunch box to avoid waste.
Closed for the covid-19 pandemics
[Bremen, Neustadt, Schnoor, Worpswede, organic, fair, vegan, vegetarian, coffee, tea, lunch, cafe, breakfast, covid, corona]
Monday, 20 July 2020
When I visited Salzburg for the first time almost 15 years ago I was delighted to find an organically certified Bio Hotel in the Altstadt neighbourhood: the romantic boutique hotel Wolf-Dietrich. Tempi passati -- in 2016 the only reminder of this time was a partially organic breakfast with organic cheese, yoghurt, tea, and fair-trade coffee. Bread, eggs and milk are of local origin, but may or may not be organic.
A disappointing experience, but fortunately I found more promising options: Hotel & Villa Auersperg is just a few corners away, a Bio Austria certified, family-driven, family-friendly place serving an about 95 percent organic breakfast buffet. When it comes to the contents of the mini-bar and the complimentary selection of tea and herbal tea on the room I was delighted to discover that many sweet and savoury snacks were organic, the same applies to tea bags and refreshments. Other pleasant surprises: the shampoo and liquid soap are organic and produced by a manufactury in town, the towels are washed with ecological detergents, and the complimentary good-night chocolate on the bed is organic and fairly traded.
The hotel also has a gastro bar cum cafe dubbed A* bar where you can have home-made organic soups and cakes, partially organic snacks, sandwiches, sweets, coffee as well as organic wines, teas and juices. Its small, yet carefully selected daily menu caters for vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike, with generous servings, until around 22:30 pm. With the relaxed atmosphere of a mundane hotel bar the place is also worth a visit when you're not staying at the hotel. Their assortment of spirits for a relaxed drink at the bar includes organic
Gin Bien, a gin made by Salzburg-based organic bee keepers, and the O gin and vodka, both of Austrian origin.
Speaking of bee-keeping: The hotel has their own bee cubes located in its pleasant garden.
Last but not least the hotel which consists of two spacious adjacent houses (the "hotel" and the "villa") is driven in accordance with the Economy for the Common Good principles. The only disappointment: What could be a pleasant park in the backyard of the villa (and certainly was a garden once upon a time) is an embarassing parking lot for guests (though with Tesla charging stations). This is also the place to fetch a bicycle for a city ride.
About ten minutes out of the city centre, in the neighbourhood of Maxglan, you will find another family-driven Bio Austria certified retreat, the Green Hotels member Hotel Zur Post. It consists of three houses which are less luxuriously designed, but clean and comfortable, and the town Villa Ceconi a little down the road. All rooms and apartments are equipped with organic cotton towels, organic soap from the local manufacturer mentioned above and organic tea bags. The hotel uses carbon neutral heating and produces its own photovoltaic electricity. Of course you will be served fully organic breakfast, including yummy cakes and home-made vegan and vegetarian spreads (try the pumpkin seed oil one!).
Unfortunately the hotel does not have a bar, and although it is listed as a bicyle-friendly bett-und-bike hotel there's no bike shelter for guests.
In the Eastern neighbourhood of Parsch you may try the Heffterhof, another Salzburg hotel emphasizing on local, predominantly organic supplies in their kitchen. It has a focus as a conference hotel and offers fully organic breakfast. Let me know about your experience when you stay there.
If you prefer to spend your nights in the quiet of a natural park, far from the city's noise and yet only 20 minutes by bus from Salzburg's main train station, Stadthotel St. Virgil in the neighbourhood of Aigen is the place to stay. The hotel is part of a modern, sustainably driven conference and educational complex and as such serves Bio Austria certified organic breakfast and lunch, preferably with seasonal Austrian ingredients. Its Parkcafe also offers breakfast and lunch to passers-by, a nice and comparatively cheap option if you're out for a walk in the surroundings of the Salzburg hills. Unfortunately there's no lunch on Sundays.
If you plan a visit to Hellbrunn castle or the adjacent zoo Kaiserhof Anif is nearby. Their organic breakfast restaurant is open to the public, after pre-order by 8 pm the day before. Children up to five years won't be charged.
If you read my post on eating out in Salzburg you might be wondering whether the Hotel Stadtkrug in Linzergasse was offering (partially) organic breakfast. Unfortunately this is not so.
And for the sake of completeness: The Motel One design hotel chain runs two hotels in Salzburg (one centrally located near the main train station, one on the way south to Hellbrunn castle) and promises at least partially organic breakfast and fairly traded coffee. They are not an option when travelling as a family.
[Salzburg, Hellbrunn, Anif, organic, hotel, accommodation, breakfast, lunch, dinner, bar]
Sunday, 01 March 2020
If you are familiar with Johann Sebastian Bach's Coffee Cantata from around 1735 you've heard about the Saxonian citoyens' love for coffee and a good piece of cake (if heading for a local speciality, try the Eierschecke cheese-cake). With a pinch of irony people will talk about the famous Saxonian "Bliemschenkaffee" ("flower coffee") referring to the thin coffee or caffeine-free coffee substitute during World War II or in the households of the poor. The term refers to the fact that you could see the flowery ornaments on the ground of the (well, not in all cases) Dresden china coffee cup.
The Saxonian's love for coffee hasn't faded since, they still proudly refer to themselves as "Kaffeesachsen" (coffee Saxonians), and most organic supermarkets will serve you a latte or Italian style coffee, both to have on the spot, and to go (in this case don't forget your refillable cup).
There are however more pleasant places for a chat with friends, some reading or working time with a delicious cup of coffee.
With friendly service and a huge display of gorgeous cakes and pastries Die Kuchenglocke in Wilheminian Neustadt neighbourhood is reviving the tradition of Viennese style coffeehouses. Facing the beautiful, comparatively quiet square around Martin Luther church it is an extremely pleasant place to spend hours. The cakes are made by Dresden's furthermost organic bakery Heller, a true German bakery which was one of the first organic ice-cream makers in Germany. The young Heller generation running this beautiful cafe cum confectioner's shop proudly exclaim on the shop window's front that they are organic. Even if you have little time step by and have an ice-cream to go (1.50 EUR per scoop) or shop for sweets to take away.
The Hellers also fill the gap that nearby Cafe Continental at the crossroad Görlitzer Straße/Louisenstraße left when they stopped serving organic breakfast about three years ago: At the Kuchenglocke you can have breakfast all day long, too, and all organic. To have breakfast on late weekend mornings it's however advisable to order a table in advance as the place usually is quite crowded at that time. They also serve lunch.
If you travel with kids head for the room hidden behind the bakery counter -- you'll find toys and books and a pleasant sofa there.
Not far away, on Bautzner Straße, you will find Phoenix Kaffeerösterei, a small-scale coffee roaster cum coffee bar furnished in coffee-coloured wood -- ideal for the recreational sip of Italian style coffee. Their coffee is fairly traded, yet not organically certified, although they had organic coffee when they started up in 2006. The milk for a latte or New Zealand style Flat White however is organic. Mind you that their opening hours are quite restricted, usually to Friday and Saturday, but they often keep closed on Saturdays, too.
A ten minutes walk west, just before you reach Albert-Platz you can taste the Phoenix coffee all week long at the Oswaldz, a crowded coffee house cum gallery run by an ambitious young team. Before you sit down fetch a service number and put your order at the bar where you can choose from an impressive list of coffee drinks, among others a galao (coffee and milk frozzed together) or a gibraltar (double espresso macchiato). The milk they use is locally sourced and organic. You can also have a sandwich or cake partially made from organic ingredients -- eggs and cottage cheese are organic, flour and fruit are not, and since the friendly staff happily answered my questions I'm sure they will equally friendly answer yours. During the warm season they open a pleasant backyard for their guests.
If you head towards the shores of the river Elbe along Hauptstraße boulevard the Dreikönigskirche house of the church on the right hand side offers a quiet retreat from busy city life. On weekdays you can have a coffee, tea (both organic) and cake in the fair-trade Cafe Dreikönig within.
There's also a small range of usually organic fair-trade foodstuffs for sale.
Note that they are closed Saturday through Monday.
Facing Kreuzkirche on Altmarkt with its white-washed interior one of the few places where the wounds of the Anglo-American bombing by the end of World War II still are visible you will find one of Dresden's first organically certified eating places, cafe cum restaurant Aha. Some years ago they quite controversely decided not to prolong their certification in support of uncertified local farmers following organic or near-organic principles. More than 75 percent of the ingredients they use are still organically certified but they stopped (probably enforced by law) to make this transparent, so you have to enquire on specific ingredients if you care.
The cafe itself is equally popular among students, families and NGO groups. Its walls frequently serve as a gallery for local artists, and the daily menu often reflects and extends the exhibitions. The list of coffee drinks is long, ranging from oriental and Indian inspired spiced coffee to the ubiquitous espresso. If you prefer a cold drink it's alleviating to know that sodas are served with paper instead of plastic drinking straws. The cakes are delivered by the Heller family, but you can also enjoy hearty home-made meals throughout the day (til late), or simply help yourself at the salad bar located under the stairs. Breakfast is being served from 9 am. In the basement there's a well assorted
which cannot follow the restaurant's liberal opening hours and is closed in the evenings and on Sundays.
If you have to spent time in the vicinity of Dresden's central train station, Hauptbahnhof, pay a visit to another fair-trade shop, the Contigo at the Southern end of Prager Straße. Inside the shop there's an organic coffee bar, perfectly suited for the quick espresso in between, or while you're shopping for gifts, fairly traded artisanal work like bags and jewellery, tea, chocolates or coffee. They do not serve food, so you shouldn't come hungry. If you prefer an unconventional coffee drink opt a coffee based lemonade dubbed "Selosoda".
Not far from Bahnhof Mitte train station and the College of Music the organic co-operative VG runs a self-service Bistro & Backladen -- the bistro to the left, the cafe to the right of the entrance. While the lunch is prepared in the open kitchen of the bistro right at the spot, the bakery shop simply sells the cakes (and bread) from local organic bakeries both, to take away and to eat right here in the pleasantly decorated shop room prided with pictures of local artists. Unfortunately the coffee comes from a smale-scale automatic machine -- no real enjoyment, but drinkable due to the good ingredients.
While the bistro closes at 7pm on weekdays the cafe operates until 8 pm, but choice will be limited the later you'll come.
Near the Blaues Wunder bridge
A visit to the finest bridge in town, the Blaues Wunder ("blue wonder") steel construction can easily be combined with a visit to the arguably finest Viennese-style coffee house in town, the Café Toscana. Observing the bridge and the river you can sit in the winter garden having an organic coffee drink or tea. Your organic latte will be poured together at your table. While a selection of soft drinks and wines, the milk and breakfast eggs are all organic none of the gorgeously looking cakes and confectionery to be ordered from the sales desk are, at least not fully (enquire about what's tempting you). The history of the coffee house named after a Saxon princess customer dates back to the end of the 19th century. Since its re-privatisation after Germany's re-unification it has been run by the Eisold family, a local baker's family now in its third generation.
Crossing the blue wonder bridge you'll reach Körnerplatz, and if you fancy a stroll along the river shore, turn left into historical Körnerweg which leads you towards the city centre along the embankment. A 15 minutes walk on the way you'll find Os2 – Café am Fluss, a summer cafe run by the Oswaldz owners serving coffee drinks with organic milk, organic soft drinks and cakes to passers-by on weekends during the nice season. Most seats are located outside providing a beautiful view over the river and the city's silhouette. As at Oswaldz order at the bar inside, find yourself a seat, wait to be served and pay before you leave. The bar room also serves as an art gallery.
If you ever happen to strand somewhere between the tower blocks of Prohlis and the Technical University, take the time to visit the city's only organic bakery and confectionery, the Bio-Bäckerei und -Konditorei Heller mentioned afore -- if only to have a wonderful ice-cream on the go. When the weather is nice they also have a small outdoor terrace for you to have a coffee and cake or snack.
Although the bakery is open on Sunday mornings it's closed on public holidays.
The following places ceased to exist, although you still may find references to them on the web:
Weltcafe, Schillingstr. 7 (Löbtau)
[Dresden, Neustadt, organic, coffee, breakfast, lunch, snacks, fair, cafe, ice-cream, restaurant, confectioners]
Thursday, 27 February 2020
While buying organic requires little effort in Salzburg, minimizing waste is an entirely different issue. If you wish to carry home your purchases in your own re-usable containers you depend on the cooperation of the shop, which even in organic supermarkets can be surprisingly little. But by the end of 2019 Salzburg got its own dedicated organic pay-by-weight grocery: In the Andräviertel neighbourhood GenussProGramm (a pun which can be translated as both, "pleasure by the gram" or "pleasure program") opened in lieu of the
former Frau von Grün grocery five minutes south of Mirabellplatz which had been offering a good selection of loose weight organic goods.
Stylish and spacious the place has the looks of a cafe rather than of a grocery, but do not be mistaken: you may come here for both, your daily shopping as well as for breakfast, lunch and coffee. A small selection of fresh fruit and veges, dairy products, vegan alternatives and bakery items round up the quite exhaustive supply of dry goods and package-free household items, all nicely presented.
To add Italian-style antipasti and other mediterranean and vegetarian delicatessen to your shopping bag take your jars to the Medousa market booth at the Grünmarkt opposite Fabi's Frozen Bio Yogurt within Mozart's birthplace, and politely ask to fill them. Unfortunately this was the only organic booth at this daily farmer's market I spotted during my visit, and it's there on Fridays and Saturdays only.
Offsite tourist tracks but on your way to Hellbrunn castle or zoo you'll find the only Salzburg branch of the organic supermarket chain Basic which allows you to shop almost all daily necessities without producing non-compostable waste.
To refill milk around the clock head for the milk vending machine at the Erentrudishof farm in Morzg, a pleasant bike ride from the city. There's also a farmshop, of course with more restricted opening hours, where you also can buy eggs, spelt, wheat and rye produced by the farm.
When buying bread, rolls, cake or snacks from organic bakeries you should by now no longer meet strange looks when presenting your bag or container. But organic bakeries in town seem to be afraid of advertising themselves as "bio", so it can be difficult to find the right place.
Elisabethen-based artisanal bakery Pföß has a shop next to the Sternbräu area in the old town.
Unfortunately only the bread is promised to be organic, the white rolls tasted bland as if they were made of conventional flour. On the other hand the Krapfen doughnuts were a real delight, crisp and still a little warm, filled with fruity apricot purree instead of oversweet jam. If you come here for a snack stay away from the conventional softdrinks, and you may wish to ask whether the sandwiches are made with organic toppings.
If you want to be sure to get 100 percent organic bakery products, visit the Grünmarkt at Universitätsplatz: Four days a week you'll find the booth of Bio-Bäckerei Itzinger on its Eastern side, near the Ritzerbogen hallway. The bakery also offers vegan bread and rolls and has a focus on wholemeal products.
[Salzburg, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, unverpackt, cafe, grocery, supermarkets, deli, market, breakfast, snacks, farms]
Sunday, 05 January 2020
No carbon and nuclear power, no GMO
-- the window front of the more than 20 years old budget hotel Solar Hôtel features Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace and makes very clear the convictions guests are expected to share or at minimum to tolerate. Located in the 14th district near metro station Denfert-Rochereau this welcoming, family-friendly place offers the luxury of
eco-certified cleansing agents and solar-powered illumination of its facades, but not necessarily of Paris elegance.
If you have a room on the upper floors you may even have a glimpse of the top of the Eiffel tower -- unfortunately the ugly Tour Montparnasse is in the way for a beautiful view.
The family rooms are marked for one to three persons, but can be easily used by a family of four as long as two children share a smaller double bed.
The hotel's interior emphasizes on longevity and recycling, not necessarily on natural materials (though the towels are made from organic cotton), with headboards and tables made of recycled wood which have been there since 1992, and still do not look shabby. On the other side you may be disappointed to find (re-used) plastic cups at the bathroom and blankets made from 100 percent polyester.
Visitors are encouraged to use the narrow, blue-painted spiral staircase instead of the lift to save electricity and asked to separate their waste into the bins in the entrance area.
You may also ask for bicycles.
The fully organic French-style breakfast consists of tea or coffee and delicious croissants and baguette with jams and butter. In addition you may help yourself with apple juice, yogurt and breakfast cereals.
There's a sister hotel (more precisely: an annex) dubbed Le Lionceau nearby where organic tea and coffee are promised to be available in the rooms.
If you are on a romantic vacation or have the budget for ordinary Paris hotel prices there's a number of more luxurious places to spend the night and wake up to a sumptuous
organic breakfast. Although I verified the existance of the hotels below I haven't stayed there (yet) and am interested in your experience.
The first ones on my list are the two Green Hotels Paris certified with the European Ecolabel: Hôtel Gavarni and
in the 16th district which promise 100 percent organic and/or fairly traded breakfast.
In the 4th district, near Place des Vosges Hôtel Turenne does not promise 100 percent organic breakfast, but some (perhaps most) of the
fresh items, pastries and cold cuts should be organic. It comes at additional 14 euros per person (7 euros when you book your room at the hotel's website) and at no extra cost for children below 12 years.
Breakfast on the room is being served without an extra charge.
And finally: As you righteously may expect from a carbon-neutral luxury hotel the Eden Lodge
in the 11th arrondissement is reported to offer fully organic breakfast,
although the hotel website only promises organic fairtrade coffee, tea and eggs. The place is located
near Bastille and the Père Lachaise graveyard.
[Paris, organic, hotel, accommodation, breakfast, lunch, dinner, bar]