Saturday, 31 August 2019
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]
Thursday, 29 August 2019
Pirna, a nicely restored small town a little east of Dresden and the entire surrounding district Eastern Erzgebirge/Saxon Switzerland
may be best known for its bad reputation as a stronghold of outer right-wing extremists, neo-fascists and populists. But fortunately the town also has a strong civil society which cleans up the spitted at windows and works for a humane neighbourhood and the integrity of creation. So whether you're on the road with your bicycle travelling the Elberadweg or take the urban train from Dresden -- have a break to support these brave people and marvel at the town with roots in the stone age, its rich medieval and modern history.
For a coffee break head for Café Bohemia
a little off the market place, located in a restored
renaissance house built in 1480. When the weather is nice you may take a seat outdoors, on the pleasantly quiet cobblestones of Schmiedegasse ("blacksmith's lane"). The Italian-style coffee drinks are made with organic milk, and the rich and lipsmacking home-made cakes contain organic eggs and milk as well as organic fruit and herbs, both home-grown or collected from meadows in the surroundings with scattered fruit trees. As the Saxon cake tradition has it the friendly owner will serve the cake with a dollop of cream.
Unfortunately the cafe is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
On these days, in the morning or if you prefer a hearty lunch proceed to the Vorwerk Podemus organic supermarket you may know from Dresden, with its fully organic bistro.
Another option for a cake or snack is the town's only artisanal organic bakery Spiegelhauer near the train station. The family also had an organic cafe cum ice-cream parlour in nearby Heidenau but this does no longer exist.
Small German towns with beautiful old city centres often have a small traditional organic corner shop in one of the historic lanes, and Pirna is no exception: However, the owners of the former organic greengrocery Naturkosten closed their shop near St. Mary's city church a few years ago and turned it into a beautiful organic bodycare shop, boringly dubbed
There's still another small-scale organic grocery in the south, a little out of town, the Bioladen in Pirnas Grünem Haus.
[Pirna, Heidenau, Elbe_cycle_route, Elberadweg, organic, coffee, lunch, snacks, cafe, supermarkets, grocery, bakeries, bodycare]
Thursday, 22 August 2019
About an hours train ride from Dresden, the town of Děčín may be used as a starting point for walking tours in the rough countryside of Bohemian Switzerland. Directly located at the Elberadweg cyle route you can easily reach it by bicycle, most conveniently along the southern shore of the river on tarmac surface (except when passing the small towns of Bad Schandau and Königstein). Eco-conscious visitors to the castle which is still being restored and the baroque rose garden however face a problem not unknown to smaller cities: There's no 100 percent organic place in town.
There used to be a raw and predominantly organic cafe, Zdravá kavárna Emavík near the Synagogue on the left (western) side of the river on the grounds of the historical town of Bodenbach, but it seems to have moved to Varnsdorf.
If you do not want to compromise you'd better buy provisions for a picnic. You should find a good selection of pre-packaged organic (dry) food, sweets and drinks as well as natural body care at the city's branch of the German chemist's chain DM
located within the Pivovar shopping center in Letna, on the Western shore of the Labe river where also the main train station is located.
The best option in the old town is Bio Koko, a light and cosy
zero waste grocery around the corner of Masarykova place. It stocks a great selection of loose-weight dry food and a few preserves and oils in glass bottles and jars. There's also a small fridge with organic yogurt and gorgeous fresh milk, but no fruits and veges. Not everything is organic, but all organic items are clearly marked with a green dot.
The place has a play corner for small children, but unfortunately no serving. You may however order a coffee to take away in your own cup (and pay by volume).
For an organic tea proceed to Coffee & Books, a cosy corner cafe cum delicatessen serving yummy home-made cakes, breakfast and snacks of high-quality though unfortunately not organic ingredients. The place with its upcycled interior and book shelfs (and a less pleasant outdoor seating area) used to have a range of organic tea bags of the Austrian Sonnentor brand, but exchanged them for a Czech brand, and since then only the English breakfast and the green tea have been organic. I decided to list this pleasant place here hoping that they may be convinced to introduce more organic items, perhaps organic milk for the coffee drinks as a start. The paper straws used here are a good start.
The tip for vegan Bistro Les on the foot of Děčín castle, located at the left-hand side of the bridge when crossing into the old town came from the owner of Bio Koko. It's not dedicated organic, but they are using unadultered produce of their own garden when possible. Due to the restricted opening hours -- closed, both, on weekends and in the evenings -- I could however not make it there.
Probably not organic
On the web I found customer testimonials claiming that the Burger Berg burger restaurant at the foot of the rock on the Western side of the bridge would use organic meat. The restaurant itself however would not confirm this, and the menu does not indicate a high level of eco-consciousness.
[Decin, Tetschen, Boehmische_Schweiz, Bohemian_Switzerland, Elbe_cycle_route, Elberadweg, organic, vegan, coffee, lunch, snacks, cafe, bodycare, zero_waste]
Sunday, 18 August 2019
The rough and picturesque sandstone hills of Saxon Switzerland did not only inspire painters and componists of romanticism, but have been valued for centuries by both, alpinists as well as walkers and ramblers. Located at the border to the Czech republic it takes an urban train ride from Dresden (or a bicycle tour along the Elberadweg cycle route) to get here, either for a wee day out in the countryside or for a vacation inside the
If you get off the S1 urban train in direction Schöna at the
stop Hirschmühle Schmilka, and take the ferry to the Northern shore of the Elbe river you'll reach the village of Schmilka which, to a large degree, has been developed into an organic resort during the past years. The ferry is operated on demand, so simply go down to the landing stage and wait until the coxswain will see and fetch you.
The nucleus of the organic village is Hotel Helvetia which you will find, turning West (i.e. to the left), after a five minutes walk along the river shore. Its organic cafe and restaurant dubbed Strandgut ("stranded goods") serves both, the high quality no-frills salad for passers-by on a bicycle or walking tour as well as fine seasonal food drawing from both, the kitchen traditions of the region and the mediterranean. Both, vegans, fish and meat lovers are catered for with care, and if you are in the mood for a dessert, try the "Kalter Hund" ("cold dog") pudding made from cookies and chocolate, a children's favourite in former East Germany (though back then made with inferior ingredients). Unfortunately the cafe does not own a real Italian coffee machine, so the quality of the Italian-style coffee drinks is not as good as one would expect for a hotel in this category. If you stay overnight the hotel bar will however be able to provide you with a fully organic nightcap.
The hotel reception serves as check-in for all
eco-friendly overnight options in the village, among others
Villa Thusnelda next to the ferry stop with its luxury rooms.
The latter houses historical Café Richter with the air of a classical spa coffeehouse, but unfortunately it can only be booked as an event location.
A sign at the cafe will guide you to the
village's operating water mill, the Schmilk'sche Mühle further up the road in the direction of the forest, with its rustic mill restaurant, the Mühlenstube of Gasthof zur Mühle at the right hand side. Hearty local stews and soups (one vegetarian, one omnivore), pizza, bread and cake from the artisanal organic bakery opposite and tasty, heavy beer from the Braumanufaktur brewery which you cross on the way from the river are served here, either inside or in the beer garden. Depending on the weather and season you will have to order at the bar inside or from the outdoor food stall. Here you also can buy beer, bread and cakes to take home when the bakery next door is closed.
If you stay overnight in one of the rustic and lovingly restored rooms at the mill -- they have double rooms as well as family appartments -- you will have your breakfast at the Mühlenstube.
The bakery opens at dusk, and what hasn't been sold on closing time will be sold by the Mühlenstube. Opening hours of the brewery are restricted to the guided tours on Wednesdays and Sundays. If you stay within the resort a small tour inside the mill and the brewery is included in the package.
[Dresden, Bad_Schandau, Schmilka, Saechsische_Schweiz, Saxon_Switzerland, organic, vegan, coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, restaurant, pub, cafe, bakeries, breweries, hotel, accommodation, Elbe_cycle_route, Elberadweg]
Friday, 16 August 2019
For an organic day out into the countryside around Munich you might as well choose a destination with plenty options for organic food and even an overnight stay with organic breakfast at the destination: The Panoramaweg Isar-Inn bicycle route starting at Marienplatz allows you to reach such an area by bike in only 30-40 kilometers. Simply follow this route to Moosach and from there to the organic hamlet of Herrmannsdorf as part of the municipality of Glonn.
Don't expect a bicycle highway -- the parts of the route shared with cars have a tarmac underground,
but the rest are sufficiently wide gravel pathes with occasional pitholes. Nevertheless it is much more pleasurable to go here and marvel at the moraine landscape instead of using the main roads where you may be scared for your life as cars will frequently overtake you too fast and often with too little margin. It's also advisable to have a navigation app or map with you as the signage especially within build-up areas is sometimes insufficient.
Public transport isn't much faster -- an up to 1.5 hours affair (one-way) by public transport from Ostbahnhof station. Take a regional (faster) or urban train (S4) to Grafing Bahnhof, and continue with bus no. 440 to Westerndorf stop. You may take your bike on the train when buying a separate MVV-Fahrrad-Tageskarte bicycle day ticket, but not on the bus.
The Herrmannsdorf organic farm
From Westerndorf its only an about ten to 15 minutes walk (or a few minutes on bike) over the fields to the Herrmannsdorf farm, founded by meat-industrialist-turned-organic-farmer Karl Ludwig Schweisfurth and now run by his family. In addition to the organic farm with pigs and chicken roaming before the eyes of the visitors the hamlet houses an artisanal bakery, brewery and butchery, a coffee roaster's shop cum cafe dubbed Merchant & Friends, a kindergarden for the employees and a cooking and practise school offering day courses for visitors who want to learn the basics of the trades practised here at the farm. There's also an organic farm market, the
Herrmannsdorfer Hofmarkt with an outdoor garden café open when the weather is nice.
In the entrance area to this beautiful delicatessen store cum upmarket supermarket you'll find the market booth of nearby organic market gardener Gärtnerei Schmid. Depending on the season you may walk over to pick organically grown flowers from their fields and pay into the provided cash box.
The farm also has its own upmarket 100% organic restaurant, the Wirtshaus zum Herrmannsdorfer Schweinsbräu, for meat lovers definitely worth the troubles of getting here. The rustic and newly refurbished restaurant offers high-standard traditional Bavarian and Austrian cuisine based on the freshest ingredients including the farm's famous own beer and assorted spirits. The elaborately hand-written menu may be difficult to decipher, and even if you can read it you may have difficulties to understand what you read as it is deliberately flavoured with Austrian food terms. So better ask if you don't feel adventurous. It is also advised to book your table for the restaurant (ring in on your way here if you forgot to do so a few days in advance), and mandatory if you plan to come on weekends or on public holidays.
The restaurant which also has an outdoor sitting area is closed 30th December through 14th January, 2020.
If you are wondering what you are going to eat stroll through the farm and greet the pigs and piglets. During the warm season you can also sit outside under horse chestnut trees: There are food stalls, but as the Bavarian tradition of beer gardens goes you may also bring your own food (not the drinks though!). For the home-made ice-cream in a cone (only available in the warm season) walk upstairs to the restaurant. A single serving comes at 1.80 EUR.
In May, before Easter and Christmas the farm gives host to its traditional arts and crafts markets. Especially the advent market is a pleasant alternative to commercial Christmas markets in town. On these days a free bus transfer is provided from and to Grafing Bahnhof, and you may book a tour through the farm or one of the workshops. There are also special tours for kids. All tours and workshops (also outside the festivals) can be booked in advance at the website.
If you feel that a day tour isn't sufficient turn to the right instead of to the left at the bus stop Westerndorf, and follow the way to Gut Sonnenhausen, an organic and sustainably driven Bio-Hotel located in a carefully and tastefully restored manor. Although conferences, weddings and other celebrations are their main business bed and breakfast guests are welcome, too.
More to try: Westerndorf, Piusheim, Glonn and Grafing
If you’re looking for a cheaper place to stay the Schmiedhof organic farm in Westerndorf has a guesthouse where you can enjoy eggs and cheese (and most certainly also milk) from the farm for
breakfast. Simply let the farmers know in advance that you wish to have breakfast.
For something different take a bicycle ride to Piusheim: On Fridays, weekends and public holidays the Glonntaler Backkultur organic cafe cum restaurant keeps open and serves 100 percent organic lunch, dinner and snacks using the gorgeous products of their artisanal bakery as well as other locally produced delicacies like the
cheeses of the local organic dairy Hofkäserei Stroblberg. Each Friday it's pizza evening starting at 5 o'clock, and if you're lucky you may step by while one or another cultural arrangement is taking place.
During the warm season there's also a spacious beer garden.
The bakery shop itself is located across the street, and on weekday mornings you may head for the bakehouse in Mühlenweg ("mill lane").
Glonntaler Backkultur also runs two Sunday-open bakery shops in Glonn and Grafing which are closed on public holidays that are Monday through Saturday. Both have in- and outdoor seating for a snack or coffee break. Next to the shop in Glonn there’s a small fair-trade gift shop dubbed Handfairlesenes. On occasions you may find it open outside the quite restricted official opening hours, so step by for handicraft and other fairly traded products.
[Munich, Glonn, Grafing, Herrmannsdorf, Westerndorf, Piusheim, organic, fair, lunch, dinner, market, bakeries, deli, coffee, hotel, accommodation, cafe, restaurant, pizza, ice-cream, Bavarian, German, cycling, farms]