Wednesday, 23 December 2020
In theory we all love them: The small owner-driven shops that surprise us with their unusual selection or combination of goods and food made with love and care,
vibrant places with a special and welcoming atmosphere or homely places of peace where we can sit and wonder and get inspired.
Shops who's owners create a place from their ideas of a human world, who are ready for a chat if desired but not pushy in their
sales attitude. Places that are somehow home away from home, places for a rest or for inspiration. Places where we hopefully buy stuff since we're not forcibly persuaded by aggressive marketing.
And yes. There are these places, and it doesn't come as a surprise that many of these shops offer organic items.
Books and more
Imagine the dry fruit and sweets display of an oriental bazaar stall, and put it in the middle of a crammed book shop filled with mediavistic, orientalistic and cooking literature. When it's possible again sit down in front of the shop or at the single bar table inside and order oriental-style coffee, tea, and mezze. Have a chat with the owner and scroll the book shelves while you wait -- you will find interesting media on medieval arts and crafts, food, biographies of historic persons, films, facts and fiction in German, English, and even French. Your meal -- the falafel, perhaps a soup -- will be fully organic as are the drinks and the home-made dried fruit.
Before covid-19 Saladins Souk in Haidhausen was also a reliable source of sweets imported from Damaskus, and along-side earthen oil lamps and artisanally produced soaps from both, the Provence as well as the now sadly destroyed soap shops in Aleppo, you will find (usually conventional) delicatessen from French supermarkets. The shop (also dubbed Haidhauser Oase as the blackboards in front of it have it) can be found in the beautiful and relaxed part of Haidhausen a few minutes North-West from Ostbahnhof station. Be prepared to find an always changing display of (not always organic) delicatessen often brought by the owner from his travels or made by his friends. The deep-fried lunch items are prepared healthily in a low-fat fryer, and birch sugar is used as sweetener throughout the menu. You can also order lunch delivery as long as you phone in between 10 and 12 am. During the corona year of 2020 the shop had been closed a lot, but the shop-owner confirmed the shop was to open again January 4th, 2021.
Love to sit down with a good book and a glass of good wine? No question, the two are a perfect match, and even if you're more into an organic softdrink (Bionade), the Buchhandlung Lentner bookstore near Rosenheimer Platz with its cosy cafe is a place where you can stay for hours sitting, watching, chatting with the staff and reading. If you're not able to read German shop of their carefully selected wines, some of them organic. They will also order English books for you (send e-mail, phone in or use their webshop in advance), but this may sometimes take longer than the usual overnight order service for German books. Unfortunately, neither the coffee nor the milk are organic, but if you ask they'll perhaps offer it next time.
[Munich, Haidhausen, organic, cafe, coffee, tea, deli, books, lunch, delivery, fashion, French, falafel, shopping, covid, corona]
Monday, 06 April 2020
The good news: As long as your organic supermarket is equipped with a freezer (which applies to all exceeding the size of a corner shop) you will be able to find some frozen pizza, and even if you feel the urge while most shops are closed, don't dispair! But come on, who really wants to feast on frozen pizza?
If a bar stool will do, head for Bartu in Schwabing, a short walk from Münchner Freiheit. It's actually an ice-cream parlour with a hole in the wall to a pizza kitchen. Gorgeous, 100% organic pizza, and if you are lucky enough to live no more than three kilometers away they also will deliver home.
Those living in the Neuhausen neighbourhood may do the same with Pizza Verde delivering by e-bike within a radius of two kilometers. The pizza of course tastes much better when eaten directly from the (Italian) pizza oven, either on a bar table or in the guest room cum wine shop next door which has a table for twelve. Book this table in advance if you plan to come in company, it's a pleasant place to chat away an evening. The impressive menu offers all the classics, in addition to seasonally changing specials and creations of the house. Among the latter is a delicate combination of gorgonzola cheese, pears and walnuts, a white pizza with lardo fat and olive oil and a delightingly hot pizza diavolo. Since all ingredients (and all drinks) are of high, purely organic quality, and the pizze made with great skill
(The pizza base is pleasantly thin and crispy made of dough that was allowed to rest for a minimum of 24 hours.)
it's hard to be seriously disappointed. Even the "Nutella" pizza for dessert (of course made with superior organic hazelnut spread) is palatable for those who are beyond thirty.
You may also have a classical tiramisu or panna cotta, or simply
step by for an Italian coffee shot.
If you prefer a livelier, more crowded place
there's now a second, much bigger restaurant in Schwabing, with an organic wine shop next door.
Early in 2020 the neighbourhood of Sendling got a fully organic pizza restaurant: La Trattoria serves the full spec of Italian lunch and dinner, 100 percent organic, including a proper selection of pizze which you can also order to take away.
Now that it has gotten quite easy to get the real thing I'm unsure whether I should continue to include the following place which for many years has been the only pizzeria in town serving partially organic and truly Italian pizza: If you prefer a waiter who is approaching you in mock-Italian, and TV screens on all walls Lo studente in Maxvorstadt near tube-stop "Universität" is still the place to go. Remember to specify that you want the organic pizza bun made with emmer wheat for your pizza. The toppings -- apart from fresh basil -- usually are not organic, but you may order a bionade organic soft drink.
For the Lebanese version of a pizza head for the neighbourhood of Sendling. A few steps from tube station Implerstraße you'll find a tiny restaurant named after this Levantine breakfast special, the Manouche, where it can be had all day around, alongside Lebanese soups, savoury pastries, mezze, Lebanese wine and sweets. All meat is local and certified organic, and most of the vegetables come from farms in the vicinity which, although not certified, embrace organic principles. Some of the beer ("Neumarkter"), juices and soft drinks are also organic. Unfortunately the flour is not organic which explains the tastelessness of the bread when eaten on its own but fortunately the mezze are full of flavour and cover up for it. Place your order at the desk, and help yourself with drinks from the fridge; your food, wine and coffee will be served. It's advisable to book in advance when coming as a group, to enjoy a glimpse of oriental atmosphere and friendliness in Bavaria. Note that the place is closed on Sundays, just like the falafel restaurant Beirut Berut diagonally across the street, run by the same owners.
Alsatian Tarte Flambe
The Alsatian version of a pizza, Tarte Flambe or Flammkuchen is a popular fast food on street festivals like the biannual Streetlife on Leopoldstraße or the triannual Auer Dult fair where you will find boothes selling it in organic quality.
The following (partially) organic pizza places can still be find on the web but forget about them: They do not exist any more.
- Blizzeria, Berg-am-Laim-Str. 82a (Berg am Laim)
- Bozo & Loui, Pariser Str. 17 (Haidhausen, Alsatian Flammkuchen)
- Pasta e Basta Bio, Amalienstr. 87 (Maxvorstadt)
- Sicilia Naturkost, Altmühleck 1 (Altstadt)
- Sweekies, Wendl-Dietrich-Str. 4 (Neuhausen)
- Pizza Zodiac, Schulstr. 42 (Neuhausen)
[Munich, Schwabing, Maxvorstadt, organic, fastfood, lunch, delivery, coffee, pizza, wine, Italian, Lebanese, covid, corona]
Tuesday, 23 August 2016
Among India's middle classes a healthy lifestyle and care for the environment is gaining momentum, hence the keyword "organic" is no longer something targeted at Western travellers in the first place. To give an example the local section of "The Hindu" covered a Kochi based home-cooked food distribution and delivery network during my stay: Tastejet allows you to order meals on a subscription scheme, the food is cooked in homes nearby you and freshly delivered. The start-up works so well that it plans to invest in a centralised kitchen, to grow some greens by means of aquaponic and -- as emphasized by the newspaper -- to migrate entirely to organic produce. If you happen to come to Kochi and use this service let me know about its progress.
Nevertheless it does not come as a surprise that cafes focussing on Western travellers pioneer organic items on their menus.
One of them is Kashi Art Cafe in Burgher Street, a fine art gallery cum airy European-style cafe and a travellers institution of years (which is why I won't go into details here).
Their coffee comes from an organic plantation, as do green tea, rice and quinoa. More sustainably grown or even organic
produce is used depending on availability (the menu promises a largely pesticide free meal). Vegetarians are catered for, but the place is decidedly non-veg. The cafe does not offer "mineral" water in plastic bottles, instead they serve their own filtered water in reusable glass bottles.
Less frequented since it opened just recently is the Solar Cafe at the North-Eastern shore of Fort Kochi. Its focus is on organic food -- depending on availability between 20 and 80 percent of the ingredients used are organic, eggs and coffee guaranteed organic. Some of it comes from their own organic farm, the Lunar Garden, which can also be booked as a farm stay.
To find the place head East to the Ernakulam Ferry (customs) jetty and watch out for a sign advertising Solar Cafe on white background on the left (sea-)side of Calvetty Road. Cross the street and climb the stairs to the first floor hidden between two street facing shops. Here you'll find a nicely restored predominantly pink and white painted room under the roof, furnished with book shelves and bureaus serving as tables. Fans over each table will give you a welcome breeze, especially during the hot season. The two helpful owners and the two friendly ladies running the kitchen are serving tasty Italian-style food with an Indian touch to it: penne dressed in a tomato sauce spiced with fresh green chili and topped with melted cheese, bruschetta-inspired toasts dubbed "sandwiches" and a variety of salads as well as a yummy home-made soup, all vegetarian. The menu also offers local-style dishes, both seafood and vegetarian, but they were not available due to the low season. Freshly made juices, lassis (note that plain lassi is sweet), milkshakes, fresh lime sodas (the default without sugar) and Italian or local style coffee round up to a perfect lunch. Don't miss the tropical shake made of pineapple and coconut -- a worthy virgin colada. The place is closed during the evenings but makes a perfect place for breakfast instead. Since the restaurant room is a little laid back it is a quiet place, the street traffic is only bothering those sitting in a tiny separate room for two facing the street.
In order to dine with style head for Saffron restaurant, the hotel restaurant of Spice Fort boutique hotel. Local eco-tourism chains in the luxury class (namely CGH and the Dune Eco Group) advertise with organic farms as part of their sustainability efforts, but contrary to CGH (which e.g. runs the Brunton Boat Yard or Spice Coast Cruises houseboats) Dune boosts of its restaurants as organic gourmet restaurants. The food at Saffron is very tasty indeed (the best appams we had on our Kerala tour), spiced as subtly as you can do with confidence only with the best ingredients at hand. The staff proudly told us about four farms growing organic fruits and veges, vanilla and coffee. The latter two are marked as always organic on the menu, other ingredients depend on availability.
The menu offers North and South Indian as well as "continental" dishes (the latter inspired by mediterranean kitchens), both, vegetarian, fish and meat, and the restaurant operates a huge fama espresso machine as it is usually found in Italian bars. For lunch I'd highly recommend the vegetarian set menu, and as a dessert the local version of creme brulee -- Watalappam. With its simple, clear interior design promoting spices and the colour red the restaurant facilities could easily be located in an European metropolis.
The following place, a friendly, 100 percent organic grassroots Indian restaurant cum grocery moved to Bangalore and does no longer work out of Kochi:
[Kochi, Cochin, organic, lunch, coffee, restaurant, cafe, eatery, hotel, accommodation, delivery]