The Organic Traveller
Monday, 01 March 2021

Nuremberg: Self-service cafes and eateries

As in most German cities addresses of organic groceries are an easy bet if you're on the lookout for an organic sandwich or coffee on the go during the day. But Nuremberg has more to offer: A good selection of casual organic restaurants and burger grills as well as some nice day cafes, all within walking distance from inside the walled city centre.

Gostenhof

The newest of them are located in Fürther Straße, which seems to become a vegan organic hot spot: Veganel, and The Green in the neighbourhood of Rosenau, a few steps west off the traffic machinery of Plärrer. You'll enter a cleanly designed vegetarian, predominantly vegan cafe cum eatery in black-brown-white optics perfectly suited both, to sit down and work or to meet friends. Their speciality are freshly prepared smoothies and super food drinks. In addition they offer a daily changing home-cooked lunch as well as coffee drinks. Between 80 and 90 percent of the fruit is organic, and the seasonal veges, predominantly sourced from a farmer in the vicinity, are so according to availability. Bread and lenses are organic, too, as is a selection of soft drinks (though the coffee and the pasta are not). The owners are happy to answer all your questions concerning the origin of the food, hence do not hesitate to enquire. Note that they are closed on Wednesdays.

Two corners away you'll find Bio und nah, the neighbourhood's only remaining (and fully organic) grocery, co-operatively driven on the premises of a former bakery. On weekdays they serve a simple (vegetarian) soup or stew at lunch time, and you can have a coffee drink and cake or sandwich throughout the day. Matching the atmosphere of a farm shop they are pioneering the zero waste approach in town with suspenders for dry goods. These are re-financed by the sale of organic cotton bags which you purchase to fill with legumes, corn, pasta, cerials, nuts and more, and re-use thereafter.

Located in south-western direction from Am Plärrer, in a neighbourhood with many nice Wilhelminian houses and a lot of Turkish and Arab shops right before the railway tracks you'll find an organic institution of old, the Lotos grocery and cafe.

Their latest brainchild is a hole-in-the-wall 100 percent organic veggie doner and falafel shop dubbed Falafelei next to the main entrance which was opened in March, 2016. The falafel "extra" dürum I had was very tasty, just the prefab dürum bread would be better replaced with a freshly baked one.

Outside pandemic restrictions you do not have to eat on the go -- simply tell them you're going inside and have it in the light and cosy winter garden in the back of the shop or on the roofed terrace during the warm season. Here you are also served coffee (or tea), cakes and, from noon, a tasty, daily changing hearty vegetarian or vegan meal inspired by ayurvedic principles (and not bland at all). All items of the set menu -- salad, main course and dessert -- can be ordered separately; you may also choose a small helping of the main course (which is just a small serving indeed). While you place your order for coffee and cake at the bakery counter (which will be served) you have to order and fetch your lunch from the kitchen window. Specify if you prefer the vegan version. You'll pay at the grocery's cash desk before you leave. They also offer breakfast in the morning and diner until 7:30 pm.

On your way back to the walled city centre, on Gostenhofer Hauptstraße you'll find a branch of the local organic supermarket chain, Ebl, a spacious venue with a street-facing self-service day cafe. Between 11 am and 2 pm they offer a vegetarian lunch on weekdays, and you can have a coffee or tea and/or cake or sandwich all day at one of the high tables (or to take out during covid-19 restrictions).

Within the walled city

On December 7, 2016 the supermarket chain opened their first branch in the city centre, Ebl city opposite the Germanisches Nationalmuseum which also incorporates a shop-and-eat day cafe.

Lotos Unschlittplatz

A five minutes walk north off Josephsplatz, with a view of the river Pegnitz, you'll find the second branch of Lotos, another cosily crammed grocery with a vegetarian lunch kitchen opening at noon. At the entrance turn to the left to find your way to the kitchen where you place and fetch your lunch order (they share the menu with the eatery in Hessestraße). You can have it on high tables in front of the kitchen or move to the room to the right of the entrance where you can sit down and relax. Coffee and cakes have to be ordered from the bakery counter where you also pay. Note that during covid-19 restrictions you cannot eat on the spot and have to take your meal with you -- either in your own boxes and jars or in reusable containers for which you pay a deposit.

If you fancy a coffee near Hauptmarkt head for one of the many owner-run delicatessen and sweets shops, the Maulbeere ("mulberry") in St. Sebalds. You will also be served breakfast and home-made cakes, with organic milk and eggs while you can marvel at lovely seasonal flower arrangements.

Closed due to covid-19 measures

Ceased to exist

The following places shut down and where replaced by other, not organic ones. So don't be confused when you find references to them on the web:

2021-03-01 14:55:01 [Nuremberg, organic, lunch, coffee, cafe, eatery, grocery, supermarkets, vegan, vegetarian, zero_waste, fastfood, doner_kebap, falafel] Link

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Saturday, 09 January 2021

Nuremberg: Zero-waste

Interestingly (and contrary to other cities) the first gravity bins with organic dry food appeared in Nuremberg organic supermarkets, long before the first dedicated package-free grocery opened its doors. But now that the latter are here they support the thesis that supermarkets, even organic ones, tend to use gravity bins made from plastics while dedicated zero-waste groceries use glass suspenders whenever possible, taking the threat of plastics pollution as serious as possible.

The beautiful neighbourhood of Gostenhof has long been a hotspot for organic lifestyle, so it does not come as a surprise that the first crowd-funded package-free grocery store in town, Zero Hero, opened here in 2017. It's part of a small regional chain, with a second branch in the city of Erlangen. Like many other members of the Unverpackt e.V. association of German packaging-free shops they have a focus on organic products of the local, i.e. Franconian region (like the pumpkin seed oil) and prefer products with low carbon dioxide footprint. A speciality is the freshly milled nut butter often with a flavouring ingredient like chocolate -- flavours are changing, and you can even buy pet food. Most food items are organically certified, the rest comes from reliable near-organic sources, and you will even find organic convenience food like ready-mixes of couscous or lentil patties. Needless to say that there's a good selection of natural and eco-friendly household chemicals and body care products as well as a selection of German books on zero-waste lifestyle.

If you can't find all the dry food you need step by the Gostenhof branch of the regional organic supermarket chain Ebl, on your way back to the walled city centre. The chain has several branches in Nuremberg with bakery, cheese and butchers counters that all will accept your bags or boxes, but (plastics) gravity bins with dry food have been installed so far only here and in the less central neighbourhoods of St. Peter, Gärten bei Wöhrd as well as in the suburb of Mögeldorf. However, since packaging-free food supply is on the rise gravity bins are surely to appear in other branches, too.

If you prefer the personal contact in traditional organic groceries to the anonymity of the bigger supermarket chains head for the corner shop of Bio und nah in the Rosenau neighbourhood, to my knowledge the first grocery in town that invested in gravity bins (plastic ones, though).

Freivon

From there on it took several years that, in the covid-19 year of 2020, the first dedicated package-free self-service supermarket appeared in the tourist spot of the walled inner city: The light and friendly, inviting shop of Freivon ("free from") in St. Sebald offers virtually all you need in both, your bathroom and kitchen except for fresh fruits and veges, starting with loose-weight ready-made falafel mixes, chewing gums or Bavarian gin, vodka and vermouth, and ending with sheabutter in retour glasses. On the shelves you'll find labels that clearly indicate whether a product is organically certified or vegan and what kind of allergenes it may contain. Needless to say that also this shop has a focus on fairly and socially responsibly produced products from the greater region, and most of the food is certified organic. Different from other zero-waste groceries it offers a decent choice of very competitively priced broken chocolate, and you may mix both, all chocolates and all wine gum types to your liking as they have the same price, respectively.

As soon as covid-19 restrictions will be removed you may also have a coffee drink and cake on the spot and let accompanying children play in the play corner.

2021-01-09 17:00:01 [Nuremberg, Erlangen, organic, coffee, cafe, grocery, supermarkets, vegan, vegetarian, zero_waste] Link

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Sunday, 03 January 2021

Organic Prague

The Bohemian kitchen serves a lot of (conventional) meat, and vegetarian places usually do neither use organic ingredients -- eating out can be quite a challenge in beautiful and historical Prague. My favourite restaurant from many years ago unfortunately does no longer exist, so I had to start almost from scratch, and my time in the city was limited. The good news: You have no longer to be a strict follower of a wholefood diet if you prefer organic food. But compared with capitals of neighbouring countries there's still a gap to close.

Country Life Melantrichova

Daily necessities

Founded in the 1990-ies the organic grocery Country Life has developed into a small organic supermarket chain since. The shops still look like small health food shops and concentrate on wholefood, but provide you with a sufficient selection of fresh and dry organic food, dairy products as well as vegan alternatives. Bread, rolls and pastries bought by the piece as well as fruits and veges aren't pre-packaged, and there is a good selection of dry food available from zero-waste dispensers, so come with your own bags and containers. Note that, except for the one in the old town, all Country Life shops are closed both, on Saturdays and Sundays, and all of them close as early as between 6 and 7 pm.

While fully organic supermarkets haven't taken off so far there's a increasing number of package-free groceries. However, only a smaller part of the products at these "bezobalu" are organic, so even here you have to watch out for the "bio" labels. Since my stay in Prague has been limited to a weekend I don't have reviews to offer, just had a glimpse at the shop windows of Jelen next to the Organic Sushi restaurant in Nusle where you can find dry food, herbs and spices, natural body care and more in a pleasant location. There's also a small chain of zero-waste shops simply dubbed Bezobalu.

As in other parts of Czechia you will also find a number of franchises of the German DM chemist's chain which will provide you with a good selection of organic dry goods and natural bodycare. Their own brands "DM Bio" (food) and "Alverde" (body care) are affordable even if your budget is tight.

In a meat-loving place like this I hoped to find an artisanal butcher's shop offering high-quality organic meat from ethical husbandry. The nearest I came is Naše maso ("Our meat") in Josefov (in the same boring mall like My Raw Cafe) which indeed is an artisanal butchery sourcing the animals from Czech farms keeping traditional breeds and using them from nose to tail -- but whether the animals are kept and slaughtered according to organic and animal-welfare principles I can't say (the shop was closed when I was there).

Restaurace Country Life

Eating out

If you found the Country Life grocery in the old town, Stare Mesto, head into the small alleyway to its left, where you find Prague's eldest still existing organic restaurant, the Restaurace Country Life. The interior resembles a typical Czech beer restaurant, and the place serves hearty Bohemian food indeed, however all vegetarian and dairy-free. Note that this self-service place -- just like the grocery -- is closed on Saturdays.

There is also an eatery on the premises of the Country life shop in Dejvice (Mind the quite restricted opening hours), and the convenience store in Jungmannova street will provide you with snacks.

My Raw Cafe

Maybe as a result of the meat-centric Czech cuisine Czechia has a thriving raw-vegan community, with successful producers in this niche sector. In Prague there's a number of raw vegan cafes, one of them My Raw Cafe in Josefov, located in a rather uninviting new mall. Don't be fooled -- despite the deserted feel of this mall on a Sunday it's open every day. While the personnel is kind service was extremely slow: All food is prepared while you wait and this can take a while even when the space isn't filled to the brim. The food was made with quality ingredients, some of them organic, but supporting the health food cliche of vegan raw: my Thai soup wasn't spiced at all tasting like pure coconut milk with curcuma and a few veges. My favourite: the Bohemian-style avocado tartar with raw bread which was exactly as umami-sour as its properly made meat equivalent.

Organic Sushi

My favourite restaurant is located off the tourist tracks, in the neighbourhood of Nusle, east of the Vyšehrad viewpoint over both, the city and the Vitava river. In a street with nicely restored bourgeois houses and sett pavement you'll find Organic Sushi, run with love for pure, unadulterated food. The comforting sushi comes nicely arranged on granite plates and is of highest quality, perfectly accompanied by the home-made matcha lemonade. The place is located in the basement and pleasantly decorated in lounge-style, perfect for unagitated conversation with friends or a romantic evening out.

Restaurants in the Jewish quarter naturally cater towards the culturally interested touristic clientele, and among the finer dining restaurants I'd expect a certain usage of organic ingredients. Promises for organic meat and pasta I found on the menu of established kosher restaurant King Solomon offering meat-centric traditional Ashkenazi food (which I haven't tried so far) and (for organic meat) at La Veranda. The Italian and French inspired kitchen here uses regional ingredients and serves good-quality, though neither exceptional nor exciting cuisine. The service was satisfiying, the staff nice (though not especially knowledgeable) and since the restaurant was quite empty in the covid-19 summer of 2020 we had a generally pleasant dining experience. Unfortunately there were no organic drinks available.

Puro Kaprova

Coffee and ice-cream

For the hip coffee bar cum ice-cream parlour head for one of the Puro shops in town who decidedly do not sell "zmrzlina" (ice-cream in Czech) but Italian-style "gelato". The one nearest to tourist tracks is located two street corners from tube stop Staromestska, where you almost cannot miss the red-white checkered window front which hides a pastell-coloured self-service cafe. Queue, order, pay and pick up your certified kosher ice-cream made from organic milk. A small scoop (one flavour) comes at 50 crowns, a medium one (two flavours) at 90 crowns. If you ordered coffee drinks, milk shakes made with organic milk or cakes they will be served later on the seat you choose. Coffee and chocolate unfortunately aren't organic, only certified by the Rainforest alliance, and it is not quite clear whether the shop also uses the organic brown sugar which is on sale as the sugar served with the coffee is not organic.

Fair&Bio obchod in Florenc for a fairly traded, organic coffee drink. The place is a classical fair-trace shop offering dry food, sweets, coffee, tea and spices as well as handicraft made by co-operatives.

A small selection of organic ice-cream flavours can also be had from a franchise of the upmarket French ice-cream company Amorino in Malá Strana, e.g. after you decent from the castle.

More to try

During my research I found the following places that seemed likely to sell or serve at least partially organic food and drinks, but I did not have the time to check them out myself. If you do I'd appreciate if you let me know whether they actually do so!

Where to stay

Want to stay in an eco-conscious place and wake up to an organic breakfast? I have to disappoint you -- so far I haven't been able to spot a hotel or hostel that I full-heatedly can recommend. However, here are my learnings: Hotel Josef

On their website the design hotel Josef in the city centre announces partially organic breakfast, but since I stayed there while covid-19 hygienic restrictions were in place I cannot report whether the regular breakfast buffet in the impersonal business breakfast room usually contains organic items. Breakfast was served instead at their newly renovated sister hotel Maximilian. Here nothing was organic, not even the eggs. When I asked for my cappucchino with organic milk I got one probably made with oat drink, but since I wasn't able to spot the package I cannot say for sure whether it actually was an organic variety -- for most people in Czechia the word "organic" seems to include conventional vegan. At the Josef hotel bar The Duke organic dry gin was the only organic option.

If you prefer to stay a little out of town Hotel Adalbert located in a former baroque monastery claims to be an eco hotel but confirmed not to serve any organic breakfast items. Ask for it in the hope that customer demand may have the power for change.

Ceased to exist

The following places are temporarily closed, shut down or were replaced by other, not organic ones, and are listed here as you still find them on the web:

2021-01-03 13:00:00 [Prague, Praha, Prag, organic, vegetarian, vegan, kosher, zero_waste, cafe, grocery, supermarkets, coffee, ice-cream, snacks, lunch, bodycare, household, hotel, accommodation, eatery, covid, corona] Link

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Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Covid-19 and this (travel) guide

The current pandemic renders a lot of my reviews in this blog useless: Restaurants and cafes are closed completely or have restricted opening hours, are closed in the evenings and only offer food to take away during the day. Non-food shops are closed entirely, supermarkets may have both, longer and shorter opening hours than usual, and some use special regulations to open on Sundays. Although I will continue to update this blog the best I can I'm feeling incapable of keeping track with all changes even in my vicinity. Articles with covid-19 updates can be found here. But if you take the time at home to plan your next travel after the pandemic I'm afraid cannot guarantee that all reviewed places are going to survive. For the November being restaurants, eateries and cafes in Germany are restricted to take-away, so many will be closed completely.

Social distancing and enforced hygienic measures decrease our ability to minimise package waste: However, as smear infections with covid-19 are negligible most bakeries, butcher shops, meat and cheese counters within supermarkets and restaurant take-away resumed to fill their customers' purchase into their bags and boxes. Organic supermarkets and farmers' markets are selling unpackaged fruits and veges as usual, you can prefer deposit bottles and jars to one-way plastic ones, and you can refill your own jars and containers with dry food, oil, vinegar, toiletries, household chemicals and more at zero waste convenience stores. Buy local! For most of the independent shops this is a veritable crisis, and you help them survive when you buy and order from them directly.

2020-11-11 07:00:00 [organic, zero_waste, unverpackt, cafe, grocery, market, supermarkets, lunch, restaurants, covid, corona] Link

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Thursday, 13 August 2020

Bremen: Sunday and late-night addresses for organic stuff

Organic and eco-conscious trade in the city of Bremen is still dominated by smaller shops and supermarkets closing already between 6 and 7 pm, and between noon and 2 pm on Saturdays. Although outlets of the Alnatura and Aleco organic supermarket chains keep open until 8 pm, you might end up quite frustrated if your schedule doesn't allow for day-time-on-weekdays shopping. Fortunately shops within Hauptbahnhof, the main train station, have quite liberal opening hours, hence unless you're longing for fresh veges or frozen food, you're safe, even on Sundays and in the evening.

Betterlife

A small selection of fresh fruit, dairy products and non-dairy alternatives, drinks, dry food, sweets, natural cosmetics and a full-fledged range of bread, rolls, and pastries (both, sweet and savoury) can be found at the BetterLife health-food shop (Reformhaus). Apart from the bakery booth, you have however to check for organic labels as about half the products on sale aren't organic or certified natural cosmetics.

With their natural cosmetics own brand "Alterra" Rossmann drugstores like the one you'll enter when climbing the stairs to the right after entering the central station from the Bahnhofsplatz tram and bus hub offer an alternative for the small purse. The branch keeps open 16 hours a day (14 on weekends on bank holidays) and stocks a good selection of organic dry goods (check for organic labels) and sustainable household goods.

What's unique for a German city is that there's a Sunday-open package-free convenience store: Selfair at the Steintor.

Lebensmittel-Punkt vending machine

Vending machines

For pre-packaged organic sausage and meat products, predominantly in the jar head for the Lebensmittel-Punkt inside the Markthalle 8 food court at Domshof. When you enter the building there's a 24x7 open vending machine at the left hand side where you can buy a lot of regional sausage specialities as well as ready-made meat stock. You can also put orders of fresh meat at their webshop and collect your order on Fridays and Saturdays between 11 am and 6 pm from the dish counter of the food court. The name "Lebensmittel-Punkt" is a play on words -- the composed noun can mean both, "place to buy food" and "centre of vital interest".

Vending machines at the Kaemena farm

At the organic farm of the Kaemena family in Blockland you'll find 24x7 open vending machines for local organic products. Here you can tap raw or pasteurized milk into your own bottle, the liter for 1.20 EUR. If you did not bring one you can buy a returnable milk bottle for the price of 80 cents the Regiomat vending machine which also stocks jam, drinking yogurt and cheese from the farm as well as cheese, eggs, honey and sausage in the jar by organic farms in the vicinity. In addition there's a little freezer with iced lollies at 2.50 EUR the piece for which you pay into the honesty box next to it -- all worth the bicycle tour on the dyke as cars need a special permission to come here. Don't forget to bring cash.

Both, the jam and jogurt glasses can be returned here for re-use (there's a separate "waste-bin" next to the vending machine), but to get back the deposit for the milk bottles you have to turn to the farm cafe during its opening hours.

2020-08-13 11:30:00 [Bremen, Blockland, organic, supermarkets, grocery, bodycare, trainstation, farms, Regiomat] Link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author: E-mail · Mastodon · Vero · Ello.