Sunday, 20 October 2019
In a city that -- according to reliable hearsay -- has at minimum five zero-waste supermarkets it should be easy to find the next shop or restaurant selling and using organic produce. Unfortunately my stay -- a night and a few hours -- was too short for thorough research, so the reviews here are far from comprehensive.
Where to stay
Having said this it turned out that in the year of the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus it was impossible to find a place to stay sustainably and wake up to an at least predominantly organic breakfast at a short notice -- all the places below were sold out. I finally stayed at the DJH youth hostel and dropped the 100 percent conventional breakfast buffet with its abundance of small plastic-packages containing jams and spreads.
If you fancy a design hotel with (at least predominantly) organic breakfast in the very city centre there are three hotels of the Motel One chain, all in walking distance from each other.
The budget option if you can stay over night less central is the Home Planet hostel in Connewitz. They run washing machines and wireless on renewable energy, use eco cleaning agents, and seem to buy them from a package-free supermarket, Einfach unverpackt in the Südstadt neighbourhood. In the kitchen they use
organic milk and bake the bread themselves. Their Neapolitan chef directly imports olives and cheese from near organic farms in Italy, but although the breakfast is vegetarian and home-made the manager told me that using more organic produce would excel their price calculations. The reception recently moved a few steps in north-western direction, to the corner of Hammerstraße. There it takes the place of former bakery shop Nix Tonne which re-sold day-old bread and cakes and was turned into vegan-vegetarian cafe Cafe am Ende des Universums (alluding to "the restaurant at the end of the universe" by Douglas Adams) by the Home Planet folks.
Where to eat
I decided to combine my basic overnight stay with a luxury dinner at breathtakingly beautiful organic fine dining restaurant
Macis in the very city centre, a few steps from
Thomaskirche. The place aims to re-create the air of the great urban bars of the 1920s, and you will be waited at table in style. If you have the budget choose the menu, with impeccable wine selection on request. The food combining mediterranean traditions with local ingredients was an explosion of taste, with the most delicate grilled octopus I've ever had, and a perfectly balanced meat course (I admit I had difficulties to choose from the menu as the vegetarian courses were equally promising). Of course everything here is sustainably sourced, organic and to a great deal seasonal from local farms and suppliers. Make sure to use the bathroom as on the way, you will pass the ironwork of the house's historic lift (which unfortunately is taken out of service).
Lunch is less expensive, and during daytime you may also opt for a sandwich or coffee at the joint bakery cum cafe, or enter the beautiful Macis Biomarkt convenience store next door which stocks everything used in the restaurant kitchen and also offers salads made there.
I was pondering long whether I should list Café Central here -- as the city's foremost grand cafe back in the GDR it is an address to visit for its -- now of course completely exchanged and polished -- 1970ies-style interior -- or rather warn of greenwashing:
Although the menu advertises organic bread and focaccia (which wasn't available for breakfast), the eggs are no longer certified for reasons that clearly show that the managers have neither understood the goods of organic agriculture nor the basics of organic certification.
The only organic drink is tea (not even the milk for the coffee drinks is organic), the service unimpressing.
Just around the corner from the Macis restaurant you'll find the city's organic ice-cream maker, Tonis. Unfortunately I was too late after dinner and could only watch them closing. They also have a second branch in famous Könneritzstraße.
More to try
As I said before my time in Leipzig was limited (as was my upfront research) -- but here are a few more tips, for you to try (and tell me if you like):
[Leipzig, organic, breakfast, lunch, dinner, German, restaurant, hotel, accommodation, ice-cream, cafe, coffee, supermarkets, grocery, zero_waste, unverpackt]
Sunday, 08 September 2019
The origin and home of the world-famous Bauhaus is both, conveniently located at the Elberadweg bicycle route and conveniently reachable every hour by urban train no. 2 and regional trains from Leipzig main train station.
From the train station simply follow the signs to the Bauhaus university, and there, in the self-service Café-Bistro im Bauhaus in the basement, you may order an organic tea or lemonade. Unfortunately this is all you may expect of organic food or snacks on a Saturday afternoon, Sunday or public holiday.
On weekdays the prospects are brighter, but since I was there on a Sunday, I am unfortunately not able to verify my upfront research which I'm presenting here nevertheless. If you visit any of the places mentioned below (or find more) let me know about your experience.
Breakfast and lunch
The only at least partially organic restaurant is located east of Dessau main train station (i.e. on the opposite side of the tracks than the Bauhaus building and the famous Masters' Houses by Walter Gropius). According to a usually reliable German organic customers' journal
the Essbar cafe cum bistro inside the Schwabehaus cultural centre uses organic ingredients to prepare its predominantly vegan and vegetarian food. Unfortunately it serves breakfast and lunch only and is closed on weekends.
Every second Saturday of a month there's a farmers' market a little further in north-eastern direction, the Bio-Regionalmarkt on Lidice-Platz between the monuments of Dessau-born composer Kurt Weill and playwright Bertolt Brecht. There you should be able to buy organic fruit and veges, simply watch out for the "bio" keyword and organic labels as there are also conventional market boothes.
From Lidiceplatz follow Karlsstraße further east to the Biopur grocery on the premises of the old slaughterhouse of Dessau-Nord. It's a small traditional organic convenience store which offers a good selection of both, organic fresh and dry food as well as bodycare and household items.
There's another small organic grocery on the Bauhaus side of the train station, the Bibernelle ("burnet") which also has a booth at the Bio-Regionalmarkt. It's conveniently located right in the vicinity of the Bauhaus and the Masters' Houses, serves organic coffee, tea, snacks and cakes and has only one disadvantage for the Bauhaus visitor: It's closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
[Dessau, Rosslau, Bauhaus, Elbe_cycle_route, Elberadweg, organic, snacks, lunch, coffee, supermarkets, grocery]
Hauptbahnhof (main station) is not just
Europe's largest head train station with fine arched halls and a generous concourse, it's also home to
a Sunday-open two-storey shopping mall dubbed "Promenaden". The shops are predominantly branches of the same boring chains as everywhere but since organic products have been entering the main stream this mall not only gives you the opportunity to replenish stocks when everything else is closed but allows the traveller to quickly shop for organic provisions while changing trains or while the locomotive of their train is being exchanged.
The mall is situated below track level, just walk right away to the arrival hall and take the escalator stairs down. All shops mentioned here are located on ground floor, i.e. one level below the long distance trains.
Your first option is a 100 percent organic supermarket near the Western entry of the mall: The nation-wide operating Alnatura chain is running one of the smaller Alnatura Express convenience stores easily reachable from the tracks around track 8 for last minute provisions. Take the escalator stairs downstairs and turn right (facing away from the tracks), and there you'll easily spot the fresh-green coloured shop - a provider not only of all daily necessities, but also of fully organic snacks and coffee on the go. Unfortunately opening hours on Sundays are limited to the afternoon.
When you find it closed do not despair: Next to it a Rossmann drugstore offers a good selection of organic dry goods, preserves, drinks and natural body care, though less than the DM branch mentioned below. If in a hurry you can buy the following brands without hesitation: "Alverde", "N.A.E.", "Lavera", "Weleda" and most of "Dresdner Essenz" (toiletries), "EnerBio" and "Veganz" (food, the latter is entirely vegan). In 2020 you'll also see the range of environmentally friendlier household items on the rise here: now you'll find the entire list of grandma's cleaning chemicals in the shelves, both citric and acetic acid as well as soda, beeswax food wraps and more.
The Eastern-most part of the mall (to the right when facing the tracks) houses a branch of the DM Drogeriemarkt
offering an abundance of certified organic dry goods, preserves, drinks, natural body care and eco-friendly household chemicals (see here for a detailed description), in short: everything you need while travelling except for fresh and frozen food.
Still in the East wing though more central you'll find a Vitalia wholefood market which in addition to dry goods, sweets and snacks, toiletries and detergents also sells fresh food: Here you can get organic bakery items and and sandwiches, fresh dairy products and a small selection of organic fresh fruit and veges. Prices here are more upmarket than at the DM branch, and you have to check for organic labels, too, though to a lesser extend. If in doubt the staff is more competent than the one in the drugstore superstores and they are two hours longer open on Sundays than the Alnatura.
If in the mood for a good coffee a difficult question might bother the eco-conscious traveller: Should I have an organic coffee on the go in a one-way cup from the Alnatura snack bar or do I rather prefer a wasteless yet conventional espresso in the beautiful bookshop cafe Ludwig on track level? I'd love to recommend the latter in this blog but the only organic item on offer is organic syrup to flavour the coffee. The coffee bar used to have organic apple spritzer but unfortunately no longer. With its beautiful ceiling the well-assorted bookstore however is worth visiting in its own right.
If you have the time to take a stroll into the city centre, make sure to pay a visit to the bakery of the Macis restaurant a little south of the Thomaskirche yard with the famous Bach memorial, if only to marvel at the mouth-watering fully organic and skillfully decorated cakes and club sandwiches in the shop window. Unlike the organic convenience store next to it the bakery keeps open on Sunday mornings, and if you buy of their artisanal breads some organic butter is absolutely sufficient for a gorgeous picnic.
[Leipzig, organic, vegan, gifts, snacks, lunch, supermarkets, grocery, trainstation, coffee, books, bakeries]
Monday, 26 August 2019
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
The most sophisticated ones in town may be had at Lingner restaurant on the premises of the neoclassical German Hygiene Museum ("Deutsches Hygienemuseum") marking the Western end of the 1x2 kilometres spanning inner-city park areal of Großer Garten ("Great Garden"). While you can step by for an Italian-style coffee drink (made with organic milk) and organic cake or a snack after a visit to the medical museum this is ways from the usual low quality self-service refectory to be found in many museums. They serve simple but decent lunch, all meat and meat products come from a local organic butcher's, the bread (though not the ice-cream which isn't organic) from an organic bakery in town, and many veges are also locally sourced and organic. Dinner starting at 5:30 pm is more sophisticated, and often thematically extending a current exhibition at the museum. While the outdoor terrace is popular during the warm season, dinner time during the winter season featuring a stylishly presented all-you-can-it buffet is perfect if you prefer it less crowded. When it comes to drinks
both tea, milk, juices and some soft drinks as well as all spirits printed in dark-green font on the menu are organic.
There's however no organic wine on offer (although a good selection of local ones).
Due to the somewhat remote location call in advance if you plan to arrive after 9 pm.
About ten minutes brisk walking from Hygiene-Museum will lead you to Cafe Aha (just across Kreuzkirche) which is covered here. Even 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) you can order 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.
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)
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]
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]