The Organic Traveller
Sunday, 08 September 2019

Leipzig: Sunday-open organic shops

The Leipzig 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.

Alnatura Express

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.

Macis-Biobäckerei

City centre

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.

2019-09-08 13:15:00 [Leipzig, organic, vegan, gifts, snacks, lunch, supermarkets, grocery, trainstation, coffee, books, bakeries] 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.

Monday, 26 August 2019

Dresden: Organic pubs and restaurants

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.

Planwirtschaft

Neustadt

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.

Hoflößnitz

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.

Closed

The following places ceased to exist, although you still may find references to them on the web:

2019-08-26 15:00:10 [Dresden, Radebeul, Elbe_cycle_route, Elberadweg, Neustadt, organic, coffee, lunch, dinner, snacks, restaurant, pub, wine, beergarden] Link

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Thursday, 22 August 2019

Organic Bohemian Switzerland: Děčín

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.

Bio Koko

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).

Coffee & Books

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.

Bistro Les

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.

Closed

2019-08-22 18:00:00 [Decin, Tetschen, Boehmische_Schweiz, Bohemian_Switzerland, Elbe_cycle_route, Elberadweg, organic, vegan, coffee, lunch, snacks, cafe, bodycare, zero_waste] Link

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Friday, 21 September 2018

Budapest: (Partially) organic ice-cream

Astonishingly many of the artisanal ice-cream parlours in town present their products in the hygienically correct way for the storage of unadultered natural ice-cream, and the city seems to be a heaven for vegan ice-cream lovers. However, and this is the bad news, there seems to be no such thing as fully (bio-)organic ice-cream. But there are places using organic milk.

Gelarto Rosa One of them is a major tourist spot next to Szent István (St. Stephen's) cathedral. With the impressive queue in front of Gelarto Rosa on hot summer days there's often no need to watch out for the art nouveau-styled rose sign priding the entrance (see image) -- you simply can't miss the place. All dairy flavours here are made from organic milk, and there are fruity, vegan flavours, too, though without the promise on the use of organic fruit. Your dish of ice-cream is skillfully made into a rose which helps justifying the hefty price: A small rose made of two flavours comes at 700 Ft., the medium one with three flavours at 800 Ft., and a large rose with four flavours and three rows of petals at 900 Ft.

If you don't insist on dairy ice-cream you may skip the queue and walk around the corner along Szent István tér. Only a fews steps away you'll find a second branch dubbed Gelarto Rosa Bistro -- vegan hedonism. It is in fact a small bistro with outdoor seating serving vegan bowls, sandwiches and desserts predominantly made from organically produced (though not necessarily certified) ingredients from local farmers as well as Italian-style coffee. On summer days however you will rarely notice the food since the focus is on ice-cream roses. As in the older shop around the corner, first queue at the cash counter, specify the size of your ice-cream and pay upfront, then move on to the ice-cream desk and order the flavours. Here you'll find predominantly vegan sorbets, although you might spot one, at maximum two dairy flavours, too, and the queue is significantly shorter than the one around the corner. With food and coffee orders you will be served (after having paid at the cash desk) at your table.

Kedves Krem For a much less touristy place head for the Buda side of the Danube river: Kedves Krém ("lovable cream") in Víziváros, a few corners from Széll Kálmán tér is a lovely neighbourhood ice-cream parlour cum cafe most frequented by locals. The creamy, all-natural dairy ice-cream here comes at 270 Ft. the scoop. With clearly accentuated flavours and stored in deep, steel-covered containers used by only the most serious artisanal ice-cream makers this is definitely the best ice-cream I had in Budapest. Unfortunately I couldn't get a confirmation for whether all ingredients were organic, most likely most of them, first of all milk and cream are sourced from local farms working according to organic principles. If you speak Hungarian and are able to inquire in depth, let me know about it.

2018-09-21 20:00:00 [Budapest, organic, vegan, ice-cream, cafe, eatery, coffee, snacks, lunch] Link

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Monday, 26 March 2018

Organic Trondheim

A university city and a cultural hotspot in Norway it does not come as a surprise that Trondheim offers sufficient opportunities to almost effordlessly adhere to a 100% organic and eco-conscious lifestyle. This hasn't been always like this, but during the past few years more and more shops and eateries offering organic items have opened, and the availability of organic products in general has increased dramatically.

Eating out

For a sandwich for breakfast or lunch head for the cafe in the backroom of the organic Godt Brød bakery near Nordre gate, one of the pioneers of organic food in Norway. Choose the filling of your sandwich or savory bread roll (most ingredients except the meat-based ones are organic), have a decent coffee drink (the milk is organic), tea, a sweet organic bread roll ("bolle"), and/or an organic juice (e.g. from the nearby Rotvoll juicery in Ranheim which has its own organic grocery on their premises). About half of the cold drinks are not organic, so check for the "økologisk" keyword. During the warm season, treat yourself with a pre-packaged organic ice-cream from Reins Kloster. Everything is offered to take away, too. What you probably would not expect: The dough for the sweet bread rolls is dairy-free, the bakery uses porridge made from oat and water and rapeseed oil instead of milk.

Heartier food like organic egg and bacon for breakfast or lamb burgers for lunch or dinner, together with organic softdrinks can be had at Ramp Pub and Spiseri at Svartlamon. Vegetarian options are available. Service at this shabby-homely place may be a little slow, and not all of the ingredients are organic. Formerly entirely furnished with formica tables and chairs the interior has improved since, but gentrification hasn't replaced the proletarian chic yet. The kitchen closes at 9 pm.

For pizza and beer head for Selma, one of the many pubs in the former ship repair workshops at Solsiden. Unfortunately none of the drinks (apart from a fresh cassis-flavoured nordic sour) is organic, and most of the food isn't organic either, but they use organic flour for the best pizza dough in town and have some organic ingredients among the toppings. Their store cupboard being a part of the interior you can see that they, among others, use both, organic and conventional tomatoes, organic vinegar and syrup. Some of the fresh herbs are organic, although the basil wasn't at my visit. The best pizzas here aren't the classical Italian ones but their own creations which go extremely well with beer. They happily omit the meat toppings if you ask so but expect to pay the full price anyway. Make sure to place your orders at the bar (and pay at once), taking with you the drinks. The food will be served.

Real organic food, vegan and vegetarian, is served at Cafe Stammen in Kongens gate. Unfortunately they are closed for refurbishment until January 18, 2018, so I am still unable to pay a visit. Let me know about your experience if you happen to eat there before me.

Fortunately an organic pioneer in the city, vegetarian eatery Persilleriet is not far away. It has been offering predominantly organic wraps and sandwiches since 2005, both to eat at the spot and to take away. There is a second self-service lunch restaurant on the premises of St. Olavs hospital which unfortunately is closed not only on Sundays, but also on Saturdays.

For a cosy, almost entirely organic and Sunday-open cafe take a stroll through the Bakklandet neighbourhood with its small and beautiful wooden houses on the Eastern shore of the Nidelva river. Kafe Soil on the premises of former "Annas Kafe" serves yummy organic cakes, cinnamon rolls, lemonades, juices, smoothies, tea and more. The coffee is often organic, too, and there's usually a vegan soup or stew for the hungry on the entirely vegetarian, generally vegan-friendly menu. When the cafe was opened it shared its venue with a micro brewery. The latter has moved since but as a result you still can come here for a beer (although the organic beer is imported from Germany). Also worth a note: The soap in the bathroom is organic, which takes an extra effort in Norway where certified natural body care isn't sold by conventional supermarket chains yet. Kafe Soil occasionally plays host to intimate concerts, vegan community arrangements, clothes exchange gatherings and other grass-roots sustainability arrangements. Closed for holidays until January 10th, 2018.

Food and daily necessities

The city's first address for zero-waste shopping is a cosy fair-trade grocery, Etikken: Bring along your own bottles and boxes to refill with organic detergents, grains, and dried fruit. This not-for-profit undertaking partially run by volonteers offers a good selection of organic food, drinks and sweets, along with household necessities like eco-friendly baking sheets and detergents. They offer a decent selection of preserves and vegan alternatives, but no fresh fruit and veges. The shop is also a reliable source of organically certified make-up, skin and hair care, organic wipes, tampons and menstruation cups.

In 2016 Etikken moved to a new and bigger venue in Olav Tryggvasons gate between Nordre and Søndre gate (next to the Norwegian handicraft shop "Husfliden"), but many sources on the web still list its old address in Fjordgata.

Helios

For fresh food head for the city's organic pioneer, the Helios convenience store in Prinsens gate. At the end of 2016 the shop closed down but was taken over by new owners immediately and is now as reliable as before. You will find all daily necessities -- food, toiletry, detergents etc. -- in organic quality, including frozen pizza, ice-cream, unhomogenised fresh milk and Norwegian caramelized brown cheese. The frozen "lefser", Norwegian "pancakes" topped with butter, cinnamon and sugar and folded together, are not organic but nevertheless worth trying -- simply defrost and enjoy.

At Trondhjem torv a farmers' market, Bondens marked is being held every second week on Saturday. Local small scale farmers sell their produce, but it takes a little effort to find the organic ones.

When it comes to conventional supermarkets, a quite impressive range of organically certified food is on offer at the Meny hypermarket Solsiden and the various Coop supermarkets with their Änglamark own brand (see also here). To avoid green-washed products and misleading marketing while cherry-picking through these markets check for the "økologisk" keyword and organic labelling (mainly Debio, KRAV and the European organic label, but you will also find Soil Association and USDA certificates). Dairy products by Røros meieriet, meat products by Grødstad Gris, ice-cream and beer from Reins Kloster, "Helios" and "Manna" products as well as "Go green" grains and pulses are all safe. Some of them can also be found in Sunkost or Life healthfood shops.

Shopping

A few steps from Godt Brødt the Miss Organic perfumery offers the city's biggest selection of natural and organically certified body care and cosmetic products in a styled shopping environment.

For fashionable clothing and yarn made of organic wool take a stroll to Baklandet where you find Nøstebarn. As the name hints babies and toddlers were the original focus, but the product range has extended since to cater for adults, too, and not only for those who enjoy knitting. So here's the place to look for woollen underwear and other accessories for the Nordic winter.

Where to stay

The hotels of the Choice chain advertise with organic breakfast items and are certified with the Debio label in bronce which is awarded to food places offering at minimum 15 percent organic items. In the case of the otherwise boring conference hotel Augustin at the corner of Kongens and Prinsens Gate this allowed for an organic breakfast consisting of apple juice, crispy oat-cerials with a tasty type of sourmilk ("tjukkmjølk") or low-fat milk from Røros meieriet, alternatively soy milk, crispbread with honey, peanut butter, brie and a blue-mould cheese as well as hard-boiled eggs a few years ago. On a recent stay at Comfort Hotel Park at the corner of Prinsens gate and Bispegata the 15 percent mixture consisted of all organic coffee and fat-free cow milk (but conventional oat and soy milk), organic Earl Grey tea, dark rye bread and one type of crisp bread, a good selection of organic cerials, raisins, apples, orange marmelade, peanut butter, honey, and boiled eggs. The Park hotel bar's fridge next to the entrance offered organic lemonade and cola (of the "Oskar Sylte" brand) as well as canned organic iced coffee mixes.

Unfortunately the city's hotel institution Britannia in Dronningens Gate, once a certified eco lighthouse is closed for renovation until minimum spring 2018. During my last stay a few years ago they offered a small selection of organic veges and bread at the breakfast buffet, and I'm confident that they will do even better after reopening.

Just a few steps west, crossing Nordre and Jomfrugate you will find Hotel City Living Schøller a budget option which was recommended to me by Alicia from Portland, Oregon after reading this blog. She described her room as having "zero perfume -- none on the sheets nor in the cleansers. The room felt fresh and healthy, if quite simple." The hotel provides guests with a 15 percent discount at nearby Godt Brød bakery cum cafe for breakfast, and offers a kitchen for guest use.

At the airport

If you happen to strand at Trondheim Airport Værnes spend your airline food vouchers at Caffè Ritazza between gate 31 and 32 (behind security) which uses organic full-fat milk for their coffee drinks. They also offer a selection of fair-trade (though not organic) chocolates.

Permanently or temporarily closed

The following places are closed, with references remaining on the web, or ceased to offer organic items:

2018-03-26 22:40:03 [Trondheim, organic, fair, vegetarian, vegan, zero_waste, bakeries, cafe, grocery, market, supermarkets, takeaway, coffee, ice-cream, snacks, lunch, dinner, hotel, accommodation, pizza, fashion, airports] 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.