Sunday, 23 June 2019
Whether you're after a noisy beach holiday at the Adriatic coast or want to escape the buzz of Venice but stay within the Venetian magic -- the former fisher town of Chioggia with the suburb of Sottomarina and its beach is definitely worth a visit. It's easy to reach by local train from Rovigo -- a travel back in time with noisy cars, some of them without air conditioning, where you open the windows in the vain hope that the hot summer wind will refresh you --, bicycle or bus no 11 from Lido SME. The latter travels on board of a ro-ro ferry at the south-end of the Lido di Venezia at Alberoni over to the isle of Pellestrina. At the ferry terminal next to the Pellestrina graveyard, Cimitero Pellestrina, the bus ends and you go on board of the waterbus ferry with the same name, to Chioggia.
If coming by bicycle from Venezia Santa Lucia train station take the ferry no. 17 from Tronchetto to Lido San Nicolo (from the train station you must carry your bike over the steps of the Ponte della Costituzione bridge), and simply follow the direction of the bus (the bicycle route over the islands is properly marked). You will also take the ro-ro ferry from Alberoni and later the waterbus from Pellestrina to Chioggia. For persons the ferries are covered by the ACTV day, two-days and three-days passes bought in Venice but you have to buy additional bicyles tickets at one EUR per bike and ferry ride.
Where to stay
Unfortunately I wasn't able to find any places to eat and stay with a throughout trustworthy eco-conscious mindset. The nearest you get for a sustainable overnight stay is Hotel Mediterraneo, directly located at Sottomarina's beach promenade, the Lungomare Adriatico. The hotel with its pleasant rooftop terrace carries the Legambiente ecolabel for sustainable tourism. However: The promised organic breakfast was predominantly conventional, with the notable exceptions of -- unfortunately prepackaged -- rice wafers and rusk (the latter was also available in a conventional variety), organic honey, and two types of (yummy) organic biscuits. Neither the tea bags, the bread nor the milk were organic, and the coffee from the automatic machine completely undrinkable for Italian standards. The hotel itself certainly fullfills higher eco demands than average, but they easily could do better introducing waste separation, re-usable toothbrush tumblers and natural body care on the rooms, and of course by raising the number of organic products notably.
Having said this, the hotel manager, Sonia, was cordial and helpful, the room clean and suitable for a family, with actual sea view, and sufficiently isolated against the noises of the beach party places -- off-season. The washing and cleaning detergents used on the room as well as on the bed linen and towels did not leave disturbing remainders of artificial perfumes. The a la carte menu on the hotel's restaurant, Saporoso, was done by a skilled chef which should better have had organic ingredients at hand, to enhance the taste to very good.
Where to eat
Sad to say but if you really want to eat organic you have to buy your own food for a pic-nic -- at least I wasn't able to spot at minimum predominantly organic eateries or restaurants. Let me know if you find one!
Your next best bet may be
Pizza Fantasy, a beach shack pizza restaurant next to the Astoria Village pleasure ground at the Lungomare. On occasions they seem to use organic wholemeal flour and olive oil for the dough, and this may point to a generally more conscious mindset. However I wasn't able to confirm the general use of organic ingredients.
For lunch you may also check out the sandwiches at Tentazioni Tipiche in the old town of Chioggia a few steps from the ACTV ferry stop, but again I cannot say how reliably they contain (or rather: not) organic produce.
The tour through the ice-cream parlours near Sottomarina beach starts with a case of greenwashing: L'Arte del Gelato da Marco e Giulio
advertises to use organic milk, but take this with a grain of salt: The 10 liters milk boxes by Parmalat delivered to the place were without doubt not lavelled organic. The ice-cream and the frozen yogurt are nevertheless smooth and easily palatable, though too sweet for my taste. None of the toppings for the frozen yogurt were organic. They take 1.80 EUR for a generous small serving of ice-cream, and 2.50 EUR for a small frozen yogurt with two toppings. The queue during evening hours makes it easy to identify this place on Piazza Italia.
A few steps along the roundabout, and you'll find L'Oasi del Gelato. The ice-cream here still looks very conventional, but for 2019 the owners promised to start using organic products -- organic milk in general, but also (on occasions) organic strawberries. How far they've already embraced this path I cannot say, but: Keep on going!
The Grom chain of ice-cream parlours stopped promising organic ingredients in 2019 (except for the milk in the milk shakes), but for the records: Yes, there's a Grom branch at the Lungomare.
The best source of organic food I could find is just around the corner from the ice-cream parlours at the Piazza Italia roundabout: Nuovi Sapori da Laura e Elena is a small, Sunday-open convenience store offering organic milk (the very lattebusche milk promised by the L'Oasi gelateria), juices, cheese, cookies, jam, wine, a good selection of dry food, and more -- you'll have to check for organic labels and ask at the cheese-and-meat counter.
The traditional Italian Tentazioni Tipiche delicatessen at the northern end of Corso del Popolo
next to Palazzo delle Figure in the old town of Chioggia is another small
grocery offering a -- rather limited -- range of organic (dry) food.
For organic and fairly traded bodycare (though no sun cream), dry food, sweets, preserves, wine, soft drinks, fairly traded fashion accessoiries and gifts head to the southern end of the corso: The Altromercato Commercio equo e sociale also stocks (not always certified organic) products of territories freed from the mafia, under the Libera Terra ("freed land") label.
More organic body care, using hemp as an ingredient, and other (partially organic) hemp products can be found at Canapa for you in Sottomarina which I did not have time to visit.
Some organic products are also available from the Supercoffeeshop coffee bar in Sottomarina. The coffee probably isn't organic, and I cannot say anything about the milk since I could not make it there.
If you are adventurous try to find Le verdure di Marco e Camilla in the old town of Chioggia, supposedly a quite new full-blown organic grocery also selling
fresh organic fruits and veges. I did not have the time to find the place, so please let me know if you know where exactly it is located.
More to try
[Chioggia, Sottomarina, biologico, organic, ice-cream, supermarket, grocery, bicycle, hotel, accommodation, fair, gifts, shopping, bodycare, coffee, cafe, hemp]
Tuesday, 11 June 2019
Those with a sweet tooth may feel in heaven when coming to the comparatively ugly urban sprawl which comprises the municipality of Selvazzano Dentro south-west of Padua and north of Abano Terme: In the neighbourhoods of San Domenico and Tencarola, devided by the crossing of the river Bacchiglione you will find a confectioner's shop cum day bar, an ice-cream parlour and finally a supermarket serving customers preferring organic food and delights.
When entering the municipality from the west following Via Euganea your first stop should be at a roundabout with
an Italian day bar cum Viennese-style cafe cum confectioner's shop where the main ingredients are organic.
At Pasticceria Da Angelo you will find organic and vegan options clearly marked, and the friendly staff will proudly and often even unasked point out what's organic. If you don't feel like a delicate ice-cream or a gorgeous pastry along with an organic coffee drink (with organic soy milk if you prefer) have
a tramezzino sandwich or toast together with a freshly made organic smoothie, or an organic soft drink. Vegan sandwich options are readily available, with organic "cold cuts", while the meat items on non-veg versions usually aren't organic. A serving of ice-cream comes at 1.40 EUR, with each additional scoop for 1.10 EUR. Vegan varieties aren't restricted to fruit flavours, you can also choose among a number of flavours made with rice or almond drink. Buy a bag of organic cookies to take home if you like, and if you're lucky there may be an organic lunch, dinner or ice-cream special during your stay. Advanced booking by phone is required for such an event.
Not enough ice-cream or arriving after half past nine in the evening? Well, you can be helped.
Gelateria Soleluna a few meters east opposite Hotel Piroga uses more than 80 percent organic, and predominantly locally sourced ingredients for their granite, gelati, and ice cakes. A delight not to be missed,
one ice-cream scoop goes for 1.40 EUR, each additional one adds approximately 1 EUR to your bill. Personally I prefer the delicate, creamy dairy flavours to the vegan fruit-based ones. The granite are available in two sizes, for 2.80 or 3.50 EUR -- the refreshing lime-mint or coffee varieties will get you going in a minute on a warm summer day. Unfortunately the granite are served in one-way plastics cups, each with one-way teaspoon and straw, so you will produce a lot of waste.
On bank holidays the shop keeps open as on Sundays.
To buy everything you need organic, from fruit and veges over dairy products and vegan alternatives to dry food, natural cosmetics, the forgotten towel or household detergents follow Via Euganea in eastern direction, cross both, the bridge over the river, and the street side. Here, on Via Padova (the street changes its name in Tencarola) you'll find a well assorted NaturaSi supermarket which also has a small section of self-service zero waste dispensers for grains, nuts and a few other dry foods. This would also be the place you had to do most of your organic shopping when living in one of the villages in the vicinity -- your next real options being the NaturaSi in Abano Terme or, naturally, the ones in the city of Padua.
There's one notable exception north-west of Selvazzano, in the village of Montegalda half way to Vicenza. Surprisingly it has a small organic grocery, Alimenti biologici Come Una Volta ("organic food as once upon a time"), a few steps north of the gelateria on the central roundabout (which you'd better avoid). Here you find a decent choice of organic dry goods, vegan alternatives and body care, a small fridge with refreshments, and a handful of seasonal fruit and veges, probably directly from the owner's garden. When cycling or driving through make sure to pay a visit to this friendly shop.
[Padova, Padua, Selvazzano, Montegalda, organic, biologico, zero_waste, vegan, ice-cream, supermarket, coffee, cafe, grocery, bodycare, household]
Monday, 10 June 2019
Its lively main street, the Corso Palladio dates back to imperial Rome and, still today, is framed by buildings of the arguably most influential medieval architect, Andrea Palladio.
When feeling hungry while you stroll through the Unesco World Heritage head for spacious, wholesale organic supermarket Silene in a quiet side way a few meters North off Corso Palladio. As you enter you will notice the self-service coffee bar immediately, open for a coffee, healthy drink or snack even before the supermarket opens itself. But there's a real restaurant when you proceed into the building: At the left hand side you'll pass the open kitchen, and arrive at a water tap where you can refill your drinking bottle with both, plain and sparkling water. There you are: more tables to sit down, you will be served.
The small menu offers vegan and vegetarian Italian wholefood, tasty pasta and risotti of course, but also surprising twists as the hearty risotto-style oat porridge with spring vegetables I had, or carrot-based falafel (which I liked less). A refreshing surprise was the alcohol-free "sangria". Unlikely you can have the same, though, as the menu changes according to season and daily availability of fresh ingredients. Needless to say that the coffee was a delight, too, and the staff helpful and friendly. If you're looking for the toilets: They are hidden at the opposite, right wall of the supermarket, and open for guests.
The supermarket itself will provide you with all daily necessities, all types of fresh and dry food as well as organic household chemicals and a superb choice of organic body care. Unlike other groceries it keeps open throughout the day without an afternoon break. There's a second Silene supermarket a little further west, without a day restaurant though.
All days including Sundays (though not on public holidays) the Vicenza branch of Germany's DM chemist's chain will provide you with a great selection of organic food, drinks, natural body care and sustainable cleaning detergents. The spacious supermarket in Corso Andrea Palladio opened in 2018 and is a great source of eco- and climate conscious products at budget prices, but since the majority of the items still are conventionally produced be careful to check eco and organic labels.
For a treat of ice-cream follow Corso Andrea Palladio to its Western end and proceed straight ahead, past the Giardini Salvi park to the right. The less shiny neighbourhood San Felice hides a gem: Gocce di Bio ("gocce" meaning "drops"), a vegan-friendly fully organic ice-cream parlour. With its modest window front the spot-free place with its fresh-green painted walls is easy to oversee, but unlike other shops it sports a clearly visible organic logo over the entrance. On the premises of a traditional neighbourhood gelateria it's one of the ice-cream and no frills (not even coffee) places you'll rarely find outside Italy serving a mouth-wateringly creamy all-organic delight. Unless you avoid alcohol try the Malaga variety, and you will be cured for all time from that fake yellowy sweet and flavoured stuff with raisins and perhaps low quality alcohol going under this name elsewhere: The Malaga ice-cream here has distinct, melting flavours -- cream, grappa and raisins of highest organic quality, delightfully combined.
Unfortunately the place is closed on public holidays.
Ceased to exist
A few years ago the following gelateria served very nice organic ice-cream but unfortunately did not survive:
[Vicenza, biologico, organic, vegan, ice-cream, coffee, supermarket, grocery, eatery, restaurant, breakfast, lunch, bodycare, household]
Tuesday, 14 May 2019
To find a place offering at least partially organic meals, snacks or coffee isn't a big deal in Salzburg, and places like the Bio-Burgermeister are frequent tourist destinations. But there's more than just healthy organic fast food -- from pleasantly modernized Austrian bars over cultured beer spots to slightly esoteric day cafes there's a broad range of places to choose from. What you shouldn't expect are authentic restaurants offering elaborated international cuisines, but that's probably not what you are here for anyway.
When you're hungry and don't know where to go head for the Bio-Burgermeister in the middle of busy Linzergasse pedestrian street. With its liberal opening hours (no closing day, open until 10 pm) and central location this no-frills burger grill is serving both, meat, vegetarian, and vegan versions, purely made with organic ingredients. The service is swift, the burgers and side-dishes fresh, crisp and tasty, and most of the soft drinks and the beer are organic, too (though you have to check the bottles for organic labelling). The hot varieties I would describe as spicy rather than hot, and they come up with interesting seasonal versions like the pumpkin burger with a pumpkin patty. For meat patties you can choose between medium-done and medium-rare. The place serves neither desserts nor coffee.
Unfortunately it has implemented bad habits of conventional fast-food places, too: It produces a lot of waste since the meals are served on cardboard one-way plates, and the staff is neither busy cleaning the tables nor refilling paper towels.
If the burgermeister is too crowded or you prefer to produce less waste a burger restaurant is just a few steps away: The Ludwig doesn't promise fully organic burgers, but organic patties made from organic beef, turkey or mushrooms, organic pulled pork and bacon.
In addition to burgers the place also serves salad bowls, desserts and breakfast (including organic eggs in a number of varieties). Among the drinks fruit juices and teas are organic.
Located in a pleasant backyard with a small fountain this cafe cum restaurant is also a much nicer place to spend time with friends or family -- during the warm season on the spacious terrace, on rainy or cold days in the large urban-rustic dining room.
The Urbankeller is not just a perfect address for a rustic meal accompanied by local organic beer, wine, juice or lemonade in the restaurant or a civilised drink at the adjacent bar. It also houses a stage for live acts -- predominantly rock, jazz or experimental theatre, and the occasional crime play reading. Although the place is certified by Bio Austria not everything is organic. Fully organic dishes however are clearly marked with a green logo on the menu, and a good deal of the un-marked meat-based dishes (including nose-to-tail ones using offal) are served with organic meat (check for the "bio" keyword). Vegan and vegetarian options are also available. If you consider one of the typical Austrian flour-based desserts ("Mehlspeisen") make sure to come with sufficient appetite.
Schallmooser Hauptstraße where the Urbankeller is located changes its name to Linzergasse (or Linzer Gasse, the naming is not consistent) when it runs over into a pedestrian area towards the river Salzach. Amid its touristic jumble you'll find the Stadtkrug, a family-owned hotel and restaurant of old, with roots in the 14th century. The family runs an organic highland cattle farm north of Salzburg and serves the beef at the restaurant specialising in typical Austrian dishes. The farm has its own slaughterhouse on premise which allows the cattle to die as stress-free as possible within their known habitat. The chicken served in the Stadtkrug is also organic as are some hard cheeses and the ice-cream and other products made from sheep's milk. The breakfast at the hotel unfortunately is not organic.
On the other side of the Salzach river September 2018 saw the opening of a new organic predominantly biodynamic restaurant and bar opposite the museum of modern art inside the Mönchsberg cliff, the Humboldt, a pleasantly modernized version of an Austrian "Gaststube", with geometric dark-wooden interior, a light-and-steam installation serving as a fire place surrogate, green cushions, table-clothes made from felt, and a green-lighted bar. For lunch on weekdays you can choose between two set menus consisting of a soup or salad (your choice), and a vegetarian or omnivore main dish which come at 9 or 11 euros, respectively. In the evening the kitchen emphasizes on Austrian signature dishes like the Viennese Schnitzel (a delicate, crisp, yet melting dream), boiled filet ("Tafelspitz"), and pancakes ("Palatschinken") as dessert (which were quite unexceptional).
The menu clearly marks organic, biodynamic, vegan and vegetarian items and also lists the sources of all ingredients which usually are Austrian farms and producers, often located in the vicinity. In all drink classes organic options are available, and often you have no choice but to drink organic. The bar keeps open until late each day, making it the perfect place for an evening out, and there's outdoor seating, too.
When I was doing research on restaurants serving local dishes links on the web lead me to "Hirschenwirt" which turned out to have been reconverted into a conventional place. Its current publican however was so nice to point me not only to the Urbankeller but to another place which I'll present here although I did not have the opportunity yet to visit it personally:
The Schützenwirt in Sankt Jakob am Thurn is another Bio Austria certified place combining cultural events (namely occasional small stage theatre) and culinary art and may be worth a visit in combination with a day out in the countryside. Contrary to Urbankeller all dishes are 100 percent organic, but you have to be prepared to do without your mobile due to missing coverage.
Back in town, just a few steps from the Stadtkrug vegetarian fusion food with roots in the Indian cuisines has been served for almost 20 years at Spicy Spices. This pleasant eatery may not be the place for the romantic dinner but is a nice location for a chat with friends, accompanied by a healthy lunch, a coffee, chai and/or cake, all organic. You can also shop for their home-made spice mixtures, chutneys and pickles which make tasty gifts.
The second surviving organic restaurant of old also draws its inspiration from the subcontinent and East-Western fusion. The Heart of Joy is a vegetarian (vegan friendly), predominantly organic cafe cum eatery run by followers of Sri Shinmoy. The latter is openly presented which may not be your idea of the perfect surroundings for a recreational sip of coffee or an Italian, Austrian, oriental or Indian inspired lunch in this otherwise pleasant location. Students are entitled a ten percent discount, and breakfast on weekends is being served all day.
For a simple lunch or a piece of home-made organic cake you may also try the A* bar in nearby Auerspergstraße.
For a fully organic breakfast, lunch or snack in the neighbourhood of Maxglan, pay a visit to Rochushof, an organic supermarket with a light-flooded verandah restaurant overlooking the adjacent Stiegl brewery.
To enter the place walk to the back of the supermarket, and -- for lunch -- choose between a vegetarian soup, a vegetarian and an omnivore main dish. Contrary to many organic supermarket bistros you will be served here. The
kitchen closes on weekdays at 5pm, on Saturdays there's breakfast only.
If you are near the main train station on a weekday during daytime the bistro Leichtsinn ("carelessness") is worth a try. You'll find it if you leave the train station in western direction via Südtiroler Platz and walk in southern direction along Rainerstraße parallel to the tracks until you reach Elisabethstraße.
Tea, beer, and cheese are always organic here, and
the owners promise to prefer organic and regional ingredients, but admit that some ingredients such as avocados definitely won't be organic. Unfortunately I did not get an answer to whether the meat and other products of animalic origin are organic, so better ask about them.
The menu changes daily, and you always have the choice between
a soup, one vegan, one vegetarian and one meat- or fish-based dish in addition to salads (mix your own from the salad bar), home-made foccachia sandwiches, wraps, quiches, and empanadas (the owner-chief originates from Ecuador). The place is great for
breakfast, there are home-made cakes (also vegan), shortbreads and fair-trade coffee, and if you need provisions for your travel, simply order to take away.
Arguably the city's best pizza can be had when entering a non-descript entrance on Franz-Josef-Straße south of Paris-Lodron-Straße: Here you find a place boringly dubbed Organic Pizza Salzburg, and this is exactly what it is: A totally unpretentious venue serving glorious 100% organic pizza in vegetarian, vegan and omnivore varieties, all well worth their 9.80 to 16.80 EUR. Instead of the standard base made from wheat you may order one made with spelt. Choose your drinks from the fridge (most, but not all organic), and have a home-made organic and vegan cake with fairly traded ingredients and/or a locally produced ice-cream to end your meal. No frills, just love, and in contrast to other fast food places covered here you will be served on real plates instead of paper waste. Unfortunately the place is closed on Mondays and Sundays.
For a relaxed or romantic evening with one or two (or more) glasses of natural wine proceed to Enoteca Settemila in Bergstraße (though neither on Sundays, Mondays, nor on Tuesdays). Most likely you will not only taste the wine but buy a couple of bottles as natural wines for which even less chemical helpers are demanded than organic certification allows are not necessarily easy to find. To go with the tasting the wine dealers serve both, fully organic Italian and Austrian-style snacks (the Austrian variety of the antipasti is dubbed "Brettljausn") with Tuscan and locally sourced cured meats and cheeses as the main ingredients.
Just a few steps from Organic Pizza Salzburg you'll find a crowd-founded vegan cafe. The
breakfast, sandwiches, soups and salads as well as smoothies and cakes, everything predominantly organic.
For a vegan or vegetarian, partially organic lunch, dinner or weekend brunch head for the neighbourhood of Gneis where chef Julia and her happily carnivore dog welcome their guests to the The Green Garden. The place consists of two locations, the daily (except Mondays) open restaurant, and a cafe cum wine bar annex. Julia promises predominantly fresh seasonal Austrian ingredients as far as possible produced without chemically synthesized fertilizers and preservatives. The tea (including iced tea), most wines, some beers, eggs and goat cheese are certified organic. On the menu you'll find bowls, soups, salads, vegan burgers as well as pasta and vegetable versions of Austrian signature dishes like the schnitzel, but the place is also great for breakfast and healthy snacks. Note that it is closed on public holidays as well as in the early afternoon; the kitchen always closes an hour before closing time.
During the nice season The Green Garden also sells vegan organic ice-cream to both, guests and passers-by.
Coffee and cakes
For the real coffee thing head for Röstzimmer 15 a few meters from "Spicy Spices". A cosy living room serving artisanal (though not necessarily organically certified) chocolates and pastries with Ethiopian organic coffee roasted in the room next door where you also can have a small lunch.
A new address for a fairly traded organic coffee is cafe Kuchenfee
("the cake fairy") in Paris-Lodron-Straße. Their home-made cakes, unfortunately, are not organic (yet?), but you can buy organic bread. With its chary window front the place is easy to be missed, so make sure you keep your eyes open.
An Italian-style coffee drink prepared with organic milk can also be had at Fabis Frozen Bioyogurt.
Closed or no longer organic
[Salzburg, organic, lunch, dinner, takeaway, restaurant, cafe, eatery, coffee, ice-cream, fastfood, vegetarian, vegan, Austrian, Indian, burgers, pizza, supermarket, grocery, wine]
Friday, 01 June 2018
Half an hour by local train from Abano Terme or about 40 minutes South of Padua the City of Rovigo (first mentioned about 800 ad) invites for a self-guided stroll or at least a visit to its main sight, the octagonal Church of the Rotonda. City life starts at 15:30 pm, and this is exactly the time when the church opens its door to visitors.
If you arrive earlier Gelateria
Fantasy Accademia comes to the rescue, a 100 percent organic ice-cream parlour.
A serving of ice-cream consists of two flavours, beautifully shaped into a heart, and comes at 2.50 EUR, but you can also have a single flavour on demand at 1.80 EUR. You can also mix a scoop of traditional ice-cream with a scoop of ice-cream mousse (the ricotta mousse -- contrary to the tiramisu one -- is a mouth-watering delight). Another original twist are the vegan ice-cream flavours made with olive oil. The gelateria also sells home-made iced lollies (ghiaccioli), brioches and crepes filled with ice-cream, granite (slushes), and, of course ice-cream cakes.
Fantasy Accademia in fact is the second branch of Fantasy Bio which opened in lieu of a gelateria with a longer history in town but currently is closed due to refurbishment.
For food, fresh and dried, and other daily necessities head for the local branch of the fully organic NaturaSi supermarket chain.
For more organic body care, cosmetics, detergents and other bathroom items there's a small and well-assorted specialist shop in town, EcoSmile on the way from the train station to the city centre.
I could not find any organic bar or eatery open during the day, but in the evening you may try
Pizzeria Mucho Gusto. They use organic flour for the pizza dough, and you can choose between four types: wheat, kamut, spelt and multi-grain. They also sell dry organic pasta for your home cooking. Instead of eating out you may phone in for pizza delivery, either here or at their second branch a little out of town which is delivery and take away only.
[Rovigo, biologico, organic, vegan, ice-cream, supermarket, grocery, bodycare, household, pizza]