Thursday, 14 November 2019
Light and spacious instead of small and crammed -- Mannheim's package-free vegetarian supermarket Eddie's with its large shop window front is easy to find between two tram stops of line 6, Werderstraße and Pestalozzischule. Not everything here -- some herb blends to give an example -- is organic, but everything organic (which is the majority of items) is clearly marked "bio" on the shelves. In addition to a small selection of fruit and veges and all you need of dry food the shop's section of plastic-free household items offers alternatives when you need to replace plastic boxes, toothbrushes, drinking straws and the like. The bodycare and household chemicals section is very well assorted and -- unlike other zero waste shops which usually restrict themselves to liquid detergents -- also offers washing powders and soda by the kilogram. Students will get ten percent discount on Wednesdays, and the place has also gotten itself a decent coffee machine -- for a coffee at the spot or into the mug you provide. (If you buy a reusable mug the first shot is free.)
By now all supermarkets of the Basic chain should be equipped with at minimum one dry food refill station, and allow you to take home cheese, antipasti, cured meat and sausages from the meat and dairy counters in your own containers. That's exactly what the Mannheim branch at the tram stop Schloss
offers -- partially supplementing but certainly not replacing the selection at Eddie's.
For coffee or ready-made meals head for the
Kombüse gastro pub in the Jungbusch neighbourhood. Everything on their menu is available to take away, and they kindly ask you to come with your own jars. One-way packaging will be charged with a small surplus.
And last but not least: Naturally the organic bakery Bihn will happily put your purchase in the bags and boxes you provide.
[Mannheim, organic, zero_waste, unverpackt, grocery, supermarkets, vegetarian, vegan, takeaway, coffee]
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]
Thursday, 20 June 2019
Going wild in the maze of Venice in search for organic food, drinks, or the forgotten natural sun screen can be a real downer, so it's best to know where to head.
Fortunately the odd Coop supermarket has a reasonable selection of organic (though usually pre-packaged) fruit and veges, drinks, cookies and food. This may save your life, especially since they usually keep open on Sundays.
To spot one of the
three long-established independent organic convenience stores
in the maze of the city's beautiful old houses may be more difficult.
Two of them are now affiliated under the Cuore Bio label of Italian organic supermarkets, and the one formerly known as Rialto Biocenter is now a NaturaSi branch. Here you will also find organic bodycare, sun blockers, eco-friendly detergents and more. The NaturaSi near Rialto also stocks fresh bread and other sweet and savoury bakery items as well as unpackaged fruit and veges, sufficient to provide you with a decent picnic supply. On the other hand the Naturalia shop in Dorsoduro not far from the train station isn't suitable if you really are in the need for food.
If you're looking for an eatable or drinkable souvenir pay a visit to Pantagruelica, a crammed delicatessen
at the western end of Campo San Barnaba. It
stocks mainly certified organic items and food at least partially produced adhering to organic principles. If departing the waterbus at Ca' Rezzonico stop you can't miss it when following the only way into the open of the square and keep an eye on the left side. The shopkeeper can be a little annoying with his ever almost identical rants on the quality of his products, but he doesn't mind being cut short, and instead being drawn into a real chat.
More to try
[Venice, Venezia, biologico, organic, deli, supermarkets, grocery]