The Organic Traveller
Sunday, 01 March 2020

Dresden: Organic supermarkets and groceries

Organic wholesale in the capital of Saxony (which is governed by a red-red-green coalition) used to be dominated by the local economy, but since the oldest organic supermarket in town, Biosphäre, became part of the nation-wide Denn's chain in 2018, the picture has been resembling the one in other German metropolises: The market is devided between two local actors, a regional one and two of the nation-wide operating grocery chains, with a hand-full of smaller corner shops filling niches.

The largest density of organic supermarkets can naturally be found in the vibrant Wilhelminian style quarter of Neustadt north of the river Elbe with its -- gentrification aside -- still predominantly left-wing population of artists, students, activists, tourists, hipsters and bourgeois green-party voters.

Neustadt

It hasn't been always this way, but walking the old streets of Innere Neustadt with open eyes will present you with an abundance of shops and eateries boosting of vegetarian and vegan products. Many of them use organic produce, but won't advertise it -- partially because they blend with conventional products, and use of organic ingredients will vary, partially in fear of being prejudged as expensive. Fortunately it is nowadays easier to find an organic supermarket in this neighbourhood than a conventional one, so if you're tired of asking just walk to the next crossroad, and there you are.

The former Biosphäre markets are located here: the older one on Königsbrücker Landstraße opposite Schauburg theatre, and an even larger one in Alaunstraße a few metres from Albertplatz which replaced a conventional supermarket. Both have a self-service area where you can have coffee, cakes, pastry, sandwiches at any time of the day, and soups for lunch. Students are entitled a 10 percent discount on Wednesdays.

Berlin-based organic supermarket chain Bio Company has a branch a little south along the tramway tracks on Königsbrücker Landstraße. Just like the Denn's branches it closes at liberal 9 pm.

If you despair in face of the piles of plastics and paper wrappings you've been collecting while doing your regular shopping, re-use your glasses, containers and bags and refill them at Lose, a cosy zero-waste corner store in Böhmische Straße.

Altstadt

With the train stations as landmarks you can't miss your way to the next organic supermarket in the heart of the city: The Vorwerk Podemus grocery beneath track 3 in the eastern aisle of the central train station, Hauptbahnhof, is the only Sunday-open organic supermarket in town, with early and late opening hours. They will also sell you a coffee drink and sandwich to eat on the spot or to take away.

The Denn's Biomarkt chain not only took over the two former Biosphäre markets in the Neustadt but also opened a new supermarket within the Altmarktgalerie shopping mall.

A few steps, located next to Dresden's baroque main tourist sites -- the castle, the cathedral, the Zwinger, and the opera house -- a new Bio Company branch opened recently, with quite liberal opening hours.

Near Bahnhof Mitte train station you'll find the main branch of VG Biomarkt, an organic co-operative which not only supports your zero-waste efforts but also sports its own organic fashion store.

Striesen, Blasewitz, Loschwitz, Johannstadt

The neighbourhoods along the river shore on the east side of town sport several branches of the zero-waste friendly VG Biomarkt food co-operative.

South of the Blaues Wunder bridge, local butcher's chain Vorwerk Podemus has one of its pleasant wholesale supermarkets. First address for shortly travelled organic meat of animals which had a decent life. They also have branches in the neighbourhoods of Gruna, Neustadt, Alttolkewitz as well as a farmshop.

Another option in the neighbourhood of Blasewitz is the second Bio Company branch in town. Just like in the Neustadt branch the bakery disk caters for the early bird from 7:30 am.

The only branch of a nation-wide operating organic grocery chain so far is Alnatura on tram hub Straßburger Platz which many locals still refer to by its old name from GDR times, "Fucikplatz".

Bühlau, Weißer Hirsch

To find fully organic groceries on top of the hillside North of the Blaues Wunder bridge, in the elegant residential area of Weißer Hirsch and adjacent Bühlau interestingly proves to be more difficult. What I found instead was the shop of a small-scale vegan manufacturer, Vegannett (a pun made of the words "vegan" and "nice", while the second part of the name also refers to the name of the owner-founder, Annett). On the premises of a former partially organic butcher's shop she prepares vegetable spreads which you can buy in many of the aforementioned supermarkets. But if you happen to be there on a Wednesday afternoon, pay a visit, taste and shop. In addition to the spreads you can also buy local honey.

Klotzsche

If you fancy a stroll in the woods of Dresdner Heide or are on the way from or to the airport make sure to have sufficient time to visit the beautifully restored historical train station Klotzsche with its Vorwerk Podemus supermarket and the organic station restaurant, both catering for the early bird.

Pieschen

On the western side of town take your jars and bags and pay a visit to the friendly organic neighbourhood grocery.

Closed down

The following (partially) organic supermarkets do no longer exist although you will still find references to them on the web:

2020-03-01 10:30:00 [Dresden, Neustadt, organic, supermarkets, grocery, eatery, lunch, snacks, coffee, vegan, trainstation, farms, Elbe_cycle_route, Elberadweg] Link

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Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Salzburg: Organic ice-cream

Decent artisanal ice-cream made from organic milk has been readily available in Salzburg's inner city for years, but the first 100 percent organic gelateria opened only in March 2019: Höfingers Eisladen located next to Mozart's birth place at Universitätsplatz may be new as a light and pleasantly decorated ice-cream shop, but the Höfinger family has been making ice-cream in town since 1933. (Given the year I'd expected some historical details on the company's website, but unfortunately there are none.)

Höfingers Eisladen

At present the ice-cream is being sold from the very plastic containers that the manufacturer also delivers to restaurants like Organic Pizza Salzburg, but the ice-cream tastes delightfully fresh and creamy and is well worth the 1.80 € the single scoop. Two scoops come at 3.40 €, three at 4.50 €, every additional flavour adds an extra 1.40 € to the bill. As for all other ice-cream makers in this blog post the ice-cream is heavier than you may be used from Italian gelaterie, and there's a range of flavours (like the poppy seed ice-cream) that are special to Austria.

The place is closed during the cold season -- for 2020 most of the ice-cream shops listed here announced to re-open somewhen in the first weeks of March.

Fabi's Frozen Bio Yogurt

The Höflinger shop also sells coffee drinks from a small home-sized coffee automat, but you may prefer to proceed next door to Fabi's Frozen Bio Yogurt located within the very building of Mozart's birthplace which sports a real bar-sized Italian pressure machine. This clean, no-frills ice-cream parlour uses organic milk, both for their extremely tasty frozen yogurt and the Italian-style coffee drinks.

In addition to the plain yogurt they occasionally have a passion fruit variety. Unfortunately the organic promise in the name of the place is restricted to the milk. Neither the toppings (with a notable exception of some caramelized nuts) nor the coffee sold here are organic. The yogurt comes in small, medium and large sizes, always in cardboard cups with a plastic spoon. So even if you choose to sit down with your frozen yogurt at one of their tables in- or outdoors you cannot avoid waste. This is not comprehensible as the coffee drinks are being served in creamware, and even worse: you pay less when taking it away in a one-way coffee cup.

During the cold season (which lasts from November through February/March) or on a (very) rainy day the only ice-cream made from organic milk comes from a local chain dubbed Icezeit and is offered by Cafe Timeless a few steps off the Linzergasse pedestrian area. Prices vary depending on the flavour: Basic ones like coffee come at 1.50 EUR the scoop, more elaborated ones like Rafaello (coconut-white chocolate) at 2.70 EUR.

Icezeit prefers fairly traded and sustainably grown ingredients, and runs several ice-cream shops both, north and south of the river Salzach during the warm season. Creamy, and with a mouth-watering selection of flavours ranging from the usual suspects to greek honey yogurt or peanut caramel, this ice-cream is hard to resist. Avoid the (additional) toppings you can buy on top as none of them are organic. They also have a frozen yogurt shop opposite the ice-cream parlour in Kaiviertel near Residenzplatz where you pay by weight, and in 2019 a new ice-cream shop opened in the tourist hotspot of Linzergasse.

All Icezeit shops keep open longer than given below when outside temperatures are high while you may find them closed on extremely bad weather days.

Eis-Greissler

Almost side-by-side with the new Icezeit shop in Linzergasse you'll find the Salzburg branch of Eis-Greissler, a Kulmbach-based organic dairy farm producing their ice-cream from the milk of their own cows, often scented with organic spices from the Sonnentor farms (which by coincidence, have a shop next door).

The second fully organic ice-cream shop in town is located in the neighbourhood of Gneis and specializes in vegan ice-cream: The Veganer Eisladen is affiliated with The Green Garden restaurant, cafe and bar and a pleasant destination for a bicycle tour.

Ceased to exist

The following places do no longer exist, even though you still might find references to them on the web:

2020-02-25 14:45:00 [Salzburg, organic, vegan, ice-cream, frozen_yogurt] 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.

Tuesday, 07 January 2020

Paris: Organic restaurants

Walked the Champs Elysees and feel for an easy going, yet high-quality French-style bistro? Continue from the Arc de Triomphe along Avenue Victor Hugo, and you will finally arrive at Place Jean Monnet in the 16th arrondissement. Here you'll find all-day open neo-bistro Jacques, a small friendly place serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and -- on Sundays from 10am to 5pm -- brunch. Apart from a selection of (generous) starters, salads, soups, and burgers there are two daily changing French-style main courses, usually meat and fish.

Jacques

All fruits and vegetables are organic; the meat isn't promised to bear an organic label, but it is definitely of high quality. Unfortunately, of the drinks only the coffee and an easy-going Chardonnay white wine are organic, so although the bar keeps open longer than the kitchen (usually until 2 am) you will not get much organic during the night. The home-made potato chips which were served as a complimentary amuse-gueule may be an exception. The service here is swift, good-humoured and happy to speak English and some phrases of whatever your language is.

L'Epidon

While in all the other restaurants mentioned here tourists are the majority of guests, the audience at L'Epidon, a small fully organic restaurant and wine bar near the metro stop Odeon was clearly local. Their secret (with well-behaving kids): two of the seats are swings.

As in most French restaurants you order a set menu: a starter and main course or main course and dessert or starter, main course and dessert Of course you can also order individually but if you wish to order more than one thing it's more economical to take such a combination. In addition to the menu there's a daily suggestion of the chef -- in my case a hearty stew of calf, green beans and potatoes. Another tip is the main course salad with a sheet of crips brique dough. All in all a perfect place for both, omnivores, vegetarians and vegans, and the best: all drinks are also organic!

La Ferrandaise

If you ready for the classical French Haut cuisine try La Ferrandaise. This is definitely a place vegetarians should avoid, and even omnivores will probably feel to have eaten sufficient meat (and perhaps fish) for the next week after an evening out here. The classical starter-main-course-dessert (at 37 EUR in the evening) is more than filling -- but absolutely tasty and often offers this magical moment when the known ingredients almalgamise into a higher unity, and you wonder how this taste might have been produced. The restaurant is a heavy tourist spot -- English was the predominant language, which is probably due to the fact that the place was mentioned in the Guide Michelin. All vegetables are organic, and there was one really good certified organic read wine on the daily menu. With other wines the restaurant promises that the vineyards work "in the spirit of bio". Lunch menu (l'assiette du midi) comes at 16 EUR.

More to try

Here's a list of (partially) organic restaurants I found in preparation of my stay but did not have time to follow up. If you visit them I'd love to hear about your experience.

Closed

2020-01-07 16:00:00 [Paris, organic, lunch, dinner, restaurant, French, vegan, vegetarian] Link

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Organic Prague

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

Country Life Melantrichova

Daily necessities

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

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

Restaurace Country Life

Eating out

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

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

Puro Kaprova

Coffee and ice-cream

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

More to try

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

Where to stay

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

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

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

Ceased to exist

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

2020-01-07 10:45:00 [Prague, Praha, Prag, organic, vegetarian, vegan, kosher, zero_waste, cafe, grocery, supermarkets, coffee, ice-cream, snacks, lunch, bodycare, household, hotel, accommodation, eatery] 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, 06 January 2020

Paris: Organic creperies

What would a visit to Paris be without tasting a crêpe? These thin pancakes come in two varieties -- galettes with savoury toppings make a perfect lunch while sweet teeth will prefer a crêpe with sweet toppings. For the real thing head for a crêperie, a specialized small restaurant serving no other food (apart from perhaps a salad), and you should do this for lunch as the better owner-run shops will usually close early in the afternoon.

Crêpe de la Joie

My favourite place is Crêpe de la Joie, a family-friendly 100 percent organic owner-run crêperie near tube stop Censier Daubenton. The buckwheat-based galettes have savoury fillings, often with an egg on top, while the sweet crêpes are made of wheat. All crêpes and galettes (except the one of the day) are dubbed after mythological figures like elves, gnomes and fairies and all of them are vegetarian or even vegan. The friendly owner prepared food for us even though we arrived ten minutes before her closing time. This will surely not be the rule but a little broken French and a friendly smile helped us to get a perfect start for our visit. The shop also sells Hildegard of Bingen food products.

Breizh Cafe

Hip, professional Breizh Cafe within the Marais does not observe the usual French rules for opening hours but serves crepes and galettes all day. The place with its rough wooden interior does not use organic ingredients as a rule, but the flours for both, the galettes and the crepes are always organic.

More to try

The following organic creperies I found in preparation of my stay but did not have time to visit. If you come there I'd love to hear about your experience.

2020-01-06 16:15:00 [Paris, organic, lunch, creperie, restaurant, coffee, French, vegan, vegetarian] 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.