Vienna’s chocolate history is long and rich – chocolate travelled from Madrid to Vienna in 1711 when Emperor Charles VI moved his court here, while the Sachertorte, the city’s famous chocolate cake, was invented in Vienna in 1832 by Franz Sacher – so I couldn’t not send you home with some chocolate, could I?
Demel, which must translate to heaven for those with a sweet tooth, is an elegant old confectionary store on swanky Kohlmarkt (#14). Once the royal court confectioner, it is beloved by Viennese as much as tourists for its decadent chocolates and Sachertorte, as well as its aromatic candied violets, favoured by ‘Sisi’, Empress Elisabeth Bavaria, Queen of Hungary and wife of Franz Joseph I. These days, Demel is a must-do tourist sight and therefore extremely crowded and expensive, but still worth a look.
ALTMANN & KÜHNE
Nearby, on Graben (#30), the busy pedestrian shopping street, Altmann & Kühne is another elegant old-fashioned place and is the spot to pick up another quintessentially Viennese confectionary souvenir, handmade Lilliput chocolate truffles in a prettily packaged box.
Where Kohlmarkt meets Graben, the enormous gourmet emporium of Julius Meinl is one of my favourite stores in the city. Vienna’s premier coffee roaster is not only a fantastic place for a quick espresso or an Italian meal and glass of wine at the wine store-cum-enoteca at the back (the entoeca is downstairs), it’s also a wonderful place to pick up fresh coffee beans, tea, tea and coffee making accessories, like a Meinl Espresso Tamper, preserves, honeys, wine, a wide array of deli goodies, and of course, chocolate. This is also where you’ll find a huge range of the most heavenly chocolate bars by Austria’s more innovative, smaller, boutique chocolate-makers, such as those by Tiroler Edle. My favourites are made with dried flowers, herbs, candied violets, and rose petals. Also try Meinl’s own more classic chocolate bars.
XOCOLAT CHOCOLATE FACTORY
The thoroughly contemporary chocolate bars, pictured above, made by Christian Petz, are my kind of chocolates, more typical of Barcelona’s innovative chocolate-making production than Vienna’s. Petz also produces chocolates, truffles, caramels, fudges, and liqueur chocolates, plus they sell chocolate bars, candies, bon bons, and sauces produced by other makers, such as the scrumptious Tiroler Edle chocolate bars, also above, made from organic cream from Tyrol grey cows. You can also sign up for special chocolate-making workshops at the factory (Servitengasse 5), where you make and try your own, or you can simply watch.
At our local Naschmarkt (Kettenbrückengasse 20), Eduard A Fruth produces (on the premises) sublime chocolate blocks, chocolate truffles, tarts, and desserts at his charming store. His delectables range from traditional French-style pastries to more modern chocolate bars (which is why I’m sending you here) flavoured with anything from cognac to chilli. The shop gets busy on Saturdays when locals call in to savour Fruth’s creations with coffee or a glass of bubbly.
Also at the Naschmarkt (#326–331), the mouthwatering Schoko Company specialises in organic and fair trade chocolate, and stocks a huge range of Josef Zotter’s sublime chocolates made from innovative flavours. Zotter claims to know every farmer who produces the ingredients that go into their chocolates that are made in their factory – from the cocoa farmers in Central and South America to the local producers in Austria – where the entire production process, from ‘bean to bar’, takes place. Zotter does all kinds of exotic flavours, from Goji berries to bacon. Seriously. Bacon.
VIENNESE MUSEUM OF CHOCOLATE
You can learn about the history of chocolate making in Austria, the chocolate making process, and enjoy some tastings on a guided tour at the Heindl Company’s Viennese Museum of Chocolate at 23 Willendorfer Gasse.