Blog #113: It's soooo delicious!

March 30, 2023
Monika Weber-Fahr
Yes, I know, we are still squarely inside the lenten period - and a blog about food, specifically when it is sooo delicious, might not quite seem to be the most obvious choice for today. However, Easter is around the corner and many of you will want to start preparing for the festivities this weekend, getting your box with Easter decorations down from the attic  or up from the cellar, shopping for flowers and Waidkaetzchen (willow pussies), and thinking about which sweets to buy for whom. Because sweet they are, our Easter delights, coming to us courtesy of a very prolific food industry that gets us to buy chocolate eggs, chocolate bunnies, chocolate lambs, chocolate, ducklings, and so on. Anything really that looks like a symbol of Easter, of spring and new beginnings is already on the supermarket shelves - made from chocolate or other sugary materials
Are you up for a novelty?  One that also can introduce you to the world of fully-vegan food, while at the same time being extraordinarily delicious?  If so, then you should get into town and direct your steps towards Schwedenplatz, there cross the Donaukanal taking Marienbruecke, right where the two-city liner stops, and find Dulceria, the new and sofar only fully vegan chocolaterie here in Vienna on Lilienbrunngasse 5/1A.  Just opened by a young Chocolatier, the story of Dulceria and her owner is as extraordinary as are the pralines and Easter-specials you will find there. And no, I am not exaggerating. I am a bit of an arrogant chocolate afficionado myself, rarely but selectively affording myself the occasional delight from Leonidas, Neuhaus or Wittamer, or the Swiss variations, such as Läderach or Lindt. Yet I was stunned when I tried Dulceria’s delights this week (maybe I should not have, it’s lent after all, but the Blog had to be written ;-)).  I simply have never had such extraordinarily delicious pralines (maybe with the exception of Niederegger Marzipan, but marzipan is a different terrain).
Foto: They even look not just delicious but extraordinary - check out the Pralines in the new fully vegan Chocolate store Dulceria, across the bridge from Schwedenplatz..   
Double Caramel, Ginger Gin, Strawberry Nougat, White Chocolate Pumpkin, Espresso Shot, Lime Passionfruit, Peanutbutter&Jelly - just reading the names of some of the Dulceria’s pralines is mouth-watering - and having tasted all of them over the last few days, I can’t even figure out which ones I like best. These delicious treats are as tasteful as they are unusual, and in fact unique, not just here in Vienna. Why unique? Well, Dulceria is not only the only fully vegan Chocolaterie in our beautiful town - but each of the pralines’ fillings has just been designed by the young owner, twenthysomething Manuela Torres. She spends weeks figuring out just the perfect mix, considering taste, consistency, the interaction between the filling’s taste and the chocolate’s taste and feel, but also longevity and ingredients. Then the pralines are produced freshly, right in the chocolate kitchen behind the store. Ingredients are sourced carefully, not just for being vegan but also for being produced sustainably and fairly. Manuela’s cocoa, for example, comes from Callebaut, a Belgian importer of chocolate who is able to trace each palette of cocoa back to the farm it comes from, guaranteeing proper working conditions and sustainable farming practices.
How did Manuela come to open up a fully vegan Chocolaterie? A Vienna girl with Argentinian heritage, she grew up on Latin as well as Viennese staples - both of which are rather on the meaty side. Six years ago, having learned about the impact that non-plant food choices have on the environment, she decided to go All-Vegan - and never looked back. If you enjoy cooking, you will love the vegan cuisine, she says, the variety is incredible and you end up finding out about more tastes than you knew existed. A passionate cook and baker from a young age, opening up a Chocolaterie had been Manuela’s dream for many years - but the Corona Lock-down was the instigating factor. Limited to her home for days and weeks, Manuela began thinking up chocolate recipes. She took online classes on all things to do with chocolate, learned about the legal and logistical sides of setting up a food business in Austria, and she began to experiment. She connected with James Parsons, a celebrity-cook turned chocolatier who has cooked, among others, for the former Prince Charles. From him she learned a lot about shapes, decorative looks, and also how to combine otherwise distinctive tastes with each other to create a novel experience. And she decided to offer Vienna something new: A fully-vegan chocolate experience. Her persistence and grit got her to not only create a new suite of chocolate experiences and to master the business requirements it took to open a store - but also to convince the Innung der Konditoren in Wien, the mighty professional board that had to approve her products and offer her the license to sell confectionary. Once they tried my pralines, they were convinced, Manuela recalls the process with a smile.
What’s the big deal, you may be thinking, so there is a new chocolate store in town, why should I care? Why does it matter to the Living Light blog? Most of you will know that eating partially or fully vegan - consuming only plant-based food - is a choice that keeps our footprint on planetary resources small. In fact, as populations grow and as we consume more and more, a vegan diet may well be the future for many of us. Why? It’s a simple calculus: Food produced from or cooked based on nothing but plants requires less water and energy per calorie - both, when you just consider the process of creating food and when considering the environmental footprint of transportation and storage. Yet, vegan food is often mocked - for not being enjoyable or being eaten for supposedly moral rather than culinary reasons. Well, now we have the antidote to such prejudices, right here in Vienna in the 2nd District. And whether or not you believe the future is vegan (as I tend to do) - you may as well enjoy this particular version of it, perhaps even starting this Easter.  Want to check it out?
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