Picture yourself in the baroque and beaux-arts splendors of Imperial Vienna. The air is filled with the sounds of Strauss waltzes. A Mozart operetta is being performed in the Opera House, and Franz Joseph von Hapsburg sits on the throne. The tortes at the Sacher Hotel perfume the streets with the sweet scent of deep rich chocolate, and the cafes invite you in for a warm cup of freshly brewed coffee and an alluring pastry. Dr. Freud is in his clinic, analyzing the wealthy ladies of the era as you stroll down Schönbrunner Schlossstrasse towards the the splendid baroque Schönbrunn Palace.

Carriages pass by with their well-adorned passengers, scurrying from one appointment to another. Men in their silk tophats and waistcoats, women in their narrow-waisted dresses and frilly, feathered chapeaux stroll along the Strasse. Life is good for the Viennese, and a welcomed respite for those who visit the wonders of Imperial Vienna from around the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Imperial chocolatesOne of the most wonderful things created in that glorious city, and by the 1890’s a rich tradition are chocolates. The Viennese love their chocolates. Though many parts of Europe treasure the taste sensation that chocolate brings, few countries on the Continent can lay claim to any skill at producing the amazing confectionary delights from the Central American bean. The Belgians and Swiss claim their chocolates superior, as do the French, while the British are content to simply be consumers, or to produce less artistic confections. But the Viennese have the one company capable of outshining all the rest, Gerstner’s.

Open since 1847, Gerstner has been producing some of Europe’s finest confectionary creations for 160 years and has remained in the same family since it was founded. Their products so good that within a few years after opening, Gerstner was appointed as K&K Hofzuckerbäcker (Confectioner to the Imperial Court). The fact that it’s the same family alone is amazing, considering the history of Vienna since the 1840’s: two world wars; an invasion by the Third Reich; the rise and fall of communism; and so on. Yet all that turmoil has never hampered this dedicated family from their single quest… to produce the best chocolates in Vienna, if not Europe.

We’ve recently done a taste testing of a range of Gerstner’s chocolates, now available in the US by post from Vienna through their website, www.gerstner.at. Our opinion… still the best, with unique flavor combinations, and tastes to suit any palate, imperial or not.

Gerstners ChocolatesFrom the time when Anton and Barbara Gerstner founded their little confectioner’s shop in the heart of Vienna to today, Gerstner is a much expanded version of its 19th century counterpart. With chocolate cakes, pralines and truffles, jams & jellies in their catalogue of glorious offerings, a customer today can select from a wonderful range of delicacies. Order some today and see why we think they’ve remained Vienna’s Imperial chocolatier of choice.

Visit www.gerstner.at to order your Sacher Torte (in a wooden box with the Imperial arms), jams and jellies or chocolate confections today.

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