The Swiss kept their chocolate secret formula as a national treasure. It is considered a masterpiece of Belgian cuisine. It’s an art and its sweet taste perks us up during difficult times in life. It is sacred Chocolate. Among its variety of deliciousness everyone finds exactly the option he or she likes the most. Black, milk or white, with nuts or raisins, with filling or biscuits… we can supplement this list indefinitely until our patience bursts and we go for a tasty morsel of chocolate or to Lviv.
Why exactly Lviv? Because the history of the world’s most popular sweets began in Lviv in the early nineteenth century, when the Italian of Swiss origin, Domenico Andreolli, opened the first confectionery in Galicia. It was then that Lviv residents and visitors could first taste the real Swiss chocolate that had already conquered Europe. The tradition to feast on a variety of candy existed among Lviv residents until 1939 and was renewed in a new format after that date. One hundred years after the arrival of Mr. Andriolli to the city, Mr. Zalewski opens his confectionery business in one of the newly-built decorative stone buildings on former Academicheskaya Street, which is now named after Kobzar and has achieved the status of an avenue. Stanislav Lem, renowned science fiction writer, fascinatingly described his childhood memories of the world of marzipan and chocolate. Lem won the Nobel Prize for literature, but we foremost know him as a former Lviv resident, whose family had to emigrate during World War II. He described Zalevsky’s storefront as real masterpiece, where several times a year chocolate castles were exchanged for marzipan glazed magic ships and thematic installations. Today the purpose of this establishment is completely different but the decorations of the storefront window still hold stylized coffee beans made out of brass. Overtime it darkened and obtained a real chocolate hue. This window to this day brings back memories of childhood for urban old-timers and peaks the tourists’ interest in the past glory of this famous institution.
Lviv is not only famous for its chocolate manufacture, but for aromas of hot melted chocolate around the streets and shops of the three most famous pre-war Lviv caramel and chocolate landmarks: Polish “Branki,” Jewish “Gazeta” and Ukrainian “New Fortune.” Competition forced the owners of these factories and engineers to implement the best recipes and equipment, and to improve assortment. For the most part, these three companies formed the basis for the famous Lviv factory “Svitoch.”
Lviv, a city rich in its traditions, today boasts the real taste of hot chocolate, which can be found in many downtown coffee shops. Its production has ceased to be a mystery, but ancient Lviv still has a few chocolate-coffee mysteries that everyone should definitely try to unravel.
You can taste the colorful chocolate, and at the same time meet the ghost of magic Jozefa, whose beloved never returned, in “Golden Ducat.” The name of this confectionery was derived from a romantic legend and was given thanks to a renovation of the confectionery that made chocolates based on old “Svitoch” recipes. Especially popular are traditional Lviv goodies like “Boom,” “Meteorite” and “Spartacus.” And now, having started the renovation, the owners came upon ancient 18th C. frescoes, depicting the dancing “Champagnier” and probably “Tokaj” among convoluted ornaments. The images of chubby tots with bottles, the size of their height, uncovered the secret of prior purpose of this room. Documents from the city archives describe that the halls of cafe “Fresco” (named after the founder) and a wine tavern used to be where the best European wines were sold.
Cozy interiors and delicious goodies of “Confectionery” and “Veronika” bring visitors and city residents back to the times of the late glorious Austro-Hungary. These two institutions are famous for their own chocolate confections along with pies and strudels.
Today, the network of “Lviv Chocolate Factory” is confidently making positive strides in the direction of modern Ukraine, not only in Ukraine, but the flagship factory located in Lviv, still remains the most interesting of all. There you can see the process of making chocolate live: the flow of chocolate rivers and chocolate masterpieces and confectioners, chocolate figurines, candy molded from marzipan, nuts and pralines, chocolate paintings, and on and on, and on…. They definitely do not lack any sense of humor. Aside from molding thematic holiday figurines from various types of chocolate, these masters also mold clever caricatures of political leaders, whose head you may bite off after you buy it, if you desire.
The variety of chocolate products was born after the idea of a true extravaganza of this “black gold.” A chocolate holiday on a national scale is an annual festival of chocolate, where the best confectioners compete in their skill. Together with professional sculptors and architects, they are building a chocolate city, and designers create delicious, edible dresses. The masters come from all over the country to conjure over chocolate mass, creating a unique composition of chocolate art. That’s the reason the festival acquired a national status.
Despite its popularity and its pleasing mystery, Lviv chocolate retains its excellent quality and old recipes, which are the main components of its soul. It is the soul that gives this deliciousness ability to melt our hearts and warm our souls with its magical scent.
Photo Andriy Goncharenko.
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