Whilst being dairy free has made a huge, huge, and I mean really huge, impact on my life, I miss cheese. And chocolate that is not dark. Ice cream. The list goes on. Of course none of this is helped by the fact that as my problems are rooted in hormones, I also try to avoid un-fermented soy (I was relieved to read the other day that the fermentation process used to make tamari/soy sauce, and miso, does something to the phytoestrogens in soya to render them effectively harmless), which means a lot of the desserts etc made with dairy replacers are also out. I do still eat the odd soy pudding - I particularly like the dark chocolate ones - but it can be a little depressing to have to pass up on the yummy things on the shelves.
Enter Maran Vegan. A vegan friend in the city told me about it and finally yesterday I got round to going down there. It is on Stumpergasse, off Mariahilfer Strasse, at the end nearest Westbahnhof. I usually go to Staudigl for some of my dairy free food needs, mainly because it is pretty close, and they do a good line in oils and essential oils that I use for cleansing etc.
Maran Vegan however, is a supermarket first. They do sell some beauty products, like Dr Bronner's Magic Soap (wonderful stuff) and other vegan friendly brands, but their primary focus is food. The milk replacement aisle is big!
I was mainly looking for some cheese - I buy one brand and type in Billa, but Maran have so many more options. The two I bought yesterday are by Jeezini, a range which has loads of different 'types' of vegan cheese, including Monti (which I am imagining to be like Monterey Jack) and Bianco, which apparently has a mozzarella flavour.
So far I've only tried the Bianco, and I have to report that while it is nice, it only tastes like mozarella if you've never eaten organic, fresh buffalo mozzarella. The taste more resembles the sort of plasticy mozzarella that is designed for cooking (my Italian colleague explained that cooking mozzarella is like that because the water is squeezed out to stop your food going soggy) which isn't the best for eating in a salad or a sandwich, but I'm sure it will taste quite yummy with some tomatoes and fresh basil. Certainly for me, as a substitute for the real thing it will do. I'm going to try melting it on something to see how it reacts - with a bit of luck it'll work!
I also found Booja Booja chocolates and ice cream in the store. I didn't buy the ice cream (wasn't sure how long I was going to be out and didn't have a freezer bag), but I did get some truffles. They were probably the most expensive chocolates I've bought in a while (€15.90 for 12) but my goodness they were worth it! Dairy free, soya free, raw... the taste was phenomenal! I will be going back for some ice cream soon for sure.
I bought the Truffle Selection No. 2, which contained Rhubarb and Vanilla, Hazelnut, Banoffee Toffee and Almond Caramel truffles. I also bought a mini 2 pack of Raspberry Truffles.
The box is so lovely I decided to keep it for storing things in. Not sure what yet though!
The truffles were amazing! I didn't like the Banoffee Toffee one that much, because it really tastes of real bananas (not that sickly fake taste) and I'm not that keen on them anyway. The Raspberry ones were my absolute favourite; the tangy taste of raspberries against the chocolate was so good. All of them were really tasty, and for a Valentine's Day treat they definitely justified the price tag!
The other exciting thing I found in Maran Vegan was Cavalo Nero (or Schwarzkohl in German). Kale, chard and variants of are really hard to get here in Austria. It is like the Austrian's don't really like dark green veg except savoy cabbage and spinach. Which is a shame, because kale, greens, chard etc are all amazing vegetables. So when I saw a woman with a bunch of Cavalo Nero in her basket, I raced around to the veg area to pick some up myself. €3 got me a big bunch with enough for three meals in it, so although it is a little pricey compared to other veg, it is quite economical. And all the veg at Maran Vegan is organic, so really it wasn't that bad.I cooked it up with mushrooms and homemade garlic and herb butter to go with our steaks last night, and had some for brunch today with bacon and eggs on toast. Scrummy!
While I'm not planning on becoming vegan at any point in time, the only real difference between veganism and my diet is meat and eggs. So it is really good to have places to shop for the things that make life bearable when you're an enforced dairy avoider! And somewhere to be able to buy random vegetables. Next thing you know, they'll have rutabagas.....