Have you ever felt so at home somewhere that you never wanted to leave and you slowly claim the place as your second living room?
With people being all so friendly and talkative, with the finest coffee trickling out of a glistening huge coffee machine, filling the whole room with that “you’re home, darling” smell; with an assortment of food so glorious you can’t even believe it existed until the very moment you laid it on your tongue?
Yes, I have a severe case of food crush. The 18th district’s neighborhood café/shop/living room, 12 Munchies is her name. If you’re unsure where the punchline is hiding in the name, it’s a play on the film “12 Monkeys,” set in post apocalyptic America, where a prisoner (none other than the 90’s man of action, Bruce Willis) is sent back in time to gather up info on the man-made virus that has wiped out the earth’s population … 12 Munchies cupcakes are just as gripping as this plot.
In this blockbuster, consider me to be Bruce Willis sent back in to Vienna’s 18th district to gather info on how 12 Munchies has managed to wipe out sweet cravings of the entire population of its clientele.
Stepping into the shop, you’re greeted by a grandma’s pantry full of homey details. There’s four old cushioned chairs, retro little tables, old biscuit tins hanging on the walls, drawers turned into displays for hard-to-find imported goods like crisps, sweets and snacks from the UK and the US. What may sound like a roomful of the finest glorified altwaren, somehow it all makes perfect sense to the eye. Especially the stacks of cakes, pies, scones, tarts, quiches, and sweet whatnots. If you listen closely, you can even hear them call your name. On the other hand, that may just be my stomach barking.
I’d want to devour it all in one sitting, but a bit of small-talk would probably be the more socially acceptable introduction before hitting the buffet. Fucking social etiquette. Even action heroes need to abide.
Dominique, one of the three owners, welcomes me with a nice warm cup of green tea – perfectly infused, if I may say so. She tells me they opened up their shop in late 2011.
“The whole Aumannplatz had resembled a zombie more than the beautiful public park it is today,” she tells me.
“The Trafikant (tobacconist) at the corner there even usually closed shop during August as there was nothing going on here.”
Now, Aumannplatz is a beautiful green corner and a gentrified fairytale, where business is. From this perspective, 12 munchies inherits a really cool location – the tram lines 40 and 41 stop right around the corner, and the park makes for a great place to picnic when it’s sunny…with a spread of cakes and quiches from 12 munchies of course.
This place is already well known for their product ideology: if they can feature something first, they’ll do it. If the said product becomes mainstream and available in other shops, they’ll dismiss it and search for something new.
“We work with a British guy who imports all the snacks and sweets you see here. That’s how we stay ahead of the game,” Dominique tells me.
They also stock other popular imports from elsewhere, like Makava, Fritz cola and Astra beer. But with the likes of Firefly, Qcumber and Wostok lemonades, the shop passion for stocking barely known brands is obvious.
But for us, it’s not the imported goods that make this place so special.
“We bake everything ourselves, except for the bread. And what matters to us most is taste. That’s why we never compromise on our ingredients,” says Dominique with pride.
“We use butter instead of margarine, and Belgian chocolate instead of cooking chocolate. That’s something our customers adore in our food.”
She speaks the truth, as my non-vegan sidekick of the day confirms. (In fact, he didn’t shut up about it for the next three hours.) According to him, the scone was perfect – not too sweet and with a beautiful texture, the coffee cake was perfect with its hints of spices and delicious crust and the muffin – well, you guessed it – perfect with wild berries and the sugary crust harmonized to the max.
I think this action hero, Phil ‘yippee kay yay motherfucker’ Willis, is going to stay a while longer and enjoy another tea.