As some might say, this is not just chocolate, this is Italian chocolate and anyone who has eaten the products of Venchi, Torrone or Fratelli Nurzia will know exactly what I mean.
Of course Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without boxes of chocolates littering the house, but these days I would exchange all the boxes of sickly sweet, gaudily wrapped chocolates of my adolescence for a taste of something really fine from a chocolatier such as Antica Dolceria Bonajuto from Sicily.
You may not realise that Italy was a driving force when it came to spreading the silky-smooth whisper about the phenomenon from the New World.
Spain, on the other hand were giving none of the secrets away and held their cocoa beans closely to their collective chests. But a trader who knew a good thing when he tasted it refused to be silent and he returned to the home country and spread the world. Venice was first off the mark with a chocolate shop -or cioccolatieri. Just imagine the sensation it would have caused and the rest of Europe succumbed to the temptation of the dark one.
It was not until the twentieth century that an Italian love message was given more substance with the development of Baci , the Italian for little kisses. These delightful chocolates emanate from Umbria. The company Perugina, who have a reputation for extraordinarily high quality chocolate, have been producing them for almost 100 years.
The young man who was heir to the Perugina fortune, Giovanni Buitoni (of pasta fame) fell in love with a confectioner. You can imagine how unimpressed the well to do family would have been if they had known. Giovanni and Luisa Spagnoli meanwhile communicated their desire by sending love messages wrapped around stunning, dainty confections. It is no surprise to see the final product begins with a hard hazelnut enrobed in a creamy dark chocolate – now what could have possibly been the inspiration I wonder?
Doubtless when it comes to love and chocolate the Italians are experts and understand the art of seduction perfectly. They take both art forms extremely seriously and nothing is left to chance. Even the presentation suggests something tempting, exciting and highly desirable.
Whether you have a taste for nuts, nougat, praline or something dark and bitter you will find your own chocolate heaven with a little experimentation; not too much mind!
Still if you have been truly smitten by chocolate you might want to book a Flavours cookingholiday in Sicily which is actually home to a confection of chocolate, spices and sugar. The chocolatiers of Modica create tailor made blends without the addition of dairy just like the Aztecs would have done. This is something for the connoisseur and the resulting texture is completely different from commercial chocolate. As you roll your tongue around its surface the texture is actually rough and almost sandy in quality. The reason? In this confection the sugar crystals never actually melt.
So, if a trip to a fabulous Sicilian Baroque city appeals, combined with a visit to the Dolceria which has been trading in Modica since 1880, then your wish is our command. You can book a cooking, Pilates or painting holidayin Sicily and also combine it with a visit to Antica Dolceria Bonajuto’s emporium. You will not be disappointed, but one New Year’s resolution might take a serious hit!