Hotspot: Antica Dolceria Rizza chocolate shop – Modica, Sicily

Hotspot: Antica Dolceria Rizza chocolate shop – Modica, Sicily

Modica is home of traditional chocolate from the Aztecs… a uniquely stimulating use of cacao

Cacao was viewed by the Aztecs as an aphrodisiac.  They believed that it invigorated men and made women less inhibited.  It is even said that Aztec ruler Montezuma drank 50 cups of hot chocolate daily in an attempt to better service his extensive harem.

These ancient inhabitants of Mexico provide the origins for the unique flavour of Modica chocolate in Sicily, Italy.  Xocoatl was made by the Aztecs from cacao seeds and was held up as a sign of wealth, and great strength.  The cacao was ground using a stone rolling pin on a tool called a ‘metate’ – a curved stone placed on two transversal base stones.  The cocoa powder made was then mixed with spices and returned to be rubbed onto the metate until hardened.

During the Spanish domination this method was introduced to Sicily.  It has been unchanged for centuries (without the industrial production of most chocolate worldwide), and continues to be made and sold at chocolate shops throughout Modica – using the same ingredients and based on the same techniques.

Interestingly, the mixture is kept at a temperature which prevents the sugar crystals from melting – they remain an integral part of the chocolate bar, and produce a very different mouthfeel to other chocolate.  The simplicity of the technique calls for no addition of butter, vegetable fats, or milk derivatives – just cacao, sugar and spices. It is also an added bonus that this type of chocolate… does not melt.

We were thrilled to see and sample this amazingly different use of cacao in Modica at a beautiful chocolate shop called Antica Dolceria Rizza.

chocolate boxes

We also couldn’t believe the number of different flavours, and spices added to the cacao – from the traditional vanilla and cinnamon, through to flavours like Nero D’Avola wine, white pepper, Trapani salt, Hazelnuts, Bananas, Pistacchio and even Chilli (which is meant to have the most aphrodisiac powers of them all).

Hit the Spot?! 

It’s definitely different… and addictive.  We brought back quite a few boxes from the Venuti’s Sicilia Foodgasms tour – as it doesn’t melt, it’s easy to carry around and made a great gift.  We also saved quite a bit for ourselves, once you get used to the sugar crystals and textured cakey taste – you can’t get enough of this dark, milk free delight.  Yes – of course, I’m even sampling some right now, as I type.

We  recommend having a little slice in the morning or just before some vigorous exercise!

4 kisses – Foodgasmic xxxx