A few weeks ago, thanks to my parents spending their holiday in Sicily this year, I received a few food gifts coming directly from this beautiful island. It's a bit of a surprise to find out that one of the few places (with Mexico clearly) probably producing chocolate in the same way it was made centuries ago is the town of Modica. Even the flavorings used in the chocolate bars, cinnamon and chili above all, recall the spices added to hot chocolate both in Mexico and in Spain during the XVI century. The most famous producers today are Bonaiuto, who helped to get the products known outside the local area, and Antica Dolceria Rizza. The texture of cioccolato Modicano is unlike any of the bars you're used to put under your teeth: the outer chocolate shell (at least for Bonaiuto's bars, Rizza has no outer shell) encases a rough textured chocolate full of undissolved sugar crystals. I'm not going to talk too much about this unusual but delicious chocolate, apart maybe to tell that it's great to make hot drinking chocolate, since Katia and Roland from Via Ritiro no./ have already said all both on their blog and on this eGullet thread.
Instead I'll share a little experience that I owe to the magic of Xocoatl. The first time I had cioccolato modicano, a cinnamon flavored bar from Bonaiuto, about five years ago, I positively hated it. I was expecting some special chocolate bar, smooth and melting on my tongue, instead I found my mouth full of those weird sugar crystals and something which can't be described better than fine chocolate powder. It was unexpected. At the same time it was intriguing, it wasn't chocolate as I knew but it tasted, after the first confusing moment, good. It might seem a silly example, but that little piece of chocolate made me understand why so many creative chefs play with names in their dishes: they create an expectation and turn it upside down. In a way creative cuisine could almost be seen as a huge practical joke on the customer. With the exception that this practical joke often tastes great. Now, if I could only get a reservation at el Bulli ;-).