Ragusa from Jan 15th 2016 to Feb 12th
Modica (the place)
We both work for Modica Group Ltd in New Zealand, in fact with out Modica (or a company like Modica) this lifestyle would simply not be possible for us, their core values include their employees being able to have the best of work and family life balance, this philosophy has allowed me to work from home since my children were 3 and 5 years old, my kids have no idea what it’s be like to have a Dad who isn’t constantly around, something I’m more grateful for than they are most likely 🙂
The company name Modica was invented based, I believe, loosely on the word modern, ironic as the Sicilian city Modica is over 3000 years old.
At some point I looked to see what domain names were available for Modica Group and realised that Modica was a place in Italy, in Sicily to be exact and also a family name there, so modica.com wasn’t going to be available for our company. I of course googled the place and it looked beautiful, Unesco listed heritage site no less, I decided that at some point I’d have to visit.
Many years later we’re now living this semi nomadic life and Julie had chosen Malta as our winter dodging home for Christmas 2015 and Sicily was an invitingly short Ferry ride away, I mentioned Modica and she found a great place in the next town over, Ragusa, after our Ferry trip we grabbed a cab to Ragusa during the drive we passed Modica, it looked very picturesque in the valley below, our driver told us it was very famous for it’s chocolate and beautiful baroque architecture, no further encouragement to visit was required, the kids were even on board (the power of chocolate).
It turns out Modica is more of a mouthful than I’d thought, a mouthful of pure chocolate flavour, the flavour fills the mouth and stays with you long afterwards, it makes other chocolate seem fake. It’s far grainier than regular store chocolate, the graininess does differ with different brands of Modica Chocolate but all are at least a little grainy, this is due to the chocolate being made at low temperatures meaning the sugar crystals don’t dissolve, the upside is that none of the cacao flavour is lost either.
The recipe goes right back to when the Spanish ruled Sicily and had recently brought chocolate back from South America inspired by the Aztec original recipe for Xocoatl, Modica is now one of the only places still making chocolate in the same way as it was first made in Europe, a real taste of tradition and history.
The first Modica Chocolate we found was actually in Ragusa Ibla and although it was great, well presented and quite pricey, it was actually our least favourite in the end.
Having tasted it and loved it I wanted to get some of the chocolate to use as client gifts in NZ, we chose our favourite brand, it was a tight race flavour-wise, but because we wanted the Modica name to be prominent the packaging was also important.
So I emailed the producer of our chosen chocolate bars and enquired about visiting the factory and purchasing a reasonable quantity to ship back to NZ, it turned out the factory was in a small village in the Modica region not the town itself, and unfortunately the much cheaper train travel option didn’t fit our schedule so we called a radio taxi, the round trip cost 120 euro’s 😦
The factory was tiny but the smell of chocolate was heavenly, the owner Giorgio had arranged for an english speaking guide to be present and we watched them making up the chocolate blocks and of course tasted the different flavours, all sooo good, 75% Dark Chocolate with Chilli being my favourite.
I’m happy to say we did manage to get a decent size consignment of the chocolate shipped to NZ and at the time of writing we’re just starting to look at getting it out to clients, so long as our staff don’t eat all of it first of course! Giorgio even included some almond paste (pasta di mandorla) as a bonus, similar to marzipan I believe.
If you’re ever travelling through Sicily and you’re not beach bound then Modica is a beautiful and romantic spot, and the chocolate is an experience in itself.
Modica Chocolate Museum