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2023 Author: Cody Thornton | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-06-06 02:02
Today say Modica it means to say chocolate, and say Bonajuto, recently also celebrated by the BBC. But as Pierpaolo Ruta, heir of the Ancient Dolceria, the Modica food valley is also much more.
Rich and cultured, counterpointed at the bottom by a graceful baroque, with a myriad of houses on the top that seem to be mounted one on top of the other, the city is for those who visit it a fight to the last bite.
For example, a poor dessert is surprising, made with the scraps of the most common fruits in Sicily: citrus fruits.
No creaminess and softness, none of the exhausting sweetness of Sicilian pastry, we are talking about Orange juice and of cedar modicana.
DESSERTS: ORANGE AND CITRATE
"A citrata" is a strange dessert prepared with the peel of the cedars, the green ones, from November, used in the past as a digestive after the abundant Christmas lunches.
The preparation, once entrusted to the poorest families who carried out their work at home, is long and laborious. The citrus peel is gently grated, collected and piled in jute bags. These are soaked in water for three days, constantly changing the water to eliminate the bitterness. Finally, the resulting paste is worked together with the honey, preventing it from burning.
The result is a sort of great caramel: cylindrical shape, dark color, hardness similar to nougat. The taste of caramelized honey excels but the citrus aroma is unmistakable.
The orange juice follows a similar procedure.
The peels of the oranges are not grated but cut into thin strips and then, after being worked with honey, they are molded into the shape of pies.
The result is a sweet, chewy pastime with an intense Sicilian citrus flavor.
As is used with flowers, the cake was used in Modica to send signals.
And it is said that the daughters-in-law gave the mothers-in-law a heart of cedar with a side of orange juice whose peel resembles thorns.
It goes without saying that Antica Dolceria Bonajuto is the most famous interpreter of Modica chocolate. Just as it is vain to try to criticize its fame: it is all deserved.
Furnished in wood, classic style, with a very rich variety, it is the oldest in Sicily.
The confectionery shop has been run by the Ruta family for some generations, but it matters little because the quality is not affected and indeed, the revaluation of Modica chocolate from which the entire town has benefited is due to the new generations.
The proposed flavors are many: citrus, cardamonium, ginger, coffee, in addition to the timeless vanilla and cinnamon bars.
To find out how chocolate was once processed, just move a few meters to Salvatore Di Lorenzo's pastry shop.
Guardian of the art of Modica chocolate, a pupil of the first Bonajuto, perhaps the last of the chocolatiers in business to have worked chocolate on metate, the ancient instrument in the shape of a wash-house, in lava stone, where the chocolate was spread cold and harmonized with the sugar.
Today, Giovanni, together with his father, manages the restaurant, which is certainly not lavish. Silent and apparently anonymous, everything is expected of him except that he is the inventor of cuticci, a small masterpiece of belonging to fantasy.
These are chocolates similar in shape to the stones that pave the oldest streets of Modica. Flavored with wild fennel that grows abundantly in the surrounding countryside, they are absolutely gorgeous.
Family management also at Ignazio Iacona's Caffè dell’arte.
Here it is possible to enjoy a good hot chocolate, only and always with water because the milk would risk making the taste of Modica chocolate less intense and more fatty.
In the best confectioneries it is possible to taste the mpanatigghi “, Sweets filled with chocolate and meat. The cut used is the veal sirloin. The taste of the meat does not predominate and the result is well balanced.
RESTAURANTS AND "PUTIE"
But as we said, a trip to Modica cannot be limited to sweets only.
In the past, each district of the city had its own “putia ro vino”, a singular tavern where a hard egg and a piece of boiled meat (beef or octopus) were often added to the consumption of wine. A way to start the day in joy. Over the years these putias have completely disappeared, making way for pizzerias, creperies, sandwich shops, rotisseries or other.
But recently some of them have returned to populate the streets of Modica with good dishes halfway between street food and trattoria. La putia del coppo in Corso Umberto I at 197, is worth the visit.
There are two restaurants to report in the orphaned city of Magpie, starred restaurant left without a chef, tempted by Chinese sirens.
The first is the Locanda del Colonello, recently awarded the Best in Sicily award as the best Sicilian trattoria. The other is the Fattoria delle Torri, chosen to end our visit in the enchantment of Modica.
THE TOWER FARM
The Fattoria delle Torri is an old theater renovated with care: a snobbish atmosphere, squared lines in the sofas embellished with green baroque designs, expertly neglected details.
The flower petals, bearers of unforgettable aromas, also contribute to the beauty of the dishes of Ninni Radicini, a chef from Palermo of origin but Modica by adoption. Colorful but not loud, imperfect and fascinating.
Lunch is a real trip to Sicily: the scents of the surrounding countryside of Modica, of the scrub that lead to the sea: the steep slopes of Pantelleria, the gravels of Milazzo, the dunes of Santa Maria del Focallo.
Mark the alalunga on datterino sauce with a pictorial effect with cooking (not cooking) which allows the fish an incalculable softness. A picture of a wild and refined sea at the same time.
The tasting menu of the restaurant costs 60 euros, the accompanying wines, 15 euros, are chosen by the brilliant waiter who serves them to you in an informal, spontaneous but discreet way.
WHERE TO EAT
Vico Biscari, 6 - 97015 Modica RG | Telephone: 0932 752423
Farm of the Towers
Vico Napolitano, 41 - 97015 Modica RG | Telephone: 0932 751286
Antica Dolceria Bonajuto - Corso Umberto I, 159 Modica RG | Phone: 0932 941225
Caffe dell’Arte - Corso Umberto I, 114 97015 Modica RG | Telephone: 0932 943257
Pastry Di Lorenzo - Corso Umberto I, 225 97015 Modica RG | Telephone: 0932 945324