Sabadi, Modica (Sicily), Italy 

Simone Sabaini didn’t start out a chocolate maker.  He had a successful financial career in Verona (northern Italy) but wasn’t personally fulfilled.   He downgraded his job and worked for a trade bureau that brought him to South America where he learned a little about chocolate.  By chance, he discovered Modica in Sicily on holiday and fell in love with the area.  It just so happened that Modica was famous for raw chocolate.  So, he then drew upon his finance and trade experience with chocolate and created Sabadi.

Sabadi is named for the day when we slow down, when we (should) reflect on what is important.  New to the US market, this producer is probably best known for their Modica chocolate…which is raw, has no cocoa butter added, and has a different texture than European or American chocolate.

Simone is so passionate about what he does, and it shows.  In fact, he has been awarded the best Modica chocolate for the last 6 years by Compagnia del Cioccola in Italy.  Modica chocolate is the first and only PGI chocolate, a mark of origin and protection of typical European Community products.  He’s meticulous about every ingredient, in every item.  All his packaging is fun. 

They make hard candies too.  All candies are made cooked over direct heat, and cut by hand.  These are not mass-produced treats.  They contain only local zagara honey from Sicula black bee, brown sugar, and pure essential oils; made without preservatives, dyes, thickeners, glucose or stabilizers.  The herb taste is fresh and distinctive but subtle, as is the citrus flavor.  The candy is surprisingly a little coarse, too.  It’s a wonderful reminder to go slow and enjoy this tiny treat.  This is not your typical citrus and herbal candy…  And they are only a little more than 10 calories each!

They are also known for “hot chocolate on a stick”.  This is a more luxurious and costly product than hot cocoa.  Hot cocoa is made with cocoa, which is a by-product of extracting cocoa butter from chocolate; cocoa butter is the more expensive part of chocolate.  If you have been to Europe and have a French or Italian hot chocolate, you know exactly what I mean.  It’s a food memory you will have forever.

Sabadi is also involved with Slow Food Presidia, sustain quality production at risk of extinction, protect unique regions and ecosystems, recover traditional processing methods, safeguard native breeds and local plant varieties.

If you are a connoisseur of chocolate, I hope you give Modica chocolate a try.  If not for the education, for a new way to appreciate all the nuances that fine chocolate has to offer.  You won’t be disappointed.