Love, Chocolate, and Other Addictions

WILD CARD INSIDE By Cai Subijano (The Philippine Star) Updated October 7, 2012 - 12:00am

Master chocolatier Enrico Nazzareno Cattapan: This third generation cioccolato genius performs kitchen miracles in Padova, the site of the Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua in Italy.

Master chocolatier Enrico Nazzareno Cattapan: This third generation cioccolato genius performs kitchen miracles in Padova, the site of the Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua in Italy.

In The Devil’s Advocate, Al Pacino’s character John Milton — the devil in the film — dismisses love, saying it was “Overrated. Biochemically no different than eating large quantities of chocolate.”

Of course, anyone who’s ever really loved would have trouble agreeing. For one, chocolate makes you fat — love doesn’t, depending on how much you and your partner like to eat together. Even then, love still isn’t directly responsible for weight gain.

Also, chocolate is best enjoyed in moderation (and in order to avoid said weight gain), while there really are no limits to how much love you can give or receive — grams and calories don’t apply. Last, love seems to have a reputation for being elusive, while good, quality chocolate always has a way of finding its way to you.

Take, for instance, how Villa Del Conte found its way to the Philippines all the way from Italy.

While on a pilgrimage to the Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua in Padova, Italy, businessman Vince Aldanese and his lovely wife, Rhoda Campos, were approached by an Italian man with ruddy cheeks and a jolly countenance. His name was Enrico Nazzareno Cattapan, a third-generation cioccolato connoisseur. Having spotted Vince with his wife, Enrico turned to his Filipina wife, Felinda Tupaz, and said something along the lines of, “Look, that man’s just like me! He also has a beautiful Filipina wife.” Enrico and Felinda invited Vince and Rhoda to have dinner with them and before the latter pair returned to the Philippines, they sent the couple home with a whole balikbayan box full of fine, artisanal cioccolato.

Knowing that their household wasn’t nearly big enough to consume such a massive quantity of sweets, the Aldaneses invited several of their friends over for dinner and served the chocolates for dessert. After receiving raves about Enrico and Felinda’s creations from their guests, Vince sensed a good business opportunity. So he decided to contact Enrico and discuss the possibility of bringing his delicacies to Manila, especially when he realized that no one yet had brought in Italian chocolates to the country. As it turned out, it was a venture that the Cattapans had been wanting to happen for a long time, but they just couldn’t find the right partner — and fortunately for Vince, they felt that he was it.

Vince Aldenese and Rhoda Campos-Aldenese, Enrico Nazzareno Cattapan and Felinda Tupaz

It took almost no time for Villa Del Conte to build a strong following in our country once they arrived on our shores last year. STAR columnist Lucy Torres-Gomez raved about their Ovicinis, sugar-coated dark chocolate shaped like small eggs and filled with hazelnut cream. Vince was quickly encouraged to open more Villa Del Conte kiosks in various malls all over Metro Manila, with several offers to franchise the business and expand to Cebu and Davao. Orders were overwhelming as the chocolates made popular gifts for the holidays, weddings (they served as the giveaways for the wedding of Rep. Roman Romulo and Councilor Shalani Soledad-Romulo) and other special occasions. Vince and Rhoda couldn’t believe how popular their new venture had become in such a short span of time.

Realizing how positive the reception to his confections was in our country, Enrico, along with Felinda and their two sons, decided to stop by Manila for a visit, so he could get the chance meet the avid fans of his creations. Vince and Rhoda decided to host an intimate lunch in Cru at the Marriot Hotel with selected members of the press, while Enrico and Felinda stayed in the kitchen to prepare freshly-made chocolate concoctions for dessert.

The gathering also served to introduce Villa Del Conte’s latest offerings. In time for this year’s holiday season, Villa Del Conte has introduced chocolate Domes with five new flavors: Blue (milk chocolate with bluberry cream filling), Green (milk chocolate with hazelnut cream and chips), Mustard Yellow (dark chocolate with tartufone cream and cereals), Bronze (dark chocolate with cocoa cream) and Brown (salted toffee and dark chocolate with whiskey mocha).

They have also created truffles lightly dusted in cocoa powder with three interesting variants. There is the Marron Glace Truffle (chestnut enrobed in dark chocolate), Walnut Truffle (walnut covered in dark chocolate) and Fig Fillet Truffles (figs covered in dark chocolate). Also, they added a new flavor to their popular Praline Sticks: milk chocolate with watermelon cream filling — an unexpected, yet complementary pairing.

In the future, Vince hopes to collaborate with Enrico in creating flavors taht are more Filipino-oriented. Dried mangoes covered in dark chocolate, perhaps? Or milk chocolate with durian cream filling? These are pretty exciting prospects, but for the meantime, Villa Del Conte's latest additions to their classic line of chocolates are more than enough to satisfy our addiction.