Ari's Picks

Super Nice Nut Spreads from Sicily at the Candy Store

Almonds, hazelnuts, and pistachios transformed into easy-to-enjoy sweet spreads

nut spreads on a Zingerman's cartoon box

If you’re looking for a lovely little touch of something sweet to brighten a dark winter day, drop by the Candy Store (inside the Coffee Company, down the block from the Bakehouse) to check out these great little nut spreads from Sicily. They’re crafted by a small family-owned company run by a trio of fruit farming brothers-in-law near the town of Ribera on Sicily’s southeast coast (due east, straight across the sea, from Tunis). The family is dedicated to tradition, to preserving Sicilian culture, and to the sustainability of the land—a commitment that’s reflected in the quality of their confections.

Nuts have long been an essential element of both eating and economics in Sicily. Almonds came to the island about 1000 BCE from the Middle East. Not long after, Romans brought pistachios from their eastern colonies. (They’re still known today as festuca, from the Arabic, in the local dialect.) Sicily’s volcanic soil contributes significantly to the quality of the nuts, which are found in a wide range of dishes, both main courses and desserts. Pistachios are particularly prized, so much so that police helicopters hover over the fields as harvest approaches to prevent crop-theft.

The good news here is that we don’t have to engage in any unlawful activity to have access to these nut spreads. They are all, very properly, placed right on the shelves at the Candy Store—almond and pistachio, pistachio and hazelnut, hazelnut and chocolate, and also a very Sicilian orange and lemon spread. All are sweetened with sugar, another key local ingredient imported by Arab conquerors to the island in the 9th century (Sicily was one of the first places in Europe to have it). The company name, Scyavuru, means “scent,” or “fragrance,” in Sicilian dialect—you’ll understand why when you pop open the lid and catch the great aroma that emerges. You can use the nut spreads to top off your toast, spoon some into a Bakehouse croissant, or put a bit on a plate before you scoop some gelato on top. The staff at Scyavuru layer the different nuts as you would a parfait, so the small glass jars look as lovely as the spreads inside taste. As they say in Sicilian, Bon appititu!

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