Sapore Della Vita
Kristine and Fabio Insalaco-Gaioni’s career paths took a sharp turn shortly after they met. From being a nurse and working in yacht sales, they went into the Italian specialty food importing business and started Sapore Della Vita, a company that sources delectable items from Italy including olive oils, balsamic vinegars, truffles, salts, and over 70 other fine artisanal products. While Fabio keeps busy supplying the products to area restaurants, shops, and selling them at the Sarasota Farmers’ Market, Kristine started delving deeper into her true passion: creating confections.
Kristine and her mother would make traditional Italian sweets and she began to dabble in making caramel sauce. With some tweaks, she perfected the recipe, shared it with her friends, and they swooned over it. Thinking they were just being nice, they encouraged her to sell it. She heard about the the Good Food Awards and entered the caramel sauce. The contest was a blind tasting in San Francisco with the big names in the food world including those from Williams Sonoma. Her caramel sauce won in 2014 and continued to win for three consecutive years. It is a finalist again for 2018 and the winner will be announced later this month.
She had no formal training, but was driven by the challenge to try something new. “It was trial and error; I was compelled.”
She named the caramel sauce Lick My Spoon because the judges and friends alike would literally lick the spoon, it was that good! Her product was placed in over 50 Williams Sonoma stores throughout the U.S. and is also available in gourmet specialty shops, Whole Foods Market, and online.
It’s made from all-natural organic ingredients including high-quality local Dakin Dairy cream, pure cane sugar, fleur de sel, and Madagascar vanilla beans. There’s the original caramel flavor and exquisite creations that include Cardamom Rose, Chocolate Orange Chai Spice, Apple Cinnamon, Espresso, Bourbon Me Bourbon, Lavender Flower, and a few more.
“I love being in the kitchen for the pure joy of creating my products for folks to enjoy.”
Food & Wine magazine named the Cardamom Rose flavor as one of the best caramel sauces in the U.S. and on their segment on the “TODAY” show, it was featured as part of the 2017 Middle Eastern food trends. Her husband designed the logo, her mother selected the packaging, and Kristine supplies the heart and passion in the process.
From there, she went on to more intricate confectionery making and began working with chocolate. It takes a lot of practice to get it to the right temperature to make it into the desired product with the perfect mouthfeel and smoothness.
She went to Milan for formal training with a master pastry chef and Silver Cup Award winner in Europe, a renowned name in the industry, which she would not reveal. This course earned her the title of a chocolatier, not an easy ranking to achieve. Next, she’s going back for a master chocolatier certification.
Her chocolate confections include both bars and truffles. For complexity, she likes to combine innovative flavor profiles that work well together such as peppers and aromatic spices. The newest flavor contains Ras el Hanout, a savory spice mix from North Africa that may be made up of 24 different spices including cumin, clove, cardamom, turmeric, allspice, ginger, and pepper, among others. Its name translates to top-shelf and while there is not one uniform blend, it was originally made of the best combination of spices available. “It’s so good with sugar.”
Her chocolate won the bronze medal in the International Chocolate Salon Awards. She sources only fair-trade cocoa beans and makes all of the products locally at Peperonata Pasta in Sarasota.
When asked what inspires her, she answers without missing a beat: “All I do is think about food; I love food.”
I tasted the truffles. They were rich and decadent with a prolonged finish and soft like butter. I wasn’t going to open the caramel sauce, it was so pretty I wanted to share it with my mom, but couldn’t resist. I literally took out a spoon and ate the better part of it right from the jar. Yum!