The Rice Man Cometh
Toronto’s Grano Ristorante played host to Master Chef Gabriele Ferron of Verona, Italy’s Riseria Ferron. Tidings readers might have already made Ferron’s acquaintance in the July/August 2009 issue. He was recently in town to divulge the secrets of creating great risotto to media and foodies alike. As an added bonus, Fred Alonzi of F. Alonzi Wines & Spirits (importer of Ferron’s rice products) was on hand to match each of the six courses served with a complimentary Italian vintage. The lunch kicked off with a selection of salumi courtesy of “sausage king” Angelo Bean (see the same issue of Tidings) before getting into the grains.While the words “Arborio” and “risotto” are typically uttered in the same breath, Chef Ferron opts for either Carnaroli or, ideally, Vialone Nano rice. The latter is an I.G.P. (geographically protected) rice that is less starchy than (the too starchy) Arborio, but slightly starchier than Carnaroli.
Chef Ferron also seemingly throws tradition to the wind with his risotto preparation technique. Forget the laborious constant stirring and stock adding typically preached by risotto purists, Chef Ferron adds one part rice to two parts hot stock, lets the mixture come to a boil, gives it a gentle stir, lowers the heat and covers the pot for ten minutes or so. And that’s it. “It’s easier than making pasta,” he exclaims. Of course you can employ a slightly more traditional method, toasting the rice in olive oil over low to medium heat stirring gently with a wooden spoon to avoid cracking the grains before once again adding all the stock at once and covering to cook. In any case, all flavouring ingredients (even onion which is typically added at the toasting stage) go in once the rice has cooked and the risotto is left to sit, covered for another minute or so before being stirred and served. “Once you start stirring you have to keep on stirring,” he warns. “Why bother?”
Besides the risottos, guests were also treated to vegetables fried in a rice flour batter, rice polenta and pasta and crepes made with rice flour.
For more information on Ferron’s rice – including where to purchase – as well as a selection of exceptional Italian wines and olive oils visit wineandmore.ca or call F. Alonzi Wine & Spirits (416) 717-0048.