Discoveries at a Florence Festival

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Photo by Faith Willinger


I love Taste, Florence's gastronomic fair of quality food, wine, and table products. The event is held in the beautiful Stazione Leopolda, a former railway station, with off-site events at restaurants, shops, and wine bars throughout the city. The fair is small enough to walk through in few hours, and there's a shop that sells all the products and takes credit cards so stands are limited to info and tasting, a great idea.

The most interesting new product that I found was from gli Aironi, rice specialists. I've always admired Michele Perinotti's products and environmentally sustainable philosophy. Quality Italian rice, including rare rosso selvatico and venere nere, as well as vialone nano, carnaroli and arborio. Great rice flours, heirloom cornmeal, legumes. Michele's patented IpoDry vacuum packaging keeps products fresh for two years, eliminating the need for preservatives.

His latest creation is crispy rice -- rice is exploded in a vacuum, then coated at a low temperature with spices or freeze-dried natural ingredients. Look for wasabi, ginger-lemon, licorice, oregano, saffron, curry, cardamom, raspberry, mint, balsamic, red wine, and Rimbas pepper. The result is like Rice Krispies from another planet. Chefs are using them as a topping in sweet or savory situations to add a bit of crunchy texture. I'm waiting for samples to play around with. I'm thinking about oregano on tomatoes with mozzarella, wasabi or ginger-lemon on raw fish, raspberry on sliced peaches, and balsamic in a salad.

You can find more info on Michele's products including Crispy Rice here.

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Faith Willinger is a chef, author, and born-again Italian. She moved to Italy in 1973 and has spent over 30 years searching for the best food from the Alps to Sicily. More

Faith Heller Willinger is a born-again Italian. She moved to Italy in 1973 and was seduced by Italian regional cooking. Faith has spent more than 30 years searching for the best food and wine, as well as the world beyond the table from the Alps to Sicily. She has no regrets about mileage or calories. Faith was awarded the prestigious San Pellegrino award for outstanding work as an ambassador of Italian cooking. She lives full-time in Florence with her Tuscan husband, Massimo. Her son Max lives in Milan. She's the author of the bestselling (9th printing) guidebook Eating in Italy, the cookbook Red, White & Greens, and the narrative recipe book Adventures of an Italian Food Lover. Faith teaches in her kitchen in Florence on Wednesdays, supplied with freshly picked produce from her favorite farmers. Check out her web site at www.faithwillinger.com.
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