This article was first published on MHRA Insider / August 2012.
In April 2012, Italian master chef Gabriele Ferron was in Malta for a week courtesy of Eatmania. The week was entirely dedicated to rice and rice products from Riseria Ferron. Here is how it developed.
For the second time, the World’s Ambassador of rice Gabriele Ferron, accepted Eatmania’s invitation to land in Malta with his rice portfolio. Gabriele Ferron has been moving across the globe spreading information and promoting rice and risotto for years. On his first visit to Malta, he discovered the potential of introducing the world’s most important cereal – rice – to our population. And from thereon, together with Eatmania, he kicked off a profile-raising and gastronomic campaign called Riso e Risotti.
This year’s events commenced at the Institute of Tourism Studies where the final year chef students were presented with knowledge about rice and rice-growing in Isola della Scala in Verona. The chef, born from a family of rice growers, guided them through the history of rice, identified the diverse characteristics of this cereal and distinguished between the vialone nano and the carnaroli rice varieties, both of which are suitable to prepare a delicate risotto. Eventually, the students were able to observe a demonstration of different methods of cooking risotto. Gabriele Ferron showed off the method he is so passionate about – the no stir method. He prepared a carnaroli risotto with fresh aromatic herbs with this new challenging technique of cooking risotto without stirring continuously. This simple procedure includes toasting the rice in some extra virgin olive oil, adding double the amount of rice in boiling broth and cooking the rice on a minimum heat, covered for around 10 minutes. There is no need to stir until you reach the final stages, then you mix in the desired condiment, butter and grated parmesan cheese and that’s it!
A similar event was held the day after for the professionals and restaurant owners in the local gastronomic industry. On this occasion, Gabriele Ferron, also demonstrated and introduced the entire range of products from Riseria Ferron including the black riso Venere, red riso Ermes, whole-wheat Carnaroli rice, Carnaroli and Vialone Nano rice for risotto, rice flour, and rice flour for polenta.
The possibility of getting to know rice and risotto was also offered to the public. A degustation event was held at Tartarun Restaurant in Marsaxlokk on two separate evenings. Gabriele Ferron and James Schiavone put their chef’s brains and hands together in the kitchen and prepared a series of degustation dishes for the guests. An arancina with squid ink placed on a tomato and chili relish was served as an amuse-bouche. The first course consisted of mixed vegetables and red mullet fillets battered with a rice flour mixture and deep-fried. This warm salad was served on a selection of leaves and dressed with home-made citrus mayonnaise. The salad was followed by a rice flour creamy polenta topped with fresh clams and a tomato concasse. Next in line was a train of 3 diverse risotto dishes: a carnaroli risotto with fresh basil, mint and wild fennel; a carnaroli risotto with cauliflower puree and baked scallop; and a vialone nano risotto with artichoke hearts and fresh anchovy fillets. The degustation was concluded with a classic tiramisu however prepared with cream of rice.
The jovial personality of Gabriele Ferron, his skills and passion about rice and risotto and his discovery of local ingredients have made Riso e Risotti a successful experience and an event with a future. Eatmania have recognized the possibility of amplifying the Riso e Risotti campaign to encompass on a twinning project between local ingredients and the Vialone Nano IGP rice for risotto. Hence, this week in April dedicated to rice was the beginning of a series of events devoted to rice and its culinary combination in the Maltese culture and cuisine.