Isola della Scala
Isola della Scala is a small town south of Verona on the Padana Plane (Pianura Padana) and is famous for their yearly rice fair called: The Fiera del Riso where "rice" is of course the "STAR". We had the possibility of not only tasting different types of rice and rice products, but we were able to see the rice fields and how rice is harvested and processed both in the traditional way and using modern technology.
Pila Vecia is the name of one of the family run rice growers in the area that has invested its energy in maintaining some of the "magic" of the traditional processing for rice. It begins with the old water wheel which which powers the wooden gears and wheels which pound the rice to remove the outer husk. The process is a long one, but it guarantees the most natural and delicate way to prepare the rice for our pot.
Details of the inside of the Pila Vecia (Old Pila) where the rice is processed. The wooden mortar and pestle where the rice is worked for hours, 24 hours a day. The rice is then sifted by hand twice through two different sized wire nets to eliminate all broken grains of rice. The "Piloto" was the man in charge of the pila and was a much respected and coveted job.
The Ferron family has continued this tradition and has turned their "passion" into a blooming business. Not only do they cultivate rice with the same love and dedication as their ancestors, but they have created a space dedicated to didactic events and workshops and of course two restaurants where you can taste the magnificent dishes created by Gabriele Ferron.
Good news, you can find the rice from the Pila Vecia even in Milan at the new EAT'S grocery store at the Excelsior Mall in Galleria del Corso.
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