Riso Acquerello, Vercelli (Piedmonte), Italy
The only people more passionate about risotto and Acquerello are the Rondolinos! I could write a book on how extraordinary this rice is but that's already been done (Il Racconto Del Riso).
I have a lot of experience cooking risotto. I worked at a small family restaurant in San Francisco where my station was to make risotto from dry rice, for every order. Usually risotto in restaurants is par cooked and reheated to order, because of burner space, cooking time but also lack of trained staff. This leads to overcooked and mushy rice.
Acquerello, because it's aged and the grain is intact, retains it's starch better, making it more difficult to overcook.
The estate (Tenuta Colombara) has been producing rice since the 1400's. Piero Rondolino's father purchased the rice growing estate in 1935. Acquerello started in 1991 from Piero Rondolino’s idea to create a rice that distinguished itself from all others for its superior quality; he wanted only to grow the best rice! That's him above in the photo.
Acquerello is the first rice that is aged and has its own germ. This makes this white rice’s nutritional properties the same as brown rice.
- Aged for a minimum of 1 year in refrigerated silos, making the starch more stable and the flavor more enhanced.
- It's the tastiest because it's the only rice whitened with a "helix", a gentle method which leaves the grain intact and unscratched, making cooking consistent.
- Acquerello carnaroli rice is the healthiest because, thanks to a patented process, the rice germ is absorbed back into the grain, giving them all the nutritional values of brown rice.
These three reasons separate Acquerello from ALL other rice and will allow a professional OR home chef to make perfect risotto.
They only use natural fertilizer like nitrogen in their rice fields (vegan). The rice is grown but not certified organic because the water comes from the Alps, and passes thru fields that are not organic. This is true for all rice grown in this region.
Several years ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Rondolino family and their Tenuta Colombara estate outside Turin, in Italy. Their passion and integrity is intoxicating. I got to see their rice museum, the processing facility and stay in their incredible summer castle (yes, not a house...a castle). It was a trip of a life time, I learned so much and will only use this rice to make risotto.
The best of the best restaurants use this rice for a reason. It's the best. Yes, it costs more per serving than commodity rice, because it's not commodity rice. Nobody wants a mushy risotto...