Isola della Scala Rice Fair 44th edition
Every year at Isola dell Scala just outside of Verona there is a famous Rice Fair. I’ve attended quite a few times over the years as it’s a great place for a rice lover to eat a good risotto with literally thousands of like minded individuals. There are two huge exposition areas totaling 130,000 sq. feet which are filled with tables down the middle. The sides are lined with stands where the rice producers prepare the famous risotto all’isolana, typical from Isola della Scala as well they sell their rice. Isola della Scala has been entitled “City of Rice”, thanks to the 350,000 dishes of risotto cooked and sold during the 27 days of the Fair.
Over the years the rice producers have been focusing on other products other than the rice itself which is gluten free. You can now find rice pasta, rice flour and rice flour ground to make polenta and many other new products. Pastry shops in Isola della Scala make their sweets with rice flour like sbrisolona, cookies, chocolate salame and puddings. If you go to the fair you’ll find all these products to taste and to purchase if you’re interested.
The main attraction of the fair though is risotto all’isolana and each chef has their own interpretation of this classic recipe. When I go to the fair I take a risotto from more than one stand to compare them and choose the best one. It’s surprising as the differences are more than you might expect.
This year there was also a stand that made risotti other then the typical ones of the area. They change the menu every two-three days, but you can check the menu in the fairs well updated program and decide when to go.
We decided to go for lunch to avoid the crowds and it was nice, but unfortunately only few rice producers were cooking and the stands selling products were closed. I suggest going in the evening if you want to find everything open, but not during the week-end as it’s too crowded. Anyway I did my comparison tests between two risotto all’Isolana. We also tried an interesting risotto with squash and bacon as well as a wonderful risotto with mushrooms. Of course this was way too much and I left with a tummy ache, but it was certainly worth it.
Risotto con zucca e pancetta “risotto with squash and bacon”