I love the event Taste, a gastronomic fair with quality food, wine and table products, held in the beautiful "Stazione Leopolda", ex-railway station, with off-site events at restaurants, shops and wine-bars throughout the city of Florence. 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, 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, balsamic in a salad.
-March 2009 link to article published in The Atlantic Magazine