I am a lucky woman. Really, I am. I have my reasons and some of them are just too trite to list here. But I will happily share one of them with you, Dear Reader. I am married to The Risotto Man. It’s true, he has the apron to prove it.
When I mention risotto, I mean the real deal. Not the reheated from a box or microwaved as part of a frozen dinner imposter. Neither of those are risotto. I don’t say this because I am a food snob, although that may be debatable. I say this because it’s the truth. Repeat after me: risotto is made from arborio rice, but all arborio rice is not risotto. True, it seems simple. Unfortunately, it is a fact that seems to be lost on a lot of people. More unfortunately, far too many of them seem to work in restaurants.
I have rarely been happy to have ordered risotto at a restaurant. I can think of only two occasions in which I have not had buyer’s remorse. The first was love at first sight and the taste followed suit. Lidia’s in Kansas City. I ordered spring vegetable risotto special. It was vegetable heaven on a plate. Every vegetable, and there must have been at least fifteen, was perfectly prepared. The arborio had been cooked until it was just right and together, it was unbelievable. The second was at Cafe Brio in Berwick, Maine. The risotto with oven roasted cherry tomatoes was a revelation. I ate it on several different visits, and it was always fantastic.
On the other extreme, I have had far too many meals at other restaurants that were pitiful attempts to serve rice and call it risotto. In fact, there have been so many that I long ago promised myself to never again suffer through pathetic risotto. I enacted what I refer to as The Risotto Rule. I don’t order risotto in restaurants. Ever. I eat my risotto at home. I have to. I no longer live in Kansas City and a journey of over 1,400 miles seems like a bit much ever to me. Sadly, Cafe Brio closed several years ago so that isn’t an option. I will eat my risotto at the table in the 1840 Farm kitchen. It’s no wonder I love The Risotto Man.
Risotto of the authentic variety, I believe is a masterpiece. Like so many of the truly great things in life, it doesn’t come easy. It requires precision. It requires patience. It cannot be hurried. Corners cannot be cut, shortcuts do not exist. The risotto pot cannot be ignored. It requires your undivided attention for the better part of an hour. Forget checking your Facebook page, sending an Email or answering that knock at the front door. While you are making risotto, you are only making risotto. My husband has mastered making risotto while drinking a glass of red wine, but he is, after all, The Risotto Man.
The Risotto Man makes many varieties of risotto here at 1840 Farm. Roasted tomato is a delicious treat in the summer when our heirloom tomato crop is going strong and we are beginning to be at a loss for ways to prepare them. Pumpkin sage risotto is a wonderful way to usher in fall’s cooler temperatures. Sometimes, The Risotto Man tinkers and develops a new variety, I love them all, but there can only be one family favorite: mushroom risotto. It is his specialty. It is perfection.
Some people get excited when the one they love brings them a bouquet of flowers or a little blue box from Tiffany’s. I get excited when my husband puts risotto on our dinner menu. Yes, flowers and jewelry can be a nice reminder that someone loves you, but I don’t need them. When I see risotto on my dinner plate, I just know. Eat your heart out Lois Lane.