Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Quebec (inc. Montreal) >
Sep 1, 2009 08:30 PM

ISO Farro in Montreal

I'm on the hunt for farro, which I understand is an old wheat type, also called emmer wheat. It looks like this;
It's used in Italy a bit like rice or barley, for risottos, stews, etc. I watched Giada de L. turn it into a cheesy risotto a while ago, and she raved and raved about it (naturally). Problem is, I can't find it anywhere!!

I went to Milano, figuring that they would have it for sure... nope. I spoke to at least 3 employees, 2 which had no idea what I was talking about, and this nice older guy who told me Farro stands for spelt in Italian, and said it doesn't refer to a specific grain /pasta and brought me to the pasta shelves, where I saw a bunch of boxes of farro made pasta, indeed. No at all what I'm looking for.

So, would anyone know where I could find this, or how it would be called here?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. While there's some debate as to whether farro and spelt (spelta in Italian, épeautre in French) are the same thing, as far as I'm concerned, if they aren't, they're so close it doesn't matter. Spelt can be found in several stores around town. If memory serves, my current supply comes from Gourmet Laurier. You could also check the larger health foods stores like Rachelle-Bery and Tau. In Little Italy/JTM, ask at La Dépense, the bulk foods store just east of Le marché des saveurs or maybe Anatol on St-Laurent.

    1. That is very odd, as I've definitely bought farro at Milano (believe it is a soft kind of spelt: I've cooked regular spelt, and it takes forever to cook and remains a bit indigestable). I mean the berries or grains, not the pasta - I've bought the latter at Milano and at Capitol at the market. The farro is sold near the southern (Dante) end of the store, not with the pasta. It is an area where they sell polenta, breadsticks and other assorted stuff, just north of the southernmost part where there is mostly tinned food and jars of tomato products. Perhaps they are out of it now, but they usually carry it. I've also seen it at Baia dei formaggi, the Italian cheese and other products shop right next to métro Fabre on Jean-Talon east, just west of Papineau.

      1. Heidi Swanson, in her cookbook Super Natural Cooking talks about farro, and includes it in some of her recipes. She also features it on her blog: (good description with link to recipes).

        I found a box of so-called farro at National Foods (in Westmount) last week. Haven't tried using it yet.

        1. I went to Milano this morning to check (I live very close by and was running errands). They do have farro grains: a 500g box that is $5.49 and Rustichella d'Abruzzo (organic) that is more expensive, didn't note the price. They also sell farro flour form Italy, though personally I see no advantage over normal spelt (épeautre) if it is milled into flour. I checked at Anatol too, but he was telling me it is the same thing as spelt - it is definitely the same species or a closely-related one, but I think either they are different varieties or processed differently - this just from experience cooking them. The 500-gram box is "semibrillato", meaning some of the hull is milled off.

          NYTimes article on farro vs spelt:

          Spelt grains at Anatol are about half the price of the boxed farro at Milano. I didn't check at La Dépense.

          carswell, I take it you have not had any problem cooking regular spelt? Lorie, thanks for the link.

          1. Grazie mille everyone for your replies, I'll give it another try and visit the stores you mentioned, now with the confidence of knowing it's out there! But after reading the NY times article, I'll avoid spelt and make sure it says farro :-)

            2 Replies
            1. re: Chocolatine

              Pretty sure I've seen it at Marché Latina on St-Viateur too. Very nice with lots of olive oil and parmesan on top.

              1. re: Plateaumaman

                Indeed, I picked up a box at Latina this week-end, after the CH brunch at Sparrow's. 4.99$ I believe, for 500g. It said "semi brillato" on it, so this seems right ! I was surprised that the nutritional value for fiber was a big fat zero (?), considering it's a grain, but I took it anyways.