Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Wine and Food of the Giro 2018 Stage 10: Penne to Gualdo Tadino

Where are we?
Penne: Starting the day in Abruzzo. Wikipedia tells me that "The economy of Penne is driven mainly by tourism, agriculture, the regional hospital and Brioni, the Italian fashion house whose suits are still hand sewn by Pennese women."
Giro regional specialties: Fresh pasta; Arrosticini, Pecorino di Farindola.

Gualdo Tadino is in the in the Perugia in northeastern Umbria, in the Apennines. Wikipedia tells me that: The city was famous in the Middle Ages for the manufacture of ceramic ware; in the late 20th century, the ceramic industry was revived, and Gualdo is now an important center for the manufacture of industrial ceramics and bathroom fittings.
Giro regional specialties:  Legumes soups (especially grass-pea), Strangozzi al tartufo (fresh pasta with truffle sauce); char-grilled meat; polenta; Brisciarello (pot pie filled with silene vulgaris), “Cultivar di Rigali” extra-virgin olive oil, pork cured charcuterie, craft beers.

The stage: The longest stage of the race today. The big news of the early part of the stage was that Chaves was well off the back. Unclear exactly what happened, but it may be an allergy issue.
The break of the day:

Further along:

That breakaway gap would be caught fairly early on. 

Poor Chaves:

Eventually, the Chaves group would cease chasing. Clearly, no more questions over the team lead role. Fifty kilometers to go and the solo rider Frapporti had almost three riders over the pink jersey group. Eurosport really, really wants us to know that Sam Bennett is in that pink jersey group, strongly tipping him for the stage. Under forty kilometers to go and it was time for attacks from that pink jersey group, in particular Mohoric and Villella. They would catch Frapporti and pass Frapporti. With thirty kilometers to go, they had about thirty seconds.
Mohoric would take the lead on the wet descent.


Behind, Dumoulin bike change. If anyone could time trial back to the bunch, it would be Dumoulin.
Ahead the trio of Denz, Mohoric and Villella were gaining ground, with more than a minute of a gap. Somewhere in the middle Henao and DeMarchi.

Seven kilometers to go and the gap was still over one minute for Denz and Mohoric. Four kilometers to go and it was 50 seconds. Mohoric had looked stronger and he would hold on for the win. Nice sprint from him to hold off Denz.


The wine: La Quercia Colline Teraman Montepulciano d' Abruzzo 
La Quercia is a small winery stretching for about 12 hectares in vineyards and 3 in olive tree groves. It also has oenological plants for 400 square meters, with a productive capacity of around 4000 hl of wine. The activity of the company is eager to respect nature and environment in order to attain good and healthy products.

Cherries and blackberries. Very easy drinking. 

The food Arrosticini, though I admit this is a recipe I will never try, given my lamb allergy. But this mention in Food Wine makes me think that everyone else should try it:
Arrosticini and their meaty goodness remain off many people’s radars, likely because they come from Abruzzo, one of the biggest regions of Italy that the fewest people know about. Apart from its eastern Adriatic coastline, which is more metropolitan, Abruzzo is a region of undomesticated hills and mountains about an hour northeast of Rome. With a third of its land set aside for parks and preserves, it has the honor of being the “greenest region of Europe,” and its cuisine reflects that with mountain food like lentils, gnocchi, lamb ragΓΉ, and other various sheep products. The most popular of those sheep products? Arrosticini.
Especially popular during the festive summer months, when people stay outside chit-chatting and noshing till the early morning, arrosticini are skinny kebabs made from castrato, the meat of castrated sheep (it’s significantly better than it sounds), and grilled on a fornacella, an elongated, charcoal-fired brazier purpose-built to fit the skewers. The width of the grills varies—you can buy them as small as three-feet wide and as big as twenty—but the depth of the grills is always 4 inches—the length of the meat on the skewer. This allows the skewer to rest on top of the metal and the slightly gamey meat of the castrato to hang directly over the coals. If the contraption were bigger, the skewers wouldn’t fit; if it were smaller, the meat would get stuck to the metal.
Making arrosticini is easy if you have the right gadgets. You need the grill, charcoal, some fire starters, and, believe it or not, a hair dryer. To start, you spread the coals on the bottom of the fornacella, throw in a couple fire starters, and set the whole thing smoldering. This is where you need the hair dryer. If you don’t fan the flames pretty consistently for the next ten minutes, the fire will go out and the coals won’t get hot—so to make life easier, people use hair dryers. You could also use a charcoal chimney, but that’s less fun. Once the coals have turned grey and are moderately hot (you don’t want them too hot, because they can scorch the skewers), you take about five arrosticini per hand and place them on the grill. Do not oil or salt them beforehand.
Once they’re on the grill, you can pick up your glass of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (not to be confused with the more expensive Tuscan Montepulciano) and talk to your friends. Just make sure the fire doesn’t get out of hand when the cubes of castrato fat start to render. The skewers can easily catch on fire, break, and fall into the grill—which is one of the ways to mess up arrosticini. The other way to mess them up is to under or overcook them. Unlike with lamb chops, you don’t want them to be pink in the middle. The goal is to get a nice char on the outside, so you want to leave them on for a few minutes. When the underside looks a little bit charred, flip them all at once and wait another few minutes. Then, right before taking them off, toss some salt on them.

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