Friday, May 25, 2018

Wine and Food of the Giro 2018: Stage 19: Venaria Reale to Bardonecchia

Where are we? 
Venaria Reale: Time to visit a palace:
La Venaria Reale is a grandiose estate just outside Turin. In comprises 80,000 square meters of floor surface in the Reggia and 60 hectares of Gardens, adjacent to the 17th century ancient village of Venaria and the 3,000 fenced hectares of the Park of La Mandria. It is a natural and architectural masterpiece that was declared part of the World Heritage by UNESCO in 1997. It reopened to the public in 2007 after completing the EU’s largest cultural restoration project to date.
The monumental palace or Reggia boasts some of the finest examples of universal Baroque: the elegant Hall of Diana designed by Amedeo di Castellamonte, the solemn Great Gallery and the Church of St. Hubert, the imposing complex of the Juvarra Stables designed by Filippo Juvarra in the 18th century, the sumptuous decorations and the spectacular Fountain of the Stag in the Court of Honor and the spectacular Fountain of the Stag in the Court of Honor provide a unique setting for the Theater of History and Magnificence, the permanent display - almost 2,000 m long - devoted to the House of Savoy, that spans from the basement level to the piano nobile of the Reggia.

Giro regional specialties: Typical local appetizers, such as hand-chopped Fassona meat, Olivier salad, vitello tonnato, bell peppers and lingua in salsa verde (veal tongue with a parsley sauce), Bagna cauda, Agnolotti (with tomato sauce, truffle seasoning, or roasted meat sauce), boiled and wine-braised meats, Turineisa (meat-stuffed courgettes), breadsticks, chocolate (the world-famous Gianduiotto), Bonèt (pudding).

Bardonecchia: Bardonecchia is in the Valle di Susa in north west Piedmont on the border with France Another ski town! The Telegraph calls it: one of Italy’s best-kept secrets.

Giro regional specialties: Cabiettes (potato, nettle, onion and rye flour dumplings), Grisa (breadstick, bacon, broth, cheese and egg soup), Soupe Grasse (brown bread, onion, broth and cheese), Sarignà (roasted potatoes, sausage and lardo), Fricandò (beef stew with vegetables), Goffres (sweet or savoury waffles), Lustrè (juniper berry jam) and the Moncenisio blue cheeses, Seiras del Fen (ricotta wrapped in freshly cut hay).

 The stage: The day that many have had marked on their calendars since the route was announced.
Early on, a break:


First drama of the day: Fabio Aru, who many had hyped for the stage win, abandoned early on the stage. But the real drama on the stage was the site of Simon Yates dropping from the main peloton not even halfway up the Finestre climb. At 82 kilometers to go, he was already two minutes behind that main group containing most of the other top gc riders, which was dominated by the Sky riders at the front. Fifteen riders or so remain in that group.
Eighty kilometers to go and there went Froome. Could he ride eighty kilometers alone?

He was being chased by a group containing Dumoulin, Pinot, Lopez and Carapaz. Dumoulin was the virtual race leader and was doing most of the work. Could they catch Froome on the downhill?  Seventy kilometers to go and Froome had about forty seconds to Dumoulin. He needed a lot more time. Yates, meanwhile, was more than eight minutes back. There was a lot of road to go.
Eighty kilometers to go and Froome had about 1:30 over Dumoulin's group and 2:30 over Pozzovivo's. Yates was sixteen minutes back. Fifty kilometers to go and that gap was out to almost two minutes. Even for a non-Froome fan, this is thrilling.

Yikes, a moto crash in a tunnel, but everyone made it around safely. That was scary.
Thirty three kilometers to go and Froome had almost three minutes over Dumoulin and had moved into the virtual race lead.

A sign of how poorly things have really gone for Yates today: they have stopped even showing his deficit on the screen. For Froome, hard to believe that earlier in the race there were questions if he might head home early, especially given his crash during the prologue recon.

In non-Giro news:

Ten kilometers to go and Froome had 3:31.

Yikes. 5.8 kilometers to go and Dumoulin seemed to be struggling. Nice work by him to keep a steady pace. A reminder that Froome needs 2:49 over Dumoulin at the finish to be in pink, depending upon bonifications. Four kilometers to go and that gap to Froome was dropping. This may be close.

Really impressive riding from Dumoulin behind as the riders in his group continue to attack and he just paces himself.

Froome in. Time to watch the clock. And Dumoulin would not make it. Heading into another mountain stage tomorrow, Froome would be in pink. Wow. Who would have expected a solo attack from eighty kilometers out?


The wine:  Brovia, Langhe Freisa "La Villerina Secca", 2015
From the importer: In 1863 Giacinto Brovia founded the Brovia estate in the village of Castiglione Falletto, in the heart of the Barolo district. The family has been continually engaged in the growing of grapes and the production of wine since that time. The phylloxera plague, economic upheaval and two wars interrupted production for almost 30 years but, in 1953, two brothers, Giacinto and Raffaele, grandchildren of the founder, resumed full-scale wine production. Giacinto, a trained enologist, was (and still is) responsible for the production of the wine while Raffaele, a trained agronomist, supervised the vineyard work. Sadly, Raffaele passed away in 2011 but two of Giacinto’s daughters, Cristina and Elena, are now completely engaged as the fourth generation, in the affairs of this family-run estate. Marina, Giacinto’s wife and mother of their children, is a brilliant cook and provider of wise counsel, and Alex Sanchez, husband of Elena, has joined the family enterprise. For our part, Rosenthal Wine Merchant has worked in close collaboration with the Brovia family for several decades, having made our first purchases in the exceptional 1978 vintage.

Wow did I like this wine. I like freisa in general and this one was truly lovely. Also lovely, the company I shared it with. 

The food: Cheese time! Toma Cremosa di Pecora - Carletta

Named after the mother of the two brothers who now run and operate La Casera, this soft ripened sheep's milk cheese is truly an original. Produced in the area of Cuneo the texture is soft and delicate, and slightly elastic. Both the paste and the rind are stark white but the flavors give way to a delicate, more buttery flavor. Bites of the rind are a bit earthy but compliment the hints of mild sheepiness in the paste.

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