Sunday, June 2, 2019

Wine and Food of the Giro 2019: Stage 21

Where are we? VERONA: The sweet loops of the Adige, that flows through the city, and the low hills surrounding it at the northern side contribute to creating an harmoniously beautiful landscape.
GASTRONOMY: Verona has a rich food culture, heritage of its thousand-year old local agriculture and plenty of DOP raw materials. The most typical main dishes of the city are: pasta e fasoi, bigoli con le sarde,  gnocchi and nodini di Valeggio. 
The rice, grown in the lowlands of Verona, is the basic ingredient of many dishes: risotto al radicchio and Amarone wine, riso al tastasal or with peas. Among the typical second courses it is worth mentioning: pastisada de caval and bollito with pearà (a typical sauce of Verona used to accompany meat).
Regarding the desserts, in addition to the famous pandoro, there are others which are typcal of the local cuisine: Nadalin, crostoli and the fritole of Carnival. Rich is also the production of cheese and  sausages. The Monte Veronese is certainly the most important, but there are many other type of cheese produced in the malghe della Lessinia (mountain huts), as well as typical cold cuts, like the soppressa all’aglio. Last but not least the production of oil, from Garda lake to Valpolicella: both productions are certified DOP 

The stage: And this is how the race ends, with a time trial around Verona. The stage should not be long enough for major changes, but you never know.
Our early leaders:


Ciccone safely through, the winner of the our King of the Mountain competition.


Our final rider of the day:


Ahead, Roglic in at 9th. Would he end up back on the podium? He would need 24 seconds over Landa. And, yes, with Landa in, Roglic had gotten back on the third step of the podium.
Nibali in at 22:30. His second spot was confirmed. Meanwhile on the hot seat, Chad Haga has realized that he would be the stage winner. Bravo!
Carapaz in, with a slower time than Nibali, but he had a large enough gap going in to take the race. Congratulations to him.

The stage:


The race

1Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar Team90:01:47 
2Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:01:05 
3Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma0:02:30 
4Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team0:02:38 
5Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo0:05:43 
6Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe0:06:56 
7Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team0:07:26 
8Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott0:07:49 
9Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Team Ineos0:08:56 
10Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin0:12:14 
11Hugh John Carthy (GBr) EF Education First0:16:36 
12Joe Dombrowski (USA) EF Education First0:20:12 
13Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ0:21:59 
14Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe0:22:38 
15Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates  
16Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo0:27:19 
17Mikel Nieve (Spa) Mitchelton-Scott0:27:46 
18Tanel Kangert (Est) EF Education First0:30:11 
19Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:33:40 
20Fausto Masnada (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec0:34:52

The wine: Pra Valpolicella Morandina
From the importer: The Prà winery, although only started in the early 1980’s, has come to be not only one of the top producers in the Soave appellation, but also one of the most important and visionary white wine makers in all of Italy (now expanding into red wine as well)! The winery is run by Graziano Prà, whose family owned their vineyards for generations but never commercialized the wines in bottles. The vineyards are situated in the heart of the appellation, in Monteforte D’Alpone. Besides Soave, the winery also produces Valpolicella and Amarone from a vineyard that he purchased and planted in 2001, and whose truly remarkable results are only now being discovered.
The Prà holdings consist of 30 HA in Soave and 7 HA in Valpolicella. Graziano was always a big believer in natural viticulture and its positive effect on the wines and has farmed organically since the outset. he is now getting his “official” certification in Soave (in transition as of 2018), and the Valpolicella estate is already fully certified. All grapes are harvested by hand both in Soave and Valpolicella.
The terroir in Monteforte d’Alpone in Soave features classic, very black, volcanic soils which help to impart an underlying power and minerality to the wines. As Ian D’Agata of Vinous points out, “Prà is especially adept at ensuring the wines also showcase a remarkable degree of finesse.”  Much of the plantings were done in the late 70’s, so the average vine age is quite high, especially for the region. Additionally, Graziano was one of the first to see the higher potential of certain sub-parcels in the appellation – for both complexity and ageability – and began producing vineyard-designated wines in Soave early on before it became popular in the region among the better producers. His single-parcel,  Monte Grande, in fact was first produced in 1988, and he has since added two other special “Garganega Selection” Soaves, Staforte and Colle Sant’Antonio, each with its own unique formula both in the vineyards and the cellar.

The food: Pandoro

500g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
5g salt
125g caster sugar
10g dried active yeast
finely grated zest of 1 orange
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
150g softened butter, plus extra for greasing
100ml warm milk
2 medium eggs,
2 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla paste

Grease a 500g pandoro mold with butter. Place the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the salt and caster sugar to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other side. Add the orange and lemon zest, softened butter, eggs, egg yolks, vanilla and milk. Start on a slow speed and mix together to form a wet sticky dough.
Increase the speed on the mixer and mix for 10 minutes. The dough should now be a thicker consistency and adhere to the dough hook. If the dough is dropping from the dough hook mix for a further 5 minutes or until the correct consistency is achieved.
Lightly dust a work surface with flour and gently knead the dough. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and leave to prove until doubled in size. This can take 4 hours, for best results leave overnight.
Tip the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and fold in on its self a few times to knock out the air. Shape into a ball and place in the prepared tin, gently pressing into the corners of the tin. Cover and leave to rise until it comes to the top of the tin, this can take 1 ½ - 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Uncover the pandoro and bake for 35 – 40 minutes. Insert a skewer and test to see the cake is cooked through.
Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then turn out and cool on a wire rack. Before serving, trim the base so it will sit flat on a serving plate and slice into thick horizontal slices. Rotate the slices and dust heavily with icing sugar.  

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Wine and Food of the Giro 2019 Stage 20

Where are we?  FELTRE is in the
south-western section of the Province of Belluno.

Perched on a hill, surrounded by high mountains, for centuries many roads have met at Feltre linking all the surrounding areas. VenetoInsider tells me that: As with Verona, its origins appear to lie with the Reti people who inhabited the Central Alps, though with the advent of the Romans its founding was claimed by them. Feltre is associated with a breathtaking natural setting, and lies in the sun-drenched valley of Valbelluna, to the east of the river Piave and at the foothills of the Dolomites and the Vette Feltrine: a magnificent location, also from a military view.
Moreover it is the largest populated area second only to the provincial capital. Following the domination of the Longobards, traces of whom remain in the names of the city's quarters, and the various families (from the Ezzelini to the Scaglieri), from 1404 the city became indissolubly linked to Venice for almost 400 years, demonstrating unshakeable faith and loyalty to the Republic. In 1509 and 1510 the armies of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian I ransacked the city in the League of Cambrai's war against Venice and its allies.
Notwithstanding the razing of the city - thus almost completely destroying the medieval face of the city - and the massacre of many of its inhabitants Feltre remained loyal to Venice; in gratitude for this she paid for the city's reconstruction. Thus was born a new Feltre, with elegant palaces, spectacular squares, porticoes and loggia which soon housed a wealthy merchant class. Accompanying this economic prosperity came cultural and artistic riches: the frescoed house-fronts bear witness to Feltre's fame as the 'painted city'.
The main street, Via Mezzaterra, is lined with typical Renaissance houses, with pointed roofs to protect against snow: the magnificent Piazza Maggiore which offers a splendid view of the castle remains, the church of San Rocco and the 16th century fountain of Tullio Lombardo. Via Lorenzo Luzzo, one of the streets leading off the piazza, and named after a celebrated local artist, continues the trial of Renaissance palazzi. The Museo Civico is also to be found here.

CROCE D'AUNE-MONTE AVENA The Croce d’Aune is a mountain pass in the Italian Dolomites, 1,015 metres (3,330 ft) above sea level, between Aune and Pedavena in Belluno Province

The stage: We've all been waiting for this one. The language is a bit dramatic, but the stage could live up to the hype. Speaking of the stage, the profile is daunting, to say the least.

On the road, a breakaway with Masnada at the front. The real focus though: the rapidly shrinking pink jersey group. With over 100 kilometers to go, there were only 13 remaining, though some of the favorites did have teammates out front in the breakaway group.
Just a little pressure for Nibali today:

Wow. Speaking of, Nibali clearly struggling around 117 kilometers to go. Ahead from the favorites group: Lopez, Landa and Carapaz. Next on the road: Nibali, Roglic and Sivakov. They were all not far from teammates up the road.
Up ahead, Masnada was heading solo to the Cima Coppi, otherwise known as the highest point in this year's race. As he started down, we had a preview of the narrow roads on this descent. Speaking of the descent, Nibali and Roglic made it back to the pink jersey group. That group was rapidly closing in on Masnada at the front.
100 kilometers to go and Masnada had just over a 30 second gap to the regrouped favorites group of 18.  First to reach him: Bilbao. Time, perhaps, for a little bit of a reset. The gc group contained:
Landa (MOV), Amador (MOV), Carapaz (MOV), Masnada (ANS), López (AST), Bilbao (AST), Cataldo (AST, Hirt (AST), Nibali (TBM), Caruso (TBM), Majka (BOH), Carthy (EF1), Kangert (EF1), Nieve (MTS), Gehereigzabher (TDD), Sivakov (INS), Dunbar (INS), Roglic (TJV), Zakarin (TKA), Hindley (SUN)
and Mollema (TFS). 

Surging to the front: Bilbao, Kangert, Nieve, Dunbar and Gehereigzabher.


68 kilometers to go and we had a front seven: 32 Bilbao (AST), Kangert (EF1), Madouas (GFC), Nieve (MTS), Gehereigzabher (TDD), Dunbar (INS), and Ciccone (TFS). Closing in on them was Capecchi, who would rejoin them eventually. The gc group was about three minutes behind.
My thoughts have turned towards the grupetto, somewhere way behind on these roads. Oh gruppetto cam, why have you remained just a dream?
Our gap:


Fifty kilometers to go and the gap was 2:57. An update on our friends out the back: Gap with 40km to go, 3:15. Meanwhile, the group of the backmarkers has just passed the GPM on the Passo Rolle, 26:10 behind. Ouch.
Under 30 kilometers to go and where were the attacks? It looked like everyone was waiting for the final climbs. 
Up front, the breakaway riders started to attack each other. 
The last climb of Giro!
Finally, movement from the gc group with Lopez the first to try. Time for the fun. Next to attack and getting a gap: Landa.
Spectator literally pushing Roglic up the road. 

Time for a very fast descent with Nibali at the front. Coming off his bike, Majka.
Catching Landa: Nibali and Carapaz.
Nibali chatting with Landa, perhaps asking for help in growing his lead over Roglic. Behind, Lopez off his bike. A fan on the road causing a huge problem making Lopez so angry he actually smacked him.
Once again, many small groups on the road with limited cameras means that we did not know where everyone is. Roglic, for example, had been invisible for a while.
Nibali continued to try, but Landa and Carapaz were glued to his wheel.
Just under two kilometers to go and another attack by Nibali. But Carapaz and Landa stayed with him.

Blilbao with the stage win!
How far behind were Roglic and the others. Roglic down 54 seconds. Lopez down 1:47.

The wine: Roccolo Grassi Soave La Broia
From the producer
Roccolo Grassi was established in 1996 by Bruno Sartori and his two children Marco and Francesca. The name refers to the estate’s most prized vineyard ‘Roccolo Grassi’. The family’s vision is to harvest quality grapes and to produce relatively low yields of outstanding wine. In total, the estate consists of 14 ha of vineyards farmed sustainably in the regions of Valpolicella and Soave.  

A wine featuring nice aromatic complexity, powerful, fine, enjoyable freshness and minerality. Mineral notes , white flowers, peach are perceived on the nose. In the mouth Soave La Broia is fresh, tasty, and white flowers and fruit are present yet again.
We aim to express at the best the origin of the grapes which grow on alluvial soil with high limestone content. Additionally, wood fermentation increases longevity and complexity.

The food:  Casunzei from Emiko Davies
Casunziei all’ampezzana Beet ravioli with poppyseed sauce
About 5 serves
A simple preparation where the quality of the beets is of utmost importance – they are what sing in this dish. Use fresh, firm beets, don’t even attempt to do this with canned, pre-cooked ones. For US measurements, take a look at my recipe on Food52.
  • 400 grams flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 700 grams of fresh beetroot (about 3 medium beets)
  • 250 grams of potato (about 2 small potatoes)
  • 2 peeled garlic cloves, whole
  • olive oil
  • pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 180 grams butter
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 80 grams Parmesan cheese or ricotta salata, grated
Make a pasta dough by combining flour with a pinch of salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour and crack the eggs into it. Add the olive oil and with a fork, begin to beat the eggs and oil together until creamy, then slowly begin incorporating the flour around it until it begins to get very thick. At this point you may like to start using your hands and work the dough until it is no longer sticky (add flour a bit at a time if you need to) and you have a ball that is smooth, elastic and bounces back if you push a finger into it. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and let rest at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare the filling. Clean and quarter the beets (I don’t bother peeling them, except for any hard bits) and place in a saucepan of cold water with the potatoes (clean but whole, skin on) and a pinch of salt. Bring the boil and cook until the vegetables are tender (depending on size, the potatoes may need to be removed a little earlier than the beets). Peel the potatoes while warm and mash until smooth. Puree the beets until smooth.
In a skillet, gently heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and add the whole garlic cloves. Over low-medium heat, add the beets and potatoes and cook about 10 minutes or until some of the water has evaporated from the vegetables and the mixture is thick and begins to bubble. Season with salt, pepper, cloves and nutmeg. Remove the garlic and set aside the mixture to cool completely. This can be done the day before.
Make the ravioli by rolling out half of the dough on a floured surface until it is thin enough to see your hand through the other side. Cut out rounds with a regular drinking glass or cookie cutter (approx 3-4 inches or 8-10cm in diameter) and place heaped teaspoons of filling in the centre of each round. Dip a finger in some cold water and trace the edge of the pasta round. Fold the round in half to create half-moon shapes and seal the edges firmly with your fingers. Set the ravioli aside, uncovered, on a lightly floured surface while you finish the rest.
Keep any pasta dough under a tea towel while you work and continue until all the pasta/filling is used up.
Cook ravioli in gently simmering salted water for a couple of minutes, or until they float. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on warm plates. Serve dribbled with melted butter, a scattering of poppy seeds and Parmesan cheese.