THE SBC CARB UP FOR THE 2018 GIRO D'ITALIA
Only the finest Grand Tours make it to 101 editions. That’s not to discredit the Vuelta or Northern Combines 3 Day Tour, you’ll get there in time – but the Giro d’Italia is something truly special on and off the road. Objectively, it’s the best Professional Grand Cycling Tour there is.
To celebrate this years running we partnered up with a few restaurants and eateries around Melbourne, and did a little home cooking as a shortcut to putting on that important and expected winter weight. To take it up a level, and to throwback to the “olden days” at the original Soup HQ, we’ve put together a special, promised-to-be-one off podcast slash radio show slash rant. It reviews the Giro to date, and predicts what’s going to go down during the business end. You’ll find that half baked piece of audio in the hot, tomato-ey centre of this gastronomical post.
Sure they compete in the Champions League and they recently won Eurovision, but Israel hosting the start, then the next few stages of the Giro would be the first time a grand tour left Europe. It also meant that the potential flav’s we would have dancing in our mouths first up would be brand new to us, not all that versed in Israeli cuisine.
Miznon doesn’t explicitly state that it's Israeli food – it does however hail from Tel Aviv. You’d probably recognise Jerusalem born Eyal Shani – the founder of the chain of eateries (there are 5 Miznon’s globally) from Israeli Masterchef fame. If not that’s all good, you’ll get up to speed with all 9 seasons soon, but the brilliant mix of Mediterranean street food combined with local culinary references whisk up something special for a quick pre-studio bite.
This place is almost full hole in the wall vibes, a little typical Melbourne, but opens up in a big way once you’re through the door. If you don’t go ass over tippy-toeing your way down the fresh concrete stairs, you’ll probably trip over one of the cauliflowers spread through the kitchen and halfway through being eaten at almost every table. We’re talking an unfathomable amount of cauliflowers. On this particular night were a little pushed for time, with all the shell companies that needed tending to back in Studio Cayman, so it was going to be a couple of Pita’s that would have to see us through til bed time.
We got sat up right at the bar, the staff taking kindly to 2001-02 Juventus jerseys. They’ve got personalities as bright and playful as the comic sans blessed menu’s. In the end it didn’t really matter what we ordered as the view into the kitchen was enough to second guess ourselves every few seconds. What we will recommend (to ourselves) is that we go back for some cauliflower action, a second or possibly third pita of all different flavs, and some sharing plates. A single pita on its own is more than enough, but if you’ve ever had to slave over the dark web hiding politicians bank records like we have to back at “The Quay” then you’ll know it’s hungry work.
II: BAR IDDA
After the pros were done riding their bicycles through deserts and craters and craters that were literal deserts, and after Elia Viviani was done at winning sprints – Sicily beckoned; a days rest required in between for that Mediterranean transfer. It would be rude of us not to celebrate the cuisine of the island without a visit to Melbourne’s very own Sicilian institution: Bar Idda.
Owner Alfredo La Spina invited us around on a week night to feast on the kind of food that probably inspired and led Vincenzo Nibali to professional cycling immortality. If not, it's certainly inspired by his parents' homeland thats for sure. It’s pure, and it's wholesome food with a proper homemade vibe to it all. Most of the time it’s served up in real home-y crockery; think ceramics inspired by North Africa and the Middle East. All the while we were sitting inside what really could have been a to scale model of Nibali’s house, a proper Sicilian home, plastic covers on tables and all, albeit packed out with fellow diners.
As if we were truly stepping back in time to early 1990’s Sicily we decided to shoot digital and stay rich by bumping the ISO to 51200, caused by either the Etna reds filling our glasses or by design. Shared portions of Mulinciani (baked and layered eggplant, passata, buffalo mozzarella, and plenty more) united everyone with its hearty flavours on a little bit of a cold night in Melbourne. The sharing vibe would continue into mains with cloud-like gnocchi and variations of pasta the particular vibe.
The dinners were also a good way to bring together the Soup crew and wider family as a chance to celebrate before our bodies and wallets turn to desolate shells due to Cyclocross season expenses. One of those such expenses was revealed in top secret – the 2018 Soup Bæs CX skin suit being revealed and passed around underneath the table just in case there were some spies about.
I can be your Angel 0:-) or I can be your devil >:-)
Cassatta and a few more glasses of those Etna reds rounded out our evening as the nights dinner service came to a close, the parkup situation right outside meaning it was a seamless transition from feed zone to cardio workout home.
III: SPAGHETTI ALLE VONGOLE
After an extended and very casual #ACCSBCKPW a few of us head to the Wollfff’s Lair for something of a send off lunch before Will and his wife Ebru head off to Europe for a handful of weeks.
Much of the discussion centred around “what the shit” they were going to do in Naples, other than hide in the accomodation, and discussing the finer points of booking Airbnb’s in some of Italy’s most popular cities. Offering his kitchen up for a lunch service, Will relaxed as Adrian got to work on the other side of the bench, cooking up some Campano vibes that he dare not tell his Nonna about.
Soon royalty would bestow it’s presence on The Lair, Jonesy rolling thru between sleeping in past the Knifepoint Wednesday ride, and the contemplation of heading to Altona to watch a crit race. In the end the pasta and the single beer it was cooked with would muddy the waters and lead us to nearly call an Uber Black to take him home.
As for the dish? Super simple shit. Chop some garlic, grab a bunch of parsley from the garden or your local fruttivendolo, a lil’ punnet of tomatoes, some proper good pasta (see: RdA) a Saison-y beer, or something with some light, but still wild flavs, and some seafood. This particular iteration does it's thing with pippis and mussels from the local monger.
The hard part is the cleaning really, after that smooth sailing. Give the shells a scrub, a rinse, possibly another scrub and another rinse. Sit them to the side and chop the garlic up and roll with that. Pasta boiling away in another pan, you cook the mussels and pippis in the beer, with the tomatoes and all the other good stuff. Add the parsley to wrap up. It’s quick, it’s easy and should only take you the same amount of time as drinking 2 San Pel tinnies mixed with a bit of chatting.
But what did the boys have to say?
272 Union Rd, Moonee Ponds
Would it be a true Giro d’Italia post if we didn’t include our very own little slice of Little Italy? The demise of the location known as “The Rev” on the Ascot Vale side of Union Rd coincided with the opening of Dolcelatte a few blocks north, technically in Moonee Ponds. Ever since the relocation, Paolo has been there slinging caffé lattes and serving up croissants, panini and piadine for the crew once we wrap up our weekly ride the ACCSBCKPW.
On Wednesday mornings the savoury options to start out day cover the top of the glass cabinet, while down below we are constantly tempted by a whole host of continental cakes and sweets. The offerings are that far and wide for such a humble neighbourhood spot that you’d almost be forgiven for thinking they all get made off site. Not the case. The cakes, tarts and best of all, the cannoli are made fresh under the same roof, custard and all. Sometimes you’ll need a bit of a sugar injection to get your ass to work on a Wednesday morning, while for some, the generous additions of pistachios, almonds and hazelnut can mean a lethal injection for some. Treat with great care, Dolcelatte has you covered.
Stages 10, 11 and 12 fucked in and around Le Marche, dancing its way along the eastern border shared with Umbria. The first two of this trilogy of stages were lumpy from start to finish, making the best of the surrounding Appenine mountains: not including any major climbs but certainly offering warm weather and a rollercoaster profile. With Marchigiani heritage, Marco Lori from Lupino – a wildly popular place despite their understated online presence invited us around for a midweek dinner and a chat.
He kicked things off for us with a few items both on and off the menu, making sure to Hail Mary a bowl of delicious Olive Ascolane onto our table. These stuffed then fried olives are wild enough to sway even the most militant of olive-haters, and follows a recipe that has been handed down through the matriarchs of Marco’s family. Simple but the perfect snack to kick off the night. Grab some big, pitted Cerignola olives, stuff them with a filling made of pork, chicken, breadcrumbs, parmigiano and vegetables like carrot and celery. Coat ‘em in a classic breadcrumb mix with some egg and pan fry.
Bless these little things.
Mains rolled through with a second round of shared appetisers. Baccala croquettes and arancini knocking socks off, while pasta dishes, risotto, pizza and crumbed veal with radicchio would probably deliver us some messed up cheese dreams later that night.
It was a few reds deep that Wilko began dropping straight up fire and truth – hinting at spoilers for future MCL endeavours, and bragging about how comfortable the Lululemon BMC tracksuits are (we’re jealous as all hell). But then like a steady progression of the expanding mind meme, things moved onto life lessons. Aaron’s mid-pizza brain left truly blown in the process, Wilko jetting off for a brief moment to suss the bar, which left Aaron nothing to do but ponder the world, universe and significance of every single life moment up to the exact minute.
Just like the night started, desserts rolled out with options from on and off the menu. The torrone semifredo and zeppole finished the night off well, suitable that we would end the meal with something spherical, filled (this time with custard) and fried, much like ourselves after 3 expansive and delicious courses.
He had welcomed us to our table at the start of the night before retreating back to the kitchen, but as the nights service slowly wound down, Marco came and took a break at our table for a bit of a chat. A keen cyclist he told us of his nice collection of bikes, Scott McGrory’s Mapei Colnago a highlight of said collection, and gave us a few details about his upcoming trip to Italy, one he does most years. A way to mix business with pleasure he’ll visit some of his Italian suppliers, and go riding with some friends. This year, a maiden ascent up the Colle Delle Finestre is going to be a highlight. To wrap up for the night he ventured back into the kitchen with Okky to grab the bikes from the ultra exclusive park up, and wished us well. We’ll definitely be back for them baccala croquettes.
VI: TRATTORIA EMILIA
This entire Giro di Gastronomia started with a visit to Trattoria Emilia. In typical Melbourne fashion it’s hidden deep down an alleyway off Little Collins just near the Galleria. Even though there was only the second half of Stage 12 into Imola, and the departure of Stage 13 from Ferrara heading due north, the food and the setting at Trattoria Emilia is that damn good that you can’t go past just one course.
Wave after wave of Peroni tinnies crashed in on our long table by the kitchen, accompanied by a few servings of Gnocco Fritto (HIGHLY recommended) and a salumi plate. The seasonal menu hits the spot, and the heartiness was just right for the sudden influx of colder evenings that we’d succumbed to. Tagliatelle and Tortelloni with typically regional sauce and accompaniments were table favs, and servings of chips were ordered again and again.
For all this this talk in the news recently about gangs in restaurants and people being afraid of going out to dinner, we can’t relate. Unless of course….we are…the gang(s).
VII: THE SBC AND VTWO PRESENT
Back in 2015, we had a little hand at celebrating the queen stage of the Giro d’Italia with our friends (then both in their infancies) at Admiral.cc and VTWO. We put together some little flyers for the event, rocked up in tracksuits, ate bananas, and took some pre’s as Fabio Aru took the win up to Sestriere on the penultimate stage. Celebrations of the Giro have largely been internal since, screening nights throughout May held at Soup HQ or one of the many Safe Houses around the neighbourhood, but now in 2018 we’re back to celebrate a little differently.
And so, first and foremost we give you this post. Secondly, this podcast. Possibly the most half baked, full cooked cycling podcast that will ever exist, it will lower the overall standard of cycling podcasts for the next 18 months, but add a new benchmark to the way cycling could potentially be discussed. The original plan was to have Alex, Adrian and special guest Wilko of VTWO and The Wilko Show to sit down and go through the race as it has unfolded, and look towards the last big hit out in the mountains as the GC battle dances on a knifes edge. Instead, at the eleventh hour Wilko was unfortunately unable to make it into the booth, leaving the two much less experienced podcasters to record their thoughts, and fall down a wormhole of shout outs, discussions into primary school life, and the blistering form of Elia Viviani. It’s very likely we’ll never make another podcast so long as we all shall live, so you might as well drop acid and take in the next 50 or so minutes of rather questionable cycling commentary, it will probably enhance your Zwift sessions beyond all belief.
VIII: NONNA'S BACCALA
A staple for easter in Australia and over in Italy, and a proper way to mark the start of the cooler months: Baccala. For once (kind of) the Giro would spend minimal time in Veneto, but the recipe for this very traditional dish takes the opposite. Its a long process, kind of laborious, but one that pays off at the end. The finish of Stage 13 would be just (5km) down the road from the home town of Adrian’s mum’s side of the family, blood relative Sacha Modolo of EF Cannondale unfortunately bottling the finish, although you can’t fully blame him considering the kind of form Elia Viviani is currently in.
The threat of a rolling pin means that theres no skimming on the recipe, Nonna going all out on the details, despite the fact she will kick you out of the kitchen once you’ve rinsed the fish. “Rinsed the fish?” You might ask? We’ll that’s the first challenge. Baccala is salted cod, thicc, veeeeery salty, and unless you know the spots, kind of hard to find. You can try Leo’s, but the recommended spots are obviously out west: Sim’s in Footscray, and Milleara Continental Deli. Once you’ve completed the first mission, all the other ingredients, enough ingredients to nearly cover a table are as follows:
1kg Baccala (skin on, boneless), extra virgin olive oil, butter, 1 onion (diced), 3 celery sticks (thinly sliced), 5 cloves of garlic (crushed), 1 bunch each of fresh sage, parsley and rosemary. 3 whole cloves, 2 fresh bay leaves, 1 cinnamon stick, 250ml vegetable stock, 3 glasses of dry white wine, 1 bottle of passatta or large tin of diced tomatoes, 500g polenta, 1 lemon and some basil.
NB: Once you've got all the ingredients, Nonna locks down the kitchen for the day.
Now the method. First up bash the fish. Yep, you’ve gotta bash it. Not until you hold the cod fillet and feel the sheer weight of the absolute unit will you understand. While bashing it, waterboard it. Let it rinse some of the salt out and soften up. Also ensure that the cod fillet you’ve got is freshly salted, not the whole fish and dried variety, otherwise you can enjoy boxing on with a big piece of seafood for almost a fortnight to get it softened up enough to eat.
Onion, celery and garlic, dice. Wash and finely chop all the herbs (minus basil). Slice the fish into pieces and place in a pot, cover with water (or milk) and bring to the boil for about 10 minutes, then drain.
In a different frypan add extra virgin olive oil and a little butter. Throw the diced vegetables in there and sauté for a few minutes. Then add the garlic and half the herbs, cook for a minute or so. Piece by piece add the fish to the pan and sauté until the fish changes colour. Add the white wine, let it cook off, then add the cloves, bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Slowly stir as you add the vegetable stock and passatta.
Once you’ve done all that, place a lid on the pan and cook over a very low heat for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally. Once it’s ready to go, season to taste with pepper, the salt from the fish should already be enough, and some more fresh herbs.
Multi-Generational Quality Control
For the polenta, fill a medium to large pot with hot water, add a good pinch of salt and bring it to the boil. Lower the heat and add a 500g packet of polenta evenly into the pot and continuously stir with a wooden spoon for 25 minutes. It should be smooth when it’s ready (not grainy). Add a knob of butter to the pot, and once the butter has melted, and the polenta pulls away from the sides of the pot you know it’s ready to serve. Give it one last whip around the pot, then serve it up on a wooden platter.
We chose to celebrate a cold, dark and very wet night in Melbourne with a bit of a launch-crawl, followed by dinner and beers at the Duke. First up was the Attaquer x Sydney Romantics launch at Incu in Flinders Ln, followed by the opening of our friend Josh’s first solo show in Melbourne: “Points of Contact”. A few of us rolled into Lello, formerly Yak Bar for a few rounds of pasta and a chance to discuss important Soup related business that was going down in the lead up to website relaunch.
Things kicked off with some fresh baked bread and top end olive oil, before we got extra saucy with Lello’s burrata and a bottle of San Felice Chianti Classico. Warmth. Discussion moved away from Soup related business and juxtaposed the food we were eating by touching on the 2 identical Volvo’s Riche had bought in the space of a fortnight, and the now possible pathways towards journey’s to the snow over the winter.
Distracted from the lasagna at the table across, Don demanded we place our order as the smell was starting to send him horny, so a round of both lasagna and ravioli were ordered, mixed in with a big Treviso salad smack bang in the middle of the table. The lasagna curbed frisky vibes, and the ravioli alla norma sent you into another round of deathly cheese dreams. The dessert menu was looking mighty fine, so we bode our time, downed some more wine and chinotto while we came down from the cheese high.
Dessert would see us ascend to the heavens, the first bite of the wild fennel ice-cream a truly divine and holy experience that sent Riche to the skies above. Aaaaaaa-men.
A couple of years back Adrian and Dean brought you the Ultimate Guide to Grand Tour Watching, specifically based around the Tour de France. In there was a super exclusive and highly satisfying home recipe for Italian Hot Chocolate, because they still make it better than the French. You can head there and check out details for the recipe, however if you’re looking for something much more convenient then Moretto Barbagliata might be a little more suited.
Remember that now irrational fear of quicksand you had while you were younger? This is essentially it, in a cup. Mix it with milk, probably suitable with dairy free milk too, it has the consistency of Greek coffee multiplied by about 6 or 7. As thick as Cipo’s legs, you’d do well to grab a spoon from the drawer on your way back to the TV or iPad. While it’s not too sweet, still drink it slowly so you don’t spend 2 hours trying to get to sleep after the race, and let the muddy goodness flow through your body like the ultimate hot water bottle.
If you look at the giro map, the transfer then final stage back into Roma is a perfect circle. Sure, if you zoom in enough you would discover that that is not actually the case, but it did inspire the final visit on our gastronomical Giro d’Italia journey. SPQR – Senātus Populusque Rōmānus (The Senate and People of Rome) is from the same gang that brings you a place like Lee Ho Fook. It’s down a small laneway that moonlights as a street, and with the exception of the sign above, it’s rather innocuous. Rolling up in tracksuits on a night where it was pouring down, we were ready for some real comfort vibes.
They don’t really fuck around with their offerings at SPQR, the do mean pizza. By the slice down front in the little glass cabinet, by the whole thing down the back. Graffiti covers the walls, they’ll constantly bring you Peroni red tins if you get on an immediate level, and you can vibe to the inhouse DJ that upon every visit over the last 6 months has absolutely nailed it (Soup Boys Bespoke). But there’s more to this place than just pizza, they’ve got some proper good yet simple sides, and the round of tiramisu’s handed over from their front of house DS hit the damn spot. The crew in there is a lot more fresh faced than you might expect of an ace CBD pizzeria, but the aforementioned DS up front is big on his jazz, so take care of him and he sure as shit will take care of you.