When we think of Italy, we think of food.
When we think of riding, we think of carbo-loading.
It’s fair to say meals are on our mind a lot. So knowing that the Giro d’Italia is coming up we thought; why not ask those really in the know to share with us some of their most memorable Italian eating experiences?
We went to the best in the business – tour operators who not only have incredible knowledge and experience in Giro d’Italia holidays, but who have some of the tastiest stories going around.
Introducing Bill Gordin from Discovery Cycling Tours.
Once former Australian elite and masters champion cyclist Bill wins the lotto he plans to retire to Italy. But until those numbers are up, he’s more than happy to continue running cycling tours to Italy, which he’s been doing for some 12 years. Discovery Cycling Tours works to keep their incredible cycling holidays as affordable as possible, without forgoing all the unforgettable experiences you want from a European cycling tour.
Someone who ‘puts camaraderie ahead of competition and espresso ahead of elitism’ is going to know the best places to eat when abroad. And Bill sure does. His most memorable Italian dish has given cream the kick, and embraces what Italian food is all about – the simple pleasures of the dolce vita.
Here’s what Bill had to say.
“Stages 7 and 8 of the Giro d’Italia finish and start in a town called Fiuggi, which is a place to which I have taken a number of tours. It is a hidden gem for cyclists with quiet roads, rolling hills and of course Mount Lavito. I’m not sure what your experience with Spaghetti Carbonara is but mine is of a creamy gluggy mess of white sauce with spaghetti. But in ‘Il Piacere del Caffè’, a small restaurant in Fiuggi, I ordered a culinary experience to die for. It was in this restaurant that I learnt that Carbonara is a classic regional dish of the Lazio area, and is made with simple ingredients; pasta, pork fat, cheese and fresh eggs. At first the presentation made me think that I wasn’t getting what I had ordered; there was no creamy sauce and the pasta was sort of stacked up on the plate. I have to say it remains the best Carbonara I have ever tasted and I now cook Carbonara like this at home.”
Traditional Spaghetti alla Carbonara
This recipe serves 4 – 6 normal people, so maybe 2 cyclists
- 450g or so of dry spaghetti
- 4 fresh large eggs
- A couple of handfuls of pancetta diced (for correct amount basically go by your personal taste here)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (you can also use Grana Padano but it won’t have the same rich depth of taste and grainy texture)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino (this adds a great bite)
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- Sea salt
Put a pasta cooker of fresh water on the stove to boil. Once water starts to boil add generous pinch of sea salt and then add the spaghetti. Don’t add oil – this is a rookie error!
Cook for 8-10 minutes or until al dente (I test this by biting into a sample).
While the pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. You shouldn't need to add butter or oil. Instead just add the pancetta and sauté for few minutes, or until the meat has rendered its fat.
Turn off the heat.
In a small bowl whisk the eggs and the cheeses until well-combined.
When the pasta is done, reserve 1/2 cup of the water, then drain.
Return the pancetta pan to medium heat, and add half of the reserved pasta water to the pan. Toss in the spaghetti and quickly move the pan over the heat for a few seconds until the bubbling subsides. By this time a lot of the fluid will have evaporated.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the egg mixture, stirring quickly until the eggs thicken so that you avoid scrambling the eggs (which will naturally cook through the heat of the pasta).
If you want to dilute the sauce a bit, just take some of that pasta water and add it to the pan, stirring all the while.
Add seasoning, serve into bowls and devour with passion.