Yesterday saw the launch of the London leg of the Birra Moretti Gran Tour – an authentic Italian food journey that brings 7 different street food vendors showcasing their twists regional specialities together with Birra Moretti. The London part of the tour is housed in the trendy, relaxed, semi-open Courtyard of Space Studios on Mare Street, Hackney. We popped on down to have a look and sample the carbo-loaded wares.
Once we got to the space, we were presented with our very own Moretti Gran Tour passports, which were filled with information about every food stop on tour of Italy we were about to embark on. We were then able to wander up to any of the stalls, ask for a serving and get a stamp in return. This fun little tactic not only made us feel a bit like a kid collecting stickers, but came with the added bonus of a goodie bag if your stomach was able to handle all 7 tasty dishes.
We started our journey with Wop, a food truck where a delightfully moustachioed man made a crispy fried dough torta fritta in front of us and finished it with guanciale (cured pork cheek from Parma), freshly sliced, creamy parmesan cheese, and a balsamic vinegar reduction. Piping hot and deeply moreish, this was a fantastic start to the evening, with the sweetness of the ham and balsamic balancing well, as the fat from the cheese and meat coated the tongue, staving off the first tickle from the Moretti bubbles.
Not wanting to miss a beat, we quickly moved onto the Pasta e Basta, where three jovial men offered us a choice between two types of handmade gnocchi: Roasted beetroot gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce, hazelnut and wild rocket, and Gnocchi with slow-cooked pork shoulder spezzatino. We went off their recommendation and sampled the meat option. The gnocchi was beautifully soft and the pork incredibly tender, however the sauce – whilst hearty – seemed to be missing something for us. No matter, we kept on going, moving onto the Aranchini Bros. who were serving up their take on the Sicilian fried risotto balls, filled with cheddar, mozzarella, fresh parsley and lemon, and served with mushroom pâté and slow-cooked tomato sauce. We were sadly incredibly disappointed by these as the rice was overcooked and the dish in its entirety rather flavourless.
However, our next destination – The Seriously Italian Company – did not disappoint. Given the choice between British Beef Lasagne, Beetroot Ravioli with butter, poppy seeds & parmigiano, Bigoli with sardine sauce and ‘mollica atturrata’ (a sort of crumb topping), and Casarecce with pistachio, pesto, courgettes and blossoms, we would undoubtedly recommend the ravioli. The classic lasagne is well done but – due to the freshness of the pasta and the fact that it has to be kept warm for hours on end – the sheets are a bit overcooked. The bigoli is fragrant with rustic seasoning but not to everyone’s taste. The beetroot ravioli is definitely the standout, with its sweetness and depth of flavour making us wish we had an entire bowl of it to ourselves.
We refresh our palates with an ice-cold pint of Moretti before continuing your taste exploration. The light taste with its subtle hopiness makes it a great beer to have alongside food as it doesn’t drown out any of the dishes’ flavours. Once we summon up the energy, we move on to vision that had drawn us in from the get-go – the rolled shoulder of yearling pig that sat over the flames at Forza Win. This Venetian-inspired porchetta had been marinated for three days in white win, fennel, salt, pepper and olive oil, before being cooked over wood, resulting in a crisp outer shell unclosing a tender, pinkish centre. We watched, drooling, as founder, Bash Redford, cut us chunks and lathered it with lemony salsa verde. The pork was so juicy and the multi-textural element added a whole new dimension to the dish.
We took a break from gorging ourselves to attend one of the Master Classes offered at the event where Chef Luke Robinson taught us how to make classic Raviolo with burrata cheese and tomatoes. He cheerfully educated us on Italian eggs and how chickens eating wild flowers made all the difference (who knew) before showing us how to roll out dough and create ravioli pockets. It was a light-hearted affair, which ended in us consuming even more (very tasty) food.
Stumbling out of the Cin Cin pop-up classroom, we made our way to the last savoury station and our favourite stall of the night – Arancina. It’s not often that you can say you’ve had pizza made out of the back of a car but after Moretti Gran Tour, we can. The Mortari brothers pushing out pizza after pizza from the oven-car – yes, that is a thing – all made with bases using four different types of flour, giving the pizzas an outlandishly good and original taste. The toppings of fior di latte mozzarella and peppery pork sausage were equally wonderful and, despite our very full stomach, we were tempted to ask for more.
Our reasoning got the better of us and we instead opted to finish off our tour with the last and only sweet stop. Gelupo offered authentic Italian gelato ranging in flavours from blood orange to pistachio, hazelnut & chocolate, cappuccino, and more. The blood orange sorbet was a welcome palate cleanser to end the “meal” with.
Moretti Gran Tour will be held at Space Studios from 15th-19th July, before moving onto its next stop. Details can be found here.
Vicky Ilankovan – Lifestyle Editor