The Moretti Gran Tour is unlike any other pop up dining experience I’ve been to recently, as it solely focuses on the best of Italian food and beer, from various regions around the country. The London part of the tour was held last week at Space Studios in Hackney.
For some unknown reason, the event venue, street number and postcode gave three completely different locations in Hackney and after 40 minutes of walking and getting lost, I eventually found it – I’ve never wanted an ice cold beer more! Upon arrival I was given a cute ‘passport’ with details on Moretti beer and all of the vendors at the event – each vendor stamped your passport when you bought food from them, and if you completed the passport, you went away with a goody bag!
Moretti is a lovely refreshing Italian beer, with a long history. Luigi Moretti’s ‘beer and ice factory’ was founded more than a century ago in Udine – the first bottle was sold in the summer of 1860.
Today Birra Morretti is exported to over 40 countries around the world, including the United States, Canada and Japan and has won major international awards. For instance, in 2006, Birra Moretti was the only Italian brand to have been awarded both gold and silver medals at the World Beer Cup, the most important international competition in the industry.
I was lucky enough to chat to the organisers from Moretti, who explained the importance of choosing the other vendors at the event. They all needed to have a genuine Italian connection and to understand and embrace the culture. I was interested to learn that the vendors at the three locations on the tour (Edinburgh, London and Leeds) are different, as they work with local Italian businesses. In Edinburgh, for example, it was also a great opportunity for the vendors to meet other like-minded Italian food businesses operating in Scotland, that might not have otherwise had the chance to.
Armed with my passport, I set about trying some of the food, but after a few delicious dishes and beer, I was already full! Even more of an excuse to go and visit the vendors on their ‘home turf’ around London 😉 The vendors were as follows:
About: This is a business run by two brothers, Edoardo and Michele Mortari, who moved to the UK in 2005, creating a restaurant/coffee shop environment. They now have two sites in London.
Signature Dish: Paletta Romana, a crunchy white pizza base with fior di latte mozzarella, creamy potatoes, peppery pork sausage and fresh rosemary.
Name: Forza Win
About: Bash Redford’s Peckham based business serves delicious food from well sourced produce in communal dining and interesting spaces. The guys working on the stand were incredibly helpful and friendly, and I can’t wait to visit them in Peckham!
Signature Dish: Venetian inspired Porchetta – a rolled shoulder of yearling pig, marinated for three days in white wine, fennel, salt, pepper and olive oil, then cooked over wood for a crisp outside and tender inside. Served on a sourdough roll with salsa verde.
Name: Arancini Bros
About: The Arancini brothers were originally part of Melbourne’s vibrant Italian ex-pat community but come over to London and now have a number of sites selling their risotto ball products.
Signature Dish: a Sicilian crispy, fried risotto ball filled with cheddar, mozzarella, fresh parsley and lemon.
Name: Pasta E Basta
Origin: Valle d’Aosta
About: Fabrizio started the business after 8 years of working in London’s busiest kitchens, bringing fresh Italian food to London’s streets.
Signature Dish: Roasted beetroot gnocchi with a creamy Gorgonzola sauce, toasted hazelnuts and wild rocket.
Origin: Emilia Romagna
About: Wop delivers the finest dishes using local ingredients from their farms around Parma.
Signature Dish: Torta Fritta – a crispy fried dough served with guanciale, Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar reduction.
Name: The Seriously Italian Company
Origin: Friuli Venezia Ciulia
About: This business was formed in 2008 when owners Giovanni and Natasha lost their jobs during the recession. It started out at local farmers markets and set out to produce top Italian tasting foods using local flour from the UK.
Signature Dish: Handmade roasted beetroot ravioli with Somerset artisan butter, poppy seeds and smoked ricotta.
About: They produce authentic Italian ice cream, with ingredients mostly sourced from Italy, with every batch churned out in traditional Cattabriga machines.
I also got to attend an Italian Masterclass hosted by Chef Luke Robinson of Cin Cin.
The class was already fully booked but I was happy enough watching and snapping away. Everyone was in pairs, and it was quite amusing to watch how the couples/friends coped under cooking pressure 😉
Luke taught everyone how to make fresh pasta stuffed with burrata. I’ve made gluten-free ravioli before (I’m due to post about this very soon), but I’ve never made it using a proper pasta roller. It looked to be a very fiddly process, although he made it look easy 😉
It was such a lovely evening in a great venue – incredibly chilled out, but still felt very sociable. I also loved the layout and decor – although it was very clearly in a cool East London venue, it had been made to feel rustic and Italian through the decor.
The tour moves on to Leeds next, very close to where I’m originally from, and I’d love to be there if it wasn’t the weekend we’re officially moving into our house. It’s being held at the Town Hall, (which is a really interesting venue choice!) from Thursday 30th July – Saturday 1st August. For tickets and more info, visit the site here. If you get a chance to go, let me know what you thought of it in the comments below.
And if you’d like to try out Moretti beer (I’d highly recommend it!), it’s available to buy from most major supermarkets.
I was invited to review the Moretti Gran Tour by Moretti Beer and Cow PR but did not receive any payment. All views are my own.