Last week Italy came to Manchester and I was there to enjoy every minute of it.
I was over the moon when I saw an email from the guys at Birra Moretti asking me to come sample some authentic Italian cuisine as part of the Birra Moretti Gran Tour. Amazing street food from the leading Italian street food vendors in the UK plus quality Italian beer to wash all that food down? Eeerm YES please!
They absolutely transformed the old Granada studios into an Italian street food market complete with olive trees, pizza ovens and ofcourse the smell of all that Italian food being cooked.
It felt like a warn sunny day in Naples – the sun was out and shining brightly in Manchester. I have lived in Manchester long enough to know that if the sun is out, you make the most of it! So I dragged everybody to the bar and grabbed some cold beer!
Beer in hand we went around sampling all that food! I like the way the specially selected street vendors represented the different regions of Italy serving up some very different food.
The first thing I noticed as I walked in was Pizza Pilgrims and I instantly knew this was going to be a good event! If you haven’t hear of Pizza Pilgrims, go check them out, they are my favourite pizza people in London. They do some amazing pizzas in their pizzeria in Soho but were only doing the Neapolitan Pizza Margherita at the event.
They of course brought an authentic wood fire oven to the event (as you do).
As you probably know, I have given up pizzas for the year (stupid I know!) so seeing them here was bitter sweet but I watched the guys dig into a simple margarita. I was more than tempted to give up my New Year’s resolution and dig into one of these beauties but resisted the temptation.
Pizzas devoured, we headed over to Sicily for some Sicilian Risotto Balls with Mozzarella courtesy of the Arancini Bros.
Biting into one of these balls was such an amazing experience. Traditional, authentic and full of melted gooey cheese. My idea of heaven! And my favourite dish of the night.
We also watched the guys at Gurmetti make their signature dish – the Torta Fritta which was absolutely fascinating but I think the moustache was probably what made me stay and watch him do his thing!
We grabbed a plate complete with their famous charcuterie sourced from a small farm outside Parma. It was delish! The translucent slices of authentic Italian meat were amazing! I could have easily had a few more plates.
But it was time to take a break from all that food. We had to pace ourselves, we didn’t want to burn out too quickly after all. So we grabbed a seat and chatted away as we sipped on a few more pints of Birra Moretti. This was turning out to be quite an epic Thursday night.
Rested and refreshed, we headed outside to the Forza Win stand who were serving up some Venetian inspired Porchetta. These guys were really popular and were operating on a first come first serve basis. Thankfully we put our names down when we were devouring those amazing pizzas at the very beginning, so we actually did get some of the porchetta when that beautiful piece of meat was ready! I know a lot of people who missed out unfortunately because they ‘sold out’.
The porchetta was beautifully done albeit a little too fatty for my liking but the simplicity of what these guys were serving up really worked!
Next we headed up north to the Cooking Cooks stand to try some Lombardy inspired food. Ravioli stuffed with Butternut Squash anyone?
The sight and smell of fresh pasta cooked right in front of us was enough to get us all queuing up in one straight line.
This was up there as one of my favourite dishes from the event – refreshingly different but still so authentically Italian. All that food was putting me in a slight food comma so I was happy to see Terrone and Co. brewing their speciality coffee in the corner. Trust me when i say that these guys definitely know their coffee – they even won a gold star at the UK Great Taste Awards in 2012. The shot of expresso was exactly what I needed to wake me up.
Brewed up, we were ready for some more food so we headed over to try out the street food at Pasta E Basta. How cool is that for a name?
The Roasted Gnocchi with Slow Braised Pork Shoulder was absolutely fab and I was really tempted to get a second plate but I wanted to save some space for some pudding so resisted the urge. Saying no to a second helping of the gnocchi here was not easy.
Thankfully pudding didn’t disappoint which of course was gelato! This was an Italian food festival after all.
The gelato courtesy of Gelupo was exactly what we needed to cleanse our palettes. I must admit I might have gone back for a few extra helpings. With flavours like Sicilian Pistachio and Cantaloupe Melon, who could say no to a helping of gelato.
That was all the food we could take for one evening. A few more beers in the warm Manchester sun and we called it quits.
The Moretti Gran Tour was absolutely fab. The variety of food on offer from some of the best Italian street food vendors in the country and all that Birra Moretti is enough to make any evening special. It definitely made our day.
The Moretti Gran Tour now heads to Factory 7 in Shoreditch from the 31st of July to the 3rd of August. So if you are in London this weekend, I would highly suggest paying a visit. For £10 you get as bottle of Birra Moretti alone with two plates of food, a coffee and a gelato. How is that for a good deal? Tickets here.
Pizza Pilgrims, Gurmetti, Arancini Bros and Gelupo. Enough said.