The best way to celebrate summer in London is to pop over to the Birra Moretti Gran Tour area in Hyde Park, as part of the British Summer Time festival.
Birra Moretti History
Birra Moretti was founded in 1859 in Udine, in the North-East of Italy (Friuli Venezia-Giulia region, where I am from). Luigi Moretti started his brewery when the region was still part of the Austro-Hungarian empire (you can read more on the Birra Moretti website).
As a beer brand, Moretti has broadened its horizons from one region to become one of the most loved beers in Italy and, since the 1990s, across Europe and the rest of the world. Birra Moretti is currently distributed in 40 countries worldwide including the UK, US and Japan.
In 1996 Birra Moretti was acquired by Heineken International.
In 2016 Moretti introduced “Le Regionali”, new brews inspired by Italian regions, notably Tuscany and Sicily. In 2017 the Regionali range expanded further with new flavours.
In Italy, the new 2017 Moretti brews are Alla Pugliese and Alla Lucana.
Moretti Gran Tour 2017
The Moretti Gran Tour 2017 brings the experience of Italian street food and Italian street parties (“sagre”) to London’s Hyde Park. This year Birra Moretti created an alfresco area with food stalls from Pizza Pilgrims, Arancini Brothers, The Cheese Wheel and Cheeky Italian. Also, Lina Stores provided some delicious antipasti for the Sommelier Experience where four types of Birra Moretti brews were paired with food.
Creative agency Space and PR agency Cow PR helped put together the event and provided the outreach strategy to connect the Moretti brand with influencers and consumers. To make the event even more memorable, two types of experiences were available to a selected number of influencers and media representatives: the Sensory Experience and the Sommelier Experience.
Moretti Sensory Experience
Ever tried sipping on a beer while blindfolded and fondling a fluffy rug? (Please take your mind away from the gutter!). The way we savour beer can change according to the environment we are in and any sensory stimulation we receive, be it olfactory, visual, auditory, or tactile. For example, if we are sipping a beer in a noisy and crowded environment we may not pick up on the entire flavour profile of our brew, as we are too distracted. On the other hand, if we are relaxed and can take our time to sip our beer without any care in the world, we can inhale its aroma and appreciate its quality.
A group of us walked through four different themed rooms to represent the regional flavours of Moretti.
We started sampling Moretti Alla Siciliana, with its fresh citrus aroma. We got to identify our favourite flavour combination to create a custom-prepared arancino (risotto ball) that we got to eat with our beer later on. I chose truffle, mushrooms and roasted garlic, which was divine.
Some of us are more sensitive to bitter flavours (myself included) and our taste buds were put to the test with three different types of molecular food representing green notes, earthy notes and fruity notes.
Moretti Alla Toscana brought us to Tuscany and it prompted us to explore our sense of touch. Wearing a blindfold, we were asked to sip our beer while stroking a rough surface first, then a smooth one. Generally speaking, the contrast of touching a rough surface would bring out the bitterness of the beer more, while in my case it brought out its sweetness and I was getting some mild cinnamon hints.
Moretti La Rossa took us to Emilia Romagna where we sampled a marron glace with our strong double roasted malt beer. Malt is the result of germinating barley, followed by dehydration. Malt is then roasted to varying degrees to achieve different types of flavour intensity.
We finished the Sensory Experience with the traditional L’Autentica beer, the original Birra Moretti recipe from Udine and we got to pair it with the arancino we ordered to be custom-prepared earlier. I was really impressed with the quick turnaround, by the way! Kudos to Arancini Brothers.
Moretti Sommelier Experience
The learning and appreciation of the Birra Moretti range continued with the Sommelier Experience. Small groups of people got the opportunity to find out how to pair four types of Birra Moretti with food. Pairing beer and food is still relatively new and it was worth learning about it.
Moretti Alla Toscana
Alla Toscana is a 5.5% alcohol hops beer with a slight sweetness and nuttiness, which goes well with cured meats. The carbonation cuts through the fattiness of meat to balance the flavour.
L’Autentica is a 4.6% alcohol malt lager that is a great accompaniment to mains like pasta and pizza.
Moretti Alla Siciliana
Alla Siciliana is 5.8% alcohol and has a lovely summery citrus flavour, with aromatic notes of orange blossom. The recommended food pairing is oil-preserved vegetables (artichokes, sundried tomatoes) and olives. It also goes well with seafood.
Moretti La Rossa
La Rossa has an alcohol content of 7.2%, so it’s the strongest and most intense beer from the Moretti range. It’s a dark lager that should be treated like a fine wine. The double roast malt flavour goes well with rib-eye steak and cheese.
The carbonation in beer helps to cut through the fattiness of cheese and strong-flavoured meats.
Life Goals/Bucket List: Baking Pizza with James from Pizza Pilgrims
I’ve already climbed Machu Picchu and partied at Rio de Janeiro Carnival, so my bucket list is getting smaller. Now I can cross off my list baking pizza with the legendary James of Pizza Pilgrims. The Pizza Pilgrims stand at Moretti Gran Tour had its signature van/oven and later in the day the queue for freshly baked pizza was going on for miles.
James Eliott and his brother Thom founded Pizza Pilgrims in 2012, after touring (or, rather, a pilgrimage across) Italy in a van learning about pizza. If you haven’t watched their Food Network series yet you definitely should. Pizza Pilgrims started with one venue in Dean Street, Soho, and now has 7 London pizzerias.
I got to bake my own pizza in one of their customised wood fired ovens inside an Ape Piaggio van and I can safely say it has been one of the best experiences of my life.
James patiently explained to me how to stretch pizza and how to delicately land it inside the oven. Compared to my homemade pizza dough, Pizza Pilgrims’ dough is super-elastic and I even managed not to pierce it while stretching it by hand, rolling it over my knuckles.
After a quick bake in the oven, the pizza was ready within a couple of minutes. Crunchy, savoury and fragrant, it was probably the most satisfying pizza I’ve ever had.
I must say a huge thank you to Birra Moretti for making all this happen (and thanks to Grace at Cow PR for taking the pictures while I was preparing the pizza!).
Birra Moretti Gran Tour 2017 Video
All pictures and video by Paola Bassanese