We’re heading back to May 2012 when I was once more too busy with matters at the cycle club to just pop up the road and over the border for a few days to watch a couple of stages in the Giro d’Italia. I’ve since been fortunate to watch many stages though, of course, this year I’m once again reduced to watching it on the television.
It’s been the same story for the past three Giro’s (2009-11), I make plans to go and watch a stage and pressure of work, more specifically our clun sportive La Kivilev, means my plans are cancelled at the last moment. The Giro arrived into the Italian Riviera yesterday afternoon which for me always conjures up pictures of chic Italians in Riva boats. It looked so lovely on the television and I kept thinking, I should be there. My plan had been to watch yesterday’s stage finish into Sestri Levante and watch it depart today from Savonna. I would, of course, have taken my bike and had a bit of a ride around too.
However, as I’m once again responsible for providing a large proportion of the food for this evening’s BBQ for the Kivilev’s volunteers, my plans were snuffed out fairly early on. Next year, I keep telling myself, will be different. While I’m not doing anything overly complicated for this evening, it is acting as a dry run for next week. I’ve made the carrot and tabbouleh salads for the 40 attendees this evening which has given me a good idea of the time it’ll take to do the same next week, albeit for 175 bike racers. I had hoped to do a lot in advance however space is an issue, specifically space in the fridges. So most will have to be done the night before. Last year I recall that I stayed up all night cooking, I’m not expecting this year to be any different.
I’ve made a rich, crumbly almond cake to serve with my vinegar glazed strawberries this evening. Spanish strawberries are cheap at the moment and tasteless. I enrobe them in a balsamic vinegar caramel which really brings out the flavour. I’m not proposing to do this next week at La Kivilev, no they’ll be having spiced rice pudding and a piece of my (in)famous pain d’epice for dessert.
In addition to the cooking, I’ve also got to purchase all the food for this evening. We keep the BBQ simple: sausages and chicken. Fortunately, someone else has kindly offered to cook these. My beloved did it last year but he’s still in the UK and therefore unavailable this evening. Obviously having him absent does make my workload easier.
One of my biggest issues is trying to calculate who’ll turn up this evening. We’ve reckoned on 40. However, it’s less of an issue as whatever’s left over can happily be popped into the freezer. Though it’s rare that there’s much more than crumbs after these events. I’m constantly amazed at my clubmates’ ability to consume what is essentially free food. I’m beginning to suspect that they starve themselves beforehand so as to maximise the benefit. Most of them are only 60kg when wet!
I’m obviously a glutton for punishment as I’ve also offered to cook for the dozen or so volunteers next Friday when we set everything up for the following day’s event. In year’s past we’ve ordered salads and pizzas which take an age to arrive and are rarely appetizing. In the interests of economy, I’m going to prepare lunch for a fraction of the cost: a gi-normous potato tortilla with two different salads – coleslaw and tomato – followed by dessert. Haven’t yet decided what to do for dessert, probably some cake and cookies to have with coffee.
It might sound as if I’m having a bit of a moan but in truth I love cooking for and feeding large numbers of people. Indeed, I enjoy the logistical challenge and, as ever, it really is all about planning and preparation.