Travel/Food 2008 – Monza, Day 4

Sunday, 18th May 2008 – Monza, Day 4

We woke up on Sunday to find that it was still raining the proverbial cats and dogs. I didn’t even want to think about the likely state of the car parks, and anyway Lynne and I had every intention of staying put at the hotel for the morning, largely because the wifi access in the media office was €20 for the day (or €40 for the entire weekend), whereas the hotel was supplying it free of charge. There were reports to be sent and posts to be logged, so we decided we’d stay indoors in comfort till midday. I dropped Glyn (who had no choice and had to be there at 9.30 am) and Robert (who had a choice but was keen to see the GT3s) off at the circuit, then drove back to the hotel and stayed there till noon, writing, sorting and labelling…

By lunchtime the rain had eased off considerably, but I now knew about the area of concrete in the infield by the Parabolica so I aimed straight for that, then walked to the press office. We got set up then decided that as it was likely to be another long day, we might be well-advised to go and get some lunch. This time we took one look at the people trying to squeeze into the cafe and opted instead for the self-service restaurant on the outside of the track.

What I really want to know is why all circuits can’t have catering facilities as good as this, the Anzani Ristorante, just under the main grandstand? The only two in the UK that get close are Knockhill (Kinnairds was fabulous last time we were there, with fresh home-cooked food and some decent wine too), and Castle Combe (where the roasts are superb as is the pasta) but we don’t go to either of those circuits with F3.

For €21 I had lasagne with parmesan, a chunk of crusty ciabatta-style bread: I followed it up with fresh fruit salad:

And drank a litre of mineral water and 250cls white wine.

Robert had the risotto because there was no lasagne left by the time he joined us, and followed it up with apple cake.

It was all excellent value and very tasty indeed – and just what we needed to keep going through the afternoon.

We got another cracker of a race despite the odd weather conditions and this time I decided to do some podium photography. There was a red carpet on the podium that squelched underfoot almost as badly as the car park mud, and it was pretty quiet (about three other photographers and the TV crew), especially once we got to Matteo Chinosi, who won the Invitation Class – admittedly from a field of two! The team didn’t realise he’d be up there so they didn’t bother turning up to cheer, all the photographers and the TV crew disappeared, so that just left him, John Surtees who presented the trophy, the two grid girls, and me. It was a bit lonely as podiums go, but he did get kissed by both girls which seemed to cheer him up a bit!

Anyway, after that it took quite some time to get everything sorted out, especially as the race ended with a red flag after Seb Hohenthal got punted onto his helmet/rollbar by Oliver Turvey – it wasn’t malicious and looked like a racing incident to me, but they still spent a very long time with the Clerk of the Course, by which time I’d written the report but couldn’t send it until we got confirmation of the results and any protests/penalties. After that I was about to head back to the hotel when Kristjan Einar’s mum came dashing up to ask if I had any photos of her son on the podium. It was time to fire the laptop back up!

Kristjan came over and talked animatedly about all sorts of things while that was going on, and is proving to be just as good value for money as his team-mate Andy Meyrick (and no, Andy, apart from the weather, Monza does not resemble Croft in any way, shape or form, whatever you say)! In the end a handful of photos were selected and put up on Kristjan’s website, and we headed back to the hotel to shower, change and dive out for dinner for the last time on this trip.

This time we knew exactly where we were going. We were headed for Il Carretao, a Brazilian restaurant owned by the people who also own the Parco Hotel. It’s not quite Sabor do Brasil (which we miss badly even though we know Alberina was more than ready to retire), but it is just as wonderful in its own way. After a caipirinha that nearly took our legs from under us, and some solid little meatballs and some soft and almost fluffy cheese rolls, we knew what we wanted.

At least to a point. The starter buffet is full of so many wonderful things it’s hard to know where to start (and for that matter where to stop!) with two tables full of Italian and Brazilian food.

If you’ve opted to eat “Brazilian”-style then you get the full churrasco experience, where they bring out platefuls of rice, black beans, deep fried cassava chips, onion rings and fried bananas.

They then try to kill you with protein in the shape of skewer after skewer of exquisitely cooked meats, which they will happily carve onto your plate (or as I’ve also seen it described “A small army of waiters circle your table with every cut of beef, pork, and chicken imaginable on a meter long skewer, all of them hot from the grill. They serve you small slices or portions until you raise the white flag!”). We started with chicken and sausages and moved through pork, lamb, and the most wonderful beef (which arrived after we’d all announced we couldn’t eat another thing – and we all cracked and allowed the waiter to carve a slice onto our plates).

The only sensible option then was to finish off with the barbecued fresh pineapple, which cleared the palate beautifully.

Except that wasn’t what it was for. The waitress returned and talked us all into having puddings… or in my case, pudim (more of a creme caramel than anything else).

Oh, dear. You won’t be surprised to learn that I had plain, fresh fruit salad and a cappuccino for breakfast the following morning, and we didn’t eat at all till evening.

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