you may note from the review heading, that this book claims to be concerned with food for training and competition, both specific aspects of cycling of which i am less than acquainted. i would imagine the last time i indulged in anything like training (competition has never featured on my horizon), was in 2008 when i undertook hot chillee's londres-paris for the second time. this was never truly for reasons of speed, but purely distance; i had no inclination to embarrass myself by running out of steam several dozen kilometres before day's end.
it never once dawned on me that this process might benefit from my placing greater emphasis on my diet. the most attention i ever paid towards this aspect was to stuff a couple of energy bars and perchance a gel in one of those three rear pockets. and in common with many others, by the time i really needed to consume the last of these, i couldn't quite face munching its sickly sweetness.
in recent years, the world tour or even pro-continental teams, always looking for their own version of dave brailsford's marginal gains have augmented the team buses and cars with a state of the art mobile kitchen. just how much of this is due to the mediocrity of the food provided by the hotel kitchens, i know not, but now that the wheels, tyres, componentry and bicycles have been developed to within a millimetre of their career best, diet and nutrition seems to be the current whipping boy. and probably with very good reason.
henrik orre started his career as an 'ordinary' chef, working in bespoke, michelin starred restaurants in norway. his career path seemed predestined to continue in similar manner throughout the early part of his upwardly mobile career. having eventually setup his own company, somewhat obviously entitled kocken henrik (henrik the chef), an early assignment for the norwegian cycling federation led him into the world of professional cycling and ultimately a gig alongside team sky chef, soren kristianssen in 2014.
according to orre's introduction, he expected to be continuing this association in 2015 with greater responsibility. i am insufficiently well-informed to know whether this is currently the situation, but i have no reason to doubt its veracity.
i confess i was rather surprised to note the publisher's details on the spine, for vélochef professes all the signs of being a rapha publication (my review copy having arrived from imperial works). given their association with team sky, that is perhaps understandable, but much of the imagery is in their style, if you catch my drift, even down to a short, illustrated piece on passoni titanium bikes. this latter interruption to the food discussion, however, does come across as a tad incongruous, interesting though it may be.
on rapha's retreat in deepest provence, rather than offering up gels and energy bars from the following jaguars, we were handed home-made rice cakes; even vegetarian editions for those of us of that persuasion. these offered none of the sickly sweetness that the former options contain, yet pretty much all the energy and protein that 120 kilometres in the saddle demands (well, actually i did need to be given a rather large custard tart on reaching the bus). that would have been prior to orre's time of residence, but the recipe appears in this book.
guess what will be in my back pocket come this year's ride of the falling rain?
i currently harbour deep desires for the banana pancakes with blueberry jam, perhaps for breakfast, but in all honesty, for pretty much anytime of the day. and though i have never been a scone sort of a fellow, those illustrated made with rye flour and hazelnuts may well change that opinion. of course, short of being offered a professional contract with team sky (anytime you're ready sir dave), there's no magic phone number to call and have any one of a number of tasty foods delivered to my front door. so baking it is then.
each particular meal or recipe (with no apparent discrimination against vegetarianism) is accompanied by a comprehensive ingredients list and step by step instructions that might have the inexperienced amongst us produce an end result that bears some resemblance to the accompanying illustration. i did rather wonder why recipes for porridge and muesli appear under the breakfast section, since i'd figure even incompetents such as myself could manage either or both. but generally speaking, stuff like buckwheat waffles with banana and almond filling appease any possible misgivings over such superficialities.
lest vélochef come across as purely obsessed with nutritionally and visually delectable munchables, there are relevant yet intriguingly interesting digressions along the way, including (possibly) the previously mentioned paean to passoni bicycles. these include visits to the houses of richie porte, former sky rider (now with mtn qhubeka) eddie higgs boson, and olympic medal hopeful, emma johanssen.
the book's presentation is no less appetising than the food. it appears to have been printed on recycled and slightly textured stock which shows the contents to their best advantage, yet makes the book light enough to sit on a coffee table without causing it undue stress. unurprisingly, there's lots of visual references to team sky and rapha throughout; these scarcely undermine the the principal thrust of orre's foodiness, but do lighten the load for those keen not to come across as born again amateur chefs to inadvertant visitors to the service course.
this way we can all eat right while maintaining our apparent neutrality.
saturday 11 july 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................