Monday, 29 March 2010

Anglicized carbonnara

Well, Benzina is selling very nicely (thank you all) even to Italy. Which is where the trouble starts...

One of our subscribers has questioned my carbonara recipe (actually, he said it was completely wrong, an English bastardization of an Italian national treasure..) so let's put the record straight. Apparently carbonarra pre-dates WW2, shouldn't have bacon (it should be pancetta dolce, pancetta affumicata, or guanciale) and no parsley or wine. Oops...

But just to prove there's no hard feelings and that the rest of the mag is good he offers the following - spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino - the simplest recipe in the Italian cookbook, and a national favourite for some midnight spaghetti after going out with friends... which probably should make it a "3am spaghetti"...
lots of olive oil, lots of garlic (as a whole if you don't want to actually eat it, or thinly sliced if you do) and lots of crushed chilli pepper... quantities vary according to you our taste... sauté everything together (watch out not to burn the garlic if it's sliced), cook and drain the pasta al dente and add it in the pan with the ingredients, mix mix mix with the flame still going on under the pan and serve... here some chopped parsley is appropriate, just sprinkle some on the serving dishes (i.e. don't cook it)

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Spring is (nearly) sprung

Finally it's starting to look like riding weather (meaning weather it's good to ride in, rather than weather it's possible to ride through) so time to treat the bevels to an oil change (straight 40w for the 450, putty-thick 50w for the 900s). And as an early Easter present one of these apiece - magnetic dipsticks. £20 odd each from Tony Brancato - (UK -01865 891203) is cheap when you think what they could save you. Given Taglioni's apparent dislike of oil filters these give an early warning of things going wrong, so you can minimize the outrageous cost of a rebuild - or maybe avoid it altogether - thanks to Tony

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Forgotten Era

Everyone and thier old man knows Ducati's bevel twins legend, and the 916/Foggy era that made Ducati mainstream; the missing link is the aircooled rubber duck racers from a forgotten era. Tony Rutter took four (count 'em) world championships for Ducati on his TT2 racebike yet the roadgoing version, the 750F1, can still be bought for half the price of a bevel 900SS.

Cheaper still is the 350/400 F3. Same frame and bodywork,  just needs upgraded brakes and suspension (the same as most 25 year old bikes, then) and a bigger motor. This lovely chap got to just £1900 on eBay despite loads of shiny stuff and a 650 Pantah engine having been added

Monday, 22 March 2010

Sideburn numero cinque

It's not Italian, it hardly ever mentions Ducatis (let alone any other Italian bikes) and although publishers Gary Inman and Ben Part say it's about flat track, it's not really.

But Sideburn is absolutely the best mag on the planet at reminding you why you love motorcycles. Issue number 5 has just come back from the printers - so buy it (after you've bought Benzina, obviously)

Sunday, 21 March 2010


Photoshoots - why would anyone want to be a pro photographer or model? Sounds glamorous, but in reality it's a cold, dull way of turning several hours into 1/500th of a second of airbrushed insipidness. And that's if the photographer/model/weather doesn't let you down.

You'd think digital cameras that let you see what you've snapped instantly (plus the knowledge that Photoshop can hide more sins than a Catholic priest) would mean a photoshoot was done and dusted quicker than a Big Mac. My stepmum was a model, and back in black and white I had to occasionally hang around while she looked lovingly into a long lens. It really was like a scene from Austin Powers - bloke in a cravat and flouncy shirt camped it up with a camera quickly enough to make the pub before last orders.

So snappers, tell me this - was my childhood self so fascinated with fashion shoots that the hours only seemed like minutes? Or are those faded pics of Twiggy/Shrimpton/Hepburn just low quality tat that bears no comparison to the hi-res delights offered by today's WH Smiths?

Still, hope you enjoy the lovely results in Benzina #2 - only got to wait 'till June...

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Summer Holidays

The dates have been confirmed for this years  Milano Tarantoride - 4 to 10 July. Family commitments mean I'll be elsewhere (budding burglars please note) but one day...

It looks tougher than the Giro - starts at midnight, and you have to make your own way back up to Milan once you're done. And there doesn't seem to be an English speaking contingent (although plenty of Dutch compete, which'll bring down the language barriers - most Nederlanders speak 3 or more languages), but what the hell - the organisers have praised the article in Issue 1 of Benzina (to our knowledge the only ever coverage in English) so someone ought to go and say thank you. Wonder if Ducati UK would lend me a Multistrada to see the start in Milan?

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

The kids are alright

Spotted early doors one Sunday outside a Sidmouth newsagents. Belonged to the young lad serving inside, paying for his bike while his schoolmates are all still in bed. So nostalgic I went for my hankie. A zillion years ago I worked in a petrol station all day Sundays (and plenty of weekday evenings) to pay for mopeds, bikes and beer because I was doing A levels and mates who'd left school had 250s on HP. I still pine for those days, fettling my bike instead of checking paying customers oil levels with radio Luxemburg on loud enough to hear across the forecourt

Thursday, 4 March 2010

There were a couple of beautifully restored Benelli Seis at the Bristol Classic show, all gleaming chrome and bonkers exhaust. But Benzina like this much better - mad as a barrel of monkeys, a genuine racing Sei with the finest exhaust system we've seen in ages. Love those continentals, they'll race anything.

And before the purists say only a fool would race a Benelli Sei, remember Joey Dunlop rode one in the legedary 1978 TT F1. He broke down, but then so did Phil Read's works Honda. Some bloke called Hailwood won. On a Ducati - of course