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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tour de France Food and Drink stages 13-16

Over half way there now but this year's route continues to be a culinary challenge.  One dish we had to make was the very first thing Triple P learnt to cook: Coq au Vin.  Perhaps more typically associated with the Burgundy region, in fact it is pretty ubiquitous in France, where you just bung in the local wine and call it Coq au whatever the locals drink.  This was an ideal solution for Stage 13 which cut just south of the Beaujolais region and clipped the top of the Rhone.  

We first cooked this delicious concoction of chicken, bacon, onions, wine and mushrooms about forty five years ago, under the supervision of Triple P's father and a famous chef and it has been a regular ever since.  Although it is not exactly a delicate dish it has always been a hit with young ladies.

Stage 13

We used the recipe from one of our favourite cookbooks, Great Dishes of the World;  not that we really need to refer to the recipe.  This is not our original copy ,which disintegrated a few years ago.  Fortunately, we managed to get a pristine copy in the RNLI charity shop in Yarmouth two years ago.

The orange enamel casserole Triple P cooked it in was the original one we first used in 1969, which Triple P's father had bought in a shop in Perigueux for the then staggering price of £5.  Worth every penny, of course!

Anyway, the accompanying wine really had to come from the Northern Rhone.  The closest wine town to the route was Condrieu but as a very aromatic white this wouldn't really have gone with a dish cooked in red wine so we went just a little way south of the route for a St Joseph, which worked perfectly.  

Stage 14 saw us in the only full day in the Alps, in a sadly wine free region.  We looked about 25 miles north, however, and alighted on the town of Chambéry, home of our favourite vermouth, as we find the French one more delicate than the Italian versions.  They are also, these days, made in a rather less industrial way than their Italian cousins, using real herbs from the mountains rather than just flavourings.  Nice just with ice, it's also my preferred vermouth for Martinis.  In France you can also get Chamberryzette, a version deliciously infused with strawberries.  Girls like it.

Stage 14

After a heavy dinner the night before we just had some light Abondance cheese from Haut-Savoie which is actually closer to Stage 11 than Stage 14. This was the nicest cheese of the Tour so far.

Stage 15 was a quick whiz through Northern Provence with plenty of wine options on the way.  However, as the stage finished in the splendid Roman city (Nemausus) of Nimes (home of denim too, of course) then it had to be a Costières de Nîmes.  The vineyards here have been producing wine here for over two thousand years and the region was settled by many veterans of Caesar's campaigns in Egypt, which explains the symbol of a crocodile chained to a palm tree on  the local coat of arms.

Time for another lighter meal so just some typical Provencal tapenade and some picholine olives (no more cornichons for a while!).  Olive and anchovy tapenade was, appropriately, recorded in Roman times as olivarum conditurae.  Some nice crunchy picholine olives added another local touch.  These are, also, particularly good as the olive in a Martini.

Next time it's another big casserole!

1 comment:

  1. Yummy olives!

    Hey, Agent! I emailed you back at your old address, but I don't know if you've checked it. I didn't have another email to send to!