Monday, July 15, 2019

Wine and Food of Le Tour 2019: Stage 10: Saint-Flour > Albi

Where are we? Saint Flour: LeTour has a sad story: The recluses of Saint-Flour: From the 12th to the 16th century, a particular and cruel tradition was taking place on the Old Bridge: the recluserie or reclusage. In the middle of the bridge was a small cell of a few square metres, in which a young woman or a young man lived or at least survived thanks to the gifts of the population. By her or his prayers, the recluse was meant to protect the city from epidemics or attacks. These young people, most of them women, were locked up voluntarily until their death. The confinement took place after a ceremony involving the whole population: a religious service was held at the cathedral and then the procession took the recluse to the bridge. The families of the recluse were ennobled. For the most part, recluses survived from a few months to a year (five years for the most enduring). They had to face the most extreme conditions: wind and fog in the mid-seasons, freezing cold in winter and the living conditions led to anaemia, fever, rheumatoid arthritis ...
As part of the biennale of contemporary art, Chemin d'Art, artists have been inspired by this tradition of recluses. Isabelle Tournoud, with her sculpture Saint-Lunaire, evoked the dress of the recluses. François Davin paid tribute to these hostages of faith by setting his work, The recumbent recluse, in the bed of the river Ander. Finally, Viviane Riberaigua, with her installation for 150 recluses (it is believed that 150 persons were locked up this way), created 150 wax figurines connected by the same filament, each death calling for the next.

Specialties: cheese (Fourme d'Ambert, Cantal, Bleu d'Auvergne), truffles, aligot, Salers and Aubrac meats, Pounti (meat stuffing with herbs and prunes), Tripoux, blond lentils.

Albi: LeTour has happier news in Albi: Since the classification of the Episcopal City of Albi as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the city's tourist attendance has increased by about 25% and allows the city to receive more than 1.2 million visitors a year.
The Episcopal City of Albi presents a complete and representative ensemble of this type of urban development in Europe, from the Middle Ages to the modern and contemporary times. Its monumental and urban elements are complementary and well preserved, in subtle agreements of tones and pace through the widespread use of the fairground brick. It bears witness to the simultaneously defensive and spiritual program implemented by the Roman bishops, following the eradication of the heresy of the Albigenses or Cathars in the 13th century. The Sainte-Cécile cathedral is the most remarkable monumental symbol, in a unique southern Gothic architectural style, completed in the 15th-16th centuries by a systematic painted interior decoration, a choir and a late-Gothic statuary. The exceptional value of the city is finally expressed by a well-preserved and authentically medieval landscape. (UNESCO notice)

Specialties: salted liver radish, Albi tripes, duck, repountchou (omelette, salad or custard dish), Lautrec pink garlic, traditional pastries, navettes. Gaillac AOC wines (dry, sweet and pearly white, red and rosé), Albi distilleries, Belin and Thuries chocolate makers.

The stage: The break or a sprint? That seems to be the question of the day. Our break of the day: Tony Gallopin (AG2R-La Mondiale), Michael Schär (CCC), Natnael Berhane (Cofidis), Anthony Turgis (Total Direct Energie), Mads Würtz Schmidt (Katusha-Alpecin) and Odd Christian Eiking (Wanty-Groupe Gobert). They were not being allowed the sort of gap that we saw yesterday.


Along they went with the gap not going out very far.


Splits in the peloton! Unexpected excitement as Ineos accelerated towards the front.

Among those caught out: Pinot, Fuglsang, Uran, and Porte.

Twenty five kilometers to go and that reduced peloton caught the break. 
The gap to those behind was continuing to grow.


The Pinot-Fuglsang group was 15'' behind with 15km to go. 
Wout van Aert! What a fun win. And wow, tons of time lost by some of the GC contenders. 



The wine: Laurent Cazottes Wild Quince Liqueur from CopakeWineWorks
Time for the annual bottle of Cazottes. This year: quince!
From Wine & Spirits: Since 1998, Laurent Cazottes has been making what are possibly the most painstakingly crafted liquors you can buy. He begins by growing his fruit biodynamically on his estate in Villeneuve-sur-Vère, in the southeast of Bordeaux. Then the fruit is hand-harvested, peeled, cut and seeded. A portion of the prepared fruit is crushed, fermented and distilled to make an eau-de-vie, while the remaining fruit is steeped in grape eau-de-vie for at least six months. Then the two are blended together to make an incredibly rich, clear snapshot of orchard fruit. The Cédrat (citron or ethrog) is beautifully golden in color, fragrant with sweet and fl oral citrus peel, and redolent of both candied and fresh citrus. The Quince is amazing—tart, bright and pure. These are two liqueurs you’ll want to enjoy simply, on their own.

The food: Navettes, from Saveur
These boat-shaped, orange-blossom-scented sugar cookies, named after an unmanned boat bearing a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary that arrived in Marseille during the 13th century, are a signature Marseillais treat.

Yield: makes 16 cookies


  • 34 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tsp. orange blossom water
  • 18 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups flour


  1. Heat oven to 350°. Using an electric hand mixer, beat sugar, butter, orange blossom water, salt, and eggs until fluffy, 1–2 minutes. With the motor running, slowly add flour until a stiff dough forms. Transfer dough to a work surface and knead briefly until smooth. Divide dough into sixteen 1¾-oz. pieces.
  2. Working with one piece dough at a time, and using hands, roll dough into a 6″ log about ½″ thick.
  3. Flatten the ends of the dough.
  4. Transfer log to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Using a knife, cut a ¼″-deep slit lengthwise in top of log beginning and ending about ¼″ from each end.
  5. Using fingers, splay dough open slightly. Bake until pale golden and slightly crisp, about 20 minutes. Let cookies cool completely before serving.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Wine and Food of LeTour 2019: Stage 9: Saint-Étienne > Brioude

Where are we? 
Brioude in the Auvergne.  The local tourist site suggests we go and see some art at the The Doyenne Center of Modern and Contemporary Art: This building was the residence of the dean, one of the 3 dignitaries of the chapter of canons of Brioude.The Doyenné, a real fortress, remained for a long time in the hands of Mercoeur's family. In 1282, an agreement was signed between the Mercoeur and the chapter; thus the new dean, Gaucelin de La Garde, a family of knights of Gevaudan, began the work of restoration of the building which was strongly degraded. Thanks to dendrochronology (from the precise wood dating method) it turns out that the armored ceiling could not be started before 1297/1298: rare heraldic decoration, carved and painted woods where hunting scenes and fantastic bestiary are mixed .
With the Revolution of 1789 and the disappearance of the chapter of canons, the building was sold as a national property and he enjoyed various fortunes during the nineteenth century: this is how the city council proposed to sell it in 1875.This proposal was , fortunately, rejected. 
During the twentieth century, the building was occupied by the Caisse d'Epargne, then by the media library and the Tourist Office. However, the upstairs rooms were closed for security reasons. 
Since 2016 a quality restoration has allowed to assign this building to a cultural function, there are now 5 exhibition halls of modern and contemporary art that welcome visitors.

Specialties: Auvergne meats / cheeses (Saint-nectaire, cantal, bleu d’Auvergne, Fourme d'Ambert), apple pump, tripoux, lentils, stuffed cabbage. Saint Géron water (slightly sparkling).

The stage: Happy Bastille Day! With a frenchmen in yellow! 
The day starts with a crash and abandonment for deMarch. 
The break of the day is not nearly as French as I would have expected:
Lukas Pöstlberger, Oliver Naesen, Ivan Garcia Cortina, Jan Tratnik, Tony Martin, Simon Clarke, Daryl Impey, Jasper Stuyven, Nicolas Roche, Jesus Herrada, Tiejs Benoot, Romain Sicard, Edvald Boasson Hagen, and Anthony Delaplace.They would eventually be joined by Marc Soler.
The crowds are a bit raucous today:


Really, the crowds:

On the road, with 100 kilometers to go, the break was above ten minutes.Which makes it the largest break so far of this year's Tour. With 70 kilometers to go, the gap was still ten minutes. 

Ahead, the break riders had begun to attack each other. With 35 kilometers to go, Pöstlberger was 20 seconds ahead of his former breakaway companions. The peloton was 11:15 back.
He would be caught by a group of seven: Benoot, Tratnik, Naesen, Stuyven, Soler, Impey and Roche. 

Surging into the lead: Roche and Benoot. Catching them: Impey.

Meanwhile, in the back, some attacks from the peloton, including Bardet, the local rider of the day, and Porte. It did not last as Ineos shut the attempt down.
With three kilometers to go, Benoot and Impey had about thirteen seconds. 
Impey! Not surprising that he would win that sprint.
That was a well-deserved win, but this field art is what I will remember.


Coming in at a leisurely pace, the peloton, more than ten minutes down. The rest day can't come soon enough!

The stage:


1 JULIAN ALAPHILIPPE 21 DECEUNINCK - QUICK - STEP 38h 37' 36'' - B : 24'' -
2 GIULIO CICCONE 133 TREK - SEGAFREDO 38h 37' 59'' + 00h 00' 23'' B : 14'' -
3 THIBAUT PINOT 51 GROUPAMA - FDJ 38h 38' 29'' + 00h 00' 53'' B : 8'' -
4 GEORGE BENNETT 82 TEAM JUMBO - VISMA 38h 38' 46'' + 00h 01' 10'' - -
5 GERAINT THOMAS 1 TEAM INEOS 38h 38' 48'' + 00h 01' 12'' - -
6 EGAN BERNAL 2 TEAM INEOS 38h 38' 52'' + 00h 01' 16'' - -
7 STEVEN KRUIJSWIJK 81 TEAM JUMBO - VISMA 38h 39' 03'' + 00h 01' 27'' - -
8 RIGOBERTO URAN 91 EF EDUCATION FIRST 38h 39' 14'' + 00h 01' 38'' - -
9 JAKOB FUGLSANG 71 ASTANA PRO TEAM 38h 39' 18'' + 00h 01' 42'' - -
10 EMANUEL BUCHMANN 12 BORA - HANSGROHE 38h 39' 21'' + 00h 01' 45'' - -

The wine:Marie et Vincent Tricot Trois Bonhommes Rouge 2016 from CopakeWineWorks
Pinot noir from the Loire. 
From the importer: Born in Anjou, Vincent left the Loire and attended Oenology School in Beaujolais in the early 1990’s. After graduating he stayed in the region and apprenticed in Brouilly from winemaker Patrick Coton. Around this time he met Marcel Lapierre and several other winemakers who were beginning to attract attention to their non-interventionist style of winemaking.  Vincent was moved by their wines and quickly decided that this was the path for him.
In 2002, after travelling the world, he moved with his wife and their 2 daughters to the village of Orcet in Auvergne. They purchased  4.5 ha of organic vines and planted an additional  6 ha.  Vincent had learned that the region had one of the largest concentrations of pre-phylloxera vines in France and was eager for such a rare opportunity to work with.
In 2003 the family produced their first cuvee in “Les Marcottes” without any added sulphur and have continued that approach for all of the wines.  They Currently grow Gamay, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc and hope to plant more vines in the coming years.

The food: Cantal Cheese  
Cantal AOC is one of the oldest cheeses in France dating to the times of the Gaul’s rule. It received an Appellation d'Origine (AOC) status from the administrative region of Cantal in the Auvergne region in 1956. This has ensured that the semi-hard, uncooked, pressed cheese has the features and characteristics attributable to the area of origin.
I admit that although it is not traditional at all, this ended up (with many other cheeses) in a baked mac and cheese.  

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Wine and food of LeTour 2019: Stage 8: Mâcon > Saint-Étienne

Where are we?   
Mâcon: Michelin tells me that: Stretching along the River Saône, the southernmost of Burgundy's towns has a peaceful feel. The charm of the squares and narrow little streets of its historic centre, its cultural vibrancy and its good restaurants contribute to a pleasant way of life. Mâcon partly owes its lively atmosphere to the Hameau Duboeuf wine centre, a must for wine lovers. The town of Lamartine also offers pleasant rambles in the nearby hills and the vineyards that were so dear to the poet.
Specialties: Waffles, Ideal Mâconnais (cake), Mâconnais wines, wines (Viré-Clessé, Saint-Véran, pouilly-fuissé), wafers, boucon (chocolate with marc de Bourgogne), andouillette, snails and goat cheese.

Saint-Étienne: LeTour suggests we visit the largest bicycle collection in France and who am I to disagree? They say: Renovated by Jean-Michel Wilmotte in 2001 and labelled Musée de France, it possesses three collections of national and international scope: arms, bicycle and ribbons. The museum especially owns the largest collection of bicycles in France. 
These collections are a major link between the past, present and future of the St Etienne region. In 1866, the first French bicycle was manufactured in St Etienne, the first step in an industry that earned an international repute thanks to the productions of Manufrance, Ravat or Automoto. From the early ages of the bicycle to the sophisticated sport and leisure machines of the 21st century, la petite reine inspired artists, inventors and advertisers. The Superb Sparrow, the first French bicycle  produced by the Manufacture or Arms and Cycles in St Etienne, is now surrounded by its many offsprings.
Specialties: bugnes (donuts), sarasson (close to cottage cheese, seasoned with herbs), rapée  (potato pancake with beaten eggs), simmered soup, baraban salad (dandelions, served with bacon or soft-boiled eggs), barboton (potato stew), grillatons (pâté made from fat and meat residues), hot pâté (dumplings with tomato sauce), liver cake, wines from Cotes du Forez ...

The stage: This is one of those will they or won't they stages. By that, most commentators mean: will the gc men become involved or is this a day for the break? It is a rather fun four man break: deGendt, Terpstra, Ben King and deMarchi. Speaking of not so fun breaks: our of the Tour following his crash yesterday: Tejay vanGarderen with a broken hand. 

With about 100 kilometers to go, their gap was around three minutes. It is, again, rather scenic.

With 70 kilometers to go, the gap was at 3:20 and I was dreaming of a late Alaphilippe attack to take back yellow. Given that the commentators have mentioned in more than once, I am not the only one.
At the front of the race, DeGendt and deMarchi surge ahead of King and Terpstra. After a bike handling issue, DeGendt was solo in the lead, but he would wait. His odds on staying away were better as a duo than solo. Fifty five kilometers to go and they had almost four minutes. King and Terpstra were a minute behind the lead duo.
Behind, the peloton was shrinking with some riders bouncing on and off the back. Fifty kilometers to go and the gap was 3:40. Forty kilometers to go and the gap was under three minutes.

At thirty kilometers to go, the gap was under two minutes.
Twenty and just about 1:20.
Crash! Oh wow. Pretty much the entire Team Ineos down. Among them, Geraint Thomas. They were up and riding very quickly. Left behind:

Ahead, as they struggled back, the gap to the front was at one minute. Making it back, Geraint Thomas. Jumping from that group: Alaphilippe. With DrGendt ahead, he took 5 seconds. To get back in yellow, he had to keep going. Working with him: Pinot. A frenchman in yellow for Bastille Day would be really lovely.
This was going to be very close. To be honest, deGendt with the stage win and Alaphilippe back into yellow would be a great finish.


5h 00' 17''
+ 00' 06''
+ 00' 06''
+ 00' 26''
+ 00' 26''
+ 00' 26''
+ 00' 26''
+ 00' 26''
+ 00' 26''
+ 00' 26''

34h 17' 59''
+ 00' 23''
+ 00' 53''
+ 01' 10''
+ 01' 12''
+ 01' 16''
+ 01' 27''
+ 01' 38''
+ 01' 42''
+ 01' 45''

The wine: Chantereves Bourgogne Chardonnay 
 from Copake Wine Works    

Details from the team at Flatiron Wines: Chantereves is an absolutely brilliant tiny negociant in Savigny-les-Beaune. The Chantereves team is the very outgoing and charming – Tomoko Kuriyama and her shyer and more reticent husband, Guillaume Bott. Tomoko went to wine school in Geisenhem and became the estate manager at Freiderich Altenkirch in the Rheingau. In addition to her winemaking and vineyard work at Chantereves she does vineyard management at Chandon de Briailles. Her husband Guillaume Bott worked at Etienne Sauzet and became the winemaker at Domaine Simon Bize, where he still works. Their partnership at Chantereves started in 2010. 
They make wines of stunning purity and focus in both red and white. Their approach has resulted in remarkably expressive organic wines that are very clean and free of flaws unlike so many “natural” wines. They adapt and adopt the best of modern winemaking techniques in an ever-evolving style that emphasizes the true nature of the vineyards where the grapes were grown. These are indeed wines of great transparency.
The food:  Bugnes from Jacques Pepin in Food & Wine 
Similar to beignets, bugnes are a specialty of Lyon made on Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, the last day before the 40 days of Lent leading up to Easter. When I was a child, my mother and my aunts would make bugnes that day, and so did all the bistros in Lyon. The bugne is a fritter made with strips of thin dough flavored sometimes with orange water, rum, or vanilla, and deep-fried. Some are made with yeast, which makes them spongier. I like my version without yeast. Drier and crisper, it is covered generously with confectioners' sugar. I also like to sprinkle vanilla sugar on top of my bugnes. I always have some leftover vanilla beans that I put in a jar at home, cover with sugar, and leave to flavor the sugar. I dust some of it on top of my bugnes, and then sprinkle on some powdered sugar, which sticks to them. Beautifully dusted with the sugar is just as I remember them when my brother and I fought over big plates of them at the restaurant.

Bugnes are fried in regular vegetable oil; I like to use corn, peanut, or canola oil. They cook quite fast, in a couple of minutes. If you are making a lot of them, the best way to drain them is on a wire rack, and they should sit there for a minute or two to cool off a little before you put them on plates and dust them with the sugar. In Lyon, they are usually cut with a wooden wheel with a crinkled edge, called a jagger or a roulette in French. Sometimes, however, they are cut by hand with a knife into various shapes, usually little rectangles about 1 inch wide and 4 or 5 inches long. Often, a lengthwise incision of about 2 inches is cut down the middle of these dough rectangles, so that when they cook the dough separates, giving it a nice look and crunchy edge. Also, sometimes one of the ends of the rectangle is pulled through the incision to create a ribbon-like shape that is classic with bugnes.

I make my bugne dough in a food processor, which makes it easier, and then I roll it very thin. My mother mixed the ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spatula to make a dough that was quite soft. My dough is also soft, and it can be used right away, although it is a bit more tender when made ahead and allowed to rest. Use flour and a rolling pin to roll the dough, even though it can practically be extended with your hands because it is soft and easy to roll. Well-made bugnes will stay crisp for hours at room temperature.

Measure out 1 1/2 cups (about 7 ounces) of all-purpose flour and put it into the bowl of a food processor with a dash of salt, 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 stick of room temperature butter. Process for about 10 seconds, then add 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, 1 tablespoon of dark rum, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 2 eggs. Blend for another 15 seconds, or until a soft dough forms. Transfer the dough to a table to roll immediately, or let it rest, refrigerated, for an hour or so.

Lightly flour the table roll the dough into 4 balls. Place on ball a on the floured surface. Spread with your hands, then turn the dough over and extend it further with your hands. Spread or roll lightly with a wooden rolling pin until the dough is no more than 1/8 inch thick. Cut into rectangles about 1 inch wide by 4 inches long with a crinkle-edged wheel or with a knife. Leave as is, or cut a 2-inch slit down the center of each rectangle to make a hole that will spread open as it cooks. If you like, slip one of the ends of the rectangle through the slit and pull it back, to give a kind of spiral or corkscrew effect to the strips of dough. Work quickly because the dough is very soft and delicate to handle. If you have a problem with it, cool the dough in the refrigerator to firm it up.


In a shallow skillet, heat 3 cups of oil to 325°. Put 4 or 5 strips of dough into the hot oil and cook for about 1 minute on one side, then turn with tongs and continue cooking for another minute. Lift the bugnes from the oil and place on a wire rack while you repeat with the remaining dough. Sprinkle the bugnes with a little regular sugar, vanilla sugar (if you have it), or, if you like, cinnamon sugar (not used in France, but appreciated in the U.S.). Then sprinkle with powdered sugar on both sides. Pile up on plates and enjoy.