Monday, July 6, 2015

Wine & Food of the Tour de France 2015 Stage 3: Rodenbach Caractère Rouge & Cabricharme

Stage 3:
Where are we: Anvers - Huy, 159.5 km

Ah, Belgium. Anvers: Apparently we should be thinking diamonds. The city's tourist website tells me that "For over 550 years Antwerp has been the world’s most important and most reliable diamond trading centre. Trading 80% of all rough diamonds and half of the cut diamond market, the market is unique in having four old-established diamond exchanges." Their must sees are  the Cathedral of Our Lady, MAS (Museum aan de Stroom), Rubens House and Museum Plantin-Moretus/Prints Room. 
Huy is home to the finish of the La Flèche Wallonne. Michelin says:  "Huy, at the confluence of the Meuse and Hoyoux rivers, is huddled at the foot of its collegiate church and fortress. The town once boasted four wonders: a Gothic bridge (rebuilt in 1956), the collegiate's rose window, the Grand-Place fountain and Huy castle. Its strategic location resulted in numerous sieges and destructions. Huy produced famous 12C Mosan goldsmiths such as Renier de Huy and Godefroy de Huy. In 1095, Peter the Hermit preached the First Crusade here."
The first finish of the Tour at the top of the Mur de Huy will be noticed on the occasion of the third day of the race. But other than the promising show in the final moments of the stage, the hierarchy that will be established on the line will already give a good idea of the level of form of the top guns. In the same way that Nibali's performance in Sheffield announced the stunning master-piece of the Italian on the 2014 Tour, the man who will tame the Mur should be one of the main actors...

The stage:  
Important Adam Hansen update:

Off they go with Cancellara on a yellow bike and Greipel on a green one. Our breakaway riders of the day: Pauwels, Barta, Elmiger, and Nauleau.  With about 125 kilometers remaining they had 3:30 on the peloton behind. 
Some motivation:

Ooh and a winning piece of tractor art. Tractors in the shape of a tractor. 
Eighty-five kilometers to go and the gap had dropped under three minutes. Lots of quiet before an expected storm today. 
Just after the feed zone, the peloton woke up. The gap to the break was dropping very rapidly as the gc teams tried to keep their riders in good positions. With 68 kilometers to go it was already down to thirty seconds. 

Ugly crash with around sixty kilometers to go, including Cancellara. Apparently a second crash happened soon after. Ahead, they have slowed the race, briefly. Tom Dumoulin is out and there may very well be others. Confusion at the front of the race as they appeared to start again before being slowed a second time and finally fully stopped. Also out, Simon Gerrans, Kozontchuk and Bonnet. 
The most popular theory on Twitter:

Off they went again, after about fifteen minutes, but they would stay neutralized until the top of the upcoming climb. 

Off they went, with Astana and Tinkoff in the lead and Sky chasing behind. Very quickly, there was another split in the peloton with Cancellara dropped. Briefly behind also, but bridging quickly, Valverde, one of the favorites for today's stage. Ahead, Greipel won the intermediate sprint. More points for him in the green jersey race. All together as they raced with under thirty kilometers to go.
Seventeen kilometers to go and most of the sprinters were dropped, riding in that grupetto as well, Cancellara.
Lots of Sky on the front as they ride under ten kilometers. Geraint Thomas a possibility for yellow today? Or maybe Tony Martin can hang on? Fuve kilometers to go and Tinkoff-Saxo on the front. The peloton had gotten very small. J-Rod looking very good, as is Froome.  J-Rod would hold on for the stage win. And poor Tony Martin, one second away from yellow.




Beer: RODENBACH Caractère Rouge
From Healthy Spirits
RODENBACH Caractère Rouge was developed in 2011 in collaboration with top chef Viki Geunes (2 Michelin stars). This exclusive beer is created by adding an extra six months’ fermenting maceration with cherries, raspberries and cranberries to beer that has already undergone two years’ maturation in oak casks. The result is an exceptional RODENBACH with a 7% alcohol by volume. RODENBACH Caractère Rouge is vinous with a very complex, fruity nose of raspberry and cherry combined with notes of wood and caramel. The undertone consists of an aroma of violets, leather and a hint of tobacco. The taste is rather sour but exceptionally pure. With its long, clean aftertaste and its unique combination of delicacy and strength, RODENBACH Caractère Rouge is reminiscent of a crisp Burgundy wine. This noble beer is unique and exclusive. In his restaurant ’t Zilte, Viki Geunes combines this willful beer with his sophisticated gastronomic creations.
Mixed fermentation – Flanders Red-Brown Beer – Recognised local product
7% ABV

I say: I had high expectations based on their Grand Cru, that I had a few years ago during the Tour. Wow, do I like this. Reddish-copper in color. The cherries and berries come through clearly, especially the cherries. Some cider vinegar and caramel. Sour and just lovely.This may be my favorite beer ever. 
Food: Cabricharme cheese
Some background from Culture the Cheese magazine:
Founded in 1986, La Fermière de Méan is a cooperative dairy farm located in southeastern Belgium. Initially, they only produced milk, but in 1990, the dairy began making cheeses using milk provided by the members.
The cooperative’s aims are two-fold. The first is to raise their animals in a humane manner and to operate their farms in an environmentally sound way.  Second, La Fermière de Méan aims to provide consumers with healthy and environmentally conscious dairy products that are high in quality.
Modeled on a cow’s milk cheese made by the same producer, Cabricharme is a Trappist style raw goat’s milk cheese. The milk used in this cheese is from a single farm-member of the cooperative.
Over the course of 6 weeks, the cheese is washed in a brine solution that gives Cabricharme’s salmon-pink rind its color and helps the ivory white interior develop its flavor and supple texture. 

Tasting Notes: The flavor of the semi-soft paste is tangy and savory to the point of meatiness. Its rind is edible and has a crunchy texture and salty flavor. Cabricharme is a very aromatic cheese, with yeast and mushrooms present and dry-aged beef as well.

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