Saturday, July 28, 2018

Wine and Food of the Tour de France 2018 Stage 20: Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle to Espelette

Where are we?
Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle: Another first time stage city here in the Basque country. Let's visit a museumEcomuseum of the pelota and xistera Pilotari:
Enter in Donamartia villa and let yourself be drawn into the world of Bask pelota.
Discover the secrets of making a xistera and a ball. Watch on a giant screen a pelota party demonstrations. Meet the great champions.
Saint-Pee- sur- Nivelle is located at the crossroads of major communication routes that connect the villages. Each has its own history with pelota but our village because of its location played a special role in this game, founder of the Bask soul as well as the language, song and dance.
Gantxiki , senpertar thirteen years old , son of a blacksmith , had the idea while playing with his buddy Halsouet Donamartia the farm to use a small wicker basket to throw the ball away.
LeTour specialties: Axoa de boeuf (spicy minced beef stew), tripoche d’agneau (sheep’s blood sausage in soup), dried sausages with Espelette pepper, trout, Basque cake

Espelette: Michelin tells me that: An ancient feudal settlement, Espelette's tortuous streets, lined with red and white Basque houses, stretch over a large area. It is a centre for growing red pimentos (which hang on houses and in kitchens), and is also famous for the little "pottok" horses which live semi-wild in herds on the uninhabited slopes of the mountains. Formerly used in mines, thanks to their docility and small size, these horses are ideal to carry luggage when out trekking.

LeTour specialties: The Espelette pepper or Ezpeletako Biperra (its great aromatic finesse and long-lasting flavour contribute its unique taste. Its fragrance and colour embellish the kitchen on a daily basis and it is used in dishes from aperitifs through to desserts), axoa de veau (spicy minced veal stew), piperade (onion, pepper and tomato dish flavoured with local pepper), Basque chicken, dark chocolate, Espelette pepper chocolate


The stage:  A time trial to decide the final podium in Paris. Geraint Thomas has enough of a gap and the ability to time trial, so his top step should be safe, but the gaps between 2, 3, and 4 are small. Keep in mind also that second through fourth overall made up the podium of last year’s world time trial championship, in that order. 
For other riders, it is mainly about surviving the stage to make it to Paris tomorrow, thought we could have an earlier rider challenge for the stage victory. Speaking of surviving, Peter Sagan did make it through the day yesterday, as did Taylor Phinney, who crashed into a tree and will be riding to today with a broken nose. Apparently he also can not fly with his injuries so while most riders will fly to the final stage, he'll be back on the team bus.
On the road, the early leader of the day was Michael Hepburn at 42:15.
Hovering over some of the injured riders:

A new leader on the road, by fractions of a second, Soler: 42.14.95.
As he takes his last Tour time trial start, LeTour is saying a fond farewell to Sylvain Chavanel:




The new leader: Soren Kragh Andersen at 41:43.
Coming in one second faster: Kwiatkowski. My fantasy league team celebrates.

Finally on course, Chris Froome and it was time to more closely start watching the clock. Next up Roglic, followed by Dumoulin, and finally, Geraint Thomas.

Did anyone go out too quickly? We'll know soon. Ahead, Jungels in two seconds slower than Kwiatkowski.
At the second check point, Dumoulin still two seconds behind Froome. Roglic was losing lots of time. Wow. Thomas in 12 seconds faster than Froome. 

Froome 40:52. The best time by 49 seconds. Yikes, Roglic 1:14 down on Froome and would lose his podium spot. Dumoulin ahead of Froome by fractions of a second. They would give him the lead by one second. Thomas slowed at the end, making the sensible choice.





The wine:  Domaine Ilarria Irouleguy
From San Francisco Wine Trading Company
From the importer
One of the appellation’s long standing producers is Peio Espil at Domaine Ilarria.  In fact, until 1990, he was one of the two independent producers in the appellation.  Peio grew up in the region, a descendent of multiple generations that also inhabited the white stone house where he currently lives and works with his wife Lucie and two growing boys.  In this part of the Pyrénées, where the mountains begin to lose altitude as they weave their way toward the north of Spain, large domes of green grass cover the mounds more so than snow that covers the granite peaks seen further east.  It is a bucolic environment, with hundreds of sheep graze the hills and where elongated white houses with red tile roofs dot the countryside.
Peio now farms 7 hectares of vines (just over 17 acres), located along the steep hillsides a couple of kilometers from his house.  He began eliminating the use of weed killers and synthetic chemical sprays in 2005 and is certified organic through Ecocert.  Since working organically, he feels he obtains a stonger, natural yeast formation within his vineyards.  While many producers in the region have carved out terrasses along the hillsides, Peio prefers to plant top to bottom, feeling it creates less erosion.  In addition, while many of the vineyards of Irouléguy are  planted on iron-rich, red soils, most of Peio’s plantings are gray limestone, which gives a particular mineral lift to the domaine’s wines.​

Food: Axoa from FrenchLetters

1 lb beef, ground coarse as for chili
1 lb veal, ground coarse as for chili
4 T. duck fat, or substitute olive oil
3/4 cup dry white wine, divided use
1/2 small onion, sliced paper thin
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp. Piment d’Espelette powder, or to taste
3 bell peppers, 1 each red, green, and yellow, quartered and peeled with a vegetable peeler
3 T. olive oil, preferably a peppery, grassy one
1 heaping tsp. veal demi-glace, or use beef bouillon
1/2 cup water
salt to taste
Melt half of the duck fat in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the veal and sauté for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden brown and tender. Salt to taste only at the end of the cooking period. Remove veal to an ovenproof casserole dish and deglaze the skillet with 1/4 cup of the wine. Scrape skillet into the casserole dish. Do not wash out the skillet.
Melt remaining duck fat in the same skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the beef and sauté for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until just browned.  Salt to taste only at the end of the cooking period.  Remove beef the casserole dish and deglaze the skillet with 1/4 cup of the wine.  Scrape skillet into the casserole dish.   Do not wash out the skillet.
Dissolve the demi-glace or Better Than Bouillon in the water and pour into the casserole dish with the meat.  Stir all together and set aside.
For the vegetables:
While the meats are cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Preheat the oven to 375°.
Heat half of the olive oil in the skillet and add the thinly sliced onion and the chopped garlic.  Add a pinch of salt, and 1/2 tsp of piment d’Espelette.  Let sauté together very gently over a low heat for 10 minutes.  You want the onions to melt, but not to brown.
Cut the peeled peppers into lengthwise strips, then cut the strips in half crosswise and add them to the boiling water.  I know you’re going to want to skip peeling the peppers, but the Basques believe that pepper skins are indigestible, and in fact the texture of the peeled peppers is an important part of the dish.  Just do it.  Let the peppers simmer for about 10 minutes while the onions cook, or until very tender but not falling apart.  Drain the peppers.
Add the onions to the meat mixture, deglaze the pan with the remaining wine, and scrape the pan into the casserole.  Add half of the peppers to the casserole and stir to combine, reserving the remaining half for garnish.
Cover the casserole dish and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Heat the remaining half of the olive oil in the skillet and gently sauté the garnish peppers until they are lightly golden around the edges. Set aside.
Remove casserole from the oven, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 tsp of piment d’Espelette, or use more to taste.  Personally I like a lot more.  Make a colorful pattern on top of the casserole with the sautéed peppers and serve.
Nöel’s serving suggestion: serve with cubes of oven-roasted potatoes and green beans sautéed with olive oil and garlic.

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