Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Wine and Food of the Tour de France Stage 5: Lorient to Quimper

Where are we?
Lorient: Brittany tourism tells me that: Lorient, a relatively new town founded in the 17th century, has fragments of world history intermingled with its heritage and landscapes. Its houses, beaches and quays tell tales of the conquest of India and the East Indies, deep sea fishing, the Second World War, the growing popularity of ocean racing and the restored pride of the Celtic nations.
The French East India Company, or ‘Compagnie des Indes’, was established in 1664 in the heart of the bay, at Port-Louis. Operations rapidly spread to the other side of the river Scorff. In the new shipyards a ship named ‘Soleil d’Orient’, but nicknamedL’Orient, was built – and the new town had a name! The view of the Port-Louis citadel and the harbour, with the Tour de la Découverte signal tower and the Gabriel sales rooms recall the prosperity of the colourful days of silks and spices.
As Lorient’s business activities developed and diversified, ports were built to match: a military port, a commercial port at Kergroise, and a fishing port at Kéroman - now France’s second largest fishing port. The quayside and the fish auctions are a hive of activity every morning, involving men, boats and machines. Sparklingly fresh fish and seafood are taken straight to the indoor market at Merville.
Kéroman, and all of Lorient, was dealt a bad deal by history. A submarine base was set up there by the German army between 1941 and 1943. Today, these concrete blocks pose no threat. They’ve become a museum of submersible craft and the submarineFlore, which is now a visitor attraction. In the centre of town, a bomb shelter has been re-opened to show what life was really like at that time. In the town’s streets, Art Deco houses from the 1930s that survived the bombings stand side by side with post-war buildings constructed in a more contemporary style.
LeTour specialties: Fish and seafood, gâteau Breton (Breton tart)

Quimper: The Brittany tourism site tells me that:Not only is Quimper the administrative capital of the Finistère department, it is also generally regarded as the cultural heart of Brittany. The town is known for its cathedral, atmospheric old quarter and museums but most of all for its annual festival celebrating Breton culture.
Quimper gets its name from the Breton kemper, which refers to the junction of two rivers: the Steir and the Odet. The Odet, generally regarded as Brittany’s prettiest river, runs east to west, parallel to the old town, and enters the sea at Benodet – why not take a boat trip? The river is crossed by little bridges, which are lined with pretty geranium-filled boxes.Quimper’s most impressive building is its cathedral, which is said to be the best example of Gothic religious architecture in Brittany. Building started in the 12th century and continued at intervals until the 19th century, when the two spires were constructed and new stained glass windows were installed. The cathedral is named after St Corentin, Quimper’s first bishop.
Next to the cathedral is the former Bishop’s Palace, which is now the Musée Départmental Breton. The museum displays finds from archaeological digs around Brittany and is highly regarded for its collection of Breton costumes and furniture. Quimper’s other museum of note is the Musée des Beaux Arts, which has a fine collection of paintings from renowned Breton artists and the Pont Aven School.
West of the cathedral is the atmospheric old town, where you’ll find many half-timbered houses dating from the 14th century. The streets are named after old job titles and Place au Beurre, where butter was sold, is one of Quimper’s prettiest locations and good place to stop for a crêpe. The old market hall burned down in 1976 but the new Halles St Francis (open daily) are particularly lively on Saturday mornings.
Quimper is known throughout Brittany and the Celtic world for its Festival de Cornouaille, which takes place for a week each July and celebrates Breton culture in all its forms.
LeTour specialties:   Crêpes dentelles (wafer biscuits)

The stage:  More of a Classics style course today. Meaning, it may not end in a bunch sprint. Before the start, word of two more abandonments: Tiesj Benoot, after his hard crash late yesterday and Michael Matthews, due to illness. Early in the stage, Kiserlocski would also crash and abandon.

At 143 kilometers, that group would have a four minute lead. 
Some nice roadside scenery again today:

One hundred kilometers to go and the gap was still at four minutes, as Chavanel set out from his breakmates in search of king of the mountain (KOM) points.
Crash, Gesbert with about 86 kilometers to go, reducing the break by one.


Hey, a grupetto! Clearly we have reached the hilly section of the course. A reminder: a grupetto or autobus is the group of (usually) sprinters who can not stay with the main peloton and join together as a group to make it to the finish. Someday, my dream of a grupetto cam will be realized. 
Ahead, a wheel change for Chris Froome. He should be able to make it back easily.
Sixty kilometers to go and Chavanel was caught by Calmejane, Edet and Skujins. Cue any fab four jokes.
Crash in the peloton, with most riders back up and on quickly. Offredo though, has plenty of time to yell.
Word also that Mark Cavendish is struggling. Perhaps he is also missing Bernie Eisel?
Ahead, someone has woken up the peloton and suddenly it was full gas. Further ahead, Chavanel cracked and was dropped from his breakmates.

Twenty five kilometers to go and here comes the peloton again. The time gap between the three leaders and the peloton had dropped to 1:20. Seventeen kilometers to go and Skujins and Calmejane had 40 seconds lead over the peloton.


At the bonus point, Alaphilippe takes the maximum bonus over GVA in yellow.  
Attack by Rein Taaramäe and the bunch seems unconcerned. Indeed, he would be caught easily. Setting things up for a fun finish.
Sagan, with some time gaps behind.


1 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 18:22:00
2 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:02
3 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:03
4 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:05
5 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:06
6 Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:09
7 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:00:13
8 Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb 0:00:13
9 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 0:00:37
10 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:52


Alcohol: Le Brun Cidre
And now we are on to our cider-beer-Calvados portion of the Tour. Spolier: this was my favorite.  

From an importer: Le Brun Cidres have been produced in Brittany, France since 1955. Cidres are made using the traditional method of natural fermentation of pure pressed juices from handpicked apples. It all starts with the fruit. The cidery selects superior quality apples (Kermerrien, Marie Ménard, Douce Moên, Peau de Chien, Douce Coëtligné). The orchards are carefully looked after until maturation of the fruits. The apples are picked by hand in order to prevent any damage. Preparing the fruit before cider making is always a process. The apples are collected and aged in special wooden cases for about 3 weeks in order to enable the fruit to slightly dehydrate and concentrate its aromas. The apples are then ready to be mashed. Once this is done, the result (pulp plus juice) is left to rest in a tank. This helps balance the taste profile of the future cider by sweetening possible harsh overtones. The pulp/juice is pressed again to get pure apple juice.
The apple juice is then stored in thermo regulated fermentation tanks and regularly monitored. The foam process is totally natural. It is carried out in a controlled environment to enable the fermentation to generat carbonic gas to dissolve in the cider. The cider is then bottled in champagne like bottles with their traditional natural cork and wire-cap. These ciders are non-pasteurized in order to fully keep their taste profile. A slight filtration is carried out before bottling to rid the fermentation yeast naturally present.

Food: Breton Tart, from Saveur:

Makes one 9-inch tart crust


8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

34 cup plus 2 tbsp. confectioners' sugar

4 egg yolks

1 14 cups all-purpose flour

1 14 tbsp. baking powder

12 tsp. flaky sea salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well in between each addition. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and beat on low speed until just combined.
Scrape the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a 1-inch plain tip, and then pipe the dough into the bottom and side of a 9-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Place the tart pan in the freezer until frozen, at least 2 hours.
Heat the oven to 350°. Bake the tart crust, pressing the bottom with the tines of a fork halfway through baking to deflate any bubbles, until golden brown and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely before using.

I recommend topping this with lemon curd and seasonal berries.

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