They’re off and racing! The world’s most well-known bike race is on again: the Tour de France. All the thrills and domino-like spills, the Lycra and the foolish spectators determined to make spectacles of themselves.
Forget the wheels going around – how about the rounds of cheese?
Few countries in the world evoke notions of good nosh as France. So while some members of your household are glued to the screen why not prepare some Tour-inspired food to enhance the experience?
Let’s do some culinary armchair, ok, kitchen-stool travelling to celebrate the great race. Here’s very quick sampling of the food regions that will be flashing across our screens, in rough order of appearance.
Stage 1- Mont Saint-Michel to Utah Beach
Stage 2 – Saint-Lô to Cherbourg
What better vista to start the race than the enchanted medieval castle of Mon Saint Michel? The race kicked off in the department of Manche for the first time in its history. Famous for its dairy products and apples, Normandy is also the home of Camembert and Calvados, a spirit distilled from apple cider.
Pays de la Loire
Stage 3 – Granville to Angers
As you follow the riders into the pretty town of Angers why not open a bottle of wine from the Loire Valley, known for its white wines like Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc. Team it with some goat’s cheese.
Stage 4 – Saumur to Limoges
Why not try a warming soup, Potée Limousine made of bacon, salted pork, cabbage, leeks, turnips, carrots and potatoes. Follow with a Clafoutis, a dessert with fruit usually cherries.
Stage 5 – Limoges to Le Lioran
For this region think Pot-au-feu, a slow-cooked beef stew served in stages (first soup, then meat, then the bones and vegetables) just like the race itself.
Stage 6 – Arpajon-sur-Cère to Montauban
Stage 7 – L’Isle-Jourdain to Lac de Payol
Stage 8 – Pau (Aquitaine) to Bagnères
Stage 10 – Escaldes-Engordany (Catalonia) to Revel
Blending French and Spanish influences, the food of this region is hearty featuring cheese, truffles, capsicums and walnut oil. There’s an interesting Mystery Box of ingredients! Why not keep it simple for this leg and have some Roquefort Cheese after your evening meal, a famous export of this region.
Stage 11 – Carcassonne to Montpelier
Heard of Cassoulet? This hearty haricot beans casserole comes from this region and is perfect for by-the-heater viewing of the race. No dessert required, just rest up on the couch.
Stage 9 – Vielha Val d’Aran to Andorra
Rest day – Get take away and have a rest from your culinary adventures.
Stage 12 – Montpellier to Mont Ventoux
Stage 13 – Bourg-Saint-Andéol to la Caverne du Pont d’Arc
Stage 14 – Montélimar to Villars-les-Dombes
Stage 15 – Bourg-en-Bresse to Culoz
Stage 16 – Moirans-en-Montagne to Berne (Switzerland)
Stage 17 – Bern
Rest Day – Shop up big for the final stages.
Stage 18 – Bern to Finhaut-Emosson
Stage 19– Sallanches to Megève
Stage 20 – Albertville to Saint-Gervais-Mont-Blanc
As the riders head for the hills, the style of cuisine shifts gears to warming mountain food. Reach for that Raclette grill and prepare a meal of melted cheese eaten with potatoes with gherkins and pickled onions. It all makes sense if you imagine those mountains in snow. Then there’s Chartreuse the vivid green liqueur that’s famous around the world.
Ile de France
Stage 21 – Chantilly (Picardy) to Paris
After the ordeal of the mountains the cyclists then make their way to the centre of France. The race picks up again for the final 21st leg in Chantilly in Picardy region just north of Paris. Celebrate the culmination of the Tour with some well-known French favourites that have their home in the Ile de France region. No time for elaborate gourmet hijinks. You need a quick snack to watch the riders cross the finish line. Go for the French version of the toasted sandwich – the Croque-Monsieur (ham and cheese) or Croque Madame(with egg).
As the riders come through the Champs-Élysées toast to the winners with your beverage of choice. Doesn’t have to be a French wine – the race is now international and belongs to the world!