Tour de France, the Conclusion

Tour de France, the Conclusion
The 2010 Tour de France is now behind us and as we all try to cope with our grief, let’s remember the wonderful sights we saw. And even though it signals the end of the 2010 Tour de French Cuisine and my culinary voyage around France, it was an incredble ride. The cyclists certainly experienced highs and lows. But the cuisine was something else and doesn’t end with the Tour de France. Stage #16: Bagnères-de-Luchon to Pau and the first of two days on the Col du Tourmalet and the celebration of 100 years since the Tour de France first made the trek up the mythic mountain range. The Basque Country of Spain and France is within a stone’s throw and Basque cooking has a large influence on the cooking of the area. Poulet Basquaise is very Spanish in flavor and a simple one-dish meal with all the flavors that make Basque cooking so distinct—peppers, spice and ham. Yes, a fantastic one-dish meal. Stage #17: Pau to Col du Tourmalet and an epic finish on the Tourmalet, only the second time to do so in the Tour. In 1910 Octavia Lapize yelled out to the organizer,s “You’re assassins, all of you! You can’t ask such things of mere mortals. I’ve had enough!” as he reached the bottom of the Tourmalet. If there is one thing that Southwest France is known for and that can be seen in every image of the place, it is duck, either as the luxurious Foie Gras, Confit or as an element of Cassoulet. There are many ways to serve the Confit, but one of the simplest and preferred ways is on a bed of greens with light vinaigrette. A classic French vinaigrette comes together in minutes and always includes Dijon mustard and garlic and is better than anything you could ever buy in a plastic bottle. Stage #18: Salies-de-Béarn to Bordeaux: a transition stage after the Pyrenées, is long and flat but passes through an amazing vista of La forêt des Landes, the forest of pine trees of the Landes. It made for some amazing pictures and views of the riders going through the countryside after four hard days in the mountains. Although Bordeaux is known for its wine, it does not have its own cuisine like Burgundy does. Bordeaux is included in the Gastronomy of the southwest but is located near the ocean and has developed a love of anchovies with lamb and garlic; it is known as the agent de marriage. This recipe for La Gasconnade Gigot has very few ingredients as you can see but is very flavorful and the anchovies give it an extra zest of amazing flavor. Stage #19: Bordeaux to Pauillac: what else could this stage be about but wine? Bordeaux is the world capital of wine, and the biggest and most storied wines are along the roadside of this individual time trial and last day before Paris. The menu included Bordelaise sauce that includes shallots and Bordeaux wine slow cooked and reduced, with some butter added to make it luscious and tasty, and poured over a nice steak. But it is the little dark cakes known as Cannelés that are purely Bordelaise. They have a crisp caramelized outside and then the inside is filled with a rich pudding-like creamy texture that makes for the perfect bite. Stage #20: Longjumeau to Paris and the Champs-Elysées: is there a more perfect place to finish the Tour? It has finished on the Champs-Elysées since 1975 and is the most visible image of the tour. There is always a picture of the riders making the turn on the Champs with the Arc du Triomphe in the background that will be seen around the world. Who wouldn’t want to be there to see that or imagine that they could be a part of it? For the final stage I decided to make the classic French dessert, the Paris-Brest. The pastry came along after the Paris-Brest-Paris bike race started on September 6, 1891. It was 750 miles and would travel from Paris to the city of Brest on the westernmost tip of Brittany and back to Paris, a route that would take close to 100 hours and around 10 days. Along the road a baker was sitting outside his store when the riders came by and decided he would create a dessert in their honor. The choux paste would be piped into a circle, in the shape of a tire of course, and then filled with a praline cream and topped with almonds and more pralines. The race is the longest-running cycling race and the precursor to the Tour de France. So we have a lot to be thankful for, the Tour de France and the rich and tasty dessert. Now that the 2010 Tour de France is over there are hopeful signs on the horizon to get us through to July 2011. It was just announced that on October 19th of this year the 2011 route will be announced in Paris. We already know that it will start in the Vendée department on the western coast of France below Brittany and that there will be a return to Alpe d’Huez, which is a fan favorite. But until then I will be following along with some of the many other cycling races in France. The Paris-Corrèze, Tour du Limousin and Paris-Tours are just a few of the races coming up and are what will help me through the long cold wait to July 2, 2011. Follow along for full recipes and historical information on every stage and more French culinary adventures at my blog. Bon Appétit! Paris Shuttle is the leading provider of pre-bookable airport transfers in Paris. Book your airport transfer with and save up to 30%. If you’re coming to France (or for that matter anywhere) you can reserve your hotel here. To rent a car, Bonjour Paris recommends Auto Europe.

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Claudine Hemingway had a deep love of Paris instilled in her at an early age from her beloved grandparents. Following in their footsteps, she is happiest strolling the historic cobblestones soaking in the architecture, art and history. Highly sought after to plan your Parisian adventure that ventures off the beaten path and digs deeper into the historic and secret Paris. Contact her at [email protected] to plan your trip. You can follow her adventure and daily Paris history lesson on Instagram @claudinebleublonderouge