Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tour food and drink: Stages four to seven.

The road goes  ever on and on...terrible weather in the Tour so far


So, after it's English interlude (strangely, the sunniest bit of this year's race, so far), the Tour is back on French (and Belgian) soil for some Hell of the North conditions and a classic stage over the pavé which showed Vincenzo Nibali as a real contender this year.  Anyway, that's enough cycling nonsense! More importantly, what has the Legatus been eating and drinking to keep him going during his marathon TV sessions?  




Stage 4 saw us in French Flanders so a quick, cheap solution was a ten pack of Sainsbury's French Bière des Flandres, which wasn't offensive if rather lacking in character (like Chris Froome).  These cute little bottles did disappear very quickly, though.  It was rather like Pringles: once you pop you can't stop.  So, none left, unexpectedly.




Stage 5 saw us in Belgium and Ypres, a hundred years after the start of the Great War, as the Tour paid it's respects to the memory of the Western Front.




This Belgian Blonde had a lot more character than the Flanders beer but was still a bit thin on the finish. 6.3%, though.  It is made by Brasserie Du Bocq in Purnode, which is some sixty miles from the Belgian part of the route but I have to be flexible!




The name is quite evocative for the Legatus as it reminds me of a girl I met at an infrastructure conference once.  It was held in a beach front hotel (very out of season) in one of those Dutch seaside towns which always seemed to be featured in sixties and seventies game show Jeux Sans Frontières.  The hallowed feet of the mellifluously named judges, Gennaro Olivieri and Guido Pancaldi, may have trod the very same corridors.


Want to strip the paint off your model soldiers?  Just stand on the beach at Noordwijk and hold them up above the beach grass.  Of course you'll lose all the skin on your hands too


Anyway, after rather a lot of stodgy conference food, I felt I needed some exercise and so went out for a walk along the front, one afternoon.  This was a mistake, as the wind off the beach meant that all the skin on your face was instantly sandblasted off and you couldn't see anyway.  It was like a scene from Dune. After ten minutes of walking in a sandstorm (but at three degrees centigrade and minus five degrees windchill) I returned to the bar only to run into A, a Belgian girl and the very acceptable face of the European Union at the conference. She had been dogging my every step for three days.  She had just been appointed to a role in the EU covering a subject she knew absolutely nothing about (surely not?) but as I had been one of the speakers on it on the first morning she insisted on sitting next to me for the rest of the conference and bombarding me with inane questions.  Given she was a lovely blonde with the most piercing blue eyes I had ever seen I overcame my initial reluctance and rather unwillingly sat down with her (she was one of those women, like the Old Bat, who just cannot stop talking).  Explaining my aborted attempt to get some exercise, she pointed out that the hotel had a very nice indoor pool and would I like to go for a swim with her?  When I pointed out that I hadn't brought my swimming things she pointed out that it was a clothing optional pool so it didn't matter.




Anyway, what food to eat for Belgium?  Well not fancying moules-frites (I can't stand mussels unless they are buried in a paella) or even just patat met mayonaise (man cannot live by chips alone) I cheated and had Ardennes Pâté even though the Ardennes is more World War 2 rather than World War 1.  Case solved.




Stage 6 was much easier on the drinks front as the stage finished in Reims (our English spelling of Rheims seems to have dropped out of favour of late).  Whatever, the French still pronounce it in such a way that it sounds like they are trying to clear their blocked sinuses.  Anyway, it gave me an excuse to drink something from the town that has been sitting around in my collection for too long now: a bottle of Piper-Heidsick Rosé Sauvage.  This was very fruity but also slightly toasty.  Very small bubbles, which obviously is what caused it all to evaporate so quickly.  No doubt Little Armies wouldn't approve, but I do really like pink Champagne although I usually only drink it with girls.  This one was a present from a former personal assistant (the one I was planning to go up the Nile with a few years ago - she was a very personal assistant).




Our final stage, for this post, started in another of the three key Champagne towns: Épernay.   I've never been that fond of Moët which, due to clever marketing around sports events, the House has managed to make the world's default Champagne.  My past girlfriend, V, also mispronounced the name which I found very irritating (especially for someone who claimed to have French A-level).  Never mind she was very skilled at other things with French names.   This really has been sitting in the wine cupboard for far too long but, again, disappeared quite rapidly.




Stage 7 travelled across Lorraine and into Nancy so the food choice was very easy: even though I wouldn't normally be seen dead eating quiche; it no longer still being the nineteen seventies.  Incidentally, decorating both my Quiche Lorraine and Ardennes Pâté plates are those delicious French gherkins: cornichons.  These taste completely different from English gherkins and ! will look at them in more detail in our next post, as we pedal into the Alsace.

21 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. It's nearly always time for a little something!

      Delete
  2. Doubt if I'll ever get a chance to say this again so here goes...I'm actually looking forward to reading your post about French gherkins.

    ReplyDelete
  3. How on earth do Sainsbury's get away with calling that Bière des Flandres when the stuff is only 2.6%?? Good God, it's practically Lucozade.... PS. Am I the only one wondering whether you actually went for that swim??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, you're not the only one, but being a gentleman he isn't going to tell.

      Delete
  4. You do seem to be taking the gastronomic side of the Tour very seriously indeed. I'm looking forward to your next post of the series.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Is it me or is the booze more prominent than the food? In fact the food gets less word than tales of previous paramours...

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've been drinking Bodicea ale lately to get me in the mood for painting Cells.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Don't drink too much or you won't be able to do all the plaid!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I never thought the tour could be that interesting.

    men in lycra is a big no no...ladies on the other hand ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Dam I'm hungry now and I want a beer. You naughty man!

    ReplyDelete
  10. A wonderfully indulgent journey, on all fronts, past and present! ;-) More please... the innuendo and suggestion is most entertaining ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Very entertaining!

    It's a wonder that you get any painting done. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  12. A typically witty post, LH. I share your fondness for pink champagne, although it's generally higher price in comparison to the normal stuff means I drink it very rarely. Talking of Little Armies, I was moaning to him the other week about the price of Bollinger at Royal Ascot - a half bottle of NV cost £57! Cloudy Bay's Pelorus rose is worth trying if you come across any (occasionally Majestic get in a small parcel).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There seems to be something about horse racing that sees a disconnect from reality as regards prices. You get the same in yachting!

      Delete
  13. Giles - I did say to you that we had no input into the price of Bolly at Ascot at all. And Legatus - Moet don't do "clever marketing" as such - they simply throw money at people until they overcome the event's reluctance to pour a second rate champagne.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was thinking of the fact that they started to sponsor Formula 1 in the sixties and offered Champagne to the winners podium, A n inspired idea. Dan Gurney was the first one to spray the other drivers at the 1967 Le Mans race, starting a tradition. They now call themselves the "Champagne of success and glamour".

      Delete