Stage 21: Chantilly > Paris Champs-Élysées

So it’s come to this – the final stage of the 2016 Tour de France. Traditionally, this means champagne for the yellow jersey, a slow roll towards the metropolis, some laps of the cobbles and a frantic sprint finish. Oh, and no vaches. And with a late start today, it probably also means a very thinned out couch peloton.

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Image: Wiki Commons

Enjoy raiding the fridge for leftovers. I probably won’t see you for much, if any, of the stage, but I’m looking forward to La Course!

I’m trying to figure out how I can make the final quiz work this year – with reduced Ps time, the obvious questions really aren’t jumping out at me as much as they have in the past. Stay tuned, and thanks for a fabulous three weeks.

Stage 20: Megève > Morzine-Avoriaz

Mike Tomolaris suggested that yesterday’s stage was the final test. He may have jumped the gun a little, although the conditions certainly were testing for the riders once the rain started to come down. Still, we have two stages to go and whilst I’m happy to write off the final stage as a formality, this one has a number of challenges. There are four categorised climbs, culminating in the HC Joux Plane. The official guide tells us that this is a climb that struck fear into the heart of he-who-shall-not-be-named. The finish is a descent into Morzine and with more rain forecast today, it could be dicey. Here’s hoping there aren’t any result-changing chutes.

As we are still in the Savoie and Haute Savoie, we can continue to watch out for the alpine cattle profiled earlier. We spotted a number of cows during stage 19, including what looked like a group of Tarentaise taking an interest in the race.

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Image: Guilhem Vellut

As long as you watch Taste le Tour, you are guaranteed vaches, as Gabriel Gaté visits some Abondance. The reblechon cheese is made from the milk of these, along with Tarentaise and Montbéliarde.

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Image: SBS – Taste le Tour

Remember that tartiflette I posted a couple of days ago? Well, it looks as though he is making one tonight. Here’s the recipe. A crisp white wine would go down well with it, I reckon.

Stage 19: Albertville > Saint Gervais (Mont Blanc)

We’ll be hearing Col de la Voecklers again tonight, but this is a different climb, on the other side of Mont Blanc. The Col de la Forclaz is both the first and second categorised climb of the day, with riders taking two passes in the first half of the race. The third climb is the HC Montée de Bisanne and the stage finishes in Saint Gervais Le Bettex after the climb up the Côte des Amerands. It’s 146km in total. Spectacular scenery is guaranteed; I guess we will just have to wait and see how hard the riders in the top ten are willing to fight for a place beside Froome on the podium.

Let’s look out for the Abondance cattle tonight, and hope that my autocorrect is right in telling me that they will be in abundance. (I feel sure I’ve made this exact joke before, but with a two ascents of a second mountain called Forclaz, I think deja vu is the order of the day.)

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Image: Fromage Abondance

The milk of this cow (not specifically the one pictured above, but… you know what I mean) is used to produce a number of alpine cheeses, including the Abondance.

Abondance cheese is made by hand in the traditional way, by the combined efforts of some 60 farm producers and local craft cooperatives known as “fruitières” (literally, “fruit trees”), using milk supplied by local dairy farmers.
All production and maturation sites must be located within the geographical area specified by the AOC/PDO labels.
From the very start of the process through to the moment the final product has fully matured, the skills of each dairy farmer, cheese maker and maturer are what make Abondance cheese so special and unique.

Fromage Abondance

If you can’t find Abondance cheese, there is Beaufort, Comté, Tomme de Savoie… all those cheeses mentioned yesterday and more! After clicking through links on the above site, I am adding a cheese tour of the Savoie to my wish list: Les Fromages de Savoie.

Enjoy the stage, particularly the extended coverage tonight and tomorrow!

For Stage 19 – thanks, @thedrinkslist

A photo posted by Les Vaches Du Tour (@lesvachesdutour) on

Stage 18: Sallanches > Megève

The final TT is an uphill 17 km, promising spectacular scenery and small gaps between the favourites. To be honest, I’m more excited about this information from the On The Road section of the official website:

Specialities: … Reblochon, tomme de Savoie, tome des Bauges, Abondance, Chevrotin, Emmental de Savoie (cheese), tartiflette, raclette, fondue savoyarde.

Honestly, I don’t know how you are going to choose a cheese or cheese-adjacent dish for tonight with so much choice. One thing I do know, though, is that you can’t go wrong.

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A tartiflette I enjoyed in the Haute Savoie in 2013

Local Simmental with a marrow sauce – I am still dreaming of this from Annecy in 2013

IMG_4363Oh, and did you notice the mention of the Rock’n’Poche festival on the Le Tour site? I couldn’t resist looking it up… Check out the logo!

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Stage 17: Bern > Finhaut-Emosson

We are in Switzerland all day – 184.5km, four climbs and a summit finish. You’d hope the riders spent part of yesterday eating for tomorrow, which is – of course – today.

According to the Australian home of Raclette cheese:

Apart from the magnificent Swiss Alps themselves, Switzerland’s greatest natural resource is the cow.

and Switzerland certainly brought us a bovine bonanza before the rest day. I am hoping we will have more delights today. The buffalo were a bit of an unexpected surprise on Monday; today we are travelling through the home of the Simmental so we should be assured of a sighting.

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Perhaps we will also spy some Braunvieh, complete with cowbells (if the roadside randoms have left any for the cows).

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Image: Ikiwaner

 

Clearly this is a stage for chocolate and/or cheese. There are a lot of alpine cheeses to choose from, but if you can get your hands on one of these, tonight would be the perfect night for bunging it in the oven:

800px-Vacherin_Mont_d'OrImage: Wikimedia Commons

when baked, it’s like a brain wreck of everything going on – fat, funk, fresh cream, wood, garlic, rank, and a peculiar buttery sharpness scrambling all of your senses together in each single mouthful. And if that description didn’t scare you away, then you’ll be rewarded with a life-altering eating experience.

David Lebovitz

Now, if that doesn’t make you want to rush out in search of this cheese, I don’t know what will.