Stage 8: Rennes > Mûr-de-Bretagne

This 181.5km stage finishes atop the Mûr-de-Bretagne, a Cat 3 climb that is likely to bring out a host of Breton cycling fans. This was the stage 4 finish four years ago, won by Cadel Evans who zipped past an oblivious Contador. Contador will doubtless have his wits about him today, but is a stage victory in his plans? Given Sagan’s serial second places, a tweeter mentioned that Oleg is likely to be getting a bit toey, so perhaps the pressure will be on. Also expect to see the Mad Cows, aka BSE, getting some TV time on their home turf. I’m hoping Vachon puts on a show!

Once again, I continue in my quest to spot a Breton Pie Noir.

Vache-bretonne-pie-noir_SDA2014Image: Eponimm



Image: Nicholas L. 

What are our chances? Well, when we first met this little cow, it had only recently begun a program designed to bring it back from the endangered list (remember those fanatical foodies?). The numbers I found at that time were around 1,100, which is, frankly, a relatively small drop in the milk bucket. An article I read which was more recent estimates numbers at around 1,600 so I guess that makes our chances of spotting one almost 50% greater, right?

So, why do people care about rescuing this breed from obscurity? Biodiversity is important, but this breed has traits that are valuable to producers.

Small but rustic!

This breed of small format, with white and black dress, indeed has undeniable strengths: sexual precocity, good fertility, ease of calving and longevity. Its hardiness is also very popular with breeders: the piebald Breton, whose race has developed on the acidity and poverty of Armorican lands easily converted into roughage and found to be insensitive to temperature variations. Above all, they produce a rich milk. It is not by chance that they are deemed Oil-dispensing! They also provide a popular meat for its flavor and smoothness.

Les Produits Laitiers

I probably don’t need to point out that the above was Google-translated, but you get the drift. They are deemed Oil-dispensing!

Now, if Gabriel doesn’t take advantage of being in Brittany to make lavish use of butter, then I think we need to stage an intervention. Of course if, like me, you don’t wish to leave these things to chance, Frank Camorra has you covered with this Breton pastry with salted caramel apples. You’ll need 280g of butter and a cup of cream. If you’d rather something savoury, galettes are the go-to dish. Neil Perry’s recipe has a good whack of butter as well as cheese. Breton cheese is probably quite hard to find here – Cookipedia’s list might help you source reasonable substitutes. As for drinking, there’s always Breton cider or some Muscadet.

I’ll let Les Produits Laitiers have the last word on today’s cow:

After having almost disappeared in the 1970s, this typically Breton cow has taken the bull by the beast. Meeting with a cow that has the wind in its sails!

It’s almost SherLiggett-esque…





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