Tuesday, July 15, 2008

so, it's that time of year again.

it's time to do the french thing.

this time of year, the mind turns to french desserts and what other kind of main meal there might be that's not boeuf bourgignon, that's not belgian, that's french enough for our once-a-year tour de france night. minds turn to the bottle of absinth that is packed away in storage, left-over from the tour meal two years ago. hearts turn to cheese, and lots of it.

i know the tour is on every night for many nights at the moment (is it 2 weeks? 3? so shoot me, i don't know, i'm not a complete tour-head) and many of us are up until 1am, watching the boys in their lycra, and trying not to stare at their bulging crotches (some of us that is; others don't really care. about staring.)

so this year it's at my sister's, and they are doing main and i have said i will take dessert. for us and the kids. the kids don't get to eat the real french food. we fob them off with a quick pasta bake or something.

i've decided to make creme brulee, which was the dessert that we always ate in paris when we were there. it's like being in an italian restaurant. if they have tiramisu, we had to have that too.

so i've got the ingredients, i've got the little ramekins. i've got the friggin expensive vanilla beans. i don't have the blow torch cause i thought i'd see how i go just grilling them.

the test run is tonight. and the plan is to make meringues with the egg whites (because the brulees only require the yolks.)

so, that's the food.

last night was the second night for the tour to be passing through the mountains. i watched until 11.30, and by then i'd had my fill of crotches and it was making me tired just watching these dudes cycling up the mountain. how on earth do they do it. i reckon they are machines, they would just have to do that, and when they're not riding, they wouldn't be able to have a conversation with anyone, they'd be too used-up, don't you think? do they have wives? i know cadel does, she plays the piano or is a singer or something, but do you reckon she's over there? it seems such a hard thing to be doing, riding a bicycle up a mountain. he wouldn't be able to go back to the hotel and summon a smile for his wife, would he? would he be up for a romantic dinner on the terrace, with champagne and then some lovin'?

i think not.

i've blogged about the tour before*, but i have more questions now.

1. why are their crotches so prominent and big? my sister said that a few days ago one of the men had a big stiffy. BIG. HUGE. she said it was really distracting. i wonder if he was wearing white lycra. i bet he was. i swear, sometimes i reckon i can see the different parts of part, if you know what i mean in the white-suit boys.

2. the rest of them are so skinny. i know they probably have to consume three times as many calories or whatever than the rest of us who are sitting around on our arses. but they are still really skinny, in the arms mostly.

3. it bothers me that they just throw their rubbish to the side of the road - drink bottles, everything. i know people probably clean this up, do the cars do it? but what if they miss a few drink bottles. that hard plastic is just so bad, so ugly, and france is so pretty.

4. i still don't get how it works. when cadel had his crash and they were talking about robbie mc ewan (?) dropping back to get anti-inflammatories from the doctor and then taking them up to cadel. how does that work? wouldn't he have to be a better rider than cadel to drop back then catch up?

5. what do these people do for the rest of the year? there'd be other races, lots of other races i guess. do they travel the circuit like tennis players? how do the teams work? do they team up for certain races, and in other groups for others? are any races just a normal A to B first over the line wins race?

6. would you serve something with the creme brulee? probably not. i'll get some cheese i think for later when we are watching the race.

* several posts, july 2006 if you can be bothered looking.


groverjones said...

Hi MG,

I can try on a few of them:
1. why are their crotches so prominent and big? Because you don't wear underwear with cycling gear, so there's less than 1mm of lycra between you and the clean French air.

3. it bothers me that they just throw their rubbish to the side of the road... I think that the Europeans are cycling freaks who think that Cadel's nurofen wrapper is a trophy to put on the mantelpiece.

4. ...wouldn't he have to be a better rider than Cadel to drop back then catch up? The whole Silence Lotto team are there only to get Cadel the Tour win. Robbie can drop back and get the pills, then use up all his energy to catch up again, then be buggered for the rest of the day but the important thing is that Cadel got the pills. You could see the same thing happening the other day when Robbie was up the front for a final sprint and the team weren't there to help him because they were with Cadel.

5. what do these people do for the rest of the year? There is a circuit - there are some big races like the Giro d'Italia and the one with cobblestones that one of the Aussies did really well on and lots of smaller races - Le Tour is 'The Big One' of course.

Glad to be of service!

Magical_M said...

I get very bored watching the Tour de France... unless there's a crash. I do like to tune in occasionally to see the pretty countryside though. I especially like it when they throw in an aerial shot of a chateau and I can think to myself "if I won the lottery..."

Anyway. I can offer no decent advice to the questions about cycling but I would like to offer a suggestion for what to serve with the creme brulee. Some of those nice spongy finger biscuits. That aren't really soft spongy but a little bit crispy. I forget what they're actually called but I'm sure you know what I mean. They're delish.

I'm not Craig said...

No blowtorch for the brulee? How can you do this?

If I learned nothing else from the one french cooking class I ever went to, it's that the blowtorch is by far the coolest thing about french cooking. There are a few things in life that are more fun than cooking with welding equipment, but not many.

I also have an awesome recipe for Normandy Style chicken (with apples and mushrooms and a cream/calvados sauce), which is a highly acceptable alternative to bourgignon and, not, as far as I know, Belgian in any way.

Melba said...

grover thanks for your answers. i really appreciate it. and i must say i am shocked and interested to know they don't wear underpants. is it to do with friction, i guess so. well they really should wear some sort of patch with the white lycra. wow.

thanks for explaining also the way the team works (point 4). in the paper today, they were talking about how cadel's team isn't the strongest. how wonderful if he does win the whole thing. he's got the yellow top now, so sweet getting all teary in the photo in the paper.

m_m; thanks for biscuit advice. i know the ones you mean and i think they would go well. the creme brulee experiment last night did not work. the custard didn't set. i didn't cook in a bain-marie in the oven as the recipe said this was optional. i kept one dish in the fridge overnight to caramelise the top tonight to see if it needed a night in the fridge. so hopefully it will have firmed up.

otherwise it's back to the drawing board.

inc, i forgot to price the blow-torches at essential ingredient at prahran market when i was there sunday, but the griller worked well. one less piece of equipment works for me, but you're right. welding equipment in the kitchen is pretty cool. can you forward that recipe to me? i'd appreciate it. it's my belief you can never have too many recipes...

groverjones said...

Let me know when we get to 'too much information,' but it is both friction and the fact that cycling shorts have an absorbent chamois in the crotch that would be rendered less useful by damp jocks in between.

And just after I answered #5, pro-cycling got a big shake up as 17 pro teams pulled out of the 'Pro Tour' for next year.

gullybogan said...

We grilled our brulees, and they turned out just fine. As an accompaniment, we opted for garlic soup, rather than cheese; as i had to work with other ppl the next day, i think that cheese would have been the cleverer option.

Cyclists have normal-sized packages, i reckon, but their bodies are so trimmed down, they look larger in comparison. This is the number one reason that cyclists go into cycling, so that their packages can appear enormous; hence the white lycra.

Ann O'Dyne aka Dysthymiac said...

I watched it all last year too and was hysterical by the finish. Just love all those villages and forests and chateaux. And as far as I am concerned, Cadel WON last year. That team of 10 riders that supposedly won, only achieved it by blocking others from getting near the one they decided would be first.

*pedals away fast*

Melba said...

thank you, oh package commenters.

on the chamois (not yet at too much information melt-down) wouldn't that increase the opaqueness of the white shorts? would that not prevent showage of the creases of the man-part? or is it built into the actual short as an insert, rather than as a second-layer behind.

now you tell me grover if we are at the too much info stage.

gullybogan, re the creme brulee, when you say you accompanied with onion soup you don't mean together? you mean soup first course, something in between, and then brulee or did you do a savoury brulee? i'm a tad confused i confess.

hi ann - how are your lovely horses? maybe next year we need to have a blogger tour event? but it can only be people who have talked about the tour who are allowed to attend. ie, no ring ins who don't know about chamois.

BEVIS said...

Around this time of the year, I like to indulge in a lot of French kissing to celebrate the occasion of the "Tour de".

The trouble is, I used to insist that the French kissing in question had to be conducted while riding bicycles, but Wifey put a stop to that part of the tradition precisely three years ago when I caused an accident (mostly in the seat of my pants, but just pretend you didn't read that).

So now the practice of celebratory French kissing is reserved for those bewitching hours between Sweetums' bedtime and when Wifey says those ever-encouraging and heart-warming words:

"Okay, enough's enough! You've already got me pregnant again; what more do you want from me? I'm going to bed."

Ahh, sweet romance.

I'm not Craig said...

Props to Grover for seemlessly combining fact and friction

groverjones said...

Nice, INC!

Now I'm confused - the chamois is opaque and is a part of the shorts, but sits lower, in front of the bits you sit on, so the package is still out in front. At least I think that's how it works. It's about 0 degrees and threatening hail today, with -1 forecast on Thursday, so I won't be getting in to my lycra in the next few days, but next time I do I'll be sure to give you an update on what sits where.

Melba said...

good one inc.

also, grover i swear you are so committed to this chamois thing.

i'm waiting to hear exactly where the package sits with regards to the chamois.