Every year the TDF course changes. Again, if you consider this fact you will become more impressed with these cycle jockeys. Every year is different. The various villages along the route bid, cajole and bargain to be included as a stage start or finish. I imagine that negotiations involve a lot of wine and cheese exchanging hands.
Today the TDF begins in Chambord and rolls on for 183km to Montargis. Chambord is a tiny village in the Loir-et-Cher region. There’s only 204 people and might magnificent castle–in fact the largest one in the Loire. In the reign of Louis XIV, nobility would travel to their chateaux and relax with a snifter of Chambord which has been made by the same family for over 300 years.
The sweet liqueur is made from the finest framboises noire (black raspberries) and infused into a four year cognac. The distinct bottle is a glass sphere with a cap shaped like a metallic crown. Chambord includes blackberries, plums,currants, raspberries, honey and spices. It will come as no surprise that it is quite intense. As their website states, this is not another creme de cassis, "the cheaper, bitter and worse tasting" liquid that it is. I was gifted with a bottle and have concocted a vodka-based martini of my own making. It’s also great in desserts such as this Flourless Chocolate Chambord cake.
Riders will finish in Montargis, a place renowned for its honey and its notable confectionery contribution those famous sugared almonds or pralines. According to one often-repeated story and recounted in Larousse Gastronomique it was in this town during the reign of Louis XIII, that Lassagne, who was chef de bouche (master of the household), to the Compte du Plessis-Praslin, dropped almonds into a boiling cauldron of sugar whether on purpose or accidentally is widely argued. These confections, when cooled, became one of the Duke’s favorites, and he claimed the invention with his name they were named praslines. "Lassagne finally retired to Montargis in 1630 and there founded the Maison de la Praline, which exists to this day."
2 oz. good quality Vodka (such as Grey Goose)
1/2 oz. Chambord Liquor
Fresh lime juice
Pour all ingredients except lime into shaker over ice, shake, strain, and pour into glass. Squeeze a few drops of fresh lime juice into glass and top with a lime twist.