Stage 17 – A Gander of Champions

by Jeanne


Image: Reuters

Yeah!   Paolo Savodelli’s (Italy) stage win today gives The Discovery team a total of three stages wins so far in the 2005 TdF (the team time trial, the stage to Pla-d’Adet and today’s stage).  This is outstanding for a team. Savodelli also won the 2005 Giro d’Italia In bicycling there are three races that form the "triple crown"–TdF (July), Giro d’Italia (May) and the Vuelta a España (end of August)(hmm–maybe a future focus for WOP?!). No cyclist has ever won all three Grand Tour events in the same year. Imagine the physical challenge of that undertaking. Four cyclists have won all three during their career. Sorry, Lance isn’t one of those. And no there are no Americans with this honor–which is not to say we don’t have champion cyclists!  One more random race thought was this Levi Leipheimer’s diary comment (July 19 entry) on Geroge Hincapie. "George deserves a lot of credit. He didn’t seem to get any the other day from the press. He has spent more time in the wind during the last six tours than any other rider and he could easily finish in the top ten of the tour."  God, what a great sport this is. 

Tdf_tgoose_1 Today’s race finished back up in the Midi-Pyrénées region in Revel. Known as the French center for furniture making it is a not far from Toulouse.  The region’s capital is situated between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, about 456 miles from Paris, and is the fourth largest city in the country.

Central to many French dishes is goose.  The most commonly found domestic goose in this region, and now throughout Britan, Canada and America is the Toulouse Goose. A general purpose fowl it was originally bred in southern France, near the city of Toulouse, for pate de fois gras as early as the 1400’s.

There are three types of Toulouse geese–Production, Standard Dewlap, and Exhibition.  According to American Livestock Breeds Conservancy all three types are endangered, particularly the Standard Dewlap as it has the ability to put on large amounts of fat without exercise. Today farmers refer to this breed as noodling geese. "Noodling" is force-feeding geese a fat and grain mash. Small farmers massage “noodles” down geese throats by hand. Large producers auger geese full of mash and maximize fat production through intensive confinement. The product is fat-laden flesh and an oversized liver. Et, voila, fois gras.  But this discussion is not political.

It should be noted here that it was the Egyptians who discovered the foie gras around 2500 B.C. Hunters along the Nile noticed that the livers of the geese were bigger, paler and much tastier during the migration period as they were overfeeding themselves before their migration flights.

Goose meat is darker, with a fuller bodied, and more intensely flavor than turkey. It is fatter and more gamy than duck. Unfortunately for Americans geese are often cooked like duck, i.e. medium rare. Many say the best method takes two and a half days to cook a goose. This method involves allowing the goose to sit, uncovered, in the refrigerator for a full two days before roasting allowing for a crispy skin in the end.  Other preparations consist of blanching the fat out of the bird prior to roasting for several hours.

Foie Gras with Pineapple and Pistachios via Saveur Magazine

Apple Terrine of Foie Gras with Blackberry Sauce from SF’s Michael Minna