Yorkshire foodies embrace the Tour de France with a feast of fun
PUBLISHED: 23:23 15 June 2014
Frenchman Lionel Strub doesn't need to jet across the English Channel to enjoy the Grand Depart in Yorkshire next month - he's already got ringside seats at his restaurant in Harrogate.
The French chef-owner of Mirabelle in Swan Road will be giving a gastronomic nod to his fellow countrymen when the world’s most famous bike race descends on the county on July 5th and 6th. He will be serving up a special menu honouring each stage of the bike race, with four courses and matching wines that mirror the different French regions from Loire to Burgundy, with tutored tastings by winemakers and sommeliers.
‘For the first time, France is coming to me rather than me going there and that’s really special,’ says the award-winning chef, who has spent the last 25 years in the UK after working at top restaurants across Europe. ‘It’s a once in a lifetime experience to be hosting the Tour de France and as a French restaurant I feel we should be leading the pack in bringing the entente cordiale to Harrogate and Yorkshire.’
Mirabelle is not the only Yorkshire food business to celebrate Le Tour; hundreds of restaurants, pubs, cafes and producers will be saddling up too.
David Atkinson’s Yorkshire Meatball Company in Station Bridge, Harrogate, is paying homage to French cuisine with yellow jerseys and meatball twists on the classics – expect Coq au Balls and Beef Ball-guignon. The company is also developing ‘the world’s most expensive meatball’ for hungry race-goers, made from wagu beef and truffle, topped with gold leaf (in honour of the yellow jersey) and served with a jus made from Chateau Rothschild.
‘You can’t underestimate the impact of Le Tour on local businesses,’ David adds. ‘A lot of people know York, but other parts of Yorkshire are less well known and Le Tour will give this beautiful countryside and its producers some great exposure. Yorkshire food is already one of the world’s best known brands and this event can only broaden its appeal.’
The bike race will be coming straight to the door of chef-owner John Rudden’s Grassington House Hotel: ‘We’re putting on a French-themed menu in the bar and restaurant for the weekend and, outdoors, people can tuck into homemade burgers, a hog roast and Pimms and strawberries while enjoying the live action on a giant screen.’ Grassington Festival, from June 13th-28th, is being specially extended to include Le Tour weekend with tasty treats from local food businesses providing sustenance while people watch the live race.
Baker Lottie Shaw – famous for her Seriously Good Yorkshire Parkin – has taken her baking up a gear and created new cycling themed products for Le Tour with gingerbread bikes and exclusive limited edition packaging and mugs by local artist Kevin Haynes featuring bikes speeding through a cotton mill town.
‘When our family first started baking in Yorkshire the mill workers would visit our shops every day to buy their hand baked goods,’ says Lottie. ‘Kevin’s dad was also a baker so he recognises a good cake when he sees it.’
Thirsty race fans could also be supping a Le Tour themed beer as Yorkshire Ales and Wold Top Brewery create their own peloton-inspired pints.
Wold Top has launched Hello Velo, brewed using home-grown barley, chalk-filtered water from its own borehole and UK grown Goldings and First Gold hops.
Keen cyclist and brewery owner Tom Mellor will also be joining his fellow directors and staff in sponsoring several local events this summer including the Yorkshire Wolds 146-mile Cycle Challenge (aka The Mini Grand Depart) on July 12th and 13th.
Yorkshire Ales, which has shops in Snaith, Malton, Ripon and York, is collaborating with Brown Cow Brewery to launch its own special edition On Yer Bike beer featuring a brown cow on a bike. The company has been chosen as the exclusive beer retailer for Welcome to Yorkshire over the summer, offering beer-lovers cycling-themed cases of local beers.
‘We’re all about promoting Yorkshire’s lesser-known micro breweries and Le Tour provides a fabulous opportunity to make more people aware of the diversity and quality of local ale,’ says owner Adrian Pettitt. ‘Le Tour will give visitors a glimpse of the fantastic landscape, culture and cuisine of Yorkshire in a way they might not have seen before.’
The grounds of Kilnsey Park Estate near Skipton is not only on the Tour de France route but, from July 3rd-6th, will also be the centre of the Velofest festival of cycling and camping, with local producers showcasing the best in Yorkshire food and drink.
‘We’ll have a stall selling our award-winning smoked fish chowder and unique pink fish and chips,’ says Jamie Roberts from Kilnsey Park. ‘And we’re also organising a French-themed Lake to Plate masterclass to coincide with the Tour. After guests have learnt to catch a fish, they will be shown how to cook the classic French recipe ‘a la meuniere’, followed by a three-course meal – doubtless washed down by a pastis or two.’
Yorkshire Food Finder is giving people the chance to cycle for their supper with two special culinary trails putting food lovers in touch with producers and top chefs. The one-day Last of the Summer Wine Meets Le Tour and two-day Taste Le Tour trail have been specially designed to include energy-boosting meals at award-winning local pubs – and cool boxes to sneak away treats without cluttering up your panniers.
‘We’ll literally be taking every fork in the road for our Tour de France inspired trails,’ jokes Sue Nelson, who set up the company alongside husband Aidan in 2012. ‘Participants can work up an appetite for the best food Yorkshire has to offer and enjoy the same routes taken by the Tour athletes.’
Lionel at Mirabelle believes the Tour is going to be a real game-changer for the county: ‘The Depart has already generated jobs and the benefits and legacy will be felt for years to come.’