The French delicacy made of 25 layers of pig intestines
Guemene-sur-Scorff in north-west France may not be well known internationally, but a popular French delicacy was born in the town. The andouille de Guemene is a pork sausage made from pigs’ intestines and stomachs.
A local andouillerie, Rivalan Quidu, advertises its presence on the outskirts of Guemene-sur-Scorff in Brittany, France, with a sculpture in the corner of its vast car park.
You won’t need to take a great leap of imagination to visualise what a representation, in fibreglass, of two giant andouilles might be mistaken for, but the locals take their home-grown delicacy very seriously indeed.
A steady stream of customers – from passing tourists to lorry drivers on their regular beat – pull in to buy a chunk.
The andouille de Guemene is a relatively new phenomenon – the recipe having been created only in 1930 by Joseph Quidu, the son of a local farmer – but Gallic gourmands with a fascination for all elements of the gastrointestinal tract of a pig have embraced it as a classic.
As I push open the shop door I’m enveloped by the aromas of fat and smoke. I suspect just breathing the air could send my cholesterol levels into double figures.
The narrow shop is fitted out to resemble a Breton kitchen, complete with pine fixtures. Andouilles hang from every part of the ceiling like crinkly brown stalactites. At one end is a typically huge Breton fireplace – it too is festooned with andouilles, being smoked over a wood fire.
The stones are caked in glistening, sooty fat. Behind the counter is Benoit, husband of Joseph’s grand-daughter Francoise, who together with their children are carrying the tradition of the andouille de Guemene into its third and fourth generations.
Out at the back, away from the public gaze – and possibly out of respect for the squeamish – is the kitchen where the andouilles are created in a modern style true to Joseph’s original recipe.
Inspired, I like to imagine, by the act of pulling on more than one pair of socks to counter the cold and damp Breton winters, Joseph pulled one length of chaudin – or pig intestine – over another, and then another. Around 20 or 25 in all.
The salted intestines of three pigs, weighing in at 3kg, go into each andouille, which are then smoked over oak wood and dried, sometimes for months on end before being cooked slowly in stock. Cut through, the innards resemble pinky-grey tree rings carrying a distinctly smoky taste and aroma.
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The Marathon du Médoc: running the world’s longest, booziest, race
Is a full marathon with 23 wine stops also offering specialities such as oysters, steak, and ice-cream a recipe for success – or disaster?
As any long-distance runner knows, there are a number of cardinal rules when it comes to marathons and, while waiting at the start line for my third, I realise I have broken most of them. My general health is poor, in fact I woke coughing up so much phlegm that I was reminded of Slimer from Ghostbusters; I haven’t allowed myself a good night’s sleep; and I’ve not trained in my race outfit – a police costume bought off eBay for £15 – partly from fear of getting beaten up in my north London hood, and partly because I’ve not really trained much at all.
Oh, and I’m extremely hungover. Fortunately, I’m attempting Bordeaux’s Marathon du Médoc; a running event combining “wine, sports, fun and health”, which seems to actively encourage anything that’s normally discouraged in running. Held every September in France’s Médoc region, this sounds like the most idiotic race known to man. The course is 26.2 miles through scenic vineyards and the participants – in compulsory fancy dress – are expected to indulge in 23 glasses of the famed vintages en route, while also stuffing themselves with local specialities such as oysters, foie gras, cheese, steak and ice-cream. Brilliant.
My hangover, then, is in good company, and I’m not just referring to my running partner and fellow “police officer” Birdy, whose eyes are so bloodshot he looks like a zombie. Many of the 10,000 other participants have attended one of the event’s pasta parties the previous evening: a glorious mix of wine, carbohydrates and merriment designed, I suspect, to ensure that you forget you’re running a marathon the following morning. Or, in Birdy’s case, even on the day itself.
Yet the atmosphere at the packed start line is upbeat. Everyone is grinning, most are dancing, some are even whooping – a far cry from the sombre, nervous mood of my previous marathons.
The event has even more glitz and glamour this year – fireworks and dancers at the start line and an additional 1,500 runners to acknowledge the 30th anniversary of the first race. “The first official race didn’t take place until 1985, but it was meant to take place in 1984,” explains Vincent Fabre, the marathon’s president, when I question why the anniversary dates don’t quite add up. “There were some problems with administration – they’re very strict about health and safety over here.”
Glancing at the pack of Smurfs already finishing off a bottle of vino (it’s 9.30am), and the oversized baby having a fag in the starting zone, I’m not entirely convinced regulations are quite as stringent as they would be back in the UK – though I’m hardly complaining.
I do have one concern though. Having – strangely enough – not really trained with the food and drink I intend to consume en route, I’m unsure what havoc they will wreak on my stomach. Luckily, a man whose costume consists of a toilet roll secured to his head reminds me. “Imodium,” I explain to Birdy, pulling the packet of pills out of my pocket and handing him some. “Some now and some for later, in case of… the worst.”
Having been advised by veterans that those who were serious about the Marathon du Médoc aimed to finish as close to the six-hour-30-minutes time limit as possible to take full advantage of the produce on offer, Birdy and I agree that our strategy is: take it slow. Too slow. The novelty of introducing wine to running is too much for our over-excited selves, and while slurping back our third glass of wine at Chateau Montrose – the first wine stop just over 5km along the track – it occurs to us that we’ve already taken almost an hour. Spotting the cut-off float dangerously close we decide to pick up the pace.
But after the first chateau, the stops come thick and fast, the wine and food – biscuits, waffles, fruit, sweets, cheese, bread, crackers – go down far too easily, and the temptation to stop for an impromptu boogie to the many wonderful local bands stationed along the route is too hard to resist.
Plus, it’s really hot: around 27 degrees without a cloud in sight. And the heat slows us down to walking pace along the stunning – but very exposed – country roads and vineyard tracks. As we approach Chateau Lafite Rothschild around halfway, we notice some runners have found an excellent way to cool down – by jumping into the Chateau’s lake. We decide to join them – along with our car keys we later realise. Who knew alcohol could affect good judgment?
It also affects the second half of a marathon, which, for the first time, I find easier than the first. Plodding along in my own merry way, I’m quite oblivious to the mileage we’re getting through. It’s Birdy who breaks into a spontaneous, projectile vomit around 18 miles (29km), necessitating another Imodium tablet. “Too late,” he shouts, seconds later, running off at a speed we could have done with a while back towards the nearest chemical toilet.
Finally, after mile 23, the oyster stop. God, the cool, lemony, saltiness washed down with white wine tastes incredible. To me, anyway. Half a mile from the end, Birdy keels over for his second vomit. Instantly a group of medics are around him checking that he’s OK. “He’s fine – just too much – you know,” I assure, making a drinking motion.
Indeed this marathon – to the organisers’ pride – has the most medical support of any in the world, not that it seems to need it. Unlike in the London and Paris marathons I only saw one floored person (a Smurf, surprise surprise) on the entire route. Maybe it’s because there is a less pressure to run fast – or maybe I was just too drunk to notice.
When we finally stumble over the finish line, sunburnt and tipsy, we’re happy. Until we realise that we have taken six hours and 52 minutes. What the hell happened? “You had fun!” says Fabre, when we meet up later. “Year after year, the Marathon du Médoc proves you can be healthy and safe while appreciating fine food, wine and our beautiful region. It isn’t about getting a good time – it’s about having a good time.”
He’s right. It’s been a long day, I’m still full of cold, and yet, undeniably, I’ve managed to have one of the most bizarre and brilliant experiences of my life. Even better, because of the heat, Birdy and I weren’t the only ones to be a bit on the slow side, so organisers extended the cut-off time by half an hour. It means that we are presented with a medal, and a splendid goody bag containing a souvenir bottle of wine and engraved red wine glasses. That beats the cereal bar they gave me in Paris.
I had a wine ready for review today, but I drank it.
Finishing the bottle at the botequim, I forgot to bring it home… I had hoped to get another, but haven’t been out of the house for the cold.
It was French, red, good… Not plonk. Name started with a B, not Burgundy.
Heres the blurb I wrote on the day of the crime:
“Yes, today, weinerschnitzel; all crumbed and ready to go. Boiled potatoes and buttered peas and cauliflower cheese on the side. French Bordeaux in the offing…
Oh, I know how to do it on a Sunday.”
I’ll do better next time.
I really must stop drinking wine before I’ve featured it here, but I am such a weak person.
Hidden away in the dusty reaches of my wine box behind the front door I found…
In true wine cellar form, the bottle did indeed need dusting.
You can read the history on their site. English
The wine is untried. I am saving it for a ‘special’ occasion; which may turn out to be a rainy day.
Serving: Between 14°C And 15°C
Flavours: Fruity and vegetable
Food pairings: BBQ chicken, salads, pizzas, pork and beef
Yes, I know it’s Thursday… again.
I’ll try again next week to get it right.
This week’s peek into my wine rack I found two bottles of the same wine.
Cuvée Brouchard Aîné
Rouge de France
Grape types: A blend based mainly on Syrah and Gamay.
Food pairings: Ideal with red meats, grilled meats, spicy dishes, wild game and cream cheeses.
Source: Brouchard Aîné for more info
My view: Fits in the pocket R$25 and tastes good with BBQ, that’s why I bought another two bottles.
I can’t be wrong, because this wine is considered the ‘ambassador’ of Cuvée Brouchard.
English wine: Is sparkling wine better in England than France?
The Duchess of Cornwall has called for a new name for English sparkling wine to match the grandeur of champagne. And for the first time, domestic wine is the most popular in the government’s cellar. Have Britons developed a taste for a home-grown tipple?
Someone arrives with a bottle of English wine. Cue excitable voices saying, “Gosh, English wine is really quite good, you know – it gives champagne a run for its money.”
The surprise used to be palpable.
But English wine has grown up. Today it regularly wins awards – there were four gold medals at the International Wine Challenge (IWC) this year.
It’s a far cry from English actor Peter Ustinov’s put down: “I imagine hell like this – Italian punctuality, German humour and English wine.”
But is there something holding English wine back? It accounts for just 0.25% of total wine sales in the UK, according to industry body English Wine Producers.
This week the Duchess of Cornwall called on producers to come up with a name.
“People should put their heads together and think of a new name for English sparkling wine,” she said while visiting Hambledon Vineyard in Hampshire. “It should be something with much more depth. I plan to find a new word for it.”
So is new terminology the final piece in the jigsaw?
English wine has been through a revolution. Old grape varieties are out, new owners are in. The area of vines planted in England and Wales has doubled from 761 hectares in 2004 to about 1,500 hectares today. The country now has 434 vineyards.
Figures just released by the Foreign Office on the government’s wine cellar, show that for the first time more English wine was drunk at government hospitality events than wine from any other nation.
Andrew Neather, Evening Standard wine critic, says the new winemakers tend to be go-ahead types from the City or wealthy lawyers, who want to carve out another career.
They are focusing on sparkling wine, planting more of the traditional champagne grapes – chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. In 2010, for the first time more than half of the vintage went into sparkling wine.
Three of this year’s four IWC gold medal winners were sparkling wines. In June, Majestic announced that sales of English sparkling wine trebled in 2012, encouraged by the Jubilee and Olympics.
There is logic to England focusing on fizz. Kent and West Sussex, where the best English sparkling wine originates, are only about 90 miles north of Champagne. The chalky soils around the North and South Downs are very similar to the earth where famous names such as Bollinger and Dom Perignon plant their grapes.
The best English sparking wine is as good as “decent” champagne, Neather says. England’s top seller – Nyetimber – has more to offer than a mass market champagne like Moet Imperial, he argues.
“It’s more interesting, has more complexity and better acidity.” The Moet costs more at £32.99 – although it is sometimes discounted – while Nyetimber is £29.99.
The Financial Times wine critic, Jancis Robinson agrees, albeit with a couple of caveats.
“Most English fizz is now very well made and attractively dry and zesty. But very little has any real complexity since producers generally cannot afford to age it very long.” And cost is a problem. “It’s never a bargain,” Robinson says.
“It is generally made by people who have invested a great deal in new vineyards or winemaking and need to see a return.”
The competition can be significantly cheaper whether prosecco, cava or own-brand champagne. Aldi, for example, sells champagne for just £12.99.
Despite the cost premium, patriotism and the fashion for local provenance suggests that current levels of production are outstripped by demand.
“The industry sells everything it produces,” says Julia Trustram Eve, spokeswoman for English Wine Producers. “Demand is exceeding supply.”
If the English are planning to supplant the Champagne name, they’re going to have to come up with something more dramatic than Nyetimber or Dorking.
Just imagine that rolling off your tongue, “Here, have a Dorking!” or “I’ve brought the Dorks, darling!” when you compare it with the much more regal sounding, “Here have a Champagne!” or “I’ve brought the Champers, darling!”
I put it to you, is there an English county name that equals the magic of Champagne? I think not. Pity, because without that magic ring, Champagne will always be king.
It is an unusual liqueur in that it has a myriad of citrus flavours, aromas and undertones.
Usually served straight, but can be mixed with champagne and dry or sparkling white wine but mixes well with most spirits and club soda.
It can be successfully used with fruit desserts.
For a range of cocktails see About.com
For cooking ideas, check The Nibble also many cocktail ideas, including the Mojito Pariisen.
Everybody has heard of cider, most everybody knows that cider is made from apples.
Not entirely true. Cider can be made from any such fruit, but principally and famously apples.
But there is another fruit used in making ‘cider’, pears; but it’s not called cider, rather it is perry. Perry has been made for centuries from fermented pears, much in the same traditional manner as cider in England; or more specifically in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, and in Monmouthshire, Wales. Also in the north of France.
Perry is certainly not a new drink, Pliny made reference to it. Making Poiré in France became common after the collapse of the Roman Empire, and was taken to England with the Norman conquest.
More recently products like ‘Pear Cider’ have appeared, it is generally considered that these are pear flavoured ciders rather than perry which is made from pears.
“CAMRA defines perry and pear cider as quite different drinks, stating that “pear cider” as made by the large industrial cidermakers is merely a pear-flavoured drink, or more specifically a cider-style drink flavoured with pear concentrate, whereas “perry” should be made by traditional methods from perry pears only.” – Wikipedia