Bike raceThe pinnacle of long-distance bike racing, the Tour de France, is underway.  (Pictured is a small-scale Italian bike race, the closest I’ve come to European bycycle racing). As always, it’s incredibly exciting to watch the riders speed through gorgeous French villages and climb impossibly steep mountain roads.  Tomorrow, the Tour starts in Dole, in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region.   The cyclists will ride through the beautiful Jura mountains of eastern France, where Comté cheese is produced, and finish at Lake Geneva in Lausanne, Switzerland.   We recommend eating along with the Tour, sampling the regional specialties of the route.  (See below for recommendations).

Last week, Bethany Jean-Clement of the Seattle Times wrote about the amazing flavor of Amora mustard.  We quickly sold out and then discovered that there is a worldwide shortage of Amora mustard!  With harvest and supply-chain issues, it may be months before we have it back in stock.   We will let you all know in a future newsletter when it’s back on the shelf.   Meanwhile, we have an amazing selection of other French mustards that we’re happy to recommend.

Bastille DayBastille Day is next Thursday, July 14 and the weather will be picnic-perfect.   We’ve got pâtés, rosés, cornichons and many other tasty picnic foods in stock.  Come in and we’ll help you put together a great assortment!

To immerse yourself in the Tour de France experience through the Jura mountains, stop in at Paris-Madrid Grocery and pick up some of these cheeses and wines-
le gruyere swissLe Gruyére AOP, Switzerland A versatile cooking and eating cheese, it has well developed flavors of butter and burnt caramel, and is very satisfyingly salty on the palate.  A much beloved cheese made in western Switzerland since the 12th century.  It received AOP status in 2011.
Beaufort d’Été is a raw-milk cow cheese from Savoie.  The cow’s summer diet of fresh grass and flowers lends extra flavor components to the cheese.  Its texture is smooth and creamy, and its flavor is nutty and floral-reminiscent of a traditional Gruyere, but subtler and with deeper nuance and complexity.  Enjoy with rustic bread or melt it into fondue.  It would also pair wonderfully with a tawny port.
Emmental de Savoie – Produced in the Savoie region since the Middle Ages, it is easily recognized by its holes, called “eyes”.  Buttery, sweet and fruity, this pasteurized cow milk cheese is aged 6 months.  It’s a phenomenal melting cheese.
Raclette – The essential cow’s milk cheese for this decadent and warming Alpine dish.  It’s an easy and relaxing meal, even if you don’t have a tabletop raclette grill. Simply boil potatoes until done and serve one to each guest.  Melt the cheese (use about 7 oz per person) in the oven and then scrape a desired amount over the potato.  Accompany with cornichons, charcuterie, or grilled vegetables.

Tissot Cremant du JuraTissot Crémant du Jura, NV, Jura
($28.99).  50% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, 5% Poulsard, 5% Trousseau, with zero dosage.  Certified biodynamic, fermented with native yeast and aged on lees for 15 months in vats.  With fine and delicate bubbles Tissot Cremant offers up enticing pear aromas.  Very fresh and with elegant fruitiness, this is a dry sparkling wine. The Revue du Vin de France noted, “Everything is handled with virtuosity, finesse, and total respect for the fruit …The health of the domaine and the rigor of the work places it at the summit of the production of the region.”    Excellent with cheese!
Tissot GamayThierry Tissot Gamay, Bugey 2019 ($22.99).  This may be the only plot of Gamay grown in Bugey, an Alpine AOP region between Savoie, the Jura mountains and the Swiss border.  This delightful medium-weight red is a gastronomic wine that pairs wonderfully with anything from charcuterie and cheese to roasted fish.  Distinctive and charming, Tissot Gamay is lively and balanced with perfectly ripened fruit and great mouthfeel. This local expression of gamay comes from a single vineyard planted in 1977 on granitic soils. Certified organic, the grapes undergo semi-carbonic maceration and fermentation in tanks with native yeasts.  With low added sulphur (38mg/liter), this is also a vegan wine and has gained a cult following, only available in exceptionally limited quantities. Give it a try while it’s available!

Cies AlbarinoCíes Albariño 2021 Rias Baixas, ($38.99) has arrived.  Recently offered as a pre-order, we now have it in stock.  This wine exclusively highlights the heritage vineyards in  winemaker Rodri Mendez’s home village of Meaño. Thanks to his exploratory approach and deep local knowledge, Rodri’s wines are pure expressions of the Salnés valley terroir, which is diverse and cooler than the coast or mountains. As a winemaker, he uses throwback techniques that show off the personality of each vineyard: he is known for employing skin contact, wooden vats, foot-treading, and even years of extended lees contact. Yet his basic principles and commitment to low intervention production (spontaneous native yeast fermentation, no racking or batonnage, no temperature control, minimal sulfur) are consistent across all his wines, influenced by his ancestors’ approach.   Cies 2021 is a co-ferment of Albariño from three vineyards in Meaño. Half the wine ferments in wood, the rest in stainless steel; after 4-5 months they’re swapped, then bottled all together, resulting in a complex, earthy, and mineral wine.