Thursday, 5 July 2012


196.3 km + 1 sprint

Stage 5 of Le Tour finishes in St Quentin in Picardy in the Aisne departement. Usually home to the Tour of Picardy, this largely flat stage should play into the sprinters' hands.

Picardy boasts some fine cheeses, and local fresh vegetable, such as white beans from Soissons, while Amiens is famous for its pate en croute, a delicate duck liver and mushroom terrine encased in a crisp pastry case. Other specialities of the region include flamiche (called "flamique" in the Picardy dialect), the Picarde version of quiche lorraine, a pie of leeks (poireaux) in a bechamel sauce. Chantilly is of course the home of the sweetened whipped cream, and Amiens is famous for its macaroons made from egg whites, ground almonds, sugar and honey. Cider is a popular beverage in this region.

Ficelle Picarde

Another local speciality is the Ficelle Picarde (literally, "Picardy string"), a crepe stuffed with ham, mushrooms and shallots, and topped off with a rich cheese sauce. Like flamiche, this dish represents typically northern French convivial, homely, simple cooking.

Serves 8

For the crèpes
150g plain flour
3 eggs
50ml milk

4 slices of cooked ham
250g mushrooms
250g shallots
50g butter
25ml double cream
75g grated Emmental cheesesalt and pepper

Make the pancake batter with the flour, whole eggs, milk and a pinch of salt, leave to stand for 20 minutes.

Peel the mushrooms, shallots and chop them finely. Gently fry the chopped shallots in butter on a low heat for 30 minutes, add the mushrooms, stir together and leave to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add 2 tablespoons of cream, salt, pepper and stir to combine.

Make the pancakes. Fill each pancake with half a slice of ham, one and a half tablespoons of onion mushroom mix, roll up the pancake, place in a small lightly buttered dish, cover each ficelle with the rest of the cream and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Brown in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Serve with a green salad and a glass of chilled French cider.

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