French delicacies: Treats for soccer tourists

Treats for soccer tourists


With charters for sausages, guidelines for baguettes and birth certificates (appellations) for wine, food has always been a matter of state importance in France: Divulging recipes is ­naturally tantamount to treason, but our experts at the following European Championship venues bring us the local specialty

Cheese from Saint-Étienne

Cécilia Maurice alias Latchetch, 39
editor of the food blog „Sainté CityCrunch“

“Our neighbor, Lyon, may be regarded as the gastronomic capital of France, but Saint-Étienne is the French soccer capital. Our Verts, the green-jerseys of AS Saint-Étienne, are the most successful club in French professional soccer. When they play, lingerie shops even dress their window dummies in green. Traditionally, we are a working-class city famous for its coal and steel industries, and so what we eat here is still plain, wholesome, hearty fare – but no less delicious for it. We just don’t have much time for haute cuisine. The mountains of the Massif Central supply us with our typical specialty cheeses including fourme d’Ambert, a blue cheese, and sarasson, a mild cream cheese made from buttermilk. Served with râpée, a kind of potato cake, sarasson is basically the local specialty of the Stéphanois, the people of Saint-Étienne. You will find râpée du sarasson in every class of restaurant, be it the more upmarket eateries, like the Corne d’Aurochs (Rue Michel Servet 18), or the typical bouchons, the old working men’s restaurants. To sample the best, go to Le Barboton (Rue François Albert 5) and L’Amuse-Gueules (Rue José Frappa 27). At Le Gros Roger (Rue Désiré Claude 39), it even features on the menu as a vegetarian burger.

Corne d’Aurochs, Saint-Étienne
Tel. +33-4/77 32 27 27

Sausage from Toulouse

Gérard Garcia, 58
Maison Garcia butcher shop

“Coarsely chopped raw pork, salt, pepper and a natural skin – that’s all there is to a Toulouse sausage. Theoretically, Toulouse sausages can be made in Strasbourg, too, because the name is not protected by the AOC (controlled designation of origin), so you’ll find them in supermarkets throughout France – not that everything labeled as such actually does us proud. Additives and preservatives should never be allowed! Producing the best-quality original in Toulouse is what we, my father since 1961 and my brother Guy and I since 1988, are committed to. Guy is president of the Haute-Garonne butchers’ association, which drew up the Charter for Genuine Toulouse Sausage. Our butcher shop and our sausages have won many awards, which makes us very proud. My favorite way to eat our sausage is grilled, with mashed potates but no mustard – or the classic way in Toulouse cassoulet, our city’s famous bean stew.”

French delicacies: Treats for soccer tourists

Wine from Bordeaux

Véronique Barthe, 49
Proprietor of the Château La Freynelle and Château d’Arcole

“A good Bordeaux wine has a seductive, rich color and an agreeable aroma. On the tongue, it releases complex, harmonious flavors that are quite familiar to our tastebuds: fruit, smoke or wood perhaps. For me, a Bordeaux wine is more like a dancing featherweight compared with the body-builder-like southern wines. You can certainly buy a good, quality wine for less than ten euros here. I belong to a generation of wine growers that wants to overcome snobby attitudes to wine and make its enjoyment a more democratic affair. It’s not easy to find your way through the jungle of Bordeaux wines. A rule of thumb: the smaller the AOC (controlled designation of origin), the higher the quality, prestige and price level. We have seen two revolutions since my family began making wine: the French Revolution in 1789, the year my ancestor Jean Barthe started the vineyard; and my birth in 1967 – I was the first girl after seven generations of boys and am the first woman to run the business. My colleagues have grown accustomed to the pink walls of my wine cellar –  and even voted me Vice President of the Vintners’ Association AOC Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur.”

French delicacies: Treats for soccer tourists

Bouillabaisse from Marseille

Monique Colella, 65
Proprietor of the fish restaurant La Baie des Singes

“Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. The three monkeys provide the mascot and the motto for our family restaurant. After all, there’s nowhere more discreet to enjoy a bouillabaisse in Marseille. But first, you have to find us: Hidden away in a pretty bay in the Calanques with clear azure waters perfect for bathers, we can be reached by boat or a ten-minute walk through white rocks. We serve only local fish freshly caught here in the bay. In many parts of town, bouillabaise has become something of a tourist trap, with rogue chefs throwing in any old cheap fish from the Antarctic. But the fact is that only between seven and ten local varieties of fish and shellfish belong in a genuine bouillabaisse. That’s why various restaurants here in Marseille have drawn up a “Bouillabaisse charter.” What was once a poor man’s fish soup made from the leftovers of a day’s catch has gained haute cuisine status. Each chef has his or her own secret stock recipe. Mine is the one my stepfather used and a closely guarded secret.”

Pissaladière in Nice

Rodolphe Chevalier, 43
Proprietor of the restaurant Le Jardin d’Hélène

“In Nice, it’s plain sacrilege to call a pissaladière ‘pizza’ or ‘onion tart.’ Created in our city, pissaladières are a piece of our culinary self-image and lifestyle. We eat them at any time of the day – for breakfast, on the beach, with an apéro or as a snack in-between – cold or hot, depending on the season. My recipe comes from the late icon of traditional Nice cuisine, Hélène Barale, who died nine years ago. Hence the name of my restaurant as a nod of recognition and respect. The dough is the secret behind any good pissaladière: Mine – and Hélène’s – is rich, made with plenty of butter, eggs and olive oil, then rolled out thin and baked to a crisp crust in the oven. The only toppings really allowed on a pissaladière are: gently steamed onion rings, anchovies and local black olives – and of course, the pissalat, a salty anchovy-based paste. Served with a rosé wine from the South of France – voilà, the taste of the south. I am very proud that my restaurant is one of the few in Nice authorized to display the Cuisine Nissarde quality label, whose patrons are practically all connoisseurs – in other words, locals.”

Rue de Orestis 15
Tel. +33-4/93891794 94

Waffles from Lille

Thierry Landron, 53
Maison Méert

“Our address has been synonymous with sweet confections since 1761. People have been coming here since then for candies, pastries, chocolate and ice cream, of course, and also to admire the lavish antique Belle Époque interior or simply relax in our Art Déco tearoom. Our vanilla waffles, gaufres à la vanille, are not just our house specialty, but have almost become the culinary emblem of the city. Still produced by hand today according to the secret recipe of the Belgian pastry chef Méert, the waffles must be soft and practically melt in your mouth. Our classic topping is made of the best buttercream with Madagascar vanilla, but we have added five new flavors including raspberry with Szechuan pepper, and chocolate and bitter orange. President Charles de Gaulle, a son of Lille, even introduced his favorite sweet treat to the Élysee Palace in Paris – as a gift for foreign visitors of state.”

French delicacies: Treats for soccer tourists

Baguette from Paris

Mickaël Reydellet, 32, und Florian Charles, 30
Bakery La Parisienne

“It’s official: We are the best baguette makers in Paris in 2016. Every March since 1994, a huge fuss has been made about who wins the Grand Prix de la Meilleure Baguette competition. This year, 155 bakers took part, and in all five categories – crust, taste, scent, crumb, and appearance – we were able to impress the jury, which samples each loaf without knowing who baked it. And we’ve only been baking baguettes for about a year and a half! When supermarkets in France began selling cheap, industrially produced baguettes at the beginning of the nineties, a bakery crisis ensued and a law was ultimately passed to protect the baguette. You’re only allowed to call what you bake a baguette tradition if it complies with the purity law, in other words, contains only wheat flour, water, yeast and salt. We naturally add a pinch of artisanal passion and TLC. An authentic French baguette weighs between 250 and 300 grams and contains 18 grams of salt for every kilo of flour. It may not be shorter than 55 nor longer than 65 centimeters. So what was our compensation for a working day that starts at 2:30 am? A cash prize of 4000 euros and the privilege of being the official baguette supplier to the Élysée Palace – not to mention the publicity.”

Rue Madame 48
Tel. +33-1/48 84 82 06

Spezialitäten in Frankreich - Saint-Étienne: Râpée du Sarasson | Toulouse: Bratwurst | Bordeaux: Wein | Marseille: Bouillabaisse | Nizza: Pissaladière | Lille: Gaufres à la Vanille | Paris: Baguette

French specialties - Saint-Étienne: Râpée du Sarasson | Toulouse: Sausages | Bordeaux: Wine | Marseille: Bouillabaisse | Nice: Pissaladière | Lille: Gaufres à la Vanille | Paris: Baguette

© Holly Exley