Celebrating the Tour de France with food writer Felicity Cloake 

Whave teamed up with 'the nation's taster-in-chief ' in honour of the Tour de France.   

Throughout the race, we will be sharing our own ‘tour’ in the form of excerpts from Felicity’s new book ‘One More Croissant For the Road’ – a witty travelogue of French gastronomy, featuring memoirs of her trip and recipes for many Côte favourites! 

A note from Felicity: For some people it’s Wimbledon, for others Royal Ascot, or test matches, or the World Cup, but for me, the best three weeks of the summer are those spent indoors with the blinds closed against the sun, watching spindly lycra-clad men battle their way around France on two wheels.  

So deep is my love, in fact, that last year I decided to join them… a month ahead of schedule, admittedly, and with rather more croissants, but still, I cycled 2,334km around l’Hexagone, which must have burned off at least one pastry.  

Rather than chasing yellow jerseys and Queen of the Mountains titles, I was hunting down some of the best food France has to offer, from Alpine tartiflette and Provençal ratatouille to the moules marinières below, which I ate on a beach in Normandy – I hope you enjoy them as much as I did! 

An excerpt from One More Croissant for the Road

STAGE 2 

CHERBOURG TO ACRANCHES 

Moules Marinières 

Moules marinières is not an exclusively Norman dish – you’ll find it all over northern France and Belgium – but Normandy has been exporting mussels to the discerning diners of Paris since at least the 16th century, so they probably know what they’re doing by now.

Moules at La Cale

Such a simple dish, but such a delicious one, with the added theatre of the whole shelling operation, which I never tire of. I like to use Norman cider and drink the rest with it, but if you prefer, you can use a dry white wine as at La Cale. Chunks of baguette or (or preferably and) hot salty fries to mop up the liquid are, however, mandatory.

Moules Marinières

Serves 2 

1kg mussels 

4 long shallots, finely chopped 

300ml dry cider or white wine, e.g. Muscadet 

50g crème fraîche 

A small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped 

Baguette or chips, to serve (or both) 

1. Rinse the mussels in cold running water, then give them a good scrub and scrape to remove any barnacles or dirt. Discard any with broken shells, and give any open ones a sharp tap: if they don’t close, throw them away too. Pull out the beards –the fibrous little appendages which the mussels use to attach themselves to ropes or rocks – by pulling them sharply towards the hinge end of the mussel. If you want to prep them ahead, leave them in a sink of cold water until ready to cook.  

2. Put the chopped shallots and the cider or wine into a large pan and cook gently for 10 minutes, then turn up the heat to medium-high. 

3. Drain the mussels and tip into the pan. Cover and cook until most of them have opened: about 3 minutes. 

4. Add the crème fraîche and put the lid back on for 30 seconds to allow it to melt. Add the parsley and shake the pan well to distribute, then season gently and serve immediately, discarding any mussels which remain closed. 

To purchase a copy of 'One More Croissant For The Road' click here.

Moules at Côte