Yesterday the roads were quiet, the beaches empty on the East End of Long Island. The weather was sunny and in the 40s, daffodils and bright yellow forsythia are in bloom, and grape buds were swelling. It was a lovely afternoon for wine and cheese. We enjoyed Cabernet Franc with a selection of aged, mild, firm-textured cow’s milk cheeses. Try it with Cheddar, Gouda, Parmesan, Romano, Comté, Appenzeller, Manchego or Roncal. As with food pairing, look for a cheese which offers similar depth of flavor.
Also yesterday, Europe hosted two major sporting races, one by land and one by sea, but they were not quiet.
France hosted the very macho “Queen of the Classics” bike race, Paris Roubaix, that dates back to 1896 and includes 51.5k of bone-shaking, rough granite cobblestones along its 257.5k route. The Belgian superstar Tom Boonen easily won for the fourth time, tying Roger De Vlaeminck’s 4-win record. One of the main contenders, Fabian Cancellara, broke his collarbone last week at the Tour of Flanders and could not compete, and two of the pre-race favorites, Filippo Pozzato and Thor Hushovd, crashed mid-race. Spectators get very close to the cyclists, crowd along the roads to cheer them on or take their pictures, and sometimes the racers have to push them away.
Also yesterday, London hosted The 158th Boat Race, which pits Oxford versus Cambridge along 4 miles of the Thames. The race was interrupted by an Australian swimmer who was protesting the race’s elitism, the race temporarily stopped, then one of the Oxford crew’s oars broke, Cambridge easily won, and the Oxford bow man, exhausted, had to be taken to the hospital. I saw this in person last year – it was a great big outdoor party where spectators sat along the banks of the river, happily sipped Pimms cocktails and enjoyed the pageantry.