Sweet and savoury delights

The weather this week is forecast to be truly fabulous, it then takes a turn for the worse. This is not what we want. As I discovered last year, most people sign up for the Kivilev either on the day before the price rises (ie a week before), the day before or the day of the event itself. Essentially, they’re trying to avoid losing money. It’s therefore essential for us as organisers that a) the weather’s fabulous in the run up to the event, and in the forecast, and b) we can reasonably accurately predict how many participants we’re likely to get. Unsurprisingly, b) tends to be contingent on a). If the forecast is correct, and it’s a very big if this far out, we’re staring down the barrel of a large loss. I would therefore ask all of you to start lighting candles and praying for fine weather on 26-28 May.

It would appear that someone, maybe even the Ambassador of Kazakhstan in France himself, will be attending the event. Indeed he may arrive the evening before offering the local Town Hall and dignitaries the chance to throw a reception in his honour. I should add that this will garner us plenty of civic brownie points. This is in addition to the ones we’ve recently earned as a result of the inspection of our books. I think it’s fair to say that they were blown away by the state of our record keeping. What can I say, they were easily impressed.

We are also assured of the presence of a large number of professional riders and not just the all-important Kazakh contingent lead by Alexandre Vinokourov.  This helps to boost participation as you can regale your friends with tales of how you rode with the pros. Of course, were I to ride I would see them at the start, they would then show me a clean pair of heels and I’d never see them again as they kept pace with the top riders in the race.  I speak from experience as I’ve “ridden” with a number of Grand Tour winners.

The baking is gathering pace and I’m about to gear up production with those cakes that’ll happily sit in either the fridge or a plastic container, gently improving in taste and texture, until the big day. First up however is the BBQ on Friday for our very large band of volunteers, many of whom have no connection with the club, or indeed cycling, they are serial volunteers. We’re delighted, of course, because without volunteers there can be no events of this type. Friday’s meeting is their initial briefing and when we’ll be handing over the all-important goodie bags. They’re getting a Kivilev T-shirt in rose pink, a sun hat, a bidon, a discount voucher from a local sports shop, a discount voucher from a local garage which carries out MOTs and a tombola ticket in which they can win all sorts of cycling related goodies including a Look frame, wheels, shoes, helmets, kit and tyres.  After which we’ll be providing a slap up BBQ.

I’m thinking I might well elect to cook a few items for the apero and, of course, dessert. This largesse is based purely on items I currently have in my store cupboard, or those which are in season and hence plentiful. The French really appreciate a bit of home cooking, after all anyone can buy a couple of large apple tarts from the local supermarket. We want to show them that we truly appreciate their forthcoming efforts. The French love savoury cakes and they are so easy to cook. It’s merely a question of putting together the right mix for the contents. I have found that the following combinations work well together:

  • feta cheese with herbs
  • mozzarella with pesto
  • ham and olives
  • pear, blue cheese and walnuts

Lucky then that I have all of these ingredients in my fridge and/or storecupboard. It’s important to provide some nibbles while we cook the chicken and sausages on the BBQ. In addition to the savoury cakes, there will be the usual selection of olives, peanuts, crisps and savoury biscuits. For dessert, I have a very large panetone which will make a fabulous bread and butter pudding. If I bake it just before leaving for the club, it will still be tremblingly warm and oozing with egging deliciousness. There’s a surfeit of red fruit at the moment which I can turn into a tart and tasty summer pudding, even though summer has yet to arrive. I also have a load of lemon and limes so I’m thinking maybe a key lime pie. You may think I’m being overly ambitious in making pudding for around 100 people but you have to understand the French mentality. They will all want pudding, but just a small spoonful of each will suffice.

Postscript: I had a bit of a change of heart and have made sinfully rich chocolate mousse, rum and raisin rice pudding and red fruit crumble: a trio of desserts for everyone. Thanks to all of you who lit candles, it’s worked, rain is no longer forecast for the Kivilev week end.