In case you’ve been sleeping, the great bicycle race Le Tour de France is currently on. It’s probably the only sporting event in the world which includes a regional cheese introduction and provides an opportunity for cow spotting.
To get into the spirit of other French things – like croissants, baguettes and cafe au lait – French boulangerie and traiteur Depot de Pain are offering a special Tour de France menu across all four of their stores.
I cycled over to my closest store in leafy Rathdowne Street and sampled some of their special menu which is available every day of the race (from Saturday 29 June to Sunday 21 July).
If you’re after a big breakfast after staying up late watching the action then I recommend the ‘Breakfast of Champs-Elysee’.
It includes four ‘stages’ – a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice or Evian, coffee or tea, a choice of plain croissant or bread with French butter and house made jam and one of five savoury or sweet dishes from a choice of Croque Monsieur, Croque Madame, a herb omelette, French toast with maple syrup or crepes with apple, salted caramel and Chantilly crème. It is fantastic value for $20 as a single main dishes is normally priced at $11.50-$14.50.
I particularly enjoyed my OJ with plenty of pulp, just the way I like it, and the delicately layered omelette filled with finely chopped parsley and paired with buttered baguette to really fill up your tummy. On a separate occasion I tried to Croque Monsieur filled with ham, cheese and oozy bechamel, pan-fried till golden. I challenge you get on a bike after eating all four stages!
If you’re not eating in you can take home a ‘Red Polka Dot Breakfast Pastry Box’ – another bargain at $20 for eight mini French pastries or bread items along with French butter and a jar of house made jam. The cute box is available at the end of any classified slope during Le Tour.
And if you want a chance to practice your rusty school French then visit Depot de Pain on any day of the race and ask for your daily baguette in French along with the name of the day’s Yellow Jersey holder – and your baguette is on the house. Their bread is baked fresh daily and while it lacks the supreme crustiness of the best French loaves I’ve had the traditional fillings are generous.
The Rathdowne Street store is busy any time I visit, filled to the buzzing brim with small wooden tables in the front section, a chandeliered dining room and the back room with the long communal table popular with kids and families.
When the weather’s nice there’s also a small courtyard out the back and there are even dedicated bike racks out the front.
You have only another two weeks to sample Depot de Pain‘s Tour de France specials, so hop on your bike and allez allez allez!
Depot de Pain, 693 Rathdowne St, Carlton North +61 3 9349 1311 (and other locations)