France coach Philippe Saint-André has faced some tough criticism about his selection choices in the run up to the Rugby World Cup. But the wily former winger usually has a plan and the other teams should bear that in mind.  There is no one as explosive as France when they decide to run, they can change a score board in a matter of minutes.  Likewise,  there is no other team who can show an amazing lack of consistency between matches.  Opposing teams must always ponder which France will be playing today!  I am glad to see they have Frédéric Michalak in the squad. Now France’s highest ever point scorer in test rugby, he will bring experience to the team.

Captain: Thierry Dusautoir (recovery from injury permitting)

Player to Watch:  Frédéric Michalak for all the reasons above and playing great rugby at 33!

Dates of Pool Matches:

Saturday 19th September vs Italy – Kick off 20.00 – Twickenham

Wednesday 23rd September vs Romania – Kick off 20.00 – Olympic Park, London

Thursday 1st October vs Canada – Kick off 20.00 – Stadium mk, Milton Keynes

Sunday 11th October vs Ireland – Kick off  16.45 – Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

 

To find out more about French Rugby – https://www.ffr.fr

For full details follow : http://www.rugbyworldcup.com

 

What to Eat & Drink whilst watching Les Bleus

Food: French Cuisine is revered the world over – but they do have some good street food as well. The classic would be Crepes or Gallettes, which are super simple to make at home (especially if you like gadgets and treat yourself to a crepe maker!) – Any fillings go but I would suggest you have a mega size pot of Nutella on hand.

Two foods that leap to mind when you think of traditional France – garlic and onions. For the first great simple match day food – just make up garlic bread at home (baguettes and lashing of garlic butter – it does not get much simpler)! But to rack it up a little, try making it with roasted garlic rather than raw.  Take whole garlic bulb, rub off papery bits, cut top off so can see cloves, place in muffin tin (handy for mutiple bulbs!)  drizzle with olive oil, cover with foil and bake at 180 – 200 degrees for about 35 minutes – happily take longer if not soft enough.  Then squeeze out the individual cloves and mix with the butter. http://www.thegarlicfarm.co.uk

For onions, try making a tempting onion, olive and anchovy tart from the south of France – pissaladière – Rose Prince did a great one in the Telegraph. Croque Monsieur is a staple in all French Bistros, basically a ham & cheese toastie – or make it with a fried egg on top for Croque Madame!

France is also famous for cheese, and so for a simple yet delicious match day nibble – a baked camembert is perfect – serve with toasted baguette or even chopped carrots! http://www.jamieoliver.com

If you fancy making something a little different then make a savoury loaf – you can fill it with all types of deliciousness, from saucisson to olives even dried prunes. The recipe I regularly make and always wins fans is by Rachel Khoo in Little Paris Kitchen.

Drink:

Beer:  Over 90% of beer drunk in France is made by one of the major brewers – and Kronenbourg is the leading brand.  But there are other beers to look out for such as Saint Omer Blonde and Bellerose Blanche – see specialist beer stockists page. Also try Pelforth – comes in Blonde and Brune (which I am sure is Pale & Dark and not Blonde or Brunette) – available http://www.morgenrot.co.uk

But there is a small band of French Brewers flying the flag for craft beer production – 10 Musketeers united in one goal! http://www.frenchcraftbrewers.com

Wine: Despite the explosion of Wine Production in almost every country you can think of, France is still seen by many as the Mother Country of Wine.  There is not enough space here to expand on the different regions (see the main Love Wine Food website when it launches later this Autumn) but a quick run through (and apologies for the omissions!).

Alsace -home to the most elegant & aromatic single varietal wines – very food friendly.

Bordeaux for classic Cabernet based Claret from the Left Bank or Merlot from the Right Bank. Crisp dry whites from somewhere in between!  World class sweet white from Sauternes.

Beaujolais – whose Cru wines from Gamay always surprise with their quality.

Burgundy – home to World Class Chardonnays as well as Seductive silky Pinot Noir.

Languedoc – Roussillon, where you find a range of regions such as Minervois, Faugeres and Banyuls!

Loire for beautiful Chenin Blanc in every guise possible and charming reds such as Bourgeuil.

Rhone – from the North, outstanding whites and complex reds such as Cote Rotie, via great Syrah in Cornas and from the south, warm reds like Chateauneuf du Pape.

Oh and of course – Champagne – no explanation needed!  So a few choices below to try:

Most people think of Cotes du Rhone always as red but this heavenly white from leading Cornas producer Jean Luc Colombo is a delight.  La Redonne is a blend of Viognier and Roussanne and at £12.99 is great value for this quality of wine.  http://www.waitrosecellar.com

Pinot Blanc from Alsace – a most under rated grape variety and by Charles Schleret this versatile version has lovely apple flavours.  £12.95 http://www.yapp.co.uk

It is hard to find good Burgundy at anywhere under £20 a bottle so this award winning  one from the Macon region showing lovely minerality at just £13 is good value.  Macon Villages la Roche Vineuse http://www.marksandspencer.com

M&S’s own label Fleurie shows how lovely Beaujolais can be when made from one of the most serious Cru’s.  100% Gamay it has appealing cherry & strawberries like notes.  Easy to drink with just the match or any of the foods above. £11  http://www.marksandspencer.com

‘Mon Coeur’ Jean-Louis Chave Sélection combining the knowledge of one of the Rhone’s top winemakers with a leading negociant has resulted in this gorgeous brambly red from the Rhone. £13.50 http://www.yapp.co.uk

How could I not include a wine from one of France’s iconic Rugby Players, Gerard Bertrand. His Syrah & Carignan blend from the Minervois is great value at £7.49 and punches above its weigh with great black fruit and wonderful power. http://www.waitrose.com