Poitiers, a town with over a hundred church towers, is full of surprises. On this rocky promontory inhabited for over 2000 years, each generation has left its marks. Having admired the magnificent, restored façade of Notre-Dame-La-Grande - a "book carved in stone" - take your time to discover Poitiers' other spectacular buildings. Capital of the Poitou-Charentes region, Poitiers and its suburbs have 120,000 inhabitants, including 25,000 students and over 1,000 researchers. It has one of the oldest universities in France. What better than to start your visit here at the site of Les Dunes - the best panoramic view-point over the rooftops of "Old Poitiers". As you descend towards the narrow streets of the medieval quarters, you'll discover a lively and welcoming town. In the summer, the numerous student activities are replaced by many other events which vie to win you over the charm of a town that is so old and yet so young at heart. The most remarkable of this event is "Les Polychromies", the light show projected onto the façade of Notre-Dame-La-Grande. What to see? The Fume Mansion (it is the town's finest example of civil flamboyant Gothic architecture, now housing the faculty of Arts and Humanities; 15th and 16th centuries), Notre-Dame-La-Grande (Poitiers' architectural showpiece, particularly the richly-carved Romanesque façade; in the Middle Ages, when representational images were scarce, all eyes turned to read the Christian message on the façade and to admire the beauty of the sculpted and painted images; 11th and 12th centuries), the church of St-Hilaire (as you enter the church, the effect is breathtaking: a vast nave, row upon row of pillars, an exceptionally high chancel, all bathed in light; 11th century), the Law Courts, the Town Hall, the Church of Montierneuf, St-Peter's Cathedral and the Baptistry of St-John... Again, the best way to discover Poitiers is to start your visit at the site of Les Dunes - the best panoramic view-point over the rooftops of "Old Poitiers".
BOEUF À LA MODE
Ingredients for 6 runners: 1200 grams stewing steak; 120 grams lard or bacon; 300 grams tomato purée; 3 onions; 2 carrots; 6 cloves of garlic; bouquet garni (thyme, bay leaf, parsley, sage); cloves; peppercorns; olive oil; Haut-Poitou red wine.
Peel the onions, sticking four or five cloves into one. Cut into wedges. Clean the carrots and slice into rounds. Tie up the bouquet garni after washing and trimming the herbs.
Brown strips of the bacon in four tablespoons of oil with the onions, the carrots, the tomato purée, the garlic, the bouquet garni, a speck of salt and a few peppercorns. After 6 minutes, add the cubed steak and cover with the Haut-poitou red wine.
Put on the lid and bring quickly to the boil. Lower the flame and cook very slowly, for at least two and a half hours, keeping the lid on. If necessary, more wine can be added, as well as pinches of salt and pepper.
Bon appétit! Enjoy the meal!
Suggested wine - "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities" (Holy Bible, 1 Thimothy: chapter 5, verse 23). And Haut-Poitou is a region of vineyards and gently-sloping hillsides. To your delight, you will discover that the Haut-Poitou regional wines (Red "Gamay", rosé or white "Chardonnay" or "Sauvignon") are excellent. They are made from grapes grown around Poitiers and are best drunk young. The fruity flavour of the Haut-Poitou "red wine" makes it the perfect wine for coming with this recipe.