Dressed in black salopettes and sitting opposite me in a restaurant on a French ski slope, a wise man was once sipping a rather luxurious looking ‘café Viennois’ and said, “This is what I go skiing for.”
It’s true. Food and drink can be an important part of a skiing holiday for some people, but perhaps not the reason for booking one! Here in the Haute-Savoie région, particular sumptuous consumables have become firm favourites in our family. They are not necessarily unique to this region so you may have enjoyed them elsewhere, but wherever and whomever, when ordering these heavenly French recipes, you know your taste buds are in for a treat.
An absolute must is a fondue. This has become a firm family tradition: an evening out that includes a shared pot of heavenly fondue where every single calorie of melting cheese is worth it. After a few hours skiing, sufficient energy is burnt off so it is, of course, understandable that one deserves a treat of dipping countless cubes of bread into the rich cheese deliciousness for one evening. It would be rude not to! I’m sure the compulsory green salad on the side is only there to ensure that the arteries relax a little during the meal.
Another must-eat is the well-known French crêpe. (I speak on behalf of my family on this one as I don’t usually eat them aside from cadging a corner of someone else’s.) In the UK, we seem to wait for that one day in the year to allow ourselves to indulge in pancakes, but here on the slopes, they are readily available and provide a welcome afternoon treat and essential sugar fix after a few downhill runs.
Toppings are plentiful and diverse and a quick family poll would suggest Nutella as the most popular choice (with a large dollop of ‘chantilly’ on those occasions of additional indulgence). However, the more traditional may opt for the lemon and sugar or if you need a boost, go for the Grand Marnier crêpe because they will lavishly soak the pancake in alcohol. They certainly don’t skimp!
Tartiflette is a gorgeous French dish and although it is traditionally made with ‘lardons’, we did find one restaurant that made a welcome vegetarian version without the bacon. Sadly, they no longer offer it and so with veggies in the family, we have reverted to a homemade version using, of course, the local cheese. The Aravis region is famous for its Reblochon, which is a soft-rind cheese with a slight nutty taste and is the basis for a tartiflette. Add potatoes and onions (and lardons if necessary) and you have the most delicious golden brown and bubbling cheesy meal. Staple ingredients at their best.
When I think back to that wise man’s words, he can be forgiven for his exaggeration. Obviously the skiing is the main reason for a skiing holiday, however it would not be the same without the glorious French food. Bon appétit!