I was definitely a little bit more tanned, a lot happier, certainly more relaxed, and incredibly knackered. I was also sporting an extra half stone in weight. Of this ‘surplus baggage’ I do not mind. I earned it in the easiest and most fun way possible: skiing, drinking and eating (and lots of it!).
You see, eating in a European ski resort is rarely healthy, particularly when you are in the heart of the French Savoy region. Be it in resort or on the mountain, the menus are dominated with big hearty promises of butter, bread, cakes, cheese, cheeses, more cheese, chocolate, cream, crepes, fondues, half roast chickens, pasta, potatoes, soups, sausages, steak haché, an innumerate amount of dried meats and almost everything comes with the option of ‘avec frites’. I even had a Savoy Pizza topped with crème fraiche, bacon and potatoes. To help wash everything down there was a heavy consumption of beer, wine, genepy and toffee vodka. I was in holiday heaven and more than happy to consume my fair share of it all.
Like the prices, the food, drink and the restaurant experiences vary widely. Some restaurants like La Galette (Meribel) served great fondue and raclette but disappointed with some sub standard service whilst La Bergerie in Courchevel offered some above average and fairly overpriced fare, but their waiters impressed and scored perfect marks for their professionalism, friendliness and entertainment value. We certainly left that place satisfied and inebriated. As for après ski, the establishments of note are the Folie Douce (Val Thorens), Aux Petit Oignons (Meribel) and the ever reliable Rond Point (Meribel) – a dangerously short ski from bar to chalet. Also, I must not forget to mention our chalet hosts: the Twins – Rish and Raj. They were brilliant; they worked wonders with their paltry food budgets and supplied us every afternoon with fresh cakes and biscuits. They even managed to please the most demanding member of our party by making sure he got his bacon sandwich every morning.
My only issue with the holiday was that it did not last long enough and I still want to be there. Being back at work, if only for four days, has only helped but enhance my holiday blues. So in the spirit of positive reinforcement and not wanting to let go of my holiday just yet, I decided to cook a tartiflette for myself and my housemate.
The tartiflette is a typical dish found all over the Savoy region and is a wonderful unification of cheese, bacon and potatoes. Unsurprisingly there are 101 recipes available on the internet. I have amalgamated three I found online. The only reason I used two cheeses was that my cheese man only had one wheel of reblechon left and suggested I used a standard, but French, goat’s cheese. It was a pleasant surprise and, in my opinion, enhanced the dish wonderfully. Give it a go and tell me what you think!
PS – I hope you are all having a great Easter and like me, do not want it to end.
Savoy Tartiflette with Reblechon and Goat’s Cheese
You will need:
1 kg of potatoes (unpeeled)
250g of Reblechon Cheese (crust removed and sliced evenly)
300g of Goat’s Cheese (crust removed and sliced evenly)
200g of smoked bacon
1 Onion (finely chopped)
200 ml crème fraiche
lots of pepper for seasoning
1 clove of garlic (halved)
1 knob of butter…for buttering
Some green salad
- Wash the unpeeled potatoes. Boil for 15 mins. Drain. Once cooled enough to handle you should be able to hand peel the skins off. Set aside. During this rub the garlic halves around your casserole dish and repeat with the knob of butter. Place in fridge till needed.
- Remove the rind from the bacon. Slice into lardoons. Put in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Pat dry and put to one side.
- On a low heat melt the butter, once melted, sauté the onions and lardons for about 15 mins. Remove before being browned but do not brown. Pre-heat oven to 210 degrees Celsius
- Chop potatoes into slices. Place a layer on the base of your buttered casserole dish. Season with pepper. Pour on onion mix and cover with remaining potatoes.
- Heat the crème fraiche on a low heat for about thirty seconds and season with pepper. Once heated pour evenly over potatoes and onions. Layer cheese slices on top and season again. Place in oven for approx 20 – 30 until browned and bubbling. Serve with green salad and a liberal helping of white wine.