I’m aware that some of you strange creatures are first to last lift skiers, to whom lunch is a squashed sandwich on a chairlift, and a mouthful of snow – but particularly at this time of year, in the spring sunshine, the mountain lunch is something to savour and linger over. So who does it best, and what’s on the menu?
France is the self proclaimed home of gourmet food and their mountain restaurants don’t disappoint with a similar range of restaurant styles as you might find on any high street. For something a bit special the likes of L’Alpette in Megeve, Le Chalet du Luc Besson in Alpe d’Huez or La Fruiterie in Val d’Isere come out tops with the team: Menus offer a mix of Savoyarde classics and flair dishes, but they are not cheap. It’s hard to find a bargain lunch on the hill, but bear in mind that the running costs of these restaurants is high, transportation of goods is often difficult, and they have to make a living from a short winter season. For charm and character the Petit Lindarets in Avoriaz’s ‘Goat Village’ offers some great food, views and goats -once spring arrives! What more could you wish for…? Wherever you are – hearty and cheesy are the over-riding themes, with tartiflette – a dish of potatoes, onions, bacon, cream and reblochon cheese on the menu in most places.
Here’s a recipe to try at home:
Recipe serves 4
- 750g waxy potatoes – sliced into chunks about 1 cm thick. Peeled or unpeeled – according to preference
- 1 medium onion – diced
- 1 clove of garlic, halved, or some garlic granules
- 6 rashers smoked streaky bacon – cut into small pieces
- 250g Reblochon cheese or Tallegio cheese (controversial, but easier to get hold of in a regular UK supermarket) – cut into small cubes – about 1cm
- 150ml single cream
Preheat the oven to 200 c / gas mk 7
Par-boil the tatties in salted water for 8 mins or so until starting to soften. Drain and set aside.
Fry the onion and bacon in a little olive oil until they begin to colour
Butter a 1.5 litre ovenproof dish and rub the cut side of the garlic round the dish (this give a delicate waft of garlic, but not too strong)
Layer half the tatties in the bottom of the dish, then put half the onion, bacon and cheese on top, season, then add the rest of the tatties, bacon, onion and cheese in the same fashion. Pour over the cream and bake it for about 10-15 mins until it’s golden and bubbling.
Serve with a green salad, crusty baguette and plenty of wine!