The Menu

Alpine feast

Issue 1 · Winter 2014/15

From new-style tartiflette to snow barbeques, ski food has grown up, says Scott Dunn Executive Chef Rob Daley

Issue 1 · Winter 2014/15

From new-style tartiflette to snow barbeques, ski food has grown up, says Scott Dunn Executive Chef Rob Daley

Not long ago, eating on a skiing holiday meant only one thing: cheese, cheese and more cheese, with plenty of carbs on the side. Today though, menu options are more varied than ever. As Scott Dunn Executive Chef Rob Daley puts it, “When they’re back at the chalet, guests don’t necessarily want the traditional alpine fare every single night,” though of course classics like fondue or tartiflette remain a cherished part of many ski holidays. Now, however, even those classics are more likely to be cooked with the contemporary palate in mind.

The new ski food is partly the result of guests working more closely with their chalet chefs, and having fewer preconceived ideas when it comes to what’s on the table that evening. “People understand that if they want lasagne every day for breakfast, then we can do that,” says Daley. “And in fact we have done that once, for a 10-year-old boy!” Stuffy, formal dinners are being replaced by themed feasts – think samosa canapés followed by a selection of curries and side dishes – and there’s more of a demand for lighter, lower-calorie meals.

“We’re doing a lot more Australasian and Mediterranean dishes with a focus on fish and vegetables,” says Daley. “The flavours are cleaner and we’re doing fewer slow-braised dishes.” Breakfast and afternoon tea are changing too, with pancakes being supplanted by fresh fruit plates and smoothies, and savoury charcuterie boards replacing teatime treats. Settings are less formal too. Picnics on the piste, tapas evenings in the living room, diner-style movie nights and even barbeques in the snow are becoming part of a standard holiday.

And yet, with all these options available, the death of the tartiflette is still slow in coming. “We make things like tartiflette canapés, where the flavours and the ideas of the traditional foods are still the same,” says Daley. “And we still do a lot of fondue. They’re a bit more friendly, and a bit more hands-on – in front of a roaring fire it’s the perfect family meal.”


Images: Alamy, Corbis

New-wave tartiflette

 

Makes 6 individual portions
 

Small, individual tartiflettes give a nice twist to a classic dish. This recipe uses crème fraîche for a lighter taste. Serve the tartiflette with a crispy green salad with a vinegary French dressing, with cornichons on the side to balance out the creaminess of the dish.
 

Ingredients

  • 1kg/2lb 4oz waxy potatoes, such as Charlotte or Desiree, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 2 onions, peeled and sliced
  • 200g/8oz lardons
  • 1 whole Reblochon cheese, cut into thick slices
  • 150ml/5 fl oz crème fraîche small glass dry white wine, preferably Apremont

 

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 190°C/374°F.
  • Place the potatoes in cold salted water. Bring it to the boil and when the potatoes are just cooked drain them and leave them to cool slightly in a colander.
  • Fry the lardons over a high heat until they start to crisp, and then remove them from the pan. Fry the onion in the same pan with a knob of butter until they are soft but not coloured.
  • Butter a large ovenproof dish, and put a thick layer of potato in the bottom of it, followed by some onion and then some lardons. Place a few slices of Reblochon across the top, and then repeat the process with another layer of potato, onion and lardons.
  • Whisk the white wine into the crème fraîche, and season it lightly with salt and pepper. Pour it all over the top of the dish and put the remaining Reblochon on top.
  • Bake the tartiflette in the oven for 15-20 minutes, depending on how crispy you like it.

Génépi parfait

Serves 4
 

Génépi is a liqueur made by steeping wormwood flowers in vodka or grain alcohol. It’s available in the Alps but also in shops in the UK and online.
 

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 100g/ 31⁄2 oz caster sugar
  • 50ml/ 13⁄4 fl oz water
  • 350ml/12 fl oz crème fraîche
  • 60ml/2 oz génépi
  • 40g/ 11⁄2oz pistachios, shelled and chopped
  • 40g/ 11⁄2oz confit orange peel, chopped

 

Method

  • Separate the eggs and place the yolks and the whites in two different bowls.
  • Place 60g/2oz of the sugar in a pan with the water and gently bring it to the boil, to make a sugar syrup. While you are waiting, start gently whisking the egg yolks with an electric beater.
  • Test the syrup with a sugar thermometer and once it reaches 116°C/240°F, pour it into the egg yolks, whisking all the time. Keep whisking on high until the mixture is pale, light and fluffy, then set it aside to cool.
  • In a bowl, whisk the egg whites until they hold their shape and then slowly add the sugar. Keep whisking until it is completely incorporated.
  • Whisk the crème fraîche in a separate bowl until it forms light, soft peaks. Fold the cream and whisked egg whites together, and then fold in the egg yolk mixture, génépi, pistachios and confit orange peel.
  • Pour into glasses and place in freezer for at least four hours.
  • May need placing in the fridge for 10 minutes to soften before serving.
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