As we all know one of the most important parts of a good ski day on the mountain is lunch. Nothing beats arriving at a cosy restaurant with a roaring fire and the smell of melting cheese to refuel after an invigorating morning hitting the slopes. We are often asked by our guests what all the dishes are, so here we have a summary of some of the classic Savoyard dishes, to help you make the most of your lunches on the mountain.
Raclette is an AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) cheese meaning that it is must meet specific criteria in order for it to carry the name ‘Raclette’. Raclette is served melted. Large wedges are placed on a roasting machine in the centre of the table, the cheese is then scraped off in individual portions when it has melted. Alternatively, it can be served in slices which are then placed into small trays and melted individually by each person. It is normally scraped over potatoes and accompanied by cornichons and salad.
Fondu / Fondue
Originally a Swiss dish, the oldest known recipe for Fondue was published in 1699. It has gained popularity since being promoted by the Swiss cheese Union as the Swiss national dish in the 1930s. The dish became popular in the Haute Savoie after the second world war. In the Haute Savoie fondue is normally made from a mixture of Gruyere Swiss and Vacherin Cheeses sometimes with Emmental, Comte or Beaufort. The pan is prepared by rubbing garlic around the inside and the recipe normally includes quantities of white wine and a small amount of cornflour. Other variations include adding tomato, truffles, wild mushrooms or Swiss-style with Kirch liquor. Fondue is eaten with a long fork, with everyone dipping crusty bread into a communal pot of molten cheese. Depending on who you are dining with there may be a forfeit for losing your bread in the pot, this can range from buying a round of drink to making a lap of the table without your trousers.
Possibly the most popular dish, made with potatoes and lardons (bacon) then baked with a slab of reblochon cheese on top, it originated in the valley of Aravis which is the home of reblochon cheese. In fact, the ‘traditional’ Tartiflette was actually invented in the 1980s by the Reblochon trade union, Sacré Bleu!!
It was inspired by the truly traditional dish ‘pela’ a gratin of potatoes and onions without cheese from the Provence Region. The name Tartiflette comes from tartifles, the old Savoyard word for Potatoes. Since its invention, the dish has spread throughout ski stations and become a staple ‘traditional’ mountain dish.
A truly traditional dish, Berthoud is made from local Abondance cheese melted together with Savoie white wine. It is melted in the oven in individual portions and served with potatoes. There is some debate about what drink pairs best with these extremely cheesy dishes. It is widely accepted that wine should accompany the main course, perhaps with a digestive liquor afterwards. It is said that water should not be drunk with these dishes as it can cause the cheese to solidify in the stomach causing indigestion.
The literal translation of ‘Croute’ into English is Crust and this often leads to unappetising menu descriptions such as ‘crust with melted cheese and ham’. Don’t let these unfortunate descriptions fool you when ordering the best cheesy dish on the mountain. The truth is, a croute is a glorious bubbling dish of heaven. Layers of cheese, bread, ham and white wine, melted together and heated to roughly the temperature of lava, served with an egg on top. We call it Cheese on Toast, Pimped.
An honourable mention here should go to Salads. Often thought of as a ‘light’ option, there is no escape around here jumbo portion sizes and cheesiness even when it comes to salads. There is a huge variety when it comes to the Chèvre Chaud, a traditional goats cheese salad which can be accompanied by any manner of goats cheese toast, ranging from a small goats cheese pizza to a wafer-thin crepe goats cheese crepe parcel. A salad Savoyard is also a good salad option, normally accompanied by smoked ham, local cheese and often with egg on top too.
Now that you are armed with the facts you are well equipped to make the best decision when it comes to one of the most important choices you will face during a day on the mountain, lunch.