5 mountain dishes that are perfect for skiers

Skiing involves gallons of fresh air, exercise and adrenaline. So, your body needs regular fuel to make the most of that precious week on the piste. And what can be more welcome than to stomp the snow off your boots and walk into the warm steamy atmosphere of a restaurant in the mountains.

Different regions have their own specialisities and part of the fun of any holiday is discovering the unique flavours of the area. From our base in Chatel, we have had the opportunity to eat our way around many of the restaurants and cafes in the Portes du Soleil. In the Haute-Savoie, the focus is firmly on local cheese and cured meats, with most dishes being primarily comprised of at least one of these elements. Here, I give my top 5 mountain meals – enjoy the menu.

1. Tartiflette

This baked gratin dish comprises potatoes, onions, lardon or bacon, wine, cream and cheese. Hailing from the Savoie region of France the most common cheese is Reblouchon which has a creamy texture and nutty taste, giving a characteristic bite. This dish is a new addition to the mountain repertoire, being developed from the more traditional ‘péla’ dish in the 1980s as (very successful) marketing drive by the Reblouchon cheese industry. If you order this, don’t expect to move too fast or too far!

2. Fondue

The concept of the fondue can bring to mind images of parties in the 70’s. But the humble fondue is so much more than cheese, stale bread and a seedy reputation. Over centuries this staple was a way of nourishing farmers and their families through the winter months and fondues are now an art to be appreciated. The cheese depends on the region and chefs preference but the basics are the same – cheese, wine, flour and spice. Often accompanied by a platter of charcuterie and pickles this is a treat to savour.

3. Raclette

Another way of cooking and eating cheese! Raclette comes from the word ‘racler’ meaning ‘to scrape’ The Raclette cheese is semi firm cow’s milk cheese that is roasted by a heating lamp or fire. As the cheese browns and melts it is scraped off and eaten with bread, potatoes and charcuterie. As with other cheese dishes, it should be accompanied by white wine. Water will have the effect of hardening the cheese in the stomach.

4. French onion soup

This is not technically an Alpine dish. It’s not even traditional ski-fare. However, the restaurants of the Savoie have taken the simple onion to their hearts. This hearty soup is based on meat stock and onions served with gratinated croutons and yes – you guessed it – cheese! A family favourite, it is warming and sustaining without being so heavy you sink into the snow as you head to the slope.

5. Assiette montagnarde

I could carry on with the cheese theme forever, but the regional cured meats definitely deserve a mention. The Savoie is renowned for the quality and flavor of its hams and salamis. While these will often accompany the cheese dishes, most restaurants will also offer a plate of pure pig for the dedicated carnivore. Served with bread and pickles this protein packed lunch will see you through to afternoon tea back at your chalet.

Clare Galloway is Director at Clarian Chalets.

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Comments (1)

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  1. wow! delicious food. i have already tried French onion soup. its quite healthy and tasty. my mouth gets full with water when i hear the name of the dish.

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