When skiing, no matter what new-fangled diet you are on, you will have to submit to some of the alpine delicacies. In part because they are delicious and you simply won’t be able to resist, especially when the smells from the kitchen hit you, but also because these dishes give you everything your body needs. You’ll need a different kind of diet to usual as you are going to be active all day on a cold, snow-covered mountain.
So now we’ve given you the premise for a suitable excuse, let’s not waste any time and just dive straight into the best and most decadent dishes… a lot of which appear to have melted cheese!
Tartiflette offers utter pleasure in one hand and a food coma in the other, all under the guise of an innocent looking dish. Tartiflette, as you might have guessed, is not renowned for being overly healthy – there is an obvious lack of granola, kale or avocado for it to be considered in that category. What it does have however is the divine combination of potatoes, melted (Reblochon) cheese, bacon and onions making it a one-stop-shop for complete happiness. It is hugely popular and widely available across the French Alps.
We should give a special mention to Fondue whilst talking of melted cheese; however with our next pick we choose to go with Raclette, which is favoured over Fondue by many. The name comes from the French “racler” which means to scrape, although the dish originates in Switzerland and the Raclette cheese is Swiss too.
Raclette is a half wheel of cheese which is grilled; as it melts and browns, you then scrape (racler) it on to your food, covering it in a blanket of goodness. Potatoes are a great choice for the “Raclette effect”, however its dealer’s choice.
Finally, the last cheesy dish which we simply couldn’t omit, the Swiss dish of Älplermagronen is a real crowd pleaser, especially on cold nights. It is essentially macaroni cheese on steroids. Take your classic dish and add potatoes, onions, bacon and a stewed apple… presumably so you get one of your 5-a-day. Whilst the apple may seem like a strange addition it is actually something welcome which cuts through an otherwise heavy dish.
Moving us away from the cheesy onslaught is the Austrian Wiener Schnitzel. Whilst the schnitzel may have similarities in appearance to the old school Turkey dinosaur; never has there been a clearer case that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The schnitzel is made from quality Veal; it is tenderised into escalopes, covered in a breadcrumb batter and then cooked. It is typically accompanied with a potato salad.
If you’re still hungry for more, the Austrians are top dogs in the Alps when it comes to deserts… although the French would probably have something to say about that.
Apple Strudel is as synonymous with Austrian cuisine as it could be… however ironically this dish originated in the Hungarian part of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. Regardless of history what we have is a desert which really warms the heart at the end of the meal. The harmony of apple, cinnamon and sultanas wrapped in warm, buttery pastry is simply unmissable… add to that vanilla custard and you’re on route to 7th heaven.
The literal translation of the Germknodel is yeast dumpling… however please don’t let that put you off. It is a light, sweet dumpling filled with plum jam. It is steamed in milk then served in a sauce of melted butter or vanilla cream, topped with poppy seeds and sugar.
Kaiserschmarren is a dish of shredded, fluffy pancakes which is often served with fruit, fruit sauce or nuts. The name itself is loosely translated to mean Emperor’s Mess. For those that haven’t had it, it’s not dissimilar to those small Dutch pancakes (Poffertjes) that you see at the Christmas market as the pancakes are light and spongy.
After all this rich, hearty food, you’ll need something to wash it all down with… or something to jump-start you out of your food-induced comatose state
Asking round an office of frequent skiers, it is clear that the Demi Peche is very much the marmite of the drinks world. Demi Peche is the French’s answer to a Lager Top, where instead of lemonade they add peach syrup. The result is quite sweet… which is at the heart of the love/hate comments, maybe it should be thought of as a lager-cocktail? Adding syrup to any alcoholic drink, for me, makes it a cocktail.
Whilst the jury is out on Demi Peche, Jager tends to tell a different story. Jagermeister which literally translated means “Hunting Master” has strong hunting connections… which is interesting because I have never considered playing sport, least of all one with a weapon, after taking some of this stuff.
With 56 ingredients including a variety of herbs, roots and spices; it is probably closer linked to some cough medicines, yet for some reason it has become one of the most popular drinks on the après scene. It has a legion of disciples who will always order a round… in fact there’s probably one in your group of friends and if you can’t think of anyone, it’s probably you.
Universally known, Gluehwein / Vin Chaud often gets cracked out as a festive favourite. For those unfamiliar, its heated red wine stewed with a mix of spices including cinnamon, cloves, star aniseed, some citrus peel and sugar. It has to be one of the more efficient drinks out there, facilitating getting drunk at the same time as staying warm.
Let us know you thoughts on these Alpine delicacies and please let us know if you think we’ve missed a trick and omitted a treasured dish.