Last week we did a bunk, well the ‘little people’ and I did, we skipped school and extremely cheekily headed off to the alps for a spot of spring snow, sunshine and skiing. It was glorious. The little people adored the snow, so cheesed off are they at our wash out winter, and naturally thought skiing and sledging the business. It’s a bit of a learning curve heading to the mountains with the ‘littles’, there’s a lot of kit, clobber and stuff to organise and remember. We just about survived, and I think the grandparents are broadly speaking intact, after a riotous week, anyone who thought the famous ‘mountain air’ might exhaust my darlings, need think again. Quite the reverse really, once the standard recharge of fuel in the form of food had been achieved, they were both literally bouncing off the walls, mountains and snow. Talking of food, it’s probably the first time I have been to a ski resort and not eaten out; don’t worry, I am not on a diet (utterly pointless) I just simply did not get the chance, too busy charging up and down with the little hooligans!
Just to be clear no one starved, far from it, we just happened to have the luxury of staying in my aunts chalet. This without question had its benefits and though I missed the ambience, atmosphere, and joie de vivre of dining out, we ultimately had the flexibility to cook up and feast in residence, which with the ‘little people’ in tow was a complete blessing. Alpine food broadly speaking is a cheese and meat ‘thang’, think fondues, raclettes, cured meats, and of course the notorious cheese and potato bomb, more commonly known as the ‘tartiflette’!! And strangely enough it was the latter that I got cravings for and have cooked not once but twice in the last 6 days. It is a bomb, a bomb of deliciously bubbling Reblochon cheese, crispy lardons of pancetta, onion, garlic and of course potatoes, yet curiously NO cream. A simple salad is all you need to go with this quantity of naughtiness and hey presto the whole house smells of the mountains again and one can almost taste the vin chaud. Of course the footnote to this is that healthy it is not, slimming it is not, girly food it is not, but unctuous, rich and irresistible it is, bring on the ‘tartiflette’!!
5/6 medium pototoes
2 banana shallots – or 2 small onions
2 cloves of garlic sliced
2 large handfuls of pancetta lardons or smoked bacon
1/2 a Reblochon cheese, cut into slices
olive oil, Maldon sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
1. Slice the potatoes thinly and pop in a saucepan, cover with water and cook until al dente, drain.
2. Meanwhile cook off the onions, garlic and pancetta. Pop the onions in first and when they begin to go translucent add the garlic and lardons. Cook until the lardons are just beginning to color.
3. Rub some olive oil around a larger earthenware dish, or individual dishes, or any oven proof dish. Drain the potatoes and place a layer of the sliced potatoes in the bottom of said dish, salt and pepper, follow by a spoonful of the pancetta and onions, followed by slices of the Reblochon, repeat this process until the dish is full, finish with a layer of Reblochon on top. Pop in a pre-heated oven of 180 and cook for at least 20 minutes till the cheese melts, bubbles up and just begins to turn color. Serve with a simple green salad.