The rich cuisine offered in the French Alps originates from a time when mountain villages were isolated for months during long, snowy winters. Villagers survived on the Alpine food they could produce themselves and what would preserve well throughout the season. These recipes have lasted through generations and are still served in resorts today, enjoyed by the locals and visitors alike.
Savoury courses tend to feature locally-made cheeses and a selection of meats, whilst the variety of pastries make popular choices for dessert. After a long day of skiing it’s a relief to find plenty of local specialities suitable for indulgence...Alpine food really is superb for fuelling a ski holiday!
We wanted to make a list of the best meals in the Alps, so we asked everyone in our team what their go-to, must-have dishes are when they're on their ski holidays. Based on their recommendations, here are our favourite top 10 mountain dishes!
Raclette cheese is a semi-firm, salted cheese made with cow's milk. It has a very distinctive pleasant, aromatic smell with a creamy texture, similar to Gruyere cheeses.
In France the raclette is usually with a warm grill you put on the table, each person has their own little grill plate where you place the cheese and warm it up (it's served differently in Switzerland!). Once it’s brown on the top, you can take it off and serve! It is usually accompanied with small potatoes, gherkins, pickled onions and dried meats.
The recipe is quite simple, it’s a gratin served in a big plate with the following ingredients: potatoes, reblochon (typical Savoyard cheese), bacon lardons, cream, white wine and onions. It may sound basic but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!
3. Fondue Savoyarde
Picture a sturdy pot full of melted cheese into which you dip crusty bread into, such as a French stick. The fondue itself is generally a selection of local cheeses (depending on everyone’s taste) mixed with flour to thicken, garlic and a ‘glug’ of alcohol (white wine generally).
The top choices for local French Alps cheese in our office were Beaufort, Tomme de Savoie and Reblochon. Product Manager Neil recommends "Persille which is a cow’s milk cheese from Tignes (quite difficult to find, though they usually have some on Moutiers market)." Emilie in our Accounts Department said has fondue savoyarde with mushrooms (Fondue aux cèpes) or peppers for an "healthier" option.
4. Crozets (or Croziflette)
This ingredient is originally from the Tarentaise Valley and it's seen as a true Savoyard speciality. The little pasta shells are made with white flour or buckwheat which are used in plenty of different recipes. One of the well-known delicacies is the croziflette (tartiflette with crozets instead of potatoes).
5. Le Farçon
The farçon (also known as le farcement) is one of the best known recipes of Savoie Mont Blanc. It requires a special mould and a couple of hours cooking. This alpine dish is a very unusual one, combining sweet and salty ingredients such as bacon, onions, prunes, raisins, potatoes and cream. It's certainly original but it's also delicious!
The diots are Savoyard sausages that are either natural, smoked, or have a distinctive cabbage flavour. You can cook these sausages however you want but traditionally they are cooked in wine, either red or white and onions and served with crozets or polenta.
Director Olivier recommends trying Diots aux Lentilles (diots with lentils)!
7. Tarte aux Myrtilles
When we asked the Peak Retreats team what their favourite foods to enjoy on a ski holiday are, an overwhelming majority said the tarte aux myrtilles putting this blueberry sweet as the office favourite!
Director Nathalie also recommends faisselle aux myrtilles, blueberries with a soft, creamy yoghurt-like cheese.
8. Brioche de Saint-Genix (also known as Brioche aux Pralines in some bakeries)
This recipe is originally from Saint-Genix-sur-Guiers in Savoy. The Saint-Genix is similar to a brioche but with red coloured pralines and sugar. It is normally served with tea or coffee, in the afternoon. This sugary treat is perfect to get your energy levels back up after a long days ski!
(Follow Caro Blackwell's recipe to make your own St Genix at home!)
9. Gateau de Savoie
From Chambery, the 'cake of Savoy' is made with flour, corn, sugar and eggs. The secret to this delicious cake lies in its preparation - where the sugar and egg yolk are beaten at a high speed and for a long time; the cake then must be cooked for a very precise amount time. When all done, this cake is delicious, particularly with icing sugar on the top and with some apple jam.
10. Le Genepi
The Genepi is a common mountain plant found in the Alps, but you may know it as the traditional herbal liqueur drank in many of the French ski resorts. Typically Savoyard, this kind of alcohol is generally served at the end of the meal as a digestif or, by some, enjoyed as an aperitif. It's not sweet like other digestifs, in fact it has a strong herbal taste that resembles chamomile or feverfew.
Other meal recommendations for ski holidays include:
- Director Xavier's favourites include 'Boite Chaude' (melted local cheese served in a hot box), 'Diots de Savoie au vin blanc with gratin de crozet' and 'Omble Chevalier' (arctic char fish)
- Product Manager Neil suggested 'Pierre Chaude' (cooking meat or fish on a flint or granite block); and for afters, 'Cafe Gourmand' (a mini selection of a restaurants desserts, served with an espresso)
- Reservations Consultant Marie-Anne enjoys sharing 'Charcuterie & Cornichons' (a selection of dried meats and gherkins)
- Webmaster Lyndsey loves 'Croix de Savoie' (a creamy vanilla custard pastry)
- Head of Marketing Alison always looks out for gluten-free 'Galettes' (a type of savoury pancake made from buckwheat)