There's been a distinct lack of blogging over the past few months, but I can sum up the food side of things pretty quickly: the weekend meals for my Swiss family have been overwhelmingly Valaisan (of Valais, the canton we are in) usually involving terrifying quantities of Bagnes cheese, jambon cru, Gruyère, viande sechée, Fendant, Pinot Noir (the latter two aren't even food, but are very local, nonetheless) plus some comforting homemade lasagnes, pies and pizzas, too. But there have also been a few seasonal highlights where I've been able to do something a bit different: roast leg of spring lamb from Savolèyres (one of the mountains that rise over Verbier) with garlic, lemon & herbs and capretto (kid goat) braised with tomatoes, black olives & thyme, served for Easter Sunday lunch (another family tradition from the Italian side) with griddled polenta and roasted Provençal vegetables. For desserts, I've often chosen well-loved classics from all over the world that have now become firm family favourites: Pavlova with berries, apple or pear Tarte Tatin, crème brûlée, chocolate fondants with vanilla ice cream... In the quest for new, it can be easy to forget the sheer brilliance and universal appeal of these wonderful dishes, so it has been good to spend the winter tweaking and perfecting a few of them.
|Pear Tarte Tatin|
|Fresh snow up on Bâ Combe|
|On the glacier at Les Diablerets, 3000m up|
We have just one week left in Verbier and yet, amazingly for late April, the snow still falls, giving us as much as 30cm of fresh powder overnight and huge grins on our faces as we continue to enjoy skiing conditions more typical of late January. This has, on balance, been the most incredible season for skiing... yet already the Big Swede and I find ourselves yearning for Cornwall. For the Swede, I know that the lure of the ocean and his quiver of surf boards are the main draw. Yet, while I long to feel the rhythm of the waves and smell the sea air, it's the anticipation of the Cornish summer ingredients that is getting me going. First of all, the seafood: bass, bream, mackerel, crab, oysters, squid, monkfish, sole... served with salty Samphire, the pure essence of the sea. Endless possibilities for salads and side dishes, with a kitchen garden at my disposal and limitless combinations of ingredients, drawing inspiration from all over Europe and across the Mediterranean to the Middle East, even as far as south-east Asia. There are also the fruits of last autumn's labours to enjoy: the 10 litres or so of damson gin (not just a good warmer for the colder months, but also delicious with tonic water in the summertime), chutneys and damson ketchup, which has spent the past few months maturing and mellowing, ready to enjoy with Cornish cheeses, sausages and local cured meats, not to mention the barbecues (thinking positive here: we WILL have plenty of sunshine this summer!)
|Dreaming of Daymer Bay, Cornwall|
But before we arrive in Cornwall mid-May, we have a few other treats to look forward to: a one-night stop in Épernay to enjoy Champagne's eponymous tipple, a few days at Mother Chef's in Dorset and then a long weekend in London, including a dinner at Jamie Oliver's restaurant Barbecoa, a celebration of wood-fuelled cooking in its many guises. After five straight months of Alpine stodge, our tastebuds will think all their Christmases and birthdays have come at once.
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