Local Alpine Cuisine – Cheese
One of the highlights of any trip to Morzine is undoubtedly sampling some of the local cuisine. One of the foods that the French Alps are most famous for is their cheeses. When you are tired and cold from a day on the slopes there is nothing better than settling down by a warm fire to eat enough melted cheese that you have to be rolled back to your chalet! There are a number of different cheeses, and cheese based dishes to try while in resort.
Fondue is the most famous of all the Alpine dishes. There are a number of different types of fondue using different cheeses, but the basic premise is the same: a communal pot is placed in the middle of the table with a mixture of cheeses, combined with white wine and spirits, melted over a lamp. The cheeses vary depending on the region. Diners then use special long, thin forks to dip bread in the cheese. Be careful not to drop the bread into the fondue! There are various penalties for losing the bread in the pot, such as buying a round of drinks, singing a song to the table or running around in the snow naked. For many holidaymakers no skiing trip is complete without a fondue.
Another firm favourite amongst holiday makers is Raclette. Raclette is made using a cheese of the same name. It involves either using a lamp to melt a half wheel of the cheese or melting individual slices. It is usually served with boiled potatoes, salad and a charcuterie board. The earliest reference to Raclette dates back to 1291. When using the half wheel under the lamp method, one person on the table is usually in charge of scraping the cheese fort the other diners. This is an important responsibility and not to be taken lightly!
Tartiflette: Unlike the other two dishes mentioned, Tartiflette is not exactly a traditional dish. Whilst it is based in Alpine tradition, the modern dish was invented as a way to sell more cheese back in the 1980s. It is a mix of sliced potatoes, onions, lardons and Reblochon cheese. Whilst the dish might not be one hundred percent traditional, the cheese certainly is. The name “Reblochon” derives from and old French word meaning “to milk again”. This is because the local farmers used to wait until their milk for the day had been weighed and taxed before returning at night to get the rest of the milk from the cows in order to make the cheese. Unlike the other two dishes it is served as a single portion, so if there is no one else at the table who wants cheese this is a good option.
These are the three most popular Alpine cheese dishes to be found in local restaurants. There are many variants to try – a chevreflette made with goats cheese, or a salmon tartiflette for example, but for newcomers this should offer a good starting point. Anyone looking to recreate the Alpine experience when they return to England should also check out the Wednesday morning market to buy some real local cheeses to take home with them.