Mountain Food in the 3 Valleys
Must try Alpine specialities for your next trip to the Three Valleys!
Read on for a potted history of local mountain goodies and which 3 Valleys restaurants we recommend for trying them…. (SPOILER ALERT: There’s cheese involved!)
If you’ve not had fondue since the 1970s then it’s time to give it another try! Originating in Switzerland in the 18th Century as a way to use up older cheese and bread, it’s a popular Alpine treat to this day. Especially good on a snowy day if you’re not planning to ski far afterwards! Here in France, it’s made by combining Emmental and Gruyère cheeses with the local Beaufort and some local white wine. Perhaps an apremont. Like raclette – another cheesey mountain speciality – it’s served alongside cured meats and a simple green salad.
TRY IT: We love the Cèpe fondue, with mushrooms hiding in the cheesey goodness at Le Lachenal in St Martin.
We were shocked to discover that tartiflette is not the ‘traditional’ Alpine fare we thought it was! The ski resort classic which combines lardons, potatoes and cream and topped with the local Reblochon cheese was actually invented by the cheesemaker’s marketing board as a way to invigorate dwindling sales. Seems that it worked! As it’s on menus across the French Alps and is ever popular with hungry skiers and snowboarders. Veggies should look out for courgettiflette, and sometimes featured on menus is the goat’s cheese alternative chevreflette! Le Lachenal also do ‘tommiflette’ with the local ‘tomme’ cheese.
TRY IT: Les Cretes, Tougnete 2300m (cash only and it’s wise to book!)
In the summer, St Martin de Belleville is host to a craft beer festival, which showcases a wealth of interesting local brews alongside some beautiful vintage vehicles. There are numerous craft brews available in our local bars and supermarkets, with the nearest brewery being in Moutiers – Brasserie Alpine who make a Blonde, Blanche, Rousse and an IPA. Also look out for the ‘Brasserie du Mont Blanc’s ‘Genepi’ beer!
TRY IT: Our wine supplier has some interesting beers including ‘Alepine’ so do ask if you’d like us to fill the fridge before your arrival.
The recipe for the local ‘eau de vie’ genepi is simple: Soak 40 sugarlumps in a litre of 40% alcohol with 40 stems of the alpine plant genepi, a relative of wormwood (famous its inclusion in the feisty absinthe or ‘green fairy’ that gave Paris part of its fabulously decadent history!) for 40 days and you’ll have a delicate pale green liquer that is renowned for its digestive properties. Much like with mushrooms, every local has a secret spot for harvesting the medicinal herb. But it takes some adventuring to locate as it only grows above 2000m altitude and harvesting is strictly limited during July and August.
TRY IT: If you sit down for a full lunch, most mountain restaurants will bring a bottle of their genepi to taste. You’ll be poured a small glass which you should sip, for maximum digestif. If you’re shopping for pressies to take home, avoid the bright green versions!
Tarte au Beaufort
Usually served as a starter, a slice of this richly indulgent tart made with eggs, milk, crème fraiche and nutmeg and laden with sublime beaufort cheese. An AOC product since 1968, Beaufort is made from the milk of cows who feed on the lush alpine meadow grasses and flowers. Like champagne, it’s strictly limited to a local area. It almost seems criminal to cook with such a fabulous fromage, but tarte au beaufort really has to be tried to be believed.
TRY IT: In Courchevel’s Cave des Creux restaurant, a hearty slice will set you back almost 20€, but is plenty for a light lunch. Plus it’s a lovely spot for a glass or two of rosé in the sunshine. Over in La Tania, Le Bouc Blanc also do a lovely one. We wonder if it’s what Kate and William had when they dined there?
Tarte aux Myrtilles
We had to add a dessert, of course! It’s Alsatian in origin but we think it counts as local because myrtilles (blueberries) can be found in abundance in the Three Valleys during late summer. With the sweet-sharp little berries bursting with flavour. Piled high on crisp, buttery pastry, the myrtille tart is a juicily indulgent dessert which surely counts as one of your five-a-day if you have a large enough portion.
TRY IT: Hotel Allodis near the Rhodos lift in Meribel have a splendiferous dessert buffet. It generally includes a classic tarte aux myrtilles.