There is a song by the Eagles, which goes something like this ” it is coming to the end of August and another Summers Promise almost gone! Well we are now into August and although the summer started off badly,in La Belle France life is good!
We are in the mountains,in between Geneva and Chamonix, listening to cow bells ( albeit they are on horses) catching tadpoles in the lovely Lac du Montriond, going for walks, eating the local food( not necessarily good) and being swamped by the Harley Boys, not really boys, old men with pony tails and their equally ancient girlfriends with their black leathers glowing, names emblazoned across their backs, astride the armchair lookalike motor bikes! Along with them there are the Darth Vadar look alikes ( serious Mountain Bikers) the walkers and the tourists. The thing they have in common is that they have come to enjoy the mountains. The sun is shining and life is laid back in a very French kind of way.
One local institution has shut up shop, after being taken over by ” new owners” 18 months ago. La Petite Auberge was always full at lunch time with local workers, they offered a four course lunch plus coffee at €14.50 but now they only offer shuttered windows and law suits. However the other, which only opened at about the same time, has also been the subject of “new owners” and is a big hit with locals, be it for breakfast, lunch, dinner or just for a drink, and we can even order our morning bread and croissants from them, which saves the drive down 7 hairpins!
Living in London, I know I am spoilt by the availability of groceries and restaurants, but here in the Haute Savoie I am always left a bit disappointed. Last week, after having been already been to the supermarket, I then managed to spend another €80 in the local Market! Quelle Horreur, we had nothing special, and two days later the strawberries were covered with a grey hairy film and most had to be ejected.
We actually do not eat out much in this area, as it is always variations on a theme, Ham, Cheese, Bread and Cream. So there is the infamous Tartiflette ( ham potatoes cheese, ( usually reblochon). I actually quite like Tartiflette, in a once a year kind of way, but even more so if it is made with Goats cheese. There is a lot of goats cheese here in the mountains,then there is Croute, which is, yes , you have guessed it, Ham, Bread and Cheese, and of course Raclette which is, Potatoes, and cheese, and do not forget Cheese Fondue, which of course is Bread and Cheese!
Having said that we do not eat out much in the Mountains, last night was an exception, it was the Fete du Village, where once a year, the young farmers of the area organise and run a Soirée. This year it was Fondue! The evening started out with an exhibition of line dancing, complete with a caller and ageing ladies dressed in their interpretation of “Go Texan” I did comment that I did not “do” line dancing when I lived in Texas, so was not about to start !
So, in our local cafe, where you call, to see what Madame can cook for you ( depending on what she has bought that day), we ate well, and Madame did very well indeed, considering we were 12 people, 4 of whom were children. The children all ate Home made Turkey Nuggets and hand cut French Fries whilst the adults had one of the following
Charcuterie with mini Rosti
Local trout with French Fries or Rosti
Twice cooked French Fries
Russet, Idaho, or Baking Potatoes
Vegetable Oil for Frying
Salt to shake after cooking
Peel and Cut the Potatoes into chips and put to soak in some cold water ( this will remove some of the starch from the potatoes. I don’t think most people realize that Chips ( French fries) need to be twice fried. The first frying in done at a lower temperature, which softens the potato and prepares the starchy surface ,ready for the second frying. Belgians really do make the best French Fries and they are always twice cooked.
Heat the oil in a large pan ( chip pan or an electric deep fryer is the safer option) Heat the oil to 135 C ( 275 F). the oil can be tested for readiness, by dropping in a piece of bread, if the oil is hot enough then it will bubble and brown very quickly. Drain the potatoes and pat dry in a clean Kitchen towel, and put a couple of handfuls into the hot oil, taking care not to splash yourself with the hot oil. Do not over crowd, there should be plenty of room for the chips to float around. When they are soft, but not brown, remove from the oil, drain and leave to one side, ( they can be cooked well in advance of need and left to cool). Cook in batches as many as you need.
Turn up the heat and heat the oil to180C ( 355 F) and when hot, add the partially cooked chips once again, and they will be brown and crisp in no time at all. Drain on Kitchen towel and serve at once. ( if cooking for a crowd, pop them into a fairly hot oven to keep warm
We also ate at the other restaurant in the area, which does not serve Bread, Ham and Cheese. It is called L’Outa. from the outside it resembles a refined antique shop, nice pieces of pine furniture and fine mountain accessories. But indeed it is a restaurant, which I feel is in fact a bit of a hobby for its owners. Once when called to make a reservation the answer was “ Can you call back tomorrow? We have not decided if we are going to be open or not!”
The menu is much more refined and makes for a great evening out. They had on offer this time round Scallops wrapped in bacon and cooked on the grill. YUMMY !
Scallops wrapped in Bacon
Serves : 4
6 slices thin sliced streaky bacon
12 large scallops rinsed and drained
1 Lemon quartered
Preheat grill ( a BBQ grill is the best)
Cut the bacon slices in half and wrap each half around a scallop. Use a cocktail stick to secure in place.
Bake on the grill for about 10 – 15 minutes or until bacon is crisp. Serve warm with the lemon wedge. It does not need anything else, but you can decorate the plate just a little!
My grandchildren came to stay and both of them wanted to cook. So they both made lemon cake, and it was so easy for them to make a really good cake.
6oz (1 1/2 cups) (170 grms) self raising flour
6 oz butter softened
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 medium eggs
6 oz ( 3/4 cup) (170 grms ) caster sugar
For the drizzle
juice of a large lemon
2oz caster sugar
Put the cake ingredients into a food processor and mix together, add some milk if it seems a little stiff, should be like whipped cream or soft ice cream. Spoon into a well greased loaf tin and bake at 180 C until golden brown and firm to touch. You can test the done-ness by inserting a skewer into the center of the cake, if it comes out clean, it is cooked.Leave to stand for about 15 minutes and then gently ease the cake out of the pan onto a cooling rack. Spike the whole of the cake with a skewer and make the drizzle, by dissolving the sugar in the lemon juice, then carefully pour , spoon or paint the cake with it, until it has all been absorbed. Leave to cool and serve
The best part is eating the left overs in the bowl!