Last week, we went to Chamonix for the day, ostensibly to show our house guests the views from the top of the Aiguille du Midi Cable car. This is the same cable car that one takes when wanting to “DO” La Vallée Blanche or the leaping off point for climbing Mont Blanc, I am not sure about Mont Blanc, but for La Vallée Blanche it is strongly recommended ( read Obligatoire) to take a guide. Firstly one has to shimmy down a ridge ( all roped together, just in case one of you falls….. you can all go together!! ) carrying your skis, before setting off to ski down the Glacier towards Chamonix. Why the guide? To get you down the ridge and then to get you down the glacier without you disappearing into a crevasse!
Our trip up the Aiguille du Midi Cable car was not this exciting though, first we were warned that we would not be able to take the last lift to get the best views, closed because of bad weather. Never mind, BUT the higher we went, the faster we travelled into the Pea Soup. The view non-existent but nonetheless the ride was worth it, just for the scary factor, high winds, ice and jagged mountains. On our ride, were few hardy types, on the first half were a team of would be “let us do the glacier Skiers” complete with guide, crampons, ropes, icepicks, backpacks and helmets ! Well, they went back down at half way, better for another day, maybe? On the second half, were two interesting guys, one wearing the latest “onesie” in lime green ( himself declared that would be the next suit for him.) The other was someone who looked, like he had stepped straight out of the set of the Hobbit, or maybe had been doing double duty as one of Santa’s elves.
When we finally . arrived back in Chamonix, it was raining hard, so it was declared Lunch time, just as well, as the rest of Chamonix ( like most of France) was shut down for their relaxed lunch break of 3 hours. We found a friendly Crêperie. We have been sampling lunch time crêpe over the mountains for the last 4 weeks, they are fairly consistent, but here they were more adventurous than most, Savoury Crêpe, are usually made from Sarrasin ( Buckwheat) and filled with ham, cheese, or complète, with Ham, Cheese and an egg. Here we could choose from Crêpe Tartiflette , Crêpe Compagne, Crêpe Montagnard .
I chose the Crêpe Tartiflette , our friend Crêpe Montagnard, himself the usual, Crêpe complete whilst the blonde chose the Crôute Savoyard, having not asked us, what it was, she assumed it was a glorified cheese on toast. How wrong could she be! This was the crème de la crème of Crôute Savoyard .
- 2 Cloves of garlic, pressed or smushed
- 4 thick slices of country type bread
- a cup of dry white wine ( to be authentic it shod be Savoie Wine
- 4 slices of smoked ham
- 200 grm of either Beaufort, Comté or Emmental cheese, which has been grated.
Put the garlic into an oven proof dish and spread it around. Soak the bread in the white wine, and layer the slices with the ham and the grated cheese, finishing with lots of grated cheese. Put into a hot oven ( 250 C ) for about 20 Mins, until bubbling hot and golden brown. Variations on this , include some sautéed mushrooms in the “sandwich” or top the sandwich with a lightly friend egg.
Savoury crêpe, are also known in France as Galettes de Blé noir, and are made from Buckwheat flour,which normally are only cooked on one side. Today, savoury crêpe are filled with anything savoury, but originally they were served with just salted butter.
Yields: 18-2 crêpe.
90 grms buckwheat flour
125 Grms plain flour
1/2 cup water
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon oil ( olive)
3 tablespoons salted butter
250 grms Emmental, Beaufort or Comte cheese grated
other ingredients, such as potatoes, sautéed mushrooms, chopped ham, tomatoes etc
In a blender or food processor, put the flours and the salt . Crack the eggs into the water and with the engine running , pour the eggs and water into the flour.Add the oil and process until the mixture is smooth and lump free. It should be of a pouring consistency, like thick cream . Leave to rest for 30 mins. However, it will keep in the refrigerator for days, so can be used when needed , do remember to keep it in a sealed container, and mix well, again, before use. If it is too thick, then thin it with more water.
Place your crêpe pan over medium heat. Grease it with a little butter , I find using some kitchen paper towel with a smidgen of butter smeared on it the best. Pour about ½ cup of the batter in the center of the pan. Lift the pan and then tilt and rotate it until the batter is evenly spread forms a nice thin disk and covers the pan. Put it back on the stove. It should start bubbling after a few seconds. Lower the heat to low. Put on the grated cheese and any other filling that you want. If you want to have an egg, the easiest way is to lightly fry the egg first, before placing it on the crêpe. Fold the crêpe ( either fold in the corners leaving the filling exposed or fold it into a triangle) and let the cheese melt for 1-2 minutes.
Serve with some green salad.
On our way back from France, we stopped at Reims ( pronounced Rans), which as you know is the Champagne capital of the world, and as such has a fine collection of Michelin starred restaurants. Some, looked as if their last diners had in fact died and gone to gastronomic heaven, I am sure that their food would have been wonderful, but we did not want to join the previous diners, just yet, so opted for something a little more modern, and we were not disappointed. We ate at the Millenaire.