Here in the heart of Les Portes du Soleil on the Swiss/ French Alps border, is the town of Morzine, which, was one of the pioneering ski areas of the 1930’s. A pretty enough town mostly built on the surrounding hills overlooking the town with views up to Avoriaz, a purpose built resort with ski areas up to 2,400 m. From the distance the resort blends well into the rocks and mountain but close up it is really quiet ugly.
Back to Morzine, these days it is more than a ski resort, hosting in the summer “Harley Days” where the town is swamped by about 3,000 Harley riding bikers, the Tour de France and do not forget the hordes of mountain bikers, who use the ski lifts ( which have been adapted) to get up the mountains with their bikes, only to descend at break neck speeds, looking more like Darth Vader, than humans. It is not unusual to see, people hobbling around in casts and on crutches in winter and summer alike.
Morzine is close to Geneva, and hence is accessible to many Europeans and especially the Brits! A whole industry has arisen to cater to them, from catered chalets, to laundry services, to builders, to real estate agents and even to a Tesco delivery service! Restaurants abound, serving predominately mountain food and of course pizza. Chalets give their staff one night a week ‘off duty’ and so the guests descend upon the restaurants en mass. As I have said before Mountain food is variations on a theme, cheese, ham, cream, charcuterie, including Cheese fondue, cheese raclette , croute au fromage, platters of charcuterie, etc etc. However one restaurant we we do frequent above others, is La Grange in the center of Morzine itself. It is run by a young Anglo French couple, Alex and Fred. They have been open for about 8 years and so far so good. When we visited the other night, a Tuesday, we were amazed at how busy they were. One party of about 20 walked in whilst we were there. I think they must have had 100+ covers that evening. As with most restaurants their menu is for serving the tourists , so lots of chees, ham , charcuterie and cream. However, they do have other offerings, such as local lake fish, wild boar stew, steak and salmon trout from the local Ardoisières valley fish farm. Sometimes, they do a very good Steak Tartare, though sadly not that often.
The one thing that we really enjoy when going there is the Tarte au Fromage d’Abondance. Abondance is a ‘ controlled named ‘ cheese from the Savoy region.It is made from semi skimmed milk and made into 10 kilo rounds. It is a very similar cheese to Gruyere but has a buttery, nutty flavour. It is semi hard and melts very nicely, which makes it ideal for cooking and can also be a substitute for Raclette cheese.. Here in the Savoy , it costs between 11€ and €18 a kilo, but in the UK it can cost as much £35( la Fromagerie in Marylebone for example). So I have been experimenting in making this delicious Tart. And it is not a quiche.
So to make this tart, you need enough pastry to line a quiche pan, I used a 12″ pan and pastry using 8 Oz flour you can use your favourite recipe or even buy some ready made, but not any type of puff pastry.
- 500 grams grated abondance cheese
- 4 large eggs
- 200 MLS Crème Fraiche
- Salt and pepper to taste.
Roll out the pastry, thin enough to line a quiche pan, but not too thinly. Trim the top edge and prick the bottom of the pastry to prevent it from rising. Line the pastry with some baking paper. Fill this with some form of baking beans. You can buy ceramic baking beans but you can use rice, noodles, dried peas ,beans etc. Bake at 200 C for about 15 mins only so just a little pre baking. Remove from oven and remove the paper and beans. Whilst the pastry is in the oven , whisk together the eggs and the Crème Fraiche . Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Spread the grated cheese over the pastry case evenly and spoon over the egg Crème mix.
Return to the oven and bake for about 45 mins until the top is a golden brown. Remove from oven and leave to cool a little. It is best served warm but not hot. Could be served with some buttered new potatoes or a simple green salad.