An english girl who after six months in the french mountains, has left for Italia, the beautiful country. My thoughts on leaving life as I know it and beyond! Join me as I embark on a life with lots of adventure and a lack of heels!!!!

Monday, 25 April 2011

one more week to go.

The end is nigh.

So the last week of our winter season in Val. I cannot believe we are here already, it has gone so quick. There have been many up’s and many downs but what does’nt kill you makes you stronger eh?

And a busy week ahead it will be, out for an Italian for my birthday Monday, posh cocktails for our wedding anniversary Tuesday, an end of season party Wednesday with Mr’s work, dinner with my boss Thursday and our favourite bar’s closing party Friday. Bloody hell, got to pack up to leave too. Mr has luckily finished work now but I still have to go and work the following Monday, the day before we leave to come home. Bugger!

So what is the plan now? Well we have definitely decided not to come back next winter, and decided that living in a ski resort is not for us, even more so for me! Readers will have no doubt realised that this life really is’nt my bag! There are just too many things that I just do not like. And I have had to give up lots of things that I love for something I realise I don’t really love that much!

The people have been a big factor, I have missed my li’ sis & girls dreadfully at times and have’nt made any friends because the people are an odd bunch here & not really my cup of tea. I got told a saying by my boss (who is lovely and the only normal person I have met) it goes like this “the odd’s are good here but the goods are seriously odd”, for me that sums up perfectly the strange people that live this life of winter to summer, summer to winter working. They are either, young and here to shag around and piss it up or they are lonely and are working round the clock, living in shiity accommodation, working from one season to the next with no breaks and no holidays. The women who are here with men are here because the men have dreams that can never be achieved but still hang on hoping it will work out and the women that are here by themselves are desperately trying to pin a man down without success because the men here alone are here because they will not accept that they have to grow up and live like an adult in the real world. The place is full of dreamers unaware that their lives are slowly passing them by.

The skiing has been the other factor. I realise now that I like it for a week or two a year as a holiday. I am not bothered in the slightest at ‘challenging’ myself or getting up at the crack of dawn, hiking up a mountain for hours only to ski all the way back down again in ‘powder’. I like groomed pistes, I have no interest in exploring ‘the back country’ and quite frankly could’nt give a toss compared to just about everyone here! I am just not an outdoorsy type!!! I may well be the only person glad that the slopes shut this week!!!

Which leads me on to my final say, I do not mind admitting that I am as vain as they come and this is not an environment conducive to such frivolities. I am meant to wear heels, put on make up, blow dry my hair, wear jewellery, and dress up in what I call real clothes. I like to be clean and scrubbed and smell nice. I like my clothes washed and ironed and my shoes polished. I like all my nails to be painted and my feet to buffed and smooth. I like to eat properly & healthy, I like to go to the gym (indoors!) and I need to shop!!!!!!! I mean really, I did’nt even cancel my Vogue, just had it sent here instead. That’s not someone who is crazy for the mountains and ready to give up the life they had become accustomed to. That monthly arrival has been my saviour!!!

So that sums up just about everything that I realise I need in my life and the way I want to live, everything that this life is not. But it has been a great experience and I would’nt change any of it, well perhaps a couple of things, and it has ticked it off the list of things to do even if it now leaves us with the inevitable question, what next??????????????????

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Is there anybody out there???

This may sound like a strange request but bear with me on this one.

With this being the age of technology and online social networking I have a favour to ask via this blog to anyone who thinks they may be able to help.

Mr and I have changed our summer plans, we are flying straight to Italy around the 18th May, going to fly to Milan, spend a couple of days there, then drive up to the lakes to see if we can get a job, if not we will buy a train pass travel around the ‘Belpaese’ (Beautiful Country) and see what happens. We have decided to go somewhere we love and see what happens when we get there, this means not coming back to France as I have decided I seriously do not love France. I also do want not to spend hours in a car on motorways and I am not camping. We are too old to be backpacking and bungy jumping, we are too well travelled to end up in some crap hole somewhere we do not want to be and quite frankly need to find somewhere we love and want to stay.

So readers (if you are out there) I pose this question to your good selves, does anyone out there know of anyone hiring summer staff in Italy? Or are you yourself looking for anyone to give you a helping hand this summer, wherever that may be? Unfortunately neither Mr or I speak Italian but we are willing to learn and are hard workers and quite happy to pitch in where needed. So if you think that you can be of any help, can give any advice or point us in the right direction please leave me a comment or email me at

Thank you!!

E xxx

Friday, 22 April 2011

some photo's

Thought I would share some snaps with you.  

our view is a little less snow covered!!



Tuesday, 19 April 2011

another week goes by....

We have just two weeks of the season left now, I cannot believe that it is almost home time already!!

So what’s been happening? Not a lot. The snow is pretty shit due to the warm weather, although we did have a couple of cold days again last week but that’s passed, warm and sunny again for this week. I have’nt skied all week and only once last week for an hour or two, quite frankly I cannot be arsed, bit bored with it now and especially now that the conditions have deteriorated so much. I would rather go to the gym, which is what I have been doing instead and my thighs are grateful for it. Oh and I have been keeping fashionable company whilst in the gym too, I bumped into Stella McCartney last week on her way out as I was going in! She was in town and Mr happened to fit her ski boots, surprisingly large feet apparently!!! Bigger than Mr’s!!

I must say this skiing malarkey has really confirmed what I have long suspected, terrible for the legs if you happen to be of the female persuasion and do not happen to be a 6 foot supermodel. Have you seen female skiiers legs?? They are huge, and that is a look that I am not coveting I can tell you. I have always felt my thighs were a little heavy for my liking and have spent basically the last 16 years doing all sorts of lengthening, strengthening weight free exercises to do battle with what nature landed me with. Over the years I have come to learn that the only way to a leaner shaped leg is running and yoga. Skiing and walking up and down many, many steps with ski boots on, which are effectively giant ankle weights, do not fall into running or yoga. It is more or less like a very long step class or body pump, both of which I have avoided like the plague since trying them out at one time or another due to their leg bulking capabilities.

So two weeks into my ski less (probably not at all this week in all honesty!!), run more, drink less alcohol (none at all this week!!), eat healthier and stick to mostly vegan routine, I am 4.5 lb’s lighter and feeling much better for it. I have just 2 more weeks left to make my legs (and the rest of me!!) resemble something of a reasonable shape for the coming summer!!! But it’s not all bad, at least I have’nt got freakishly large feet I suppose! 

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Beware of saucisson.

A busy week so far, well for us anyway.

A young friend of ours happened to have an unfortunate incident involving a saucisson, a sharp knife and his finger at the weekend.  And being the good Samaritans that we are (plus the fact everyone else works everyday!) and having a car meant that we got to take him to the hospital at Chambery (one and a half hours drive away) for it to checked and see if surgery was required.

So off we went Monday morning bright and early in order to get him there for his 12 o clock appointment. We dropped him off and headed into Chambery for a couple of hours, which was very nice. A small market town with a pretty cathedral, old windy streets, fountains, lovely old buildings, café’s spilling out onto the pavements and a few nice shops. Oh and of course the obligatory dog shit everywhere.

We collected him from l’hospital to find out that he needed urgent surgery 8 am the following day in fact. So after a very nice late lunch in Chambery, seated outside in the sunshine, we headed back to Val.

5.30 am the next morning I was up and out of bed for the next trip to Chambery, out of the door at 6.10 am and we were all on our way again.  To cut a long story short it was 10 am before we left him at the hospital (we arrived at 7.45), his travel insurance waited until the morning of the surgery (scheduled for 7am UK time!!!) to make the decision whether they were going to cover the operation, he had to fax a medical report to the relevant office twice and then wait for a decision whilst in the anesthetic department ready for surgery! Bloody insurers. He finally got the go ahead from them at 9.45 am our time after numerous phone calls on hold on our phone, an hour and forty five minute after his surgery was booked in for, just terrible!

So we spent another morning in Chambery, had a petit dejuner of croissant, French bread, orange juice and coffee and had another little wander around.

Earlier on we had gone into one café for our breakfast only to be told ‘drinks only’ so we headed off elsewhere, then a couple of hours later we thought we’d stop for a coffee in the ‘drinks only’ café only to be told ‘non’ food only now it lunch time!!!!! The fucking French and their ways!!! Honestly no wonder they are all so miserable, everything is such hard work in this place!

Whilst waiting for our friend to be discharged we drove up to the village where his hospital was. Challes les Eaux, a thermal spa (very small) town, possibly one of the most uninspiring places I have ever been to. It was 2 oc and everything in the whole place was closed. The boulangeries, the café’s, the restaurants, the mini supermarket. Once again you really have to question the minds of a nation that closes places that sell food at lunchtime!!!

Our friend was all fixed by 4pm and signed off work for two weeks, so with only two and a half weeks till close he has chosen to go early and head off home to the UK Saturday. He is probably the only seasonaire going home early due to a sausage induced injury!! Well maybe not the only one……………….

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Hostess again

So I thought I would lay off writing the menu plans this week as this blog is sounding a little like a recipe book!!! But as I have’nt got much else to do apart from cook I will continue with the cooking theme.

A you may have guessed I do love to cook and my time here has made up my mind that I would like to go in that direction when the time comes to start real life again. It has been great to have more time to cook, when I think back to my life back home in the UK when I used to bulk cook one day a week due to late night working and I now cannot believe that I used to quickly eat two of my three meals a day out a Tupperware pot standing up somewhere inappropriate whilst a client was being shampooed or was waiting with a colour on, not good. All this makes me sure I have done the right thing in changing that pattern of my life.

But one thing has’nt changed, I find myself being host again. Although I absolutely love to cook and entertain, it can become a teensy bit frustrating when it is not reciprocated.  All through my living in a building site whilst renovating our last house, at times without a fully functioning kitchen, I still cooked for guests, on high days and holidays, even on my own birthday!! 

So now I find myself in a similar position, as the only people in Val with a nice apartment and full cooking facilities that includes an oven I am once again having dinner guests. Not the numbers I once catered to but even 2 or 3 extra dinner guest’s make’s a huge difference. Which is all very nice and while I am more than happy to cook the issue is that cooking for other people cost’s money. Money we worked very hard to earn before we came away and money that we cannot really afford as we are living on a strict budget due to giving up our jobs!! Which is our choice I know, and we planned our finances accordingly, just for the two of us.

Anyone that has ever cooked a meal for extras knows that it’s not just a case of adding a couple more potatoes to the pot. I dread to think how much it has cost me over the years, even when I was working and earning properly. Obviously there is the cost of the extra food and you always buy extra booze as the last thing you want is to run out plus you can’t always rely on people to bring enough with them! And in my experience that always gets drunk too, adding even more expense!! And don’t even get me started on soft drinks and mixers!!

But hey ho, it seems there will always be those that do and those that do not in every circumstance in life. Some things just never change eh?

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

my newish hobby

Just thought I would share this ensemble with you, proves its not just the oldies looking ridiculous!!!! A man in Ugg's is bad enough but add zebra print socks and rolled up sallopettes then you're really in trouble.

This was at the Tignes X games the other week, what a dick!!
One of many.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

the meltdown

I am currently sitting in the blazing sunshine on my balcony, it is 10.30 on Sunday morning and it is already +20 odd degrees!!!! I am wearing a t shirt and a lycra mini and have bare legs!!! I am covered in factor 40 sunscreen and I have just had to cover my chest as I can feel it burning!!!!! Who’d a thought we were in the Alps??? Granted it is spring and I did expect warmer temperatures but bloody hell, it has been +23-28 degrees all week!!!! I hardly need to say that the snow is not holding up too well. Apparently it is at least 10 degrees warmer than normal and this is one of the worst winters (???) they have had here for at least 35 years!! Great!!

I have skied once this past week, for about and hour and a half. It is just too warm to put ski clothes on!! And when the sun is shining, it’s boiling hot and the snow is a melting muddy mess the last thing you feel like doing is going bloody skiing!!!!

It poses a problem though, as mentioned previously some time ago, there really is’ nt very much to do when you are not skiing. All there really is eating and drinking, which is A: too bloody expensive to do everyday and B: not conducive to my fitness and weight loss regime!!!!! So I have upped my gym visit’s and we have adopted the French way of ordering one coffee and making it last an hour outside on a sunny terrace!!! Thank goodness we have a sunny balcony as at least we can just sit out here and read a book!!

But you can’t just laze around in the sun, gets a bit boring really. So Thursday we had a drive out, for something to do and to get out of the village. This weather also poses another problem, my wardrobe!! Of course I have vest tops and a couple of bits for slightly warmer climes but all I have for my feet are boots (I am now realising 9 pairs is maybe a bit excessive!!) and a pair of gym trainers, oh and my Louboutins but I can hardly trot about the village in them!!!!

So knowing there was a H&M 2 hours away and needing to cool down we headed to Annecy for the day, we had been once before but now it is warmer it was just lovely. The lake was full of boats and pedalo’s. It was surrounded by people lazing in the sun and playing games. Just like summer, but with boots on!!!!

We walked by the lake, had a lovely, leisurely lunch outside by the canal that runs through the medieval center of the town and mooched around the shops where purely out of necessity I managed to purchase some beige peg leg chino’s, a couple of vest’s, a light weight top and a pair of ballet pumps for the grand total of €40.00!!! I know its only three weeks till we leave but I would have gone insane or spontaneously combust if I had to survive 3 more weeks of this heat in my snow boots and jeans!!!   

Thursday, 7 April 2011

The Finale

Nearly there, the main courses and the desert.

Main course, Pork steak with a honey and mustard sauce
Roasted aubergine topped with roasted cherry tomatoes and courgette.
Potatoe rosti
Steamed greens and carrots

One of the things I have learnt to do is make a sauce here in the land of sauce, not by painstakingly following complicated French recipes but by trial and error and by not having gravy granules available to buy for a roast!!

So whilst the pork steak was slowly roasting in the oven (I seasoned then topped with a cube of butter, cooked on a low heat then turned up high to finish off) the cherry tomatoes and sliced courgette were also roasting alongside (separate pan of course). I peeled and halved the potatoe’s, brought to a boil and simmered until just soft but not breaking. Meanwhile halved and trimmed an aubergine and pan fried on each side until cooked through, when almost done add half a teaspoon of white wine vinegar to the pan. I don’t know why but this brings out the flavour. One of Jamie’s Italian recipes calls for this and now I always do it.

I had never made a rosti before. I have eaten some delicious ones and eaten a truly awful one once at a wedding, so bad I can still recall the raw inside and burnt top! Ugh!! Once cooled I grated the boiled halves of potatoes, seasoned and formed into cakes in bottom of my wok, amid the melted butter! (I have no frying pan or moulding rings but the bottom of a wok worked as a good circle once all patted down and shaped at the edges!). I turned them over by using a side plate to stop them breaking. It worked!! Once both were golden I popped in the oven to keep warm and ensure they were cooked through. Perfect!

I topped the aubergine with the mixture of roasted cherry tom’s, courgette, crushed garlic and olive oil. Then drizzled with olive oil and baked in the oven to warm through. If you wanted you could add some Mozzarella or Parmesan.

Once the pork was cooked I used the juices from the roasting pan, 100ml of beef stock (half a cube), a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a teaspoon of honey and whisked over heat adding sifted flour to thicken. Bon appetite!

My Louboutin’s are still getting their weekly outing!!! Or inning I suppose!

Desert, Exotic fruit salad.

I think that with cooked breaky, cake, canapés and all the rest of the meal it is nice to have something a little lighter to finish off with, and fruit is never on the menu at the plethora of mountain restaurants that’s for sure. And for all those people that don’t care you can smother the fruit in cream, chocolate sauce and syrup if you want, for the rest of us it is quite nice and refreshing to have a lovely selection of fresh fruits (whatever you can get your hands on) chopped up with some fresh mint. I used strawberrie’s, pineapple and kiwi, hence why I called it exotic none of these are exactly native to the mountains!! And this explains Mr reluctance on the desert front, he had more b

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Some more food.

Canapés, Camembert topped apple & smoked salmon parcels.

So onto the canapés, inspired after dining out the other week in a particularly good French bistro in the village where Mr ordered Camembert and apple on toast, which to his disgust came topped on a dinner plate piled full of salad vert, highly amusing as he thinks lettuce is the devils food!!! (Although, Mr fussy pants has been eating rocket every week due to my force-feeding!!!)

So anyway, I though a lightly roasted apple slice with Camembert gently melted on top would be a good appetiser. I sliced an eating apple, lightly roasted with a spray of oil until just starting to soften (10-15mins), then popped on the cheese and put back in the oven to melt. Yum! You could melt the cheese onto toasted bread first and top with an apple slice for something more substantial for a starter.

Smoked salmon parcels, easy peasy. Just take some garlic and herb flavoured soft cheese (Boursin works well), maybe add a little fresh parsley or basil a squirt of lemon juice to taste and a sprinkle of lemon zest, mix all together and spoon into the middle of a slice of smoked salmon, wrap into a parcel and serve. You could use plain soft cheese and add paprika and chilli for a change.

Starter, mixed mushroom tart.

Now I live by the cooking rule that if it’s good enough for Gordon then it’s fine by me. I especially adhere to this rule when it comes to pastry, especially puff pastry. In many of Gordon Ramsay’s recipes (and Jamie’s for that matter) he recommends buying the pastry, so that makes it officially ok. I can make ‘normal’ pastry but have never attempted to make puff pastry and at 43 cents for a roll in the supermarket, it’s not bloody worth buying all the stuff to attempt such a thing! 

This mushroom tart is super easy again but full of flavour. Start off by chopping & slicing a mixture of mushrooms, pan fry in some butter, once softened add some crushed garlic, seasoning, lemon zest and parsley then remove from the heat.

Cut your pastry into squares, run a knife gently around the edges (roughly 1cm) to create an edge, be careful not to cut all the way through and brush the edges with egg wash. Once the mushrooms are cool pile in to the middle of the pastry top with grated Parmesan and bake in the oven till golden.  Gruyere cheese also goes well with mushrooms and would be a little milder than the Parmesan.

If you have a veggie phobe then you could use goat’s cheese topped with bacon lardons (they do have some uses!!) or they could start eating properly!!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

The cooking continues....

Week 3 of my practice chalet menu, I have decided to cut down the blogs a bit as it will probably get a little boring week after week for any of you actually reading it!! If you liked the full blown version leave me a comment or email me and I’ll revert back. So here goes.

Breakfast, Bacon & poached/fried eggs.

Well there a lot of things that you take for granted back in the UK, things that are simply not available. As a reformed veggie it does’nt really affect me but bacon is an issue out here in the French wilderness (??). You can buy bacon lardons but not sliced bacon! Odd I know, odd= most things the French do.

So while there are places you can specifically buy English goods at ridiculously inflated prices I would rather not fall into that stereotype of ‘Brit abroad’ so I use what is available instead. That means smoked, prosciutto style ham. And grilled, although thin, it is as close to a slice of bacon as you’re gonna get unless you want a pile of bacon lardons on your plate!! Hmmm….. on second thoughts I’m sure Mr would actually eat that, men!

Served with a fried egg (Mr health conscious as ever) and a couple of slices of wholemeal toast and there you go, bacon & eggs a la francais. Porridge for me! Think shorts, think shorts!!!!

Afternoon tea cake, Chocolate brownies.

The easiest cake to make in my opinion and always a winner. Especially at altitude, especially with the weird flour/lack of baking powder/non-rising issues as there is no need to worry about any of that.

My desert chef (Mr) decided he wanted to make the cake this week as the desert this week was a bit healthy for him. Maybe the altitude is affecting him more than I thought!!!!

My brownie recipe is super quick and mega easy, melt 200g dark chocolate and 200g butter together, then add 200g sugar, then 100g flour (plain is fine) and finally 2 eggs. Give it a good stir, pour into a tray lined with greaseproof paper and pop in a preheated oven, approx. 180 degrees and then bake for 25-35 mins. Keep checking after 25 mins if not quite ready, although if it is a bit wet by the next day it will be even better as it goes all fudgy!!!! Serves 6 very, very generously. Serve with crème fraiche.

No problems to report, Mr had to take instruction from moi as there was no recipe to follow!!! Maybe that’s the best way forward!!! I managed to avoid all but a couple of mouthfuls of this, and luckily we had friends for dinner the following evening who helped Mr just about polish the whole lot off. Thanks Elliot, my waistline is very thankful to you!!

Monday, 4 April 2011

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

I have been meaning to post for a while about the things that you only get to know when living here. There are many, many things about which I could go on and on and so I will try to keep it brief.

The good:

  •         Obviously we came here for the mountain experience and the skiing, both the pace of life and the skiing (although we have been terribly unlucky on the snow front, worst season for 10 years apparently!) and that side of things have been great. I never tire of looking at the fabulous views and feeling free on the top of a mountain.
  • ·      The skiing obviously, although you can have too much of a good thing.
  • ·      The food, the quality in restaurants and the supermarket never fails to pass the test.
  • ·      Great nightlife and après ski in many bars and restaurants.
  • ·      Free public transport around the village from 7am-2am. Great not having to use the car!
  • ·      Apartment living -1. I love living in a place that takes an hour to thoroughly clean!! You realise you do not need a big house and a garden for two people.
  • ·      Apartment living-2. I love having a balcony not a garden. I love not having to do gardening, erm….. not that I ever did!!!
  • ·      Apartment living, 3: the best view ever. It is great to wake up to endless mountains from your bed.
  • ·      Having more time to do the things I enjoy.
  • ·      Giving up my old job.
  • ·      Garlic, herb and olive oil stock cubes.
  • ·      Patisserie Chevallot. I love that they put their pretty cakes in cute boxes. (
  • ·      The mountain echo, so, so bad it is good! (
  • ·      A pretty village to live in (when covered in snow!)
  • ·      Salad, always really fresh. Which is weird being on a mountain!!

The bad:

  • ·      The French wine, 1: Just does not compare to Italian, Australian or Spanish, the only thing I have found ok is Languedoc, and it is only ok.
  • ·      The French wine, 2: In bars it is cheaper to drink wine than non-alcoholic beverages!!! For example, glass of red wine €3.00, diet coke/Perrier water €4.00, fruit juice €4.50-5.00. Crazy!
  • ·      The French wine, 3: In bars a more figure friendly G&T will set you back €7.00-12.00, a glass of wine €3.00-4.00, tough for us on a budget (same as above).
  • ·      The French wine, 4: drinking far too much.
  • ·       The food. Although great quality, it is at a price. Both in the restaurants and in the supermarket, probably at least double the price of the UK. It is saying something when we found it cheap in Italy last month!
  • ·      The food, soo fattening.
  • ·      The smelly French. Simple. They do not wash. They almost all have BO.
  • ·      The frustrating French way of doing everything. Badly, ass about face and backwards, totally infuriating at all times.
  • ·      The 3 hour French lunch break, the shops open at 10am, then close at 12 noon for lunch until 3pm! They shut at 7. God knows how the country keeps going???
  • ·      French workmanship, almost all electrics are almost certainly a health hazard, everything building related is a hotch potch mess.
  • ·       The French obsession with dogs, they all have one. Even up the mountain in the restaurants!!
  • ·      Small toilet rolls! Tiny they are.
  • ·      Bad coffee, for a nation that drinks so much of the stuff it’s not that good. And expensive hideously obviously.
  • ·      Cold water (when minus something outside!!) to wash your hands in the toilets they expect you to pay to use.
  • ·      Men. Just everywhere. Just in general.
  • ·      The mountain echo, so bad!
  • ·      A particular female bar manager (British) that ‘motorboats’ herself in the bar!!!!!!! I have’nt seen, I do not want to see.
  • ·      The bubble like feeling of living here.
  • ·      Live bands, bloody everywhere.
  • The ugly:
  • ·      Dog’s everywhere equals tons of dog shit. EVERYWHERE. They even provide free bags all over the village to clear up but nobody bothers. It is vile, even more so now the snow is melting and revealing more dog shit from before the snow!!!!! You never notice this when on holiday. We paid €45 for a one course lunch on the mountain one day, there was a pile of dog shit right opposite our table on the restaurant deck!!
  • ·      Toilets. Stinking. Disgusting. Dirty. Even in restaurants.
  • ·      Paying to use said disgusting, filthy restaurant toilets!!! Even when you have just paid a bloody fiver for a drink!!
  • ·      People pissing everywhere. That yellow snow is’nt just the dogs!!
  • ·      Seasonaires. Stinking. Disgusting. Dirty. British. Everywhere.
  • ·      Paying €5.50 for a tea bag and hot water!!!!
  • ·      Seeing a mountain restaurant charging €14 for a bowl of lentil soup!!!!
  • ·      Paying €90 for 2 main courses, I desert, 1 beer, 2 coffees, at LUNCH!! I only drank tap water!!!
  • ·      The village supermarkets charging 4x the price of the supermarket in the valley to those unable to escape. €4.65 for a 500g box of porridge!!! The same is €1.45 in the valley supermarket. Thank god we have a car. Although almost everything is still double what it is in good old Sainsbury’s.
  • ·      French architecture in nearby resorts, eyesores in the most beautiful settings. 1970 was a boom time by the looks of it. Criminal.
  • ·      French interior design, again the 1970’s and the 1980’s obviously was a time of prosperity and it is still there as a reminder. Most places have not been touched for at least 20 years. I have seen more hideous apartment interiors than I care to mention. Yellow and red Aztec print in the mountains??? WHY oh WHY????? Orange stained pine, EVERYWHERE. Burgundy bathroom suites??? Bunk beds in hallways!!! Bloody peach and pale jade artex walls, oh & carpet on the walls. Shabby chic? Shabby shit.
  • ·      The often rude, mostly arrogant, miserable French.
  • ·      The rude, arrogant English.
  • ·      Beer swilling girls.
  • ·      Driving, the French are mental. They overtake everywhere, blind bends, oncoming traffic. I have heart failure every time we drive down the winding mountain road to Bourg St Maurice!!! I am always amazed that we make it there and back in one piece. They even overtake on the one road running through the village!!!! Crazy!!
  • So there you have it! There is no more to say.

day 6

Day 6.
Desert, Lemon meringue roulade with raspberry coulis.

As mentioned last week Mr has taken it upon himself to become the desert chef. Why, I have no idea but hey if it means he does something round here then that’s fine by me, and obviously I am standing by to interfere when I think he is not doing things properly!!

I will say this week’s desert was a whole lot more successful than last weeks cheesecake attempt. First the meringue was whipped up by hand, electric whisk’s are not really something you would hope to find in a seasonaire rental!!! And I have’nt seen one I can borrow (well pinch!!) My electric whisk is safely packed away back in the UK, handy!!

The meringue was then spread out on a thin baking tray (on top of greaseproof paper), baked for 10 minutes, then removed from the oven and left to cool. Once cooled turn the meringue over and leave until serving.

Just before serving add a layer of lemon curd then crème fraiche and use the paper to roll up altogether. Just like a Swiss roll. Serve with raspberry coulis. We had some left over that was a Christmas gift  (probably for the best as making it may have pushed Mr beyond his limits!!) but it is really easy to make with fresh or frozen raspberries, a little sugar and some lemon juice, just blitz altogether and press through a sieve.

So not as amusing to watch being made as last week’s but much more tasty. It was a real treat to have lemon curd as it was nearly €3.00 for a small jar of Robertsons!!! I had to buy it in the British section of the supermarket, which I normally avoid as we are in France after all and everything is bloody hideously expensive (not that I buy it ever but as an example a jar of Sharwoods curry sauce is €7.00!!!), but there was no other way!! There was nothing even close to resembling being lemon flavoured and I was not going to attempt to make it myself, it would definitely be cheaper to buy by the jar!!

So I think that can be classed as another successful evening’s food. We’ll see how next week goes, I hope you’re not bored stiff yet as we still have 5 more days to go!!!! God, that means only 5 more weeks till we leave. 

Sunday, 3 April 2011

day 5

Day 5
Main course, Cod wrapped in prosciutto with a red pepper sauce
Cannellini, garlic and herb stuffed tomatoes (V)
Savoury rice
Sautéed mixed vegetables
Steamed broccoli

So, the main event. Even fussy fish eaters and meat eaters alike can’t fail to like cod wrapped in prosciutto. The carnivores still get a bit of meat, nice and crisp and full of flavour and the fusspots get a smoky, tasty non-fishy fish. I tend to dot some butter onto the fish before wrapping the ham around it, I find it gives it a more luxurious flavour.  And it’s pretty quick too, 15 minutes in a hot oven will do. You can also use the buttery juices in the sauce if you like. The stuffed tomatoes are equally as enjoyable for us veggies (I’m back in strict vegetarian/occasional vegan mode after steeping on some scales this weekend!!!!), I think that stuffed vegetables are a great meat/fish alternative. The stuffing’s are endless as are the vegetables you can use. I used breadcrumbs (home made with black pepper and sea salt), pesto, extra virgin olive oil, some minced garlic, fresh parsley and cannellini beans, just mixed the lot together with a spoonful of the scraped out innards of the tomatoes, and popped it in the tomatoes, drizzled over some oil and baked in the oven until juicy. I suppose you could always add some cheese but you already have the protein from the beans and parmesan in the pesto so I felt no need, one thing you don’t really need here in France is more bloody cheese!!!

Anyhow, I roasted off some red peppers for the sauce, peeled once cool, added to a little stock, I have to use chicken as the French do not sell vegetable stock (see they just do not believe in vegetarians!!!!) And I just have not got the space to make my own, nowhere to store it afterwards. I only have an under the counter fridge with a freezer compartment! But anyway once blitzed together, add a spoonful (T or desert depending on how creamy you want it) of crème fraiche, adjust seasoning. Done.

For the savoury rice I just cooked the rice in a stock cube that they DO sell here but I have never seen at home in the UK, olive oil, garlic and herb, they are genius! I use them in sauces, to cook rice/ pasta, as a seasoning in soups. Fabulous. Serve the rice with sautéed mixed veggies and some steamed broccoli.

I should probably add that I once again I went through my usual rigmorale of bathing, dressing, up etc whilst all was cooking. A girl’s got to make an effort eh? And inside of this apartment is the only place my beloved Louboutin heels will get worn!! And it is also the only chance I get to wear my wildly inappropriate attire and jewels that made it here with me!!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

day 4

Day 4
Starter, Spicy roast pumpkin soup.

I love making soup! I love the chopping, the stirring, the blending….  I find the whole process very satisfying. And the variations and flavours are endless.  I never understand why people are scared of making soup? It’s so easy.

This soup is particularly good, hearty and flavoursome with a bit of spice! I am not a huge fan of ridiculously spicy foods that are so hot you lose the flavour but I like a little kick and the warmth you get with some subtle flavouring.

I cut the pumpkin (approx. 200g) into chunks, oil & season and roast in a hot oven until cooked. Meanwhile I peel & dice a large carrot, a large potatoe and an onion, I then soften these off over a medium heat, then a cover the vegetables with some stock (chicken or veg will do), add approx. 100ml coconut milk (can add more if needed), and then add a heaped teaspoon of red thai curry paste. Once all cooked through add the roasted pumpkin allow to simmer for 10 minutes then blend.  Et voila!

Friday, 1 April 2011

day 3

Day 3
Canapés, Duck pate on rustic wholemeal toast & roasted vegetables in          balsamic dressing on rustic wholemeal toast.

I have always been a fan of bruschetta & crostini and I think that bite size versions make a great canapé. And after all one thing the French are good at is bread and their pate is’nt bad either.

So for this occasion I treated us to some ‘Chevalott’ bread. Our local baker (Patrick Chevalott) has won awards for his patisseries and baking and it is easy to see why, the cakes and hand made chocolates along with all sorts of artisan bread are works of art and taste heavenly.

So I strolled into the village and went to one of the two ‘boutiques’ to purchase a dark, seeded freshly baked wholemeal loaf. One boutique has a café, which obviously serves up all of the wondrous goods created on the premises, they even make their own hot chocolate, it is thick and rich and just like melted chocolate!!! Divine. The other ‘boutique’ sells their hand made chocolates, all kept in a temperature controlled case, this is serious baking!!

But enough already, as the bread was so good I thought I’d keep things simple. Firstly I roasted off some mushrooms and peppers (diced) in some olive oil and garlic, once cooked I removed from the tray and seasoned before adding some balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. And then put the sliced bread (bite sized squares) into the used baking tray, drizzled with some olive oil, seasoned and baked in the oven to ‘toast’. Once nice and crisp I removed from the oven and added the toppings, smooth duck liver pate (not home made I should admit) and the roasted veggies. Simple but delicious!