FOOD AND WINE
Eating and drinking may not be the most important things on your ski holiday. Good snow, fine weather, comfy boots – these are what will make or break the trip.
But food is an obsession with us. It is the one thing we control totally. Most guests wouldn’t blame us if it snowed every day, they got sunburn or their spouse eloped with a ski instructor, but if dinner weren’t the perfect end to a good day, or antidote to a bad one, they wouldn’t come again.
We start with a proper breakfast. Fruit juice, porridge, cereals from Rude Health, bacon, eggs, baguettes straight from the famous local bakery, yoghurt, tea and fresh coffee from Nespresso machines (with instant or infusions for those who prefer them). If that’s not what you consider a proper breakfast, please see our Serious Breakfast Optional Extra.
You return from the slopes to find bread and jam, a freshly-baked cake, tea and coffee left out for you. If you would like hot chocolate, please inform your chalet staff (and tell them how you like it!).
Dinner is where we pull out all the stops. Our policy on food is straightforward. We start with the best cuts of meat and the best fresh fruit and vegetables, not really counting the cost. Everything we need is available in Val d’Isère. Most people are very happy with our normal formula of canapés followed by a three-course, fixed-menu, dinner-party-style meal. The cuisine is largely French, though with a fusion of other influences – what Londoners call Modern British. (Foreign, in other words.)
But if there is a consensus in the chalet that lighter food or simpler meals or smaller portions would go down well, we’re very happy to adapt. If you want more or less, or hotter or colder, or earlier or later, just tell us.
A small proportion of the public now needs or wishes to eat different food from the rest of their party, be it for religious, ethical or allergy/health reasons, or just because there are foods they don’t like. Sadly our chalets do not have vast kitchens or teams of chefs to cope with cooking a separate meal for everyone every evening, so we can only cope with alternative diets, on any grounds, by increasing the cook’s hours. Therefore, guests who do not eat the same food as the rest of the chalet and require a different diet for the week, take our Different Diet Optional Extra for £25 per person per week, which goes straight to the cook for the extra time needed. If a guest just cannot eat one single meal, a simple alternative will normally be provided without charge.
There are some diets we cannot cater for. We regret that we do not have the separate fridges, etc., required for Kosher diets, we do not have access to Halal meats, and we cannot guarantee that our chalets will be nut-free.
This is YSE’s twenty-eighth winter, and we honestly believe our cooking has steadily improved from year to year. We aren’t sure why. More professional chefs work for us, but even the cooks who’ve just learnt at home or on cookery courses seem to master dishes now they wouldn’t have attempted in the past.
Our pre-season in situ training course gives the cooks three to four weeks of hands-on cooking practice – more than they’d do in a year at cooking school. This is indispensable even for experienced chefs at 6,000 feet, where nothing cooks the same as at sea level.
With dinner, we serve free unlimited quantities of a selection of very drinkable French AOC wine and vin de pays. This is, unfortunately, only with dinner, not breakfast, and we stop serving the wine when the coffee appears.
We also have a wine list from which you can buy everything from slightly smarter wine to Châteaux Lafite-Rothschild or d’Yquem. We sell these wines at less than they cost because you are not drinking the house wine. The more you consume the more you save. Drink enough and you’ll pay for the holiday.
And if you prefer Krug Grande Cuvée to Dom Pérignon, just give the girls the dosh. They’ll be happy to get some in for you.
We are confident that you’ll eat at least as well in our chalets as in any of the local restaurants or hotels. But the toughest comparisons tend to be with previous YSE holidays. ‘Yes, she’s a wonderful cook, but you can’t beat Josh’s orange and butternut squash risotto, or Drew’s mushroom and port mille feuille.’ It keeps us on our toes.