Browsing Tag

cheese

Feature, Travel

Springtime Skiing in Val d’Isère

March 30, 2015

Growing up with Lake Tahoe in my backyard and Vail and Jackson Hole only a short flight away, I’ve been pretty spoiled when it comes to choice of ski resorts. I recently dusted off my skis and went to Val d’Isère for a long weekend to see what one of Europe’s most loved resorts in the French Alps had to offer. The snow was incredible, we ate far too much cheese and I’m proud to say we did the après-ski scene proud.

It was such a memorable weekend, I’m already planning my trip for next season!  IMG_3238Val d’Isère has one of the longest seasons in Europe and stays open until early May, so you can still fit in a last minute spring ski trip! If you’re a die hard ski bunny already planning ahead for next year or are weighing up your options of which resort to go to, here is what I loved about Val d’Isère.

Ski hard:

It goes without saying the skiing in Val d’Isère is out of this world. The resort has 300 km/180 miles of runs to choose from with one ski pass, so you definitely won’t find yourself repeatedly going down the same slope. If you’re a complete beginner, the Espace Killy skiing area is available to novice skiers free of charge, so you can practice gaining your on-piste confidence without any damage to your wallet. Here are some photos I took from the chair lift towards the top peak of Val d’Isère. We were truly skiing amongst the clouds!

IMG_3225

IMG_3234

For a cool €60,000, you can even bring home Wild Kong, who hangs out on the mountain providing onlookers with a good photo opportunity. A nice statement piece for your living room perhaps?IMG_3276

Feasting:

Unlike American ski resorts, the meals both on and off the mountain were seriously delicious- further reason to hit another run or two post lunch.  It’s hard to beat a rewarding lunch at La Fruitiere, situated on the mountain right next to party central, the Folie Douce! IMG_3348

Walking into La Fruitiere with my goggles and ski clothes on, I looked around and immediately felt a bit too casually dressed. This is a luxury sit down French restaurant with waiter service and French Anthropologie chic fittings and furnishings. Non-skiers or snowboarders even take the chair lift all the way up just to have lunch here! Feeling a bit overwhelmed with choice of French comfort food, our waiter suggested one of the restaurant’s specialties which was served in a metallic pot, slow-cooked Boeuf Burgundy. The succulent red meat fell off the bone and had the most incredible flavour, which was paired perfectly with warm polenta and a glass of red wine. If you can, save room for the chocolate tart and local cheeses!IMG_3355

Speaking of cheese, you can’t go skiing in the French Alps without trying Tartiflette, a tempting melted mixture of cheeses (typically Reblochon) cooked with potatoes, cream, ham and wine – with a small salad on the side to ensure you get your daily dose of greens! This is my absolute heaven on a plate, but beware a strong food coma that will imminently hit you like a snow plow afterwards.IMG_3171

If you find Tartiflette too filling, then opt for another on-piste lunchtime favourite, a ‘light’ dish of melted Camembert with toasted bread, dill pickles, cured meats and a side of salad and potato. Served best with a glass of crisp rosé or Aperol Spritz of course! IMG_3269

For a truly cheesy experience (sorry, not sorry!), have dinner at one of Val d’Isère’s local family-owned farms, Ferme de l’Adroit,  where you dine next to the farm’s cows. Wear loose clothing and order the house Raclette, which arrives in a contraption that looks like a medieval cheese torture chamber. IMG_3318

Using a wooden spoon, scrape off the freshly melted cheese as it oozes on to your plate and enjoy with meats and breads. How French women stay so thin remains a mystery!

Après-Ski:

La Folie Douce is Val d’Isère’s daily on-piste party with a lively atmosphere like none other. Treat weary ski legs to an afternoon of boozing in your ski gear to DJs and live music while taking in the ‘best of Euro’ on-table dancers and cabaret show. La Folie Douce is truly the Mardi Gras of the slopes- leave your inhibitions at your chalet and get ready to let loose!

FOLIE DOUCE 3

FOLIE DOUCE 2

Picture: courtesy of Val d’Isère Office du Tourisme

IMG_3299

We also tested out the latest après-ski joint in town, Cocorico, which is conveniently located at the bottom of the mountain for end of day celebrations. If you’re a night owl, Cocorico’s nightclub stays open till the wee hours!

Post-Piste Activities: 

When you’re not on the slopes, there is a wide variety of shops, spas, bars, restaurants and local attractions in Val d’Isère to enjoy. Navigating around the village is easy, and keep an eye out for locally designed ice sculptures, which change on a regular basis.IMG_3179

If you’re an adrenaline junkie and speed riding on the slopes isn’t enough to get your pulses racing, then try Ice Driving day or night. We went whizzing around an icy race track in a BMW racing car and were relieved to tell the tale afterwards. Avoid eating or drinking anything at least an hour before. For a more PG version, try ice-karting instead!

IMG_3199

I can now see what makes Val d’Isère so special, but I hope my next ski trip here will be for longer. Offering fine food, fantastic skiing, fresh mountain air, a buzzing on and off piste atmosphere and gorgeous scenery, it’s no wonder so many skiers return to Val d’Isère year after year.

IMG_3362

For more information about Val d’Isère, visit www.valdisere.com or ring +33 (0)4 79 06 06 60.

Food, London

Dip & Flip, Clapham Junction

February 21, 2015

I had been hearing rave reviews for ages about the gravy-dipped roast beef burgers at Clapham Junction’s Dip & Flip from fellow burger lovers. It’s been on my ‘must try London burger list’ for some time, and after a recent visit I can now finally understand what all the fuss is about. The rumours are true: they serve one beast of a burger here!

IMG_2253

I had been warned by friends Scott and Mathilde to arrive hungry and prepared to return home covered in burger and gravy. How right they were! We pulled up a chair (mine had the caption FLEABAG on the back) in the brightly coloured room and mulled over the menu. You have to admire the retro gravy art here:

IMG_2237

IMG_2273_2

It was a Friday night, so we toasted to the weekend and good times ahead with Dip & Flip’s Pickle back, a shot of bourbon followed by a shot of pickle juice with a slice of pickle. I was a bit sceptical to say the least but it tasted great.

IMG_2239_2

Can’t say I will be slugging back one of these sour slammers every night, but if you haven’t tried one before then I would recommend giving it a whirl. After all, YOLO!

The Dip & Flip menu more or less gives a proverbial ‘up yours’ to vegetarians. I already knew when I first came through the door that I had to try the Dip & Flip burger with the famous 3-day gravy, but was interested to see a lot of customers ordering the meaty sandwiches as well. It seemed peculiar that you would come here and order the flip and not the dip, so we added a fried chicken sandwich into the line-up for good measure. Just like mom says, it’s important to try everything at least once!

IMG_2275_2

A few minutes later (it was surprisingly speedy considering the room was packed!) a juicy pink beef burger topped with oozing cheese and gravy-dipped roast beef slices was presented to me on a shiny metal tray. I just about died and went to burger heaven right there and then.

IMG_2248_2

The flavour of Dip & Flip’s gravy, which apparently takes 3 full days to make, is worth the trek to Clapham Junction alone. Why nobody has ever thought of serving a burger with a side of finger lickin’ gravy before beats me. There is a lot going on with Dip & Flip burgers as this place takes their beef very seriously. A well-proportioned caramelised pink patty is topped with flavourful gravy dipped roast-beef, a good rasher of crisp bacon and lots of melted American cheese in between two shiny and slightly toasted plump brioche buns. A pickle with a dill mayo sauce also lies underneath. The Dip & Flip burger (£9.95) is to die for and after a few juicy bites – which promptly leaves a mixture of gravy and burger aftermath all over your face, hands and shirt- I had to agree with the message on the wall. Life does taste better dipped in gravy.

IMG_2247

Now for the flip without the dip. Hannah, my burger fiend of a friend describes really good food as being ‘fit.’ The Dip & Flip’s chicken fried sandwich (£6.95) is exactly that. FIT. We added the homemade American cheese but you can go even farther and have chillies and bacon as extras too. The warm fried chicken is crisped to perfection and the tangy coleslaw really brings this dish all together. Witness the fitness:

IMG_2257

There are several options to choose from when it comes to Dip & Flip’s selection of chips, which start from £2.75 for plain rosemary or chicken salted fries. We jumped aboard the muffin top express and added bacon, cheese, gravy and chilli to our fries. WOWZA!

IMG_2250_2Next time I might just have to try Dip & Flip’s take on poutine, a Canadian import consisting of fries, gravy and cheese curds (£4.95).

The friendly and super laidback staff at Dip & Flip told us they used to have pudding on the menu, but because most of their customers were too filled with gravy-soaked burger to order more, they now only serve their boozy shakes. We managed to slurp down the shake of the month, chocolate salted caramel, with two shots of bourbon with ease (£3.00). Bottoms up!

IMG_2267

I left Dip & Flip feeling gloriously full and in need of washing all my clothes and having a hot shower. Dip & Flip burgers are unforgettable, but a very messy affair. I will definitely be back for more gravy dipped goodness soon, and next time I’ll come wearing a bib.

IMG_2265

87 Battersea Rise, SW11 1HW 

www.dipandflip.co.uk   @DipFlippo