I love skiing. It’s active, yet relaxing. Chilly and toasty warm at the same time. And just an all round goood break from the daily grind. Having spent the previous three months desperately counting down the days, I embarked upon my week away in the French Alps with three aims in mind:
- To avoid injury (I tend to be a little accident prone)
- To eat ALL THE CHEESE in France
- To not let après defeat me
I’ll tell you now – I wasn’t successful on all counts.
I squeezed into my trousers on day one . A little tighter than last time I’ll admit, but hey ho – I was in and that’s all that mattered, right?! Hold that thought. We hit the slopes, and hopped on three chairlifts to the top. As I was disembarking lift numero trois, I felt a sudden release. My trousers had popped open. Not to worry, I thought to myself. I’ll just move gracefully to one side of the slope, and discretely do them back up again. Easy peasy. It was then that I discovered that the entire fastening had in fact popped off. Brilliant. So there I was – half way up an Alp, with my trousers undone, and no option other than to ski back down to the bottom. Epic fail, Harry. After briefly toying with the idea of borrowing a friend’s belt (it was brief because I quickly realised that the circumference of his waist equated to approximately my thumb), I discovered two handy dandy clips attached to the bottom of my jacket. Boom. So I clipped them to a couple of belt loops to prevent any chance of them creeping toward my ankles before I reached the bottom of the slope.
Not an ideal situation, but it actually worked in my favour (the glass is ALWAYS half-full). Having temporarily broken what I now like to call my “skinny” ski trousers, I went down to Meribel centre and purchased a shiny new pair. Unexpected expense – yes. But they were a size bigger, and therefore had plenty of room to cater to aim 2) on my afformentioned list. Room that I definitely didn’t have on hand with pair number one. The whole situation was a blessing in disguise. Plus – my latest choice in trouser was a delectable highlighter-yellow. A strong look, I felt, which conveniently eliminated the chance of anybody losing me on the slope even if they wanted to. Winning.
On Tuesday, after a long hard morning of intense skiing (pootling up and down blue slopes with regular breaks), Franky and I decided that it would be a good idea (it wasn’t) to head straight to the Rond Point, our après destination for the afternoon. Like any situation, there were pros and cons to this decision. Pros included securing a table on the outside deck before it got too busy, avoiding goggle marks by giving our faces unhindered sun time, managing to get a snap shot of DAVID FLIPPIN’ GANDY as he walked past (I was tempted to touch him, but then realised how incredibly creepy that would have been) , and maximum time in which to use the slide down to the bathroom (I NEED ONE IN MY HOUSE). Such fun!
The major drawback to our plan (being about a bottle and half deep in wine before everyone else arrived) had a domino effect on everything thereafter, however, probably outweighing the pros entirely. These included – more wine, thinking it was a good idea to order three bottles of toffee vodka because it was soooo cheap, attempting to look “cool” while dancing on the table in ski boots (ski boots and good dancing don’t exist in unison), chatting up the sober lead singer of the band, sliding down the slide so many times that my new trousers turned the same rusty colour (I spent an hour scrubbing them clean the next morning), and ultimately not making it to Bec’s wonderful dinner (fondue). Après had well and truly defeated me. On the bright side, having gone to bed by 6pm, I resurfaced the following morning with no hangover!
A wintery escape is something you come to crave when existing as an expat in a toasty warm country. You may remember me writing about my time in Sweden lasy year. Well this year, my close friend and fellow blogger, Franky (a.k.a Munch & Brunch), discovered a real gem of a chalet experience, owned by a brilliant company called Fish & Pips.
Having grown up, family holidayed, travelled and worked together, Philippa Hartley (Pips) and Holly Fisher (Fish) decided to team up to create Fish & Pips, an affordable chalet experience with fantastic food, great locations and a friendly, efficient and competent service. The team in Meribel had literally thought of everything. From pre-trip liason with our chef for menu requests to SPF lip balm on our pillows, and après ski recommendations to weather updates. You name it, they had it covered.
Now I’ll admit that this was the first catered chalet holiday I had ever experienced, so frankly didn’t have anything to compare it to. But to be honest, I don’t think it even matters. I had a vague idea in my head of what to expect – from reading up on them on the website, and also from hearing about other people’s chalet experiences with other companies. Cooked breakfasts, afternoon tea and cake, and hearty dinners with a cheeky glass of vino.
I was suprisingly way off the mark. Bec, our chef for the week, took it to a whole other level. A gradutate PR proffesional-turned chef extrordinaire, she was chatty, knowledgeable, and bursting with culinary know-how. I found myself lurking on the outskirts of the kitchen a number of times just quizzing her on how she had got to where she was – a small part of me was a little envious. I have seriously considered culinary school in the past, so it was interesting to hear her experience – and as a fellow PR individual, I found it rather relateable.
Olive oil cloud cake, cauliflower foam, freshly made cinamon french toast with caramelised banana and creme fraiche, 48-hour soy and honey-soaked duck, cucumber risotto, soft-boiled quail eggs, and whole pears poached to perfection. The food was insane. Each day I would wake up eager to find out what delight my tastebuds were going to be treated to, and each evening I would drift off to sleep after another tantalising four-course dinner. I didn’t want it to end!
It wasn’t purely the taste that really got me. It was the whole shabang – the choice of ingredients, cooking techniques, timing, and beautiful presentation. The Fish & Pips team even go as far as wine pairing each course. I don’t know too much about wine, but I thoroughly enjoyed every glass – sometimes probably a little too much!
There were so many dishes that I would like to try recreating – the cucumber risotto starter is high on my list – so expect a few here and there. But for now, I’ll leave you to scroll through some of my highlights from the week.
So if you are searching for a fabulous ski excursion in France with a culinary curveball thrown in here and there, then I thouroughly recommend these chaps. With the tailored menues, they will cater for any dietary requirements, including kids options – one of our group is lactose-intolerant, and she devoured delicious and well-thought-out alternatives throughout the week.
Thanks to the Fish & Pips team for such an awesome week!