Tuesday, 9 September 2014

But First - Coffee

But First - Coffee

An insight into the Delicious Mountain thought process on the very important question of coffee.

There are so many details in our lovely catered Chalet La Chouette in Meribel that have required consideration, debate and finally decisions; from where we buy our towels, to which wine supplier(s) and then matching the vino to suit the menu, to where to buy the parts for the Land Rover - every little thing has been carefully thought of.  Coffee is no exception, it has prompted hours of research and chat and we're sure we've got it sussed now so that it is the best it can be for our guests enjoyment.

Coffee has come to play a big part in our lives, traditionally a nation of tea lovers, England is well and truly embracing coffee and the coffee shop culture.  In Britain each day around 70 million cups of coffee are consumed.  Coffee shops have provided a cool, inexpensive and informal place to hang out and we hope to recreate some of that atmosphere in our contemporary, luxury chalet.

Before last winter season, after much research and discussion, we decided to buy a bean to cup machine for our guests to serve themselves coffee.  So we pour the beans into a hopper at the top and, at the touch of a button, the machine does everything else.  We chose a Franke Saphira machine for its rave reviews and robustness  and we are pretty sure the guests last year were very pleased with the choice, it certainly was a talking point! 

During the inter-season and summer months this year, discussion has moved to improving the beans that we put into the machine, for an even better coffee experience.  Samples have been arriving, and much bean grinding, blending and tasting has been going on at Delicious Mountain HQ.  I have to admit, that it really is Stu who is the coffee fanatic (luckily for our guests) and whilst I love the smell, I am not a fan of the taste and certainly can't handle the effects.
Finally we have chosen to use a predominantly Sumatran blend of coffee. Sumatran coffee is harvested in a unique/low-fi way, the beans are handpicked, then semi-washed and semi sun dried.  Then, as they move from the mountains to the port (often a journey starting with horses at elevations of up to 5000ft) they continue the drying and maturing process, typically giving them a complex, chocolaty, spicy flavour.  This low-tech method of farming means that naturally the beans are a little more expensive than some but we think totally worth it. The small scale production has meant that the farmers have had to come together to earn a living and so their product is truly cooperatively farmed.

Our home blended espresso mix is roughly 75% Sumatran pure Arabica and 25% Indian Cherry pure Robusta. We will get our coffee freshly roasted  from a French supplier and delivered every other week in the winter season to ensure that its as good as it can be and all our effort is shown to it's best advantage. 

We are pretty confident that we have the best coffee of any catered chalet in Meribel, but that's what your expecting right?


Monday, 30 June 2014

From the Cherry Tree to the Jar - The Story of Our Cherry Jam

Cherry and Cinnamon Conserve

Cherries would have to be my favourite fruit. The fact that their season is really short just makes them so much more delicious when they arrive.  You cannot beat biting into a huge juicy red cherry straight from the tree - they are just so scrummy.  What better way to try and capture a little bit of summer for a rainy (or snowy) day than to make jam with them.
You may think that to look at the ingredients for cherry jam, or any jam for that matter, that it would be a simple process, with so few ingredients - it must be eeeeeazzzzy!  To an extent it is, but there is a lot more to it than at first meets the eye....
For breakfast in the chalet this coming winter, we picked a whole heap of sun ripened cherries to turn into jam and serve up to our guests at breakfast time. 

Here is the pictoral story/recipe/method for our cherry and cinnamon jam.

 1.  Daily check on the tree to see if they cherries are ripe and juicy.   Be patient, wait until they are just right
 2.  Select the richest red cherries
 3.  It is very important to have a happy fruit picker - like this one.  The best picking method, is one for you, one for the basket which really helps to motivate. It may be a little slower but it is good to work with incentives
 4.  Pit the cherries, I am definitely going to invest in cherry pitter. This is the small knife and very messy hand method.  It took about an hour to do this large bowl weighing about 2kgs
 5.  Finally they are all pitted!
 6.  Put into a preserving pan with equal quantities of jam sugar and a couple of cinnamon sticks and the zest and juice of a couple of lemons.  Bring gently to the boil and cook until its ready; you can test if jam is ready by putting a couple of saucers in the freezer.  If you pop some of the cooking jam onto the saucer and it wrinkles when you push your finger through it - it is done.  Or if you've got a special thermometer; the magic numbers for jam are 104 °C or 220°F

 7.  Pour the hot jam into clean, sterilised jars and screw the lids on
 8.  Label them :-)
9.  Finally...... enjoy

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Raspberry and Apple Crumble Slice

Raspberry and Apple Crumble Slice
This is a really delicious afternoon cake.  That's all - can't say much more than that!  I first made it when it came round to September last year and with the garden full of raspberries and apples, I was looking for new ways to use them.   I reckon it would probably make a pretty awesome pudding too with lashings of crème anglaise, cream or custard (or all three).


For the cake
100g x soft butter
175g x caster sugar
1 x egg
280g x self raising flour
125ml x milk
1 x bramley apple peeled and diced (could always use any old apples left over in the fruit bowl)
200g x raspberries

For the crumble
50g x butter
85g x self raising flour
100g x soft brown sugar
zest of 1 lemon (or you could use some ground cinnamon instead)


Preheat the oven to 160 and line a 30cmx20cm roasting dish with butter, then greaseproof paper.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and mix until incorporated.

Add the flour and milk and mix well, finally add the apple and stir.  If it is still very thick, add a little more milk.  Work this mixture into the bottom of the prepared dish.

Sprinkle the raspberries all over the sponge mixture.

Finally make the crumble by rubbing all of the crumble ingredients together in a bowl and sprinkling all over the raspberries and sponge.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean from the centre of the cake.

Leave to cool and cut into squares or triangles.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Early Season Snow Conditions in Meribel

Happy New Year to you all!!!!

Festive table at Chalet La Chouette
We have been busy bees at Delicious Mountain these past weeks with our very first guests arriving on the Friday 6th December ahead of opening day in Meribel, so they could get first lifts on the first day! We are now entering the New Year and after the Christmas festivities we are looking forward to sharing a great 2014 with you.

Groomers on the first day - 7th December

The snow conditions have been in the news recently so we thought we'd spend a few minutes on that as the theme of this blog post.

15th December - looking good up there at the top of Tougnete!
At the time of writing the cumulative snow  at top station in Meribel is 90/110cm and with over 2000 snow canons the pistes are in pretty good shape-not as good as they could be or will be ,but 95% of the runs are open (600km of runs in total in the Three Valleys ski area) there is still too much to take in on a weeks holiday.

27th December - view from the balcony looking down the valley

The very sad news that Michel Schumacher is in a Critical condition after sustaining a head injury whilst skiing in Meribel has hi-lighted the typical early season snow conditions we have at the moment. And although his injury could have happened at any time during the season, regardless of snow fall, a lot is being made of the snow coverage in the U.K. Press. We are in fact plumb average for snow depth at this time of year, with more on the way.

I'm writing this a few days after Mr Schumacher had his terrible accident and I feel slightly bad because quite possibly at the time of his fall I was enjoying some of the best powder turns I've ever had. The lesson, if there is one, is that you must always take care off-piste as a fall, is a fall in unprepared snow with all of the hazards that make it appealing waiting to bite you when you make a mistake.  Our thoughts are with Michael and his family and hoping he makes a full and speedy recovery.

So with a mind to move forward and leave the sobering reminders of our chosen sport behind and cast an eye to what we expect in the next week or so as far as snow fall is concerned. The beautiful white stuff will be gently floating down after New Year's Day with a forecasted 15cm to help turn our dreams and hopes into glorious moments of poise and turns of technical perfection.

All the best to you all for 2014, Peace and Love, Health and Happiness, Lou and Stu

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

International Mountain Day 2013

Covering around 27 percent of the earth’s land surface, mountains play a critical role in moving the world towards sustainable economic growth. They not only provide sustenance and wellbeing to 720 million mountain people around the world, but indirectly benefit billions more living downstream.

That's according to the United Nations who have designated 11 December as International Mountain Day. Of course, you can pretty much take it as a given that we at Delicious Mountain love the mountains: we've chosen to spend our lives in the Alps. And while our own experiences of mountain living are undoubtedly very different to those who make their homes atop the mountain ranges of The Himalayas or The Andes, there remains a common connection in the respect we all afford to the highlands.

A community which is based in the mountains gives voice to mountain living in all its culture and ways of life. A hilltop community is simply different to any other, and expresses these differences in its language, its cuisine, its modes of getting from place to place and connecting with people.

It's no coincidence, then, that we have made a life here in Meribel built on these very foundations. Although Meribel is a relatively new and purpose-built ski resort, and is not hewn from history like Les Gets might be, for example, it is still very much a mountain community - and we were attracted to it as such. Of course we love the risky red runs and the menacing black moguls, the filling fondues and the tasty tartiflettes.  But most of all, we love the mountains and everything they offer us.

Always to be respected, sometimes to be feared, forever to be supported, appreciated and loved - thanks to/for the mountains.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Chalet Chamois Shuffle: Lucky Goats Evade Alpine Avalanche

Avoiding an avalanche is pretty much the top priority of any off-piste skier, and learning to judge the risks can take a lot of careful training.  When your first mistake could be your last, you can be sure that trial and error might not be the best means of learning.

But when you live on the mountainside, avoiding an avalanche might not always be possible.  Here, a tribe of goats act out an anthropomorphic drama of which any screenwriter would be proud.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Apres Ski - Our guide to the ski party in the snow around Meribel

Après-ski has become a very important part to most people's catered chalet holiday and a good resort should always include a fair selection of bars offering this end-of-ski-day/ last-run indulgence.  So what is it? Well the phrase translates literally into 'after ski' and it is the term given to the activity of coming straight from the mountain around 4.30-5pm and into a bar for a drink - quite often there will be a live band or musician and what ensues is a late afternoon/early evening boogie!

Meribel is famous for its après ski.   But fear not, you need not have skied all day to enjoy this particular treat - anyone can join in - the more the merrier.  There are some seasonnaires who will get kitted up in their skiing gear and either just do one run or go up on the bus to whichever bar so they look the part!  Believe me - there is no need to go to such lengths to take part! 

At the end of the day there is always at least three bars on the piste or around Meribel that will be playing live music - there is something for everyone from one man acoustic sets, to live DJ's, to cover bands.   You can find out the programs by clicking on the links below. Or in resort, the local radio station R Meribel, will broadcast a what's on guide including the most up to the minute low down on all live music both après and later in the evening.

The most famous place in Meribel is the Rond Point, or Ronnie's, sitting on the Saulire side of the valley where several runs meet, this place has been doing après since the early 90's.  It's success? well it  catches the afternoon sun on their huge heated terrace as well as all the skiers and boarders on their last run.  It's a compulsory part of your Meribel experience, along with the toffee vodka they serve.

Lodge du Village (LDV) is in Meribel Village at the bottom of the lovely blue Lapin piste.  There's a Happy Hour every day from 4pm until 6pm with all your favourite drinks from Toffee Vodka to a lovely warming piping hot Vin Chaud.  The legendary Tuesday evening Après Ski with Bring Your Sisters, Yard of Ales and horn playing from Tim will continue throughout Winter 2014!

In Meribel town, in the complex of shops and bars right by La Chaudanne you will find Jacks Bar.  There's always something going on at Jacks, from live comedy acts, games such as toss the boss and Monday - Friday 5-7 plenty of après action.

New last season was the La Folie Douce (Sweet Madness).  Strictly speaking, they operate a little before 'après' time closing at 4.30pm.  More of a late lunch and party kind of place with DJ's, dancing girls and boys and liberal champagne spraying.  Last season it opened to mixed reviews - what had kind-of happened more organically in Val Thorens and Val d'Isere with this brand was brought into Meribel - and you just couldn't help feeling it was a little forced, but after a winter?

This year, Meribel is playing host to 'Ibiza Rocks' in the Snow.  Get ready for the hottest breakthrough live acts and electronic artists plus daily après ski events hosted by the UK and Ibiza's top clubbing brands, street parties, pool parties, terrace parties, ice parties and much more!  Come and join in from 14-21st December 2013, 8-15th February 2014 and 29th March - 5th April 2014. Ibiza Rocks in the SnowTempted?  We have a fabulous last minute deal for 14th December, the price has been reduced by £200 per person and our luxury chalet is now available at just £445pp!!!  

And don't forget - at Delicious Mountain we know Après is essential to a ski holiday which is why we are happy to collect you from your apres ski venue and bring you back to our luxury catered chalet :-)