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