Wednesday, 11 July 2012

STAGE 10: MÂCON - BELLEGARDE-SUR-VALSERINE

After a rest day in Mâcon, the riders head to the real mountains, in a new stage which features the Col du Grand Colombier, a hors categorie (literally "beyond categorisation") mountain, which will impress the riders as much by its fearsome gradients as its picture-postcard scenery.

Now that the Tour is in the Alps "proper", I must mention one of my absolute favourites of the Savoie region, Tartiflette, that warming gratin of layers of sliced potato and onion, with smoked bacon, cream and Reblochon cheese. Comforting and filling, it's just the thing when you've been out skiing or walking in the mountains. We've had many holidays in the Alps, in and around Les Gets and the Portes de Soleil, in winter (skiing/snowboarding) and summer (downhill mountainbiking), and one of our favourite suppers is Tartiflette pizza, eaten at L'Optraken on the main square in Les Gets. (They also do a very fine fondue and great rustic salads, and other Savoyard specialities.) In fact, dare I say it, the pizzas I've had in the Alps are better than any I've had in Italy....

Reblochon cheese

There's no great art to making a Tartiflette pizza, and if you're feeling lazy you could buy a ready-made pizza base. (I make pizzas from a basic white bread dough and roll the dough out very thinly when I make the base. A very hot oven is also a key to a successful pizza.) So, roll out a base and just assemble the topping: spread a few tablespoonsful of creme fraiche over the rolled out pizza base and top with slices of cooked potatoes (preferably waxy potato like Charlotte) and Reblochon cheese, smoked bacon lardons and onions thinly sliced and fried gently with sliced garlic until golden. An optional extra is sliced mushrooms.

Cook in a hot oven until the Reblochon is melted and the topping is just starting to brown. I find pizzas are best served if left to "rest" for 5 mins after they come out of the oven. But you might be feeling too greedy/hungry to wait to try this. Enjoy with a cold beer or a glass of Savoie wine such as Apremont, Chignin or Crepy.

Tartiflette pizza

For a traditional Tartiflette recipe and other Savoyard specialities see my earlier post on Alpine food here


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