I’m starting to feel like I’m settling into our new life in the French Alps.
I’d love to show you photos of where we are, the mountains, the village, the pistes, the beauty, the views down the valleys, the woods and walks, Mont Blanc. But it’s not been possible – the light levels are so low, the sun has barely peeked through all the time I’ve been here. The compensation for lack of sunshine is snow. Heaps of the white stuff. Every morning we wake up, we can barely see across the valley for the clouds and the falling snow. Which makes for fabulous skiing but lousy photos.
I’ve been skiing with friends, with my ski instructor and with my Mountain Man. All wonderful. Feeling my ski’s running, trying to remember what it is you are meant to do! Remembering the game that is getting on and off ski lifts and chairs without falling and crashing! Playing in some petit powder, mini whooping as the powder kicks up around your skis and boots. The joy of being up in the mountains, in the mornings when all is quiet, on runs where we are the only people out, all is stillness, the snow deadening and muffling any sound. The only thing you can hear is the sound of your ski’s running.
Sipping coffee in the cafes, watching the world go by, as the resort kicks into gear, winds itself up a notch for the coming ski season. All is activity. All is snow.
We’ve ventured down the mountain to the nearest town to go shopping. Shopping in resort is limited and pricey. We are having to adjust to the way we shop, cook and eat. Normally there is plenty of homegrown food in the cupboards and freezer. Then there are the local shops, a mere 2 minute walk away. So we have to learn to shop and stock up in a different way – the supermarket way.
I avoid supermarkets like the plague, but needs must. Grand Frais is our new discovery, a shop stacked with fresh produce, much of it locally grown or organic, and alongside that lots of goods from around the world – so we’ve stocked up. I just need to source a few more bits like mustard and onion seeds and we’re set for Curry au Alps :)
I think the big shop has helped me settle in, the store cupboard is looking healthier and happier for the spices, the lentils, the baking bits. And we’ve replenished the kitchen tools – a decent knife, a food processor, a rolling-pin and a lovely new pan, plus a mould for my planned chocolate mouse cake. Now I can play!
I’ve started to practice Yoga again, on my own in the apartment. Today I decided it’s like doing Bikram yoga it’s so hot inside. One thing I’m having to adjust to is the mountain air, at altitude the air is thinner and I’m noticing my breath control is more laboured. It will change in time. I’m hoping the yoga will help me out on the slopes, give me strength, flexibility and energy. Time will tell.
Walking to the village, with too many layers on to count, walking back from visiting friends, in the quiet of the night and all you can hear is the squeak of your boots in the snow.
I’m just waiting for some Big Blue Sky days, and I’ll be out there with the cameras. In the meantime, I’m happy with the snow. Afterall it’s why we are here!
And tonight’s dinner? I’d bought some decent looking tomatoes (I know they are not the same as homegrown summer tomatoes but I needed a tomato fix) and I’ve been umming and aahhing over what to cook, maybe a tomato curry or a pasta sauce, in the end Upside Down Tomato Tart with a green salad won the vote :)
Tomato Tart Tatin
4 large tomatoes halved, or lots of cherry tomatoes, some olive oil for shallow frying, 2 garlic cloves roughly chopped, a pinch of oregano, a dash or two of Balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and shortcrust or puff pastry.
Fry the tomatoes in olive oil (seedy side down) until they are turning brown, add your seasonings of salt and pepper and oregano, then the garlic and continue to fry a bit more. Now add a splash of balsamic vinegar and cook for a few minutes.
If you are using a heaving frying pan that can go in the oven, all the better, if not transfer your tomatoes to an oven dish. roll out your pastry and then cover the tomatoes with the pastry. Tidy the edges, cut a slit for the steam and pop the dish in the oven for 30 minutes.
If you are clever you can turn the dish / pan upside down so the pastry is on the bottom and the tomatoes are on top.
To serve sprinkle some grated parmesan cheese on top