Travel 2008 – Megeve, Days 8 and 9

Friday, 15th/Saturday, 16th March 2008 – Megeve, Days 8 and 9

Saturday was yet another sunny day, so much so that I didn’t even bother with my anorak to ski, going out instead with just a fleece between me and the outside world… I knew there’d be no point keeping going much beyond 1.30 so that was always my plan. I skied a good long circuit round from Mont d’Arbois to St. Nicolas and back, and then quit, not wanting to push my luck as things got ever slushier out there, and then cleared out my locker and drove down to get Lynne so we could have lunch at le Puck. It’s right in the centre of Megeve and is quite grand in a laid-back sort of fashion. It’s part of the Palo Alto nightclub complex and overlooks the outdoor skating rink, with a splendid terrace facing almost due south. Perfect for one last spell of sunbathing… although some people seemed to be less than overcome by the view!

The food was good, interestingly presented, with some unusual ingredients for France. Lynne had rabbit with the most incredibly bright orange carrot puree.

I had tuna, rolled in sesame seeds, served with noodles and stir fried vegetables, and a large quantity of wasabi-flavoured (though not very – wouldn’t want to alarm the French with fierce flavours) mayonnaise. All very satisfying and washed down with a rose from Aix.

After that we retreated – via the photo shop – to the hotel, where we variously attempted to pack the ski-boot bag and ski bag with as many heavy items as possible so as to avoid my main suitcase being overweight and attracting another £40 supplement as it did on the way out. Then it was time to wander to the Hotel les Roches Fleuries, as recommended by the ever reliable Michelin Guide, for dinner. As a final fling it was slightly more downmarket that the Flocons de Sel in Megeve, but only just. We arrived a little ahead of schedule and took a seat in the salon, where the picture windows looks straight out at the mountains, and a huge log fire was blazing away in the spectacular hearth. After some consideration we opted for a Kir Royale as an aperitif, which arrived complete with four tiny sandwiches of ham and cream cheese, skewered together, and served on a slate. That led to speculation that these days the only thing keeping slate quarries in business may well be the number of restaurants that choose to use slate instead of pottery for things like cheese, or amuses bouches!

There were several people sitting around in huge, fluffy white dressing gowns, and the pool table was fully occupied too. We liked the salon a lot although we were soon ushered to the restaurant. While we nibbled freshly carved local ham and breadsticks, and drank a cherry juice and champagne house aperitif (and drove ourselves crazy trying to spear the cherries in the bottom of the glass), we studied the menu, eventually opting for the Menu Epicurean, which came with a wine option if required. That took the agony out of the decision making process and we settled in for what may well be the second best meal we’ve eaten so far this year (after Le Manoir of course).

We started with a round of bread rolls, of which the “ordinary” white was crusty and crisp on the outside and soft in the middle, the wholemeal was incredibly tasty and the olive oil bread was just out of this world! It was coiled like a snail shell and you could taste the oil in every spongily light mouthful. Lovely stuff! And then the main event got underway. First came a small bowl of fish tartare in a dill and cream sauce of some kind.

After that the first course was a ravioli stuffed with garlic and snails, surrounded by a shellfish soup, and was full of all sorts of flavours and textures. Delicious!

Next up was fish – of a sort I haven’t been able to translate into English unfortunately. It was a white fish and very tasty, a little like cod in taste but lighter in texture. This was served on a bed of lentils, with some lovely crispy salad, and some very crunchy fried bits of cabbage.

After that things kept on getting better when the waitress brought out the main course, the duck parmentier, for which read shepherds’ pie, except that this was spectacular, with shreds of tender duck leg meat, bound together with a delicious sauce, and topped with fluffy, light, creamy mashed potato. Wonderful!

They offered us the chance to pause after that, which was just as well because we somehow then had our arms twisted to persuade us that we really did need some cheese while we finished the red wine (St. Emilion) that came with the duck. The cheese trolley was amazing – and the reblochon definitely had a life of its own, possibly going out and mugging little old ladies in its spare time. The waitress had a great deal of trouble separating a piece off and then getting it to let go of the knife!

After another pause, the dessert arrived and it too was wonderful (though we were starting to wonder why everything was round), with a biscuity crust supporting slices of sautéed apple, and topped with a crème caramel-type lid. Delicious!

The final shot in their locker was the slate of petit fours (a little cherry chocolate boat, an orange pudding, a chocolate) that rounded out the meal and left us just about able to waddle back to the salon for peppermint tea before heading for the hotel and a good night’s sleep.

And then on Sunday they made us come home…

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