This has to be one of my favourite views in the whole world. Gutted I won’t get to see it in person this winter.
My January trip to Skiworld’s Aigle Ski Lodge was one of my best holidays ever. Okay, I may have finally popped the question to the misses, but nontheless, the holiday was great.
The Three Valleys and Portes du Soleil are my usual stomping ground, but the Espace Killy is quickly becoming a favourite for both of us.
I’ve been snowboarding for years and the misses decided to switch snowboarding back to skiing this year. And the terrain was ideal.
Tignes offers a great choice of cruisey blues and stunning, if stark views, so after a couple of days we were both up to speed and we managed to ski a huge amount of the resort.
There are also plenty of great spots for a hot chocolate or lunch, without spending crazy Val d’Isere money. Our favourite spots where L’Alpages @mdash; which is at the top of the Chaudannes lift — and Aspen Burger (for obvious reasons).
Aigle Ski Lodge
Having done a variety of chalet holidays, as well as running Ride & Slides Chalet Guytanne in Morzine a few years back, we wanted to try something a little different without losing the usual home comforts.
The Aigle was ideal. Chalet service with a four course evening meal, including the all important cheese course, afternoon tea straight off the hill and its own bar.
The food was awesome, though afternoon tea for some reason fell several levels below the evening meals, and the team there area great. Jim the barman was full or useful info and the chalet assistants were friendly, helpful and pleasant company. Ticks all round.
If travelling in a two, four or as a family I would definitely head back to the Aigle. I’ve done a couple of holidays with Skiworld, and as long as you go for their 4* enhance property, they have been spot on each time.
Meribel might be my spiritual home, but we’re already looking at where to stay in Tignes next season.
I better say one last thanks, to Igluski’s Nick Jackson, to whom I owe a beer for booking us another epic holiday. I hope he’s lining us up something good for 2015 (no pressure Nick).
Ever since stumbling across the amazing Hamburger Me blog, and his Top 10 list, I have been hooked on the London Burger scene and eating my way through a vast array of amazing beef, soft puns and great toppings.
Here are my favourites to date.
The Hawksmoor - 10/10
Know for their steak (the best I’ve had in my life), the Hawksmoor create some incredible burgers. At £15 a pop, including a choice of beef dripping pototoes or triple cooked fries, it’s at the most expensive I’ve tried yet. But. Oh. Dear. God.
They meat is incredible, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a better slice of beef than, well, a Hawksmoor steak! Perfect when served medium rare, soft, full of flavour and, well, just plain awesome.
The bun’s are soft, but hold all the juices and whatever the topping you are in for a treat. They even do a burger with bone marrow in it — that’s the misses favourite.
Honest Burger - The Everyday
Fancy a burger, don’t want to spend over £10 and can’t bring yourself to go to Byron? Honest Burger is what you need.
From their humble beginnings in Brixton, to slowly popping up all over London, their burgers are a consistent 8/10 and their rosemary fries are the best thing you can do to a potato.
The biggest problem will be losing weight before my wedding with one opening less than 200m from my desk!
MeatMarket - The Dirty Burger
Now I know MeatLiquor is where the cool kids hang, but MeatMarket’s hidden location and incredible burgers, a mere 50m from the middle of Covent Garden, is my favourite place for a dirty burger.
The Dead Hippie is juicy, the sauce is great, and you feel guilty as soon as you’ve eaten it.
The Black Palace Burger is just down right awesome and quite possibly the second best hangover cure in the world — a cold Iron Bru on a chairlift being the first.
The chilli fries are a meal on their own and the poppers are beautifully dirty, greasy, deep fried chillies stuff with cheese.
Patty & Bun - The Date Burger
Patty & Bun has my favourite burger in the world until I discovered The Hawksmoor. There’s something incredible clean and perfect about it.
The venue is simple, clean and has a nice atmosphere. The service is friendly and the burgers are amazing. We’re talking a 9.9/10. Even luke warm after a 15 min walk back to the office with a takeaway they are a 9/10.
Damn it, I now want a burger!!!
If this is half as good as the original I’ll he happy!
Whisky, I love the stuff, never used to, but I do now — in moderation of course.
But Whisky is a topic that brings about much debate. Blended or Malt for starters, and if a malt, where in Scotland is it made. Yes Scotland, I know the Irish make a tipple or two and so does everyone else these days, but the good stuff — like, say Champagne — is just that little bit better for its heritage.
Now I’m not a great expert on whisky, I know what I like and what I don’t. I have spent a fair few years serving a variety of good whiskys in bars across the Northern Hemisphere, I have a little bit of Scottish heritage and I’m sitting next to seven bottles of the stuff, so I’d hope my opinion makes sense.
Before my better half started working with Johnnie Walker and introduced me to JW Double Black, you wouldn’t catch me anywhere near a bottle of blended whisky. It was Talisker all the way for me, with my love of smokey, peaty Islay whiskys blinding me from everything else.
Now Talisker, which happens to be in JW, remains my favourite tipple and a good Arlberg always goes down well too, but as I write this it’s the Double Black which is often where I’ll turn for a cheeky snifter when relaxing.
Many whisky drinkers in the UK, especially any Scots, plastic-Scots or anyone living in Scotland will tell you that it’s all about a single malt. In many ways they are right, as a good single malt is just fantastic and the varieties — much like wine — offer completely different tastes. As mentioned a Islay and is peaty and smokey, an Speyside is much softer, almost vanilla-like at times and a highland whisky is smokey and smooth.
When it comes to blended whisky there is a conception that it’s not as good. If you are comparing JW Red Label, J&B or even Bells — though even mentioning Bells makes me feel dirty — to 12 year old single malt, then you’d be right. But if you compared JW’s latest whisky, which I am looking forward to getting hold of, JW Platinum to a bottle of 12 yr old Glenfiddich you’d quickly realise how wrong you were.
Drinking blended whisky is the same as malt, you need to spend £30+ on a decent bottle of the stuff and to find one you like. When Double Black was blended by Jim Beveridge it was almost as if he was making something just for me, it is so Islay like it’s untrue and includes my favourite malt in the blend. I expect Platinum to be a smoother whisky and JW Black Label is the mixer whisky we have in the house, great for making a sours or whisky and ginger.
If I’m celebrating, then an 18 year old single malt is what you will most likely find me drinking, relaxing at the weekend will usually be my Three Wood or 12 yr old Auchentoshen, and for those occasions where I just fancy a whisky, or need a night cap my Double Black hits the nail on the head.
Just remember, whisky is in many ways like wine, spend as much as you can afford and find the distillery and region you like and you’ll be laughing. AND don’t be scared to try a blend, as long as it’s not attached to an optic you’re probably heading in the right direction.
With my love of cooking really developing while working as a chalet chef, it only seemed fitting that my first post on food should be about my favourite mountain food — Tartiflette. Tartiflette involves four main components, which on their own or in this dish as tasty, so putting them together it pure cheese-covered bliss. Reblochon cheese, bacon, cream and potatoes, the only thing that could possible go wrong here is your colesterol levels!
[The trouble with tartiflette is you never remember to take a photo until after you’ve started eating, oops] Ingredients (feeds four):
- Reblochon cheese, 1 wheel
- Lardons, around 500grams
- Potatoes, around 1.5kg (Maris Piper work well)
- Shallots, 4
- Garlic, 2/3 cloves
- White wine, 1 glass
- Double cream, 1 pot (I often use Elmlea)
- Salt & Pepper to season
You may have noticed the ingredients are all a little vague in portions, but that’s because tartiflette is a rustic dish of chucking things together, so if you have a little more — or little less — of any ingrediants, don’t worry. Reblochon is the key here, so make you have enough to cover a deep dish with 0.5cm think slices. If you don’t have a deli nearby both Waitrose and — forgive me for saying this — Tescos stock it. You can use sliced bacon or pancetta instead of lardons, and most types of potato, but you really need reblochon to make this dish work. Method: Cut the potatoes into around 1 cm cubes, they can be a little bigger or smaller, but 1 cm is a good guide. Put them into a pan of cold water and bring to the boil, once boiling simmer for about 5 mins or until the potatoes are tender. While the potatoes are cooking put the lardons into a pan and cook until crisp, you will only need a small drop of oil if any at all. Once the lardons are golden add the shallots and garlic, both finely chopped and cook until soft. Once the potatoes are done, drain and put to one side, add the wine to the bacon followed by the potatoes and reduce until half the liquid is gone. Add the cream and season with plenty of pepper and a small amount of salt — thanks to the lardons you wont need much. Pour into a dish at least 5cm deep. Sliced the reblochon lengthways, around half a centimetre thick and layer onto the potatoey, baconey goodness. Put into a pre-heated oven, around 160°c/gas mark 4, for around 20/25 mins — until the cheese looks golden and good. Serve with torn up pieces of french bread and a green salad for the ultimate meal, we usually go for a bottle of Tempranillo at home, but when skiing nothing beats a bottle of Savoie Gamay!
I love pizza, especially on a Saturday night sat in front of TV with the other half, and this is my favourite pizza of all. There’s something a little more satisfying and a lot more tasty about eating home cooked pizza over takeaway. There’s less grease, you can use good quality ingredients and, well, they just taste so much better. Ingredients (makes two):
- Strong plain flour, 300 grams
- Dried yeast, 3.5 grams (half a packet)
- 180ml warm water
- 20ml milk
- Olive oil, splash
- Salt, pinch
- Parma Ham, 5/6 slices
- Rocket, two handfuls
- Mozzarella, 2 balls
- Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
- Tomato puree
- Balsamic vinegar
- Black pepper
Method: First thing to do is make the dough, as it needs a good half an hour to rise. But the flour, salt and yeast into a large bowl, make a hole in the middle. Put the warm water, milk and a splash of olive oil together. Add half the liquid and mix together, then slowly add the rest of the liquid until you get a good, not too sticky, dough — you may not need all the liquid. Sprinkle some flour onto a work surface and kneed the dough. This will take a good ten minutes and the dough will make a smooth ball when done. To test, lightly prod with a finger and it should bounce back into shape when ready. Put into a large clean bowl, cover with cling film, and put somewhere warm to proof. A chair next to a warm oven, near a radiator or even in the airing cupboard — that was always my Dad’s favourite. Pre-heat the oven to 250°c/gas mark 5. If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven now. Once the dough has risen, split into two and roll out on a floured surface. The diameter should be about the same as the height of a bottle of wine. Once the bases are rolled out, put them in the oven for around five mins — either on a pizza stone or straight onto the oven shelf. By cooking the bases first, you get a nice, crispy pizza and — as Merry Berry would say — no soggy bottom. Once the bases are done, spread around two heaped tablespoons of tomato puree over them, and sprinkle over a good helping of black pepper. Pull the parma ham and mozzarella into strips and intersperse over the pizza. Add a small handful of parmesan shavings and chuck in the oven. Don’t buy the parmesan shavings as they are tasteless, get your vegetable peeler and run it across the shortest length of the cheese — much tastier to use fresh cheese. The pizzas will take about 10-15 mins depending on your oven, but the crust should be crispy and the cheese slightly golden when they are done. Cover with a handful of washes rocket then drizzle over with some good quality balsamic vinegar. Sit on the sofa, find some suitably bad TV (insert X-Factor here), relax and indulge.