After the latest sighting of the marvel that is the ‘Eiffel Tower’ in the Bollywood blockbuster Queen, I developed a strong urge to be there!! I am sure most of us would want to go France and many of us would have been, but have you ever looked beyond Paris!!! I did, at a recent soiree organized by Atout France at the Sassy spoon.
Located at the foothill of a majestic mountain range, it is a French destination with a truly European character. At the crossroads of France, Switzerland and Italy, it is home to the Aiguille du Midi, the highest summit in Europe accessible by cable car. At an altitude of 3842 metres, one is engulfed with a 360 deg panoramic view of the mountain range across three frontiers. All I can think of now is a cable car ride at an altitude which is four times that of the Burj Khalifa the tallest building in the world. The town I have been describing is the South- eastern town of Chamonix and the Alpinemountain range is the ‘Mont Blanc’ which is in France if you ever thought otherwise. “ ‘Be there! Do that!’ is an year old initiative which prompts and assists visitors to include off beat places in their travel agenda and Chamonix is once such destination, where one can have a peaceful or an adventurous tete a tete with France” announced Catherine Oden, Director Atout France India.
Well; travel is an experience but food completes it and gives it life especially when you are arguably in the gastronomic capital of the world. In my catering college days we talked and wondered about the 17 course French menu with Hors d’oeuvres, potage, Poisson, sorbets etc etc and the sheer thought of someone going through it was overwhelming. 7 courses with 7 wines is what I have gone up to till date. So what makes French food different is the style of cooking, simplicity in flavors, the richness of the food, the pairing with wine and the most important is the passion which goes behind it. Auguste Escoffier often pedestaled as the emperor of Chefs once said “La bonne cuisine est la base du véritable Bonheur” meaning good food is the foundation of genuine happiness. And to celebrate Chamonix and French gastronomy, the Sassy Spoon at Nariman Point was all decked up. Head chef Irfan was giving us pointers on the cuisine while he gave us a live demo on creating some French classics, the French onion soup, the orange Crème Brulee, Gratin Dauphinois and the classic fondue. After a very interactive session of session , we settled down for a rich 3 course meal paired with some easy drinking Saint Cosme wines from the Rhone valley, an aromatic Viognier blend and a rounded Grenache ( I thought it was a Syrah blend with all the notes). It was a lovely evening with interactions on food and food only, with that I remember, please try to lay your hands on ‘Tomme De Savoie’ a cheese from the French Alps and is highly recommended by Sheetal Munshaw the Indian representative of the Chamonix Mont-Blanc tourism board.
So one thing is for sure is that I travel for food and some things that I religiously follow before packing my bags up are:
- Make a ‘To-eat-list’ at the destination
o How do you compile the list? Google, Social Media, friends and in some cases like Chamonix, they have a dedicated body to help you out
o The ‘to-eat-list’ may have dishes or restaurants or both; make sure you have all the details, because internet read Wi-Fi may ditch you at the destination!
- Once you reach, plan our day/s and your meals in line with your sightseeing, the idea is ‘seeing on the go’ or may be ‘eating on the go’ for some losers!
- There can be no better source of information than the local, so please ask! My standard question is “I have eaten this this this and this, do you recommend anything else?” . Give them respect and they will open up the world for you.
Foodie for life!