I am so so excited to be able to share with you my gorgeous new book Winter Cabin Cooking which came out last week as demonstrated here by the lovely Thea.
Mountains are a place of magic. From the smallest Cairngorm to the highest Rocky or Himalaya, there is something that draws you in, and up. I love the way you feel so small in the mountains, their untameable peaks watching over you from above. Breathing in that clear, crisp mountain air, just thinking about it makes me ravenously hungry.
The pace of mountain life is something that we should all embrace from time to time. We move so fast through our lives, always rushing, never enough time to cook, to eat, to enjoy, but in the mountains, life slows down. You can’t get anywhere fast in the mountains, so you may as well relax and let it wash over you. These are places of long lazy schnapps filled lunches and relaxed laid back dinners with friends and family as the snow falls quietly around and time ceases to matter.
I’ve been lucky enough to grow up spending many happy holidays in the mountains and confess to being completely besotted with the way of life there, but more than anything I love the food. It is real food, honest food that I want to get stuck into with both hands. In many ways unchanged for many years. The emphasis on local produce is wonderful to see, with each region of the mountains having its specialities of which it is inordinately proud.
Winter is a particularly amazing time in any mountain range, and it is the food of the winter mountain that this book celebrates and explores. Hearty food for cold days, full of flavour and warmth.
Skiing has always been part of my life, I grew up learning to ski from a very young age. Not for my family the big resorts of the Alps (although in later years I have visited and skied in many of them and grown to love them in their own way), instead my parents chose to spend our holidays in a small and beautiful village, nestled in the Swiss Alps in the shadow of Mont Dolent and the Grand St Bernard pass. When I am there, I can imagine the monks in centuries past, on their fur lined skis, climbing the passes to their lofty monasteries, offering welcome sanctuary and simple repaste to travellers and pilgrims coming in from the snow.
As the snow gently falls and covers the trees and cabins, a hush falls over the mountains. I could stand for hours just watching and listening to the snow fall, the way it makes everything so soft and quite that your ears somehow ring with the absence of sound. Even better is watching the snow falling from inside a cosy cabin, with its fire crackling and a steaming bowl of hot chocolate to warm you
The mountains of central Europe are famous for their wide variety of traditional dishes beloved by skiiers and non skiiers alike. The food has developed gradually over the centuries, influenced by the many countries that make up its whole.
There are the Western Alps of Slovenia and Austria (the Tyrol) with their rich stews, noodles and dumplings. Further to the East you have Switzerland, France, Germany and Liechtenstien, famous for their Savoie cheeses, rustic breads, schitzles and sausages and in the South lies Italy and Monaco, full of warming, ragus, polenta and gnocchi.
Where the boarders of these countries meet in the mountains the most wonderful fusion of flavours and traditions mingle together to create some truly spectacular and memorable dishes that the region as a whole has become famous for.
Even if you don’t enjoy throwing yourself down a frozen mountain on little wooden planks you cannot fail to fall in love with the simplicity and deliciousness of the food of the mountains. The romanticism of the traditional skiing chalet, of coming in from the cold air with rosy cheeks to be greeted by the amazing warmth and aroma of a hearty supper. This is food for warming the soul, for snuggling up against the cold chill outside. For firesides and crackling logs, blankets and slippers.
If you love the mountains, wherever you are from, then this book will inspire and delight you and encourage you to bring these wonderful dishes into your own kitchen.