POTATOES AND CHEESE; cheese and potatoes; these, Madame chef explained tonight, are the mainstays of the very consistent Savoyard cuisine. Show a Savoyard a bit of spinach, she said, and he will ask, what am I supposed to do with this?
Last night in Bramans, in a hotel with a pretty damn good kitchen, we opened with the above feuillté involving puff pastry, butter, onions, cream, and a toasted cheese lid. Very good indeed. A trace of nutmeg.
Next came turkey, I'm pretty sure — we eat demi-pension, without benefit of menus — and then a very capable apricot tarte, from a bakery, no doubt, but no less welcome for that.
• Hotel Restaurant Les Glaciers, Brassans
And then tonight! We started with a simple cheese tart, with perfect pastry (sablée), filled with a mixture of Emmental and Comté and a tiny bit of Roquefort to provide interest, and milk, garlic, and a little crème fraîche.
Vin de Savoie, Les Abymes, 2012: perfect with these cheeses
Then chicken breast with a delicious cream-based gravy, with a gratinée Savoyard on the side — Beaufort cheese and potatoes, you know — and then a few cheeses (Brie, Tomme, Beaufort), and then a welcome cup of fruit cocktail. The cook here is wonderful. She learned to cook, she says, from her grandfather: how could that not win my heart? Besides, look at her!
• Hotel Bellevue, Fourneaux