The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Wednesday 26 April 2017

Say cheese!

Nathalie's comment on my last post about "save a piece of reblochon for me" got me to thinking about cheese (as you do). This might sound like heresy but I am not a great fan of cheese for some reason. A little is fine but I suspect I might have an intolerance because too much cheese (hard cheese in particular) brings me out in a sweat! Weird right. Chocolate has the same effect so I really do think it might be a slight lactose intolerance. Anyway, that being said, I think my most favourite food in all the world has got to be tartiflette! It is pure, unadulterated stodge that sticks to your ribs and turns the world into an even more beautiful place than it already is.

Traditionally tartiflette is is an alpine dish made to be eaten after many hours hard skiing or, in my case, after a day sitting around on my backside during the winter then looking for a treat to cheer myself up. I did used to ski many moons ago but as I found happy hour starting earlier and earlier when I had to sit around looking after my toddler I kinda gave up. I was never very good anyway - extremely enthusiastic but not an awful lot of control! But tartiflette .... a slice of heaven on earth. Strangely enough, local folklore has it that fondue is a Swiss invention and raclette a French invention, but I understand I might be committing heresy here.

Anyway, tartiflette is traditionally made using a local cheese called reblochon. Very creamy, pretty smelly but delicious.I remember one year deciding to drive to England when my kids were about eight and four (I must be mad - about 1,000 km with two young kids in the car) and I decided to take some reblochon cheese with me so I could make tartiflette for my parents. Despite my best efforts, the car was pretty stinky with the cheese in the back but we made it all the way to the port at Cherbourg, parked the car and I had just got out to stretch my legs when my youngest threw up all over the back seat!!!! I mean, we had, at that point, just driven about 800 km and he waited till we stopped at the port to throw up over the seats! Not even a chance of opening the window or stepping out of the car - no, it all went over the seats. So I cleaned up as best I could but when we pulled onto the ferry he did it again. I can tell you no-one wanted to park next to us, with the smell of sick and cheese everywhere. Luckily I always took a cabin so I was able to hose the kids down but the car .... not so much!

Talking of insanity, when I was on maternity leave with my youngest I again decided "it would be fun" to drive to England to spend some time with my family. My youngest was about six weeks old at the time so we were just starting to get into some kind of routine at night. The oldest was four so I had to make frequent potty stops along the way and to feed the baby. At one point I was in a service station and was a bit stuck. I needed to use the loo and I needed to take the baby with me. Of course I couldn't leave the four-year-old either so I decided I would take him with me into the ladies but started drilling into him that he waited outside the door for me and "no matter what, he was to stay there. And even if the nice man or lady offered him some candy, he was to stay there. I would be less than one minute, but he was to stay there". You get the idea. So just as I was going into the toilet I said "so what do you say if the nice lady offers you some candy to walk away with her?" And he looked at me and said "merci beaucoup?"! I give up! Anyway, I got to pee and nobody kidnapped him so I guess all's well that ends well right, although horror of horrors, on the way back the ringroad around Paris was closed so I had to drive through central Paris with a newborn and a four-year old! You gotta be young, or insane, or both!

As I mentioned before, cheese (and to a lesser extent chocolate) disagrees with me on occasion, sometimes more dramatically than others (if you know what I mean). Anyway, before I married my ex I dated a young man who, at the time, was a medical student. He qualified while we were together and eventually became a surgeon. He asked me to marry him but I refused even though he was adorable and a very decent man, but I just felt that he was too "staid" for me, despite us having spent five very happy years together. Anyway, Karim and I split and I married my ex. When I came back to Geneva, a friend's son had to have emergency surgery on  Easter Sunday and her husband recognized Karim from years before. That set the wheels in motion for him getting in touch with me. We have had lunch a couple of times and agreed to meet up for dinner one evening. He is married and it was all perfectly above board - we are just old friends. So we agreed to meet in my local town and had a really pleasant evening. I ordered tartiflette and guess what - the "unfortunate reaction" kicked in!!! TMI, I know, but I was dropping Karim back at his car when I felt my stomach start to rumble. I knew I then had to show him the way to get back onto the motorway so I dropped him at his car and shot off like a bat out of hell towards the motorway. Considering we had just spent a lovely evening together when I kicked him forcibly out of my car without hardly saying goodbye he must have wondered what the hell had happened😌! I was so stressed that I actually got lost on the back roads (the same back roads I have been driving round for the last 28 years) and only just made it home!! Bloody hell. Still, I think we are good enough friends that I can explain what happened next time I see him - he is a doctor after all!

And finally, my youngest in particular was never a great fan of cheese but as his tastes have changed he has started to develop a liking for it. Not so long ago they drove up to Alsace to see Jen's grandparents (about a six-seven hour drive) and he called me to say that they had introduced him to the greatest cheese - "it's called abondance" - which they make in a place called Abondance, which is about 20 minutes from here!!!! Kids!!

And Nathalie, talking of Les Flottins, I wrote a post about the exhibition in Evian over New Year (see my post dated 4 January). It was beautiful.  Am off to a Persian cookery class tonight organized by Migros (the local equivalent of Wal-Mart). The vegan cookery course we went to wasn't so great but I have high hopes of this one. Will let you know how it goes.


  1. Your story with the ferry crossing...a parents road trip nightmare. Great post.

  2. Anyone with kids has had their nightmares haven't they!! Oooohhhh but the smell!!