The depths of winter call for comforting, decadent and heartwarming dishes. And where better to seek inspiration than the historical hearty fare hailing from mountainous towns and villages in the heart of Europe.
Switzerland and France are the masters when it comes to mountain cuisine, especially when it comes to championing local mountain cheeses, like gruyere and comté in local traditional dishes, from the classic fondue to a decadent aligot.
So, whether you're dining in the French Alps or making your own winter wonderland dinner at home, here are the essential dishes you need to know about to make your mountain cheese-laden dreams come true!
The beloved Alpine dish and old school favourite of bubbling molten hot melted cheese is enough to make most cheese lovers go weak at the knees.
Despite its longevity there are no hard and fast rules when making fondue. Fine French alpine cheese like Comté and Beaufort or Swiss favourites Emmental and Swiss Gruyère serve it equally well, along with a mild white wine and a hint of garlic.
It's best enjoyed huddled around the hot pot of cheese as a group, dunking in pieces of crusty old bread in together. But remember, if you lose your piece of bread to the fondue depths, you'll be subject to a dare!
Raclette is the name given to both the semi-firm Swiss cow's milk cheese as well as the hearty the melted cheese Swiss dish which hails from the Valais canton in Switzerland.
The classic dish is made by suspending raclette cheese from an electric metal contraption until the oozing cheese can be scraped off with a metal spatula and smothered onto bread, charcuterie, boiled fingerling potatoes, cornichons and pickled onions. It can make for a satisfying alternative to fondue.
This typical dish hails from the Haute Savoie in France and is made with boiled potatoes, seasoned with onion, stewed with white wine, covered in Reblochon fondue and dotted with crisp lardons.
It's thought it was invented in the 1980s by a local Savoy association to promote the raw milk cheese, Reblochon, typical of the region.
A traditional Auvergne dish, the truffade is the magical combination of hash browns and fresh tome. Lesser known than its cousin aligot (see below) it's a great tartiflette alternative and another delicious way to savor the cheese from Cantal.
Tartiflette's cousin is also prepared with potatoes and bacon, but topped with a soft layer of it is reblochon. It's ideally served with a green salad and pickles.
And last but not least, this luxurious French favourite is made from mashed potatoes blended with butter, cream, crushed garlic, and melted cheese until it has a stringy elastic-like consistency.
Aligot originally hails from the L'Aubrac region in southern Massif Central of France, where it's still served in local celebrations, although it can be found throughout the country including on the finest tables in Paris. It's usually served as a side dish with sausages and meats.