“It’s going to be hard guys. These few weeks, especially being Christmas and New Year, will be tough. It will get better though.”
You could easily be forgiven for thinking that was a conversation between me and a mate about my beloved Fulham Football Club.
Instead, I am stood by the side of the road at ten past seven, waiting for a pick-up to take us up to the chalet.
“On the bright side”, I say, tilting my head up “It’s a clear starry sky: just like it was when we went to bed!”… no one finds it funny.
“Yea great joke George” says our trusty grumpy sidekick – she’s not a morning person… but then she’s not an evening person either.
It is the morning of New Years Eve as we wind our way up the sobering green hills that make up Meribel. We are late and all too aware that we left yesterday evening with a party in full swing. There will be lots of washing and clearing before we can get on with the real task in hand: breakfast for 19 (the numbers have somehow increased as the week has worn on). Walk in, check and log fridge temperatures, ovens on (one of which still takes me about five minutes and is not easing up on me – the stubborn bastard taunts me), poached egg water on, followed by the pan for boiled eggs (five and a half minutes this high up for a softy – and the water really struggles to get rolling on its own so I use the kettle). Next I halve, oil and season about 12 tomatoes and put in three roasting trays of streaky bacon. I get my bacon about three quarters cooked so that when a ticket comes in I’m not starting from scratch each time (which takes an age and fills the chalet with smoke because I’d need to fry it).
After that instead of twiddling of thumbs I look over my prep list (today on special request it’s Deep-Fried Camembert: use a chef’s ring cutter to portion them from a large wheel and then panne them (flour, egg, breadcrumbs): I prepare them now but fry them to order. That will be followed by Roast Chicken with all the trimmings or Nut Roast for Lady Annabelle – who’s absolutely lovely and told me from day one to just give her the veg that comes with the meat dish. Which was as usual very sweet of her but it’s her holiday and I want the food to be memorable (that’s my job!) – so a nut roast it is and no trouble whatsoever. This is followed by Hummingbird Chocolate Brownies (A fantastic recipe, very easy and one you’ll not stray from: I’ve included it at the bottom).
I sit writing this at the dining room table. It’s 2.30 and I’m about to head into town and look at some ski boots. I’ve got a massive arch on my feet and twice now I’ve gone up the mountain only to return early and in agony. Its like the guy in the shop is trying to do me over!! The first time I met him I told him about the dreaded arch and he pulled out a knife and said “once I had a problem with my finger:it vas too fat and, how you say, stubby, so I chopped it off”. He shows me his hand. I gingerly laugh. I think I’ll keep the foot thanks but I’m here to ski and so I investing in some fitted boots is in order.
However, even though I was in agony, getting onto that ski lift the other day and cracking a cold Kronenbourg, made me realise why I’m putting in all this hard work. And we won’t remember that part of it in five years time. We’ll think back to the laughs and the days of freedom on the slopes in the fresh snow and of course the après. And we’ll think: why the fuck did I say yes to this…but “Thank God I did a ski season – and what an amazing winter it was”.
As for tonight we’re going to get out of here as quickly as we can, head into town to find the others and see where the night takes us. I picked up a pretty special bottle of wine when I went food shopping the other day (A Dominique Mugneret 2012, from Vosne Romanee – right next to Domaine de la Romanee-Conti) so we’ll smash that during service and toast last year and next in style… before it all gets too messy.
It’s been an odd one – this year.
I’ve found it hard at times but in terms of the bloating blogger – I’ve eaten some great food (From Ducasse at the Dorchester with my mate Sam, to a brilliant roast at Blacklock with you know who) I’ve given up smoking, I’ve rented my flat, moved to France and grown up a bit (Only a bit mind).
I just need to pop down to the gym and stop biting my nails and that’ll be it!
I’ll go and check out the boots, come back and smash service, and look forward to the unexpected turns of 2017.
Happy New Year,
The Bloating Blogger,
Le Chef De Party,
HUMMINGBIRD CHOCOLATE BROWNIES
Oven to about 170 and butter and then line a suitable baking tray (I’m gonna chef you – use the one you normally would, it doesn’t matter)
200g DARK CHOCOLATE(Make sure it at least 70% )
and 175g BUTTER.
Put these in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (don’t let it touch or you’ll be licking the bowl a little too early)
Once melted, take off the heat and chuck in 375g CASTER SUGAR. Whisk to mix.
Now whisk in 130g PLAIN FLOUR and then 4 FREE RANGE EGGS. Do these one at a time.
Don’t worry: you’ll see that it’s splitting but on the addition of the last egg it’ll all come together to make a chocoately, glistening, quite tempting mix.
Pour into the tin, in the oven and check after about 15 or twenty minutes. Stick a knife in there and as soon as it comes out clean pull them out, and… if you can… leave them to cool. x