The Vallorcine train waits, like a bridesmaid without a bride. Fresh snow clings to the lower slopes of the forested mountains. Ice rivers flow from crystal peaks. The air is cold. The train is warm. We are waiting for the driver. Suddenly there is movement. Into the white. Past the river. Along the valley. Rising, slowly. The glint of a glacier in the distance. Townlands appear out of nowhere. Wooden chalets. A village on the hill. Above, the peaks are sharp against the sky. Ski resorts. Viaducts. Twisting roads. Fallen trees. Boulders. These are exciting moments. This is the start of a long journey through the expanse of the alps on short trains built for their endurance and strength. Into lands where the dialects change with the landscape and the cultures and traditions are etched into daily rites of passage.
On the faces of the people, with their colourful clothes, their irresistible homes and solid buildings, with cuisine that is as diverse as the products of the landscape, listening to those rustic dialects, warming to their genuine hospitality, people who know mountain and valley life. This is the way into the winter wonderland that is alpine Europe. Only the mountain goats know where the ancient paths go. Here there is beauty and diversity, nature unfolding through large windows in full colour. And it is never still. You can never describe these high mountain peaks, divided valleys and sloping meadows because nothing remains the same.
This is what makes this journey a fabulous adventure. A slight change of perspective, a different view and the experience itself changes. We are in the Trient Valley, crossing from France into Switzerland by the backdoor. Travelling through alpine Switzerland is nothing less than a remarkable journey that pays homage to past and present engineering feats, celebrates the dilemma of a modern utilitarian country and reveals beautiful ways of escape. So we are going to get out at Salvan, have some lunch and then make our way down to Martigny by foot. So, a reminder of the fondue they make in Haute Savoy, if only to acknowledge that this very Swiss dish comes from across the border, in Alpine France.
Made with milk from the abondance and tarine cows found grazing alpine flora, Beaufort is known as the prince of mountain cheeses in Haute Savoy and Savoy, and usually the principle ingredient in this distinctive fondue.
400 g Beaufort cheese, grated
400 g Emmental de Savoie cheese, grated
400 ml dry white wine
2 garlic cloves, halved
Nutmeg, large pinch
Black pepper, large pinch
1 large farmhouse loaf, cut into cubes
Rub the inside of the fondue pot with garlic. Place cheese in the fondue pot. Cover with white wine. Warm over a low heat, stirring thoroughly with a wooden spoon to obtain a smooth, blended mixture. Add pepper and grated nutmeg. Let the fondue cook for five more minutes, stirring constantly. Place the fondue pot over its warmer and enjoy the fondue by dipping the pieces of bread using long forks.
cheese sauce combinations
COMTOISE —Comté semi, Comté full
JURA — Gruyère, Chaux-d’Abel
MOITIÉ MOITIÉ — Gruyère,Vacherin Fribourgeois
PIÉMONTAISE — Fontina
RUSTIQUE — Appenzeller, Emmental, Gruyère, Vacherin Fribourgeois
SIMPILÄR — Gruyère, Raclette Simpilar
VALAIS / WALLIS — Gruyère, Raclette
VAUDOISE — Appenzeller, Gruyère, Bagnes