French ski website Skipass.com is best known for its bumper stickers, shirts and hoodies sporting the phrase: “In Tartiflette We Trust.” To your average North American, the meaning of that phrase is a complete mystery. But the French are all too familiar with the gastronomic genius that is the tartiflette and have embraced the subculture that has developed around it.
Tartiflette is a dish found in the Savoie area of France. Hearty and filling – and, let’s face it, slightly high in calories – it is a combination of simple and comforting flavours. The tasty tartiflette is comprised of baked layers of Reblochon cheese, potatoes, onions, garlic and bacon or ham.
Don’t be fooled by this decadent combination of ingredients and the catchy name. It’s not actually a traditional cuisine of the Alps. The tartiflette is rumoured to have been invented in the 1980s by a cheese company located in the Reblochon cheese capital of the world, Aravis Valley. The creamy dreamy dish is a welcome companion to its sister cheese dishes, the raclette and fondue, which have a much more deep-rooted tradition in France.
One of the best places in Savoie to experience the tartiflette is Annecy – known as La Venise des Alpes or Venice of the Alps.
Surrounded by Lac d’Annecy and beautiful rolling mountains of the Rhone-Alpes, Annecy is picturesque, charming and invigorating. The old city of Annecy is linked by a series of canals, which is where the Venice comparison comes from. The windowsills of the colourful old buildings are draped with flower baskets and antique signs. The canals are peppered by waterfront cafes, shops and restaurants where locals and tourists congregate to watch the world – and sometimes the swans – go by.
In Annecy, there are a number of well-known restaurants that serve up the sought-after tartiflette, including Le Fréti. This quaint restaurant specializes in tartiflettes, raclettes and fondues. It’s located in the heart of town on Rue Saint Claire and provides the warm and cozy atmosphere needed to enjoy the cheesy goodness over a glass of house white.
Chamonix, only a few hours away from Annecy, is the birthplace of alpine culture, and therefore, its heart and soul. Even here in this strongly traditional ski resort, the tartiflette has become a popular treat. Hungry skiers and riders out for a shred on the slopes may come across a hidden little alpine hut along the way serving up big batches of tartiflette on an open oven.
Away from the Savoie region, the tartiflette isn’t quite as prolific. But, if the inspiration allows, a quick Google search will reveal a variety of tartiflette recipes that will tantalize the taste buds and satisfy the most intense cheese craving.
Finally, as with all things great in the world, there is also an “In Tartiflette We Trust” Facebook fan page – just in case you want to express your appreciation.