A lushly photographed cookbook and travelogue showcasing the regional cuisines of the Alps, including 80 recipes for the elegant, rustic dishes served in the chalets and mountain huts situated among the alpine peaks of Italy, Austria, Switzerland, and France.
“A passionate exploration of all things Alpine . . . this one is a must-have for every ski bum foodie.”—Vogue
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST COOKBOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
From the wintry peaks of Chamonix and the picturesque trails of Gstaad to the remote villages of the Gastein Valley, the alpine regions of Europe are all-season wonderlands that offer outdoor adventure alongside hearty cuisine and intriguing characters. In
Alpine Cooking, food writer Meredith Erickson travels through the region--by car, on foot, and via funicular--collecting the recipes and stories of the legendary
stubes, chalets, and
refugios. On the menu is an eclectic mix of mountain dishes: radicchio and speck dumplings, fondue brioche, the best schnitzel recipe, Bombardinos, warming soups, wine cave
fonduta, a Chartreuse soufflé, and a host of decadent strudels and confections (
Salzburger Nockerl, anyone?) served with a bottle of Riesling plucked from the snow bank beside your dining table. Organized by country and including logistical tips, detailed maps,
the alpine address book, and narrative interludes discussing alpine art and wine, the Tour de France, high-altitude railways, grand European hotels, and other essential topics, this gorgeous and spectacularly photographed cookbook is a romantic ode to life in the mountains for food lovers, travelers, skiers, hikers, and anyone who feels the pull of the peaks.
Praise for Alpine Cooking
“This generous cookbook and travelogue will have readers booking trips to the Alps of Italy, France, Austria, and Switzerland. . . . Erickson beautifully captures Alpine food and culture in this standout volume.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A book to enjoy when it blusters outdoors, even without a plane ticket to Europe or a pair of skis.”
—The New York Times
“This is one of my favorite cookbooks, ever.”
“Cookbook meets outdoor-adventure memoir in Meredith Erickson’s
Alpine Cooking, which will satisfy your yen for Europe’s rustic mountaintop fare with dishes like schlutzkrapfen (stuffed half-moon pasta) and Salzburger nockerl (Austrian soufflé).”
"Then, there are books that transport me to where I’ve never been. Meredith Erickson’s
Alpine Cooking: Recipes and Stories from Europe’s Grand Mountaintops sends a welcome shiver down the spine. The photographs, with gleaming, clear light and the brightest blue skies against snowy peaks, conjure the imagined nostalgia of a perfect après ski moment. Her treatise on schnitzel is contagiously passionate; her mention of the hidden basement workshops of grand hotels captures the romance of those industrious spaces; each section is marked by a love letter to the geography of a region. Erickson situates you in the landscape and saves a space for you at the table, with raclette and cornichon waiting."
—The Globe and Mail
“A wide variety of readers, and their friends, will enjoy the kaleidoscope of recipes, photos, history, and anecdotes.”
“This is big, bold, gloriously old-fashioned and the perfect title to snuggle up with to dream about the skiing holiday you can’t afford.”
—Diana Henry, The Telegraph
“Meredith Erickson delivers both the coziest as well as the most elegant cookbook of the fall. . . . Just looking through this beauty will transport you from your messy apartment to après ski somewhere in the Alps.”
Meredith Erickson is the co-author of numerous cookbooks, including
The Art of Living According to Joe Beef,
Kristen Kish Cooking,
Claridge''s: The Cookbook,
Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse, and the forthcoming
Frasca. She has written for the
New York Times,
Elle, Saveur, Monocle, and
Lucky Peach, and also plans and hosts tours throughout the Alps. Meredith splits her time between Montreal and Milan.
I was told by a station agent that the ski from Plan Maison station in Cervinia, Italy, to the Riffelalp hamlet above Zermatt, Switzerland, would take “about two hours, if that.” But what I should have paid attention to was the sign posted outside the lift ticket booth. “Weather conditions can change rapidly,” it said. “Please be particularly careful in event of wind, rain, fog, hail, or snowfall.”
And so, for the following hours as I made my way across the Italian border at an elevation of nearly 3,900 meters (13,000 feet), the winds increased, the sky turned black, and I couldn’t see my ski poles in front of me. I felt I was in the Upside Down, with little ability to orient myself. As I inched along, I encountered few people, which eventually turned into no people. The last person I saw was the Klein Matterhorn lift operator, who told me he was shutting down the lifts due to wind and even if I wanted to go back, I couldn’t.
I told myself to keep calm as I started the descent. What would normally take twenty minutes for an average skier like me took a lot longer, but I can’t tell you the specifics because I was scared, but also angry. Angry at the weather, angry because of the lifts, but mostly angry at myself for doing this—all for the purpose of eating Zürcher Geschnetzeltes (see page 212).
Alpine Cooking will take you from the Olympic glory of Italy’s Cortina d’Ampezzo, through the towering Dolomites to the northern Italian province of Alto Adige/South Tyrol, past Ötzi the Iceman’s place of discovery in Tyrol, Austria, down the slopes of Zermatt, Switzerland, and over to Mont-Blanc, ending in the twenty-one hairpin turns of the Alpe d’Huez in France. This book took six years to research, write, and travel . . . more if you count the incubating stages when I was trying to wrap my head around how to capture the enormity of these Alpine mountains and the food served within, alongside, and atop them. After completing a handful of Alpine trips myself, I wanted to share the experiences with my family and friends, who were inspired by the stories—often about food—I brought back home to Montreal. I yearned to buy books, or even a book, that combined the narrative of my past Alpine experiences with actual how-to tips and on-the-ground knowledge. I wanted a book about
everything Alpine: from the best
rifugios (mountain huts) to kitsch mountain films (it’s a genre!), Swiss folk art, mountain literature, hotels and the families who run them, history, and ghost stories. And, oh yes, recipes too. And maps. Lots of maps. Except that book didn’t exist.
Sure, there are Frommer’s and Lonely Planet and “just the facts” guidebooks. There are also haute cuisine cookbooks written by Alpine chefs. But that wasn’t my speed nor my vision. So, I decided to write this book; partly because no one else had done it yet—fit all of this skiable feast under one roof—and partly because I couldn’t resist the adventure of what lay ahead.
I remember early in my travels taking the chairlift in Alta Badia, Italy. As I ascended toward the church of La Crusc, with the alpenglow of the Dolomites behind it, I looked down, around, and behind me at the rifugios and huts all scattered in the snow like roasted chestnuts, and wondered what set one apart from another? Who served what? Could I ski to all of them? Were they open in the summer, and then could I
hike to them? There was so much good eating in just one view.
I have skied and hiked mountains in Canada a few times, but rarely in the United States. The Alps are my first love, and they are all I
really know. Upon seeing a photograph of my ski-day lunch, say, a
Tiroler Gröstl (golden potato hash with local speck, and maybe cabbage and egg) with esoteric Alsatian bottles of wine sprouting out of the hills of snow behind me, my North American friends would comment about the lack of a Chef Boyardee facsimile served on a red plastic tray with a bag of Lay’s and a soda. As they recalibrated their idea of what mountain lunch could be, I realized how much of a story there is to tell. And so, I started keeping a journal of the people (chefs, hoteliers, helicopter pilots, winemakers, cheesemakers) I met, the best things I ate, the cultural observations, and the mistakes I made. (So many mistakes.) In trying to see, but moreover, eat as much of the Alpine range (200,000 square kilometers/77,000 square miles) as I could, I sometimes overlooked a detail. It usually included overestimating what is physically possible to do in one day without
really considering weather conditions; for example, skiing to a hotel over a country boundary with my sleepover bag (and my laptop—how do you think I wrote this?) on my back through a blizzard. (And yes, those
Zürcher Geschnetzeltes were worth it.) Or underestimating the amount of time it would take to drive from place to place, not counting the multiple stops for anything that looked remotely delicious.
Even after so much Alpine traveling time, this book is still only an Alpine primer—a two-dimensional account designed to inspire you. I came back from the Alps with approximately 175 recipes stuffed in my mind and proverbial snowsuit. Of those, I whittled down this collection to more than 75 must-haves, either because they are valuable and unique additions to any arsenal, or because the story of them was intrinsic to my Alpine trip. On the foldout pages, you will also find four country maps identifying the mountain-hut locations that inspired the corresponding recipes of my Alpine tour. And I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface here; indeed, I can imagine traveling the rest of my life, writing books of this size, and I still wouldn’t come close to capturing the magic of the mountains. Perhaps I’m just getting started.
I hope you cook from this book, sure, but the delicious and authentic recipes are just an excuse, really—a trail of little crumbs, and okay, fine, maybe some Reblochon too—to lure you into the mountains and to follow my journey, to encourage you to breathe in the mountain air. Many of these recipes are classics of mountain cuisine—dishes you’ll find in almost every inn of an area. Others reflect the talent and individual creativity of chefs I’ve met along the way. Still others were created at home, away from the Alps, and dedicated to the regions that inspired them. But all are rooted firmly in the Alps.