The Mountain Gourmet Ski Experience 2017, a story of friendship and sharing for four chefs, curator Heston Blumenthal and three of his best friends, Sat Bains, with his creative genius, Claude Bosi, present in spite of his new exciting venture at Bibendum London opening next week and Jason Atherton, taking time out from his group of restaurants worldwide, to come and prepare two inimitable dinners on the mountains of Courmayeur, with their UK teams coming together in perfect synergy with the local host chefs in a true alchemy of style and execution.
But also a story of friendships forged by a group of like minded guests flown out to Courmayeur on 17th March to experience unforgettable moments of skiing, dogsledding, walking on the Mont Banc glacier and above all enjoying supreme cuisine and wines on and off the pistes of Courmayeur.
The first evening at the Grand Hotel Royal & Golf proved an opportunity for guests and chefs to bond through Heston’s growing passion, table tennis, with Donic tables brought in specially from the UK, for a sport which allows chefs to live for the moment and forget the stress of their kitchens, as well as being considered important in the prevention of dementia, cure for autism and accessible to all.
The dinner, prepared by Michelin starred Patron chef of the Royal, Maura Gosio, a celebration of Italian mountain cuisine and wines, with outdoor braziers and barbecues, wines from the Alpine arc from east to west and a host of delicacies for guests to try, followed by a late evening at the bar playing table tennis and witnessing Jason’s singing skills.
On Saturday, the day started with ski guiding in select groups followed by the warm rustic chalet atmosphere and open fire of Chateau Branlant, for a discovery of top Aosta Valley wines Anselmet paired with one of Heston’s favourite dishes, the zuppa alla Valpellinentze, and perfectly barbecued meats, to finish with the mythical Monte Bianco, a dessert made with chestnuts to ressemble its mountain namesake.
The gourmet evening at La Chaumiere, accessible by cable car was an absolute showcase to the chefs’ London dishes, adapted for the mountain, with a 7 course tasting dinner, preceded by 6 of their canapés and Ferrari Trento winery Perle’ sparkling wine.
As expected, there was much discussion over whose was the outstanding dish of the evening, with each earning a group of aficionados, from Claude’s refined obsiblue and truffle dumplings, to Sat’s sea scented potato on a bed of the local soft cheese Reblec and served with a generous dollop of caviar, to Jason’s red mullet and Cornish fish soup, not forgetting Claude’s incredible beef jam and the 2 desserts, an Eton mess “tidy” by Jason, encased in a perfectly formed meringue, or perhaps the highlight of the evening, Sat’s tomato entremet, using the desiccated fruit rehydrated in strawberry juice, with yoghurt ice cream and, wait for it, extra virgin olive oil with a taste slightly reminiscent of tomato vines and paired with Tiger Imperial vodka.
The evening was the perfect opportunity for Heston to share with all the guests his personal insight into taste, flavour and perception with a few interactive demonstrations, including the difference in taste of a glass of wine according to which hand holds it.
Alessandra Demoz, the owner of La Chaumiere and expert sommelier, paired each course with unusual and fabulous wines including a white and a red from organic Les Petits Bouts de Rien and an exquisite Pinot Noir from La Vrille, Aosta Valley.
Sunday, bright blue skies and perfect spring skiing and an antipasti and fresh pasta celebration at the mountain refuge Chiecco, with the quirky charismatic owner Anna serving up anchovies from Monterosso, hand cut Lagrimone ham, the best melting buffalo mozzarella along with Paolo’s fresh ravioli and tagliatelle, with wines from Malvira’ in the Roero region.
Sunday evening, up at Rifugio Maison Vieille, reached by cable car and exhilarating 10 minute snowmobile ride, is Heston’s all time favourite evening, with sharing dishes prepared by the chefs with a hint of what they might serve for their own families at home, but also a huge party with Kudos Live a DJ sax and voice ensemble, who set the tone immediately with their sounds and medley on the cable car up to Plan Checrouit.
On arrival, a celebration of Aosta valley cheeses, meats and salamis with award winning local wines grown at heights of over 1,100 m altitude.
Guests roasted cheeses on an open fire outside with flurries of snow and a myriad of different cheeses and cold meats to choose from to the sounds of a guitar and accordion and the songs of the mountains in the local patois dialect, before sitting down to Jason’s Tamworth Pork terrine with a prune in Armagnac dressing and unforgettable sourdough bread, followed by Sat’s truly incredible lamb, confit in salt, thyme and pine then slow cooked for a day and Claude’s original quince, apple and Szechuan pepper trifle, all washed down by fine wines from Antinori in Tuscany and hosted by owner and fabulous mountain man Giacomo Calosi.
Monday, in spite of a late night and imminent departures, guests were thrilled to discover Val Veny driving their own sled of dogs or Skyway, the revolutionary new cable car with a snow shoe walk and champagne toast on the glacier, before congregating one last time for a light lunch at the historic Caffe’ della Posta in town, with the refined Arneis, Barbaresco, and Barolo Brunate 2011 wines by Ceretto winery, ending with the traditional Aosta Valley cup of friendship, the Grolla.
As they prepared to depart from the hotel and shared experiences and contact details, one last and amazing surprise from Heston, the presentation of his personal gift for the event, a ping pong bat signed by all the chefs and nestled in its centre, an edible, perfectly formed ping pong ball, the chocolate to end all chocolates, one last moment of sharing, laughter and another way to question perception, flavour and taste.
Join us in 2018 for another journey of friendship, food, fine wines and the best fun on the mountain.
Next year's exclusive edition of the Mountain Gourmet Ski Experience will take place 17th - 20th March 2018.
To find out more and request places please contact Jessica Gorman by email firstname.lastname@example.org