Royal Wedding, Rabbit Stew and Childhood Reminisces

A taste of the Alps takes us back in time but is it ever as good as we remember?

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Villandry Kitchen, 217-221 Chiswick High Road. Tel. 020 8747 9113

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As a child I spent a great deal of time holidaying in the Alps. One of my favourite places on the planet is Lake Annecy, we would spend the day swimming in the beautiful clear water and back up to the cabin in the mountains to spend the evenings discovering weird and wonderful food – or we thought of it at the time - and playing cards.

I remember vividly the day that Charles and Diana married. We were in Annecy and my sisters and I wore red white and blue ribbons in our hair as a celebratory gesture of the royal proceedings. However, the thing that really stands out in my memory of that day was not the dress or the fairy tale horse and carriages but that we had rabbit stew for dinner, a delicious, heady, heavy concoction that ignited my passion of French food which remains with me today.

There is a reason I’m sharing these memoirs because that day came flooding back to me when passing Villandry Kitchen a few weeks ago. The wording ‘A Taste of The Alps’ emblazoned on the board outside took me back to that day in 1981. A quick check on the board inside showed a choice between tartiflette with salad and crusty bread and melted Mont D’Or served with boiled potatoes, French ham and cornichons. Although not a mention of rabbit, I thought it worth a try even if it was just for the memories.

I roped in the company of a girlfriend who shares my passion for cheese and wine, actually now I come to think of it for most foods particularly fine ones. We both decided on the tartiflette at £10.95 a pop. It was a decent enough dish with a simple salad and two chunks of bread. Neither of us thought it worth the money.

We shared an excellent bottle of Pinot Gringio from Alsace which I felt was on the pricey side for lunch at £19.95, but it was delicious and helped make a mediocre meal into something more special.

A coffee each brought the bill to a steep £46 without service which was pleasant enough though not exceptional and didn’t warrant loading much more money on our bank cards.

It’s always pleasant to take a trip down memory lane however on this occasion the halcyon days of summer 1981 should have been as that, a delightful reminiscence.

Emma Brophy

February 3, 2011