Monday, February 25, 2013

Legend goes walkabout (Part 2)


Legend Jr fell asleep on the RER train back to the airport in Paris and was comatose on the journey to Geneva and our subsequent transfer from the airport to Les Carroz.  I believe I had been serenading the shuttle driver with a symphony of snoring, as we bounced around in the back seat. We woke up just in time to greet our hosts for the next 2 weeks, (let's just call them Mr and Mrs La Ruche, on account of their chalet name. I try and protect the innocent as much as possible, as well as avoiding costly law suits) who were patiently awaiting our arrival. The Chalet was full until the end of the week, so a good friend of theirs who lived over the road, had kindly offered to accommodate us in her spare ground floor apartment. After many hugs and kisses, which had been saved up for 15 years, we took our luggage to our new home to unpack and get a wash. 24 hours of travelling was starting to take its toll, on me anyway. Jr had found his new wind and was out sliding on a skating rink that doubled as a driveway during the day.
Our first temporary home

I made up the Futon on the floor, took a quick shower and headed back over to meet the Guinea Pigs  guests, for whom I would be cooking for.
Mr La Ruche was in the middle of serving dinner, a four course delight which consisted of (I have my notes for reference) Asparagus Panacotta, Tuscan Chicken, Cheese Board and Lemon and Lime Tarte to finish it off, all washed down with copious amounts of wine. After dinner, he introduced me to their guests. There were 11 adults and 15 children, all one party, and all from Scotland. The realization of what I had let myself in for started to dawn on me as we exchanged good hearted banter. Mr La Ruche would be a hard act to follow.

Jr and pals

 Legend Jr had already found friends, and my role as parent started to recede, as they welcomed him into their extended family. He would reappear occasionally when he was hungry, or when he needed some help carrying his skis, but most of the next 2 weeks he was fairly self sufficient, thankfully, as I didn't have much time to keep him entertained.

Jr woke at 4am and kissed me on the cheek. "Daddy............" No response. "Daddy.......I can't sleep any more." Still no response. "DADDY...... I need the toilet, where is it?" This got my attention, as I rolled off the futon and banged my head against a chair which I had moved near the bed so I had somewhere handy to put my alarm clock on. It took me a little while to get my bearings, as Jr hopped from foot to foot. "Hurry Daddy, I'm going to BURST."
I was vaguely aware of a little body shooting past me as I found the light switch and looked at my watch.

Jesus, this was going to be a long day.

We watched French cartoons in silence because I couldn't get the remote to work. After this got boring, we read for a while and I answered all his questions he had about why we were here and what we were going to be doing, all the while snuggled up in our warm duvet. It was bliss.
We met Mr La Ruche at 7.15 just outside of the chalet so he could take me to the Boulangerie and introduce me to the owner. I would be strolling up here every morning in the silence of a sleeping ski village, the quiet broken only by the avalanche blasting and the occasional passing figure huddled up against the cold.

I had one day in the Kitchen with Mr La Ruche, before he headed into hospital for his prostate operation. We had a lot to catch up on, so we did as much yapping as we did work, a point not missed by Mrs La Ruche, who's work load was about to increase dramatically.
The first day I was left on my own, I woke up at 3.15am. I had forgotten to pre soak the porridge, as instructed,  so a trudged across the road to the chalet to rectify the problem. I went back to bed for a bit more shuteye, and woke up at 7.15am.
Shit, shit, shit. I was going to be late for my first morning. I bundled Jr up and shot across the road, doing impersonations of Bambi on ice on a very slippery drive, and just managed to get him dressed and up to the Boulangerie in time to pick up the bread before the 1st guest came downstairs.
Porridge on... Check.
Bread cut......Check.
Coffee brewed, Juice out of the fridge, butter, jams, ........Check.
"Good morning Wally, Sleep OK?  The kids will be down in a wee while. Any chance of some Porridge?"
I gave Lorna her porridge, and had just poured myself a coffee, when I heard what would be my morning wake up call for the rest of the stay.

15 hungry and boisterous children + Jr can make an awful lot of noise, not to mention mess.

By the time breakfast was over, I was slumped in a chair by the door wondering if it was too late to escape. It was going to be a long 2 weeks.
Burgers anyone?

I did the shopping down at Carrefour, 2 days a week. It is an interesting shop, or maybe just an indication of day to day life in rural France. The clothing, furniture and house furnishings all looked like something you would get at Woolworths, but the food section was like Fortnum and Mason, especially the deli. Pastry encrusted Terrines of Duck or Salmon, wonderful Salad Composées and Saucissons of every variety lay side by side, and the cheeses.... oh the cheeses, many of which are banned in the USA. Apparently they might harm us. We can buy AK 47s without too much trouble, but not un-pasteurized cheese? WTF.

I had imagined that I would blog all of the food I made, as I prepared to come over to France. However, I had not taken into account the amount of work it would take.
I wasn't even close.
He was in awe of the sheer scale of the skiing

I did have a few hours off in the afternoon, but these were taken up with getting Jr up and running on his skis (Except for one afternoon which is recorded here;postID=7873447427906095834  )

By the time I finished at night, it was all I could do to get to my bed,
I know I left it here somewhere last night
Every night, we would get 8-10 cms of new snow. Mrs La Ruche took the kids up to ski school in the van which had to be cleared of snow, and then she would clear the car park with the snow blower, followed by cleaning, laundry, baking and being a Mom to 2 wonderful daughters. She did all of this, and looked after my needs and questions with  grace and good humour. She's a living Saint.
What a great crew. Cheers Nori

The second week, was much the same as the first. Lovely guests, friends for Jr, and long days in the kitchen. Jr joined the ESI (International French Ski School) and is now the proud owner of his bronze badge. I got to ski with my God Daughter on the last day, or should I say I got to see her back disappearing into the distance. She is a very beautiful and talented young lady (so is her sister) and I'm glad I got this chance to connect after all these years.
The lovely Genevieve

I learned a lot, including not filling the Tartiflette (Savoie speciality) with too much cream, as it boils over and stinks out the oven until it is cleaned (sorry), don't let the kids food touch on the plates, and don't forget to steep the Porridge.
Some of this may still be on the oven floor.

We made it back to Seattle without any incident. Mr La Ruche has had a successful operation and is back in charge of his domain, and Mrs La Ruche is probably needing a holiday right now.
We miss you and hope it will not be another 15 years before I get a chance to burn your oven.......


  1. Wow! Legend, that was quite an adventure!

    1. Thanks Kate, it's nice to hear from you. It was a great trip. I'd like to go back there as a guest and eat some of their amazing food.

  2. Wally - you were amazing! Mr. La Ruche.

  3. how utterly fabulous....what an adventure.....I myself don't actually ski but I'm quite good at apres ski.....!!

  4. You are a star for doing this, you were so busy how exhausting! Shopping for food in rural France is such a wonderful experience isn't it. I've only had to do that for my family but my poor grasp of French made things difficult. I can read it but speaking it forget it. Do you speak French?

    1. Thanks Dani, My French is very rusty, but gets more lubricated the more I have to drink. However, I find pointing is fairly efficient if all else fails:)

  5. Well done!!! Hope that the Scottish guests were nice to you! I am quite out of breath by all your jaunting around the world - I'm knackered getting up to Glasgow and back!

    Ali x

    1. They were the best of Craic. Mainly from your neck of the woods.
      back home now in the cold and rain, and up to my arse in plaster board.

  6. This sounds like a pretty impressive couple of weeks. I always think anyone who can be a chef must have nerves of steel and the stamina of a Victorian printing press. Great memories! and you are so right about Carrefour and other French supermarkets. I never cease to be amazed.
    Glad I don't have to get up at 3.15 to steep the porridge, though! :)

    1. Thanks Jenny,
      It was an amazing trip, on many levels. I'm glad to be home though.

  7. Really liked your account of your French chalet adventures, sounds lots of work but great fun, Les Carroz sounds amazing, I would love to go stay in the La Ruche chalet, am off to google it the way, Grandma Whacker continues to be a HUGE fan of yours, she also read your chalet posts and asked me to let you know they are great!

  8. Thanks Blighty. The company is called 360 Sun and Ski, and they specialize in catering for families with children. They have a loyal following with lots of families coming back year after year. let me know if you are interested and I'll let them know. Forewarned and all that:)

  9. Hi Wally, yes I googled them and they sound fab, they get rave reviews on Tripadvisor, I am working on the Financial Controller for next year...have only been skiing once with the boys when they were v small (3 and 5) so keen to try again - bit nervous about self though, as one of my friends just broke her shoulder skiing in Austria and now has all sorts of metalware in it, for good...

  10. I read few posts on this site and I conceive that your web site is very interesting

  11. What an adventure! Hope you managed the Scots accent okay........and I think my husband is the only tightfisted Scotsman alive!

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