There I was at the top of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps and Western Europe. Living in Paris for my college semester abroad, I was lucky to have been invited to “sport d’hiver” with a French friend’s family. I was new to skiing and had spent the morning in ski school with toddlers; very humiliating. My friend, who was an expert skier, insisted I join her in the “egg,” the tram to the top of Mont Blanc. She assured me I could take the tram down again.
As I recall, she was preoccupied with a budding romance, and although she cared for me deeply, her focus was, let’s say…elsewhere. Once at the peak, the gruff operator insisted I get off. No, I could not take the lift down to our designated lunch spot at a mountain restaurant. Not wanting to be a drag or imposition, I told her to go on ahead with her crush and I would tackle the triple black diamond slope on my own and meet them there.
I was 19 and foolish. Two hours later I arrived, frozen and black and blue from sliding down the mountain on my bottom; it was a harrowing experience, despite the fact that it makes a great story all these years later. A meal never tasted so good.
This memory resurfaced, as I read an article in Vanity Fair Magazine’s December 2008 issue entitled “Some Like it Haute - the World’s Top Mountain Restaurants.” One listed for Megeve, France sounded like the spot we went to, although I can’t be sure. L’ Alpette, as it is called, has been a lunchtime institution since 1935. With a well chosen wine list and oyster bar, weary skiers can enjoy local sausage and simple salads or more elaborate plates.
Although I grew to enjoy downhill, these days I stick to cross country, but if you’re interested in the top picks, some of the most compelling are:
St. Anton, Austria - Verwall Stube. Described as “über –chic,” Vladimir Putin and the Jordanian Royal family frequent this mountain top foodie haven.
Verbier, Switzerland - Au Vieux Verbier. Known for traditional Swiss cuisine, Vanity Fair calls the interior kitschy and says you may run into the likes of Leo DiCaprio, Jamie Oliver or Björk.
Closer to home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming you might tuck into a house–smoked buffalo tenderloin at Jackson Hole’s latest hot spot called Couloir; the views are apparently breathtaking.
I have to say there is nothing like dining at altitude!