What I generally refer to as “the south of France”, the area of France we cross over and into from Geneva, we normally find ourselves in a region referred to as the Rhône-Alpes region (actually located in south-east France). The region is named after the Rhône River, which runs through Geneva (and right behind our apartment), and after the Alps mountain range (which is just a short car ride away). There are a number of sub-regions in the Rhône-Alpes and a few weekends ago, when F’s parents were visiting and we rented a car, we took advantage and ventured into the Haute-Savoie region, namely the city of Annecy.
Like the city of Geneva, which borders Lake Geneva, Annecy sits on the edge of another lake, albeit smaller (Lake Annecy), and at the foot of the Alpes. F and I have a friend that lives in Annecy but since we had never been, we didn’t really know what to expect. I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the scenery, the atmosphere, and the food (Here’s a better question: What don’t I love to eat?).
F’s father was the one who suggested we go to Annecy, as he and F’s mom had been there many years ago and had tried a mystery dish of potato, onion, cheese, and bacon that he couldn’t remember the name of but had stayed with him (It had to be delicious, no?).
The dish he was referring to was the tartiflette. The name may be a bit misleading; you may be tempted to mistaken it for a dessert as it seems like the cousin of the tart. Yet, the tartiflette – named after the Franco-Provençal word for potato, tartifla (Franco-Provençal is spoken in east-central France, western Switzerland, and northwestern Italy) – is a savory Savoyard delicacy.
For those of you out there who don’t eat pork: turkey bacon or smoked salmon work just fine, too. Although the dish is usually made with reblochon cheese (which is stinky and delicious, if I do say so myself), F’s mom and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to enjoy a variation of the dish made with goat cheese instead – even stinkier and absolutely exquisite. We had our taste of the tartiflette at this hole-in-the-wall type place called Bar le Jean Jacques Restaurant (there’s no escaping the references to the Reformation in this part of the world). The service (even at the “strange” hour we decided to drop in for lunch, around 2:30 p.m.) and the food were both fantastic.
So fantastic, in fact, that I decided to make my own tartiflette at home just a few days later. It’s pretty straightforward to make but should you have any doubts and feel like hearing some very fast French, check out this video, which I followed when making it (although I added a little cream – because the whole round of cheese was clearly not enough!).
While the area near the lake was very reminiscent of Geneva, the Old Town reminded me very much of Venice – the paint, the canals running through the streets, etc. See for yourself:
The market is pretty cool, too:
There are a few more sites to check out in Annecy but we were really just there to take a stroll, enjoy a nice lunch, and head back to Geneva. If you can take a day to visit, I would definitely recommend it. If not, make your own tartiflette and fake it ’til you make it!