No list would be complete without the potato. Having arrived in the Savoie region before Parmentier popularised it throughout France, it is an ingredient in many delicious dishes. Beetroot is flavoursome served au gratin or with chestnuts, cabbage features in a large number of recipes, and then there are leeks, chard (of which every bit is used) and cardoons, which are still little known beyond the Rhône-Alpes region.
Ceps, chanterelles and morels are frequently used ingredients in many local recipes, including the succulent croûte aux morilles (croutons in morel sauce).
Freshwater fish and shellfish
The Lac du Bourget continues to fill our plates with trout (poached, braised with vegetables, poached in vermouth…), lavaret, fera, Arctic char, etc. and Crayfish, cooked au gratin or with chicken, makes a very special dish since they are now far less common.
Did you know?
Threatened with extinction in the 1960s, the lavaret was saved thanks to the efforts of a club for amateur and professional fishermen. Whereas only 300 kg of this member of the salmon family was produced 50 years ago, the figure has now reached approximately 10 tonnes.
Artisan-produced or industrially made, Savoie’s deli products have earned a deserved reputation for their high quality. A local speciality, Diots (small 100% pork sausages), can be cooked in red or white wine with an accompaniment of crozets (Savoie-style pasta), polenta or cabbage.
Savoie’s vast expanses of pastureland produce cheeses whose fame extends well beyond the region’s boundaries: Beaufort, Bleu de Termignon, Reblochon, Tomme des Bauges, Tomme de Savoie, Abondance, Tamié… These are just some of the cheeses whose fine qualities have been recognised with the award of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status or Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status.
Did you know?
Beaufort cheese’s concave heel is formed by the wooden mould in which our forefathers placed the cheese to protect it when riding down into the valley by mule.
A legacy of Chambéry and Turin’s shared history, pasta is an integral part of Chambéry’s culinary heritage. The industry really took off in 1844, thanks to Louis Chiron, and the Alpina Savoie Company now produces an impressive selection of pasta, including the famous ‘crozets’.
Baguette or cross-shaped, the Savouet was created in 2009, at the initiative of the Chamber of Trades and Crafts and the Savoie bakers’ trade unions. Made with 50% wholemeal flour, guaranteed free of additives and low in salt, this crusty bread demonstrates how artisan bakers are always striving to be innovative.
Whether it is local producers supplying market stalls with apples, pears (the first fruit to be awarded Protected Geographical Indication status), grapes, cherries, strawberries… or amateurs who pick the red fruits which are so generously provided by nature, fruit has a special place in the cuisine of Savoie.
The second most important agricultural activity after cheese production, the Savoie wine industry boasts around twenty AOC (registered designation of origin) grape varieties for Vin de Savoie or Roussette de Savoie. With quality always their priority, the winegrowers of Savoie produce white wines from grape varieties such as Altesse or Roussette, Aligoté, Chasselas, Jacquère, Chardonnay, Molette and Gringet, and red wines from Mondeuse, Gamay, Persan and Pinot grapes.
Chambéry vermouth is unquestionably the most popular vermouth with Chambéry’s residents… because it was born here!
A cocktail of aromatic mountain plants, spices and Vin de Savoie, this vermouth was invented by the local liqueur-maker and distiller, Joseph Chavasse.
The town’s flagship product, it was, at one time, produced by up to 22 manufacturers. Since then, Dolin vermouth (which takes its name from Joseph Chavasse’s heirs) has always been manufactured in Chambéry. Served with strawberry liqueur, vermouth becomes Chambéryzette, a drink which, despite being 100 years old, is still very popular with connoisseurs.
Finally, the powerful scent of high mountain pastures is characteristic of Génépi, a strong alcoholic drink named after the plant from which it is made.
Did you know?
The fame of Joseph Chavasse’s vermouth spread well beyond Chambéry in his day, as he won a gold medal in Philadelphia in 1860.
Cordials and fruit juices
Second only to Tesseire in France, the Chambéry cordial manufacturer Routin offers over 300 flavours. Made with fruit or flowers, including the famous violet variety, their cordials are exported around the world.
The first industrial breweries made their appearance in Chambéry in 1830 but disappeared in 1950, when they were absorbed by the big national brewers… However, a few decades later, a revival took place with the production of local ales using water of exceptional quality. These beers are still very popular today. This renaissance produced two high quality brands with distinctive ranges. The Brasserie des Cimes (in Routin), and the Brasserie distillerie du Mont Blanc (run by Sylvain Chiron), which was awarded the title of ‘best amber beer in the world’ in 2011 and won a gold medal for its white beer in 2013.
The chocolate truffle, a Chambéry invention!
120 years old in 2015! Yes, that is the age that the chocolate truffle reaches this year, and it was born… here in Chambéry, the creation of Louis Dufour, the pastry chef and chocolatier and great-uncle of Maurice Opinel, the heir to the famous knife business. This invention, which is now known the world over, came about at a time when stocks of chocolate had run low: with the ingredients available, Louis Dufour made this delicacy, naming it the truffle. Introduced into Savoie by the Spanish, chocolate has been hugely popular in the region ever since. So you just can’t leave the region without tasting some! And so, Chambéry will be celebrating its 120th birthday in 2015. This will provide an opportunity to show that craftsmanship and industry still go hand in hand: alongside the expertise of the famous chocolatiers, the manufacturer “Réal” (part of the Cémoi group, formerly Coppelia) still delights the French with its chocolate treats.
Invented in Savoie in 1358, Savoy cake is the party dessert par excellence. It is thought that it was created by Pierre de Yenne, at the request of Amédée VI, Count of Savoy, for the visit of his overlord Charles IV of Luxembourg. The cake contains egg yolks, sugar, flour and whisked egg whites. The recipe has been refined over the years thanks to the chefs Massialot, in the 17th century, and Menon, in the 18th century, with the addition of flavourings (lemon zest, cinnamon, orange blossom, etc.) and icing sugar. Nowadays, it is the perfect sweet treat to enjoy with a cup of tea.
As is the case with chocolate, the high profile enjoyed by coffee in Chambéry might appear surprising, as Savoie has never been a coffee-producing area, far from it, in fact! We should not forget, of course, its historical openness to foreign influences and, with particular reference to coffee, its proximity to Italy and its ports which looked towards the East. Local coffee expertise has guaranteed the continued success of two cafes: the Café Folliet and the Maison de Savoie, founded in 1880 and 1917 respectively.
And when it comes to cutlery…we have the iconic Opinel brand!
We could not talk about Savoie products without mentioning the iconic Opinel knife, the flagship brand of a legendary Savoy company, founded over 100 years ago. Opinel’s knives pass from generation to generation and from pocket to pocket. It is a timeless implement, raised to icon status by designers, ranked among the world’s 100 legendary objects, and on display in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York; and, by constantly developing it, Opinel now offers colourful, modern ranges.