The culture of Chatel and indeed the whole Haute Savoie region is perhaps most evident in the love of food and the local produce that is still manufactured using the same methods that have been used for many years.
Cheese is perhaps the food that the area is most well known for. The Abondance Valley gives its name to the semi hard Abondance cheese. This cheese is made using the milk from the montbeliarde and tarine breeds of cow. It has been made since at least the 14th century, when it is recorded that monks from the Saint Marie DíAbondance Monastery in the valley supplied some of the cheese to the papal enclave in Avignon.
Tartiflette is a local dish made form cheese, onions, potatoes and bacon. It uses the local Reblochon cheese. Reblochon means literally ìto milk againî from the practice of farmers milking their cows again at night to avoid paying the landlords for the milk. It is also the only cheese listd on the French stock exchange and is known as ìThe Money Cheeseî.
Raclette is a dish as well as the name of the cheese used in the dish. Raclette cheese is melted and served with potatoes, salad and local cured meats.
Fondue is the cheese dish which most people associate with the Alps. A mix of local cheeses, white wine, garlic and Kirsch melted at the table and served with diced bread which is then dipped into the cheesy mixture.
The nature of life in the Alps, with harsh winters, meant that food had to be made to last through the long hard winter months when more food could not be produced. The area therefore learnt to specialise in curing their meats to last through the winter months. The local hams and saucisson come in many different varieties and it is well worth trying a few of them during your stay. They can be found in the local supermarket but for the authentic experience try the local artisan shops or the weekly market.
This is the perfect dessert after a meal of local cheese. A tarte made from locally grown bilberries. By sampling all of these different local delicacies it is possible to see all the different aspects of the traditional local foods. Whilst these foods are now popular with tourists and are sold across the world, there was a time when they grew out of a necessity to survive the hard winters.