Portetta, Courchevel Moriond is home to Angela Hartnett MBE’s new restaurant Cucina Angelina. Gina Baksa samples Italian-influenced cuisine with a nod to the Savoie
A hop skip and a jump down the valley from Courchevel 1850, you’ll find Courchevel Moriond (formerly 1650). The slopes are wider here – perfect for beginners and intermediates – you’re in sunshine for longer and your credit card won’t melt. Connection to the vaste Trois Vallees ski region – around 600km of trails – is easy and queue times are significantly shorter than at many Alpine resorts.
Courchevel Moriond is also home to the rather fabulous Portetta hotel. Proudly part of the UK-based Lime Wood Group (The Pig hotel chain, Lime Wood Hotel) Portetta is ideally situated at the base of the main slope near the lifts, and boasts 38 rooms, 6 gorgeous lofts within the main hotel and four separate luxury lodges. All are available to rent during summer and winter months.
Portetta now boasts a fabulous new restaurant, Cucina Angelina, opened only last December and helmed by one of the world’s favourite and most respected chefs, Angela Hartnett, MBE. As any foodie will know, her Mayfair restaurant Murano has a one-Michelin star, where seasonal British produce is artfully used in the creation of sublime Italian dishes. An influence Angela readily acknowledges comes from her childhood spent at the home of her Italian grandmother, who taught her to appreciate Italian food – and how to prepare and cook it.
At Cucina, Angela is collaborating with Portetta’s long-term chef, Henri Dereani and – since she is mostly engaged at Murano, still finds the time to visit Courchevel for a few days every month. Indeed, this is her second collaboration with the Lime Wood Group, having already worked alongside chef Luke Holder in its flagship New Forest hotel, Lime Wood.
Alas, Angela wasn’t in Courchevel the weekend of our visit, but we met briefly with Chef Henri Dereani. Admiring his stock of Génépi in glass-fronted cabinets at Portetta’s reception, he tells us that he makes this fabulous liqueur himself. A local lad, he thinks nothing of lofty walks at 3000m to collect the wormwood that is the base of this exquisite concoction. His Génépi is available for sale, as are his homemade confitures.
Indeed, the lounge area leading to the restaurant has a cosy yet sophisticated vibe: think rustic mountain chic, reclaimed wood and stone – the flooring came from an old manor house – tactile textures, warm rich fabrics, oversized sofas and chairs. Taxidermy of any kind leaves me cold, but the animals on display here somehow feel completely at home in this environment. And so the relaxed décor continues into the restaurant area, where we are greeted by attentive French and English staff. All young and all very warm and professional.
“We had a complete refurbishment of the restaurant, lounge and reception area at the end of last year,” Portetta’s director, the charming Nicholas Dumont tells me, as we tuck into slices of succulent cheese and tomato pizza to share. “And we only just finished in time for Christmas.” ‘It was hectic,” he adds, with classic French understatement. “But we made it!”
This pizza amuse bouche is honestly the most flavour-full wood-fired pizza I have ever tasted, and as wine uncorked – in our case a delightful Puligny Montrachet (Etienne Sauzet) we segued into the menu proper. Beguiling antipasti included a salad of pear, pecorino, fennel, radish and parsley (my choice). Other treats: mozzarella, lentils, olive oil and marjoram. Friends chose the Vitello tonnato: succulent veal, tuna, capers, rocket and parmesan. To say I had choice envy was an understatement, though my pear and pecorino salad was divine.
If we’d had enough room for a primi, I would have chosen the Tagliettele alla Bolognose (ragout, parmesan and parsley) or maybe the Agnolotti: guinea fowl and sage – one of Angela’s favourites. Instead, I opted for the Zuppa di pesce: a heavenly combination of fruits de mer, mullet, bream, chilli and garlic. Quite the best fish soup I have ever tasted, the sensation of flavours was intoxicating – as were the vibrant colours thanks to the generosity of the tomatoes. We ordered a side of polenta fries – the perfect accompaniment – as was the fresh, almost orgasmic bread and butter.
Grilled meat cuts (from a huge grill in the centre of the restaurant) provide the nod to traditional Savoyard favourites, as did the ubiquitous tartiflette, while the minestrone soup has a French flavour it is graced with Beaufort on toast, rather than Parmesan. I skipped dessert, but friends enjoyed creamy chocolate and almond torta, which they heartily devoured over coffee.
If weather permits, then I recommend eating on Portetta’s Fire and Ice terrace. Warm yourself by the log-burning fires, order a quick wood-fired pizza, omelette or even spag bol, or settle in for a long lazy lunch before you head back to the slopes. Happy hour is between 4.30-7 and if you buy any ice-shot or drink, you’ll be rewarded with a slice of delicious wood-fired pizza – on the house.
Cucina Angelina has an all-day menu – the owners hoping to attract skiers from other Three Valley resorts such as Meribel and Val Thorens. A most welcome addition to Courchevel Moriond, Cucina Angelina is the perfect destination for a lunchtime break from the slopes, or a more relaxed evening meal. Expect a charming lack of pretension, succulent flavour-bursting quality Italian food, with a nod to the Savoie, all beautifully presented and served by Cucina’s efficient – and very cute – waiting staff. Highly recommended.
Cucina Angelina at Portetta, Courchevel Moriond – Where and How?
Address: Portetta, Courchevel Moriond (1650), 73120 Saint Bon, France
38 rooms, 6 lofts, 4 lodges
T: +33 (0) 4 79 08 01 47
F: +33 (0) 4 79 08 16 23
E: [email protected]
Instagram: Le Portetta
Angela Hartnett: www.angelahartnett.co.uk and
Café Murano: www.cafemurano.co.uk
Lime Wood Hotel: limewoodhotel.co.uk
Travel to Courchevel
Car: 2.5 hours from Lyon or Geneva. 7 hours from Paris via the A6.
Train: 4 hours (via TGV) from Paris Gare de Lyon to Moutiers-Salins Brides Les Bains, followed by transfers to Portetta by taxi or limousine. The ride is 30 minutes.
Plane: Courchevel is 2 hours from the airports of Lyon and Geneva. Transfers to Le Portetta can be arranged by cab, limousine or helicopter. The Altiport at Courchevel is 10 minutes from Hôtel Portetta. British Airways operates a 1.5-hour flight from London’s City Airport to Chambéry throughout the ski season.