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Escape routes: the ultimate winter holiday destination for foodies

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Stylist contributor Michelle Margherita overcomes her Alpine aversion to dine at Angela Hartnett’s new eatery in Courchevel

Since the time I sprained both my knees after accidentally skiing an icy red run at Chamonix, I’ve stayed off-piste. But the opening of Angela Hartnett’s new Italian restaurant, Cucina Angelina at the Portetta Hotel in France’s Courchevel Moriond, was just the push I needed to give the Alps a second chance. After a quick evening flight from London to Geneva and a pretty two-hour drive along snowy roads, I arrived at Portetta, a wooden chalet-style hotel in what used to be known as Courchevel 1650, now renamed Moriond. Of the four Courchevel villages, Moriond is the quietest and least glitzy, attracting families and a younger, cooler crowd. If you’re wondering why one of Britain’s top chefs, who runs Michelin-starred restaurant Murano in London’s Mayfair, would up sticks to open a casual Italian eatery in a tiny French ski village, it’s because Portetta is no typical chalet hotel, but part of Britain’s Lime Wood group, who own the five-star Lime Wood country house in the New Forest (housing Angela’s HH & Co restaurant) and the much-lauded The Pig chain of restaurants-with-rooms in the UK.

Courchevel

Although high-profile British chefs, including Marcus Wareing and Heston Blumenthal, have cooked up a storm at gourmet ski festivals, Angela is the first to open a bricks-and-mortar restaurant slopeside. Everything on the menu is sourced from within 30-miles, and Angela’s Italian heritage, mixed with French Savoyard cooking, really comes through: torn chunks of melting buffalo mozzarella atop lentils flavoured with local herbs; tiny hand-shaped lemon-flavoured ravioli parcels stuffed with spinach and ricotta topped with sage and drizzled with French butter, and her family recipe for anolini, a simple dish of pasta parcels stuffed with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese soaked in the juices of a slow-cooked veal shin, served in chicken broth.

Surroundings in Portetta are cloistered and cosy, with dark-wood panelling and reclaimed parquet giving the interiors old-school ski chalet charm, while every nook seems to boast a taxidermy elk, owl, or bear. Cucina Angelina is similarly casual, with banquettes and armchairs upholstered in mismatching Mulberry fabrics with not a tablecloth in sight. Portetta’s rooms are petite but the beds are big and every room has mountain views. And it’s the only ski-in-ski-out hotel at Moriond, so you can literally glide off the slope and into the Fire And Ice terrace bar for an après tipple and pizza dripping with melted savoie cheese and locally sourced salami from Angela’s wood-fired oven. Which is exactly what I did after my tentative lessons with instructor Francis, who somehow, miraculously, managed to conquer my fear of skiing. With food this good and my newfound love of the slopes, I’ll be back next year.

Rooms at Portetta (portetta.com) start from £152 per night
 

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