Après-Ski. The name immediately evokes a ski vacation in the French Alps. Cheeks rosy from the cold, a steaming mug of mulled wine in hand and a meal that warms you up, inside and out. Since there is very little chance that I will be skiing the French Alps this year, Le Chef and I have tried to recreate that same feeling at home in our backyard. What we discovered is that it has been a great way to see our close friends while staying safe and socially distanced. Even when it is just the two of us, we like to bundle up and have a date outside without leaving home. Here are some tips on how to host and Après-Ski in your own backyard.
Let your friends know in advance that you will be outside the entire time. You will all want to wear your warmest jackets, hats and gloves. A nice touch is to supply outdoor blankets to wrap up in if you have them.
Meet in the afternoon
Après-Ski literally means "after skiing". It is the rendezvous at the base of the mountain when the slopes shut down around 3 or 4pm. By giving your guests an afternoon start time you take advantage of the last of the sunlight and as much warmth as possible.
Après-Ski Drinks to Serve
Warmth is the key word here. You want a drink that you can warm your hands on. A classic Après-Ski drink is Vin Chaud, also known as Mulled Wine. This winter Le Chef taught me how to make his recipe for Vin Chaud au Grand Marnier that he learned while working in Courchevel, the ultimate Après-Ski destination!
Hot chocolate is a perfect non-alcoholic version and is great for the kids too. I make individual trays of marshmallows and toppings to keep everyone socially distanced. If you have an open fire, preparing sticks for roasting marshmallows is a fun activity for everyone.
How to host an Après-Ski: Menu
Traditional Après-Ski fare is rich, hearty and comforting. If you are meeting for a cocktail, I like to serve a simple cheese and charcuterie board accompanied by my homemade baguettes. I suggest preparing separate boards for each pair of guests to keep socially distanced. If the invitation is for dinner, Le Chef and I love to serve our French Onion Soup Recipe. Served piping hot out of the oven in individual bowls, French Onion Soup makes anyone forget the cold.
Swiss Cheese Fondue , like my Swiss Grandmother's recipe, is also so much fun but if you are eating it outside I suggest using a proper fondue pot over a flame so that the cheese doesn't chill too quickly. Traditional Raclette is also a delicious dish to serve, but surprisingly, I don't have a Raclette machine. This one is currently on my Amazon wish list.
How to host an Après-Ski : the Soundtrack
The term "Après-Ski" flourished in the 1960's in France so I find that a Yéyé soundtrack (pop/rock music from the 1960's in France) fits perfectly. Ask Siri or Alexa to play songs by Serge Gainsbourg, Francoise Hardy, Brigitte Bardot, France Gall or Jacques Dutronc for an authentic French vibe. Spotify has some good Yéyé playlists that I am trying out as well.
I hope I have inspired you to host your own Après-Ski this winter. If you are looking for a fun French movie that characterizes the whole Après-Ski experience - check out the movie "Les Bronzés font du ski". Guaranteed laughs!
Le Chef's Wife