A TASTE OF CONSENSIO’S EXCLUSIVE COLLABORATION WITH DUCK & WAFFLE
Waking at 4am on a drizzly London morning headed for Gatwick Airport, some of the UK’s top travel and lifestyle editors set off for the slopes of Val d’Isere to explore Consensio’s exclusive chalet portfolio and meet the executive chef of Duck and Waffle –Tom Cenci, to learn more about their unique collaboration. With the Evening Standard, The Resident, Spear’s Wealth Management, Elite Traveller, Ok! and Good Things magazine in tow, Tom tantalised the group’s taste buds with his culinary delights on the slopes.
Consensio’s newest addition to its chalet collection is the cool Chalet Calistoga, located in the Le Cret area of Val d’Isere. After a scenic transfer traversing lakes and under frozen waterfalls, we arrived at the chalet and were welcomed by delectable canapés of mushroom tarts and berry muffins, and invited to explore the chalet’s many amenities. With five bedrooms and countless nooks for relaxation, most of us retreated to the spa and swimming pool area, where we rejuvenated ourselves before an in-chalet ski fitting with Sweet Ski, which left us ready for our next day on the slopes without needing a trip out to town.
The evening kicked off with a cocktail party at Consensio’s nearby new apartment Etoile Filante, one of two Val d’Isere apartments that form the launch of their luxury apartment collection this ski season. The apartment features four bedrooms and plush living and dining areas, and caters to those looking for more a flexible self-catered luxury accommodation option. Following just a few glasses of Perrier Jouët, we retreated back to Chalet Calistoga for a delightful 5-course tasting menu prepared by the chalet’s private chef – Jamie Tully. After an aperitif by the fire, we enjoyed an early night in preparation for the next day’s ski.
Consensio had personally selected the best instructors and guides the resort had to offer, who met us bright and early at the chalet in order to escort us to the ski lifts. Both Ken from Progression and Joe from TDC Ski were exceedingly friendly and charismatic. Accompanied by a beautiful day on the Val d’Isere slopes, Ken masterfully eased the beginners down their first greens and blues, while Joe found untouched off-piste powder for the experts to carve.
A hearty lunch at the Tete de Solaise restaurant ensured we were all prepared for the snowy afternoon that followed. After a hard day’s ski, the attentive chalet staff took care of everything for us, from driving us to the chalet door where we were greeted with tea and nibbles, to assisting us with our ski gear from the day. Meanwhile, talented masseuses from Ski Physio awaited our arrival to provide invigorating massages in the in-chalet treatment room to relieve our tired and tense ski legs.
It was finally time for the main event we’d all been waiting for. Our host and the executive chef of Duck & Waffle, Tom Cenci, had prepared us a special tasting menu throughout the day which he served to us. Canapés included bacon wrapped dates and crispy polenta with parmesan and truffle; courses included smoked eel, puy lentils and the world-renowned Duck & Waffle dish itself. Feeling completely spoiled and satiated, Tom joined us for a cocktail by the fire and explained the in-depth training he had undergone with the Consensio chefs in the preparation for the delicious breakfast dishes to be served guests during their Consensio ski holiday.
The following day brought with it a snow storm, which did not deter the more keen skiers of the group. However, following lunch at La Baraque in Val d’Isère village, many of us retreated to chalet Calistoga’s spa for a dip in the pool and use of the sauna. With free-flowing Perrier Jouët included with every Consensio chalet, it’s no surprise that many guests prefer this option no matter what the weather. Due to the snow, our evening started slightly earlier than usual, with a special surprise arranged by Consensio; we enjoyed a live music performance – including ukulele and saxophone – with cocktails and canapés around the fire in Calistoga’s beautiful open plan living area. Little did we know we would later see the very same performers playing at the infamous Dick’s Tea Bar!
Jamie Tully’s crockery-free wonder was a the ultimate finale to what had been a culinary extravaganza; in a theatrical presentation, Jamie covered the table with a sheet, on which he directly spread the ingredients of what was to be dessert, explaining each step of the assembly. Building up each component starting with a strawberry puree, followed by salted caramel, the fudge, caramelised nuts, fresh berries and white chocolate. They were all artfully strewn across the table which resembled a Jackson Pollock painting before the final touch was added. Each place was served an individual sphere of tempered chocolate with the most heavenly cheese cake filling. We ate directly from the table combining flavours and sauces as our hearts desired.
The ideal cure for our foggy heads, the next morning we greeted the crisp mountain air with a guided snowshoeing hike and walking adventure through the streams and forests of Le Fornet. With the gallons of fresh powder that had fallen to thigh height, the winter wonderland walk provided views unlike anything we had ever seen before. Access was limited to both skiers and walkers, but proved no problem for our specialist snow shoes. After the lovely expedition, we headed back to the chalet for the renowned Duck & Waffle brunch that Consensio offers its guests thanks to the brilliant Tom.
All too soon our trip was over and we retraced our steps past the lakes and waterfalls back to Geneva airport, after an emotional goodbye to the staff who had taken such gracious care of us from start to finish.