Wednesday 27 February 2013

Eating our way through Alsace

As Napoleon Bonaparte famously quotes, "an army marches on its stomach",  so goes true for the big K and I as we eat our way through Alsace. 

Our week-long tour of the Alsace Wine Route in France was a wonderful experience of sampling the region's local cuisine and at the same time a great challenge trying to fit into our pants after each delicious meal. 

Le Sarment D'Or in Riquewihr

I have always been intrigued by restaurants recommended by well-known guides like the Michelin and the Gault & Millau. One can say that both these guides are a gourmet's bible. So, what does it take for an establishment to earn a mention much more be given a recommendation?  

As luck would have it the restaurant of the hotel where we were going to stay at for the next few days had earned both guides' recommendations.   
Le Sarment D'Or is a family-run hotel and restaurant located right inside the walled town of Riquewihr.
The restaurant is so popular that one has to make dining reservations in advance (well, the top picture was taken before diners started coming in). Lucky for us we were able to snag the last table for dinner.

It was funny how the big K didn't know what to make of the popcorn and nuts that came with a small plastic spoon in a martini glass. I don't know about you but back home we use our hands to eat popcorn and nuts. At least, he figured out we were supposed to sip the the pumpkin soup that was served in a shot glass.

Now the big K and I love our sodas but this didn't exactly strike us as a soda place. So when it was time to order our drinks we wanted to have the perfect wine to go with our meal. But what to order? Enter Le Sarment D'Or's sommelier. We had to let him know that we were utterly unfamiliar with the wines of the Alsace region (or of any wines of any region, come to that) and that we were putting ourselves firmly in his hands. And so, like a kid in a candy shop the guy was in his element and launched  into a litany of wines that were produced in the region. You should see this guy in action, he was so enthusiastic and proud to showcase the wines of Alsace, in particular the ones that were produced by the next door's vineyard.

Happily settling for a sweet Muscat, we were ready to start our much awaited dinner.  

For appetizers the big K had the artery-clogging but melt-in-your-mouth Foie Gras while I had the miniscule but big in taste Ravioli with vegetables in cream. 
Then came our entrée, I had the Filet de barbue, risotto aux pousses d’épinard et tomates confites. Fish for short. And the big K had the Foie d’oie poêlé et figue rôtie. Translation: more Foie Gras but fried this time.  Both were delicately flavored and cooked just right.
Now comes the best part of dinner, dessert! Perfect Crème brûlée for the big K and rum cake for me. I liked it that I can add rum according to my taste (that's what the plastic dropper in the background is for).

What a wonderful dinner! The food was so good it reactivated the big K's jet lag.  True story!  At any rate, that wasn't a problem since the dinner wasn't the type to simply drop off to sleep after. Like a good movie, you simply have to discuss what had just transpired, to relive it all...

Talk about a hearty dish, this was definitely one. Baeckoffe is a typical Alsatian dish. It is made from pork, beef, mutton, potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic topped with some herbs and spices. The mixture is marinated in white wine and juniper berries overnight then slowly baked in sealed ceramic casseroles.

La Choucroute Tradition
Choucroute or Sauerkraut is paired with smoked pork, potatoes and sausages to make up this filling and tasty dish. 
Perfectly washed down with Alsatian beers, Kronenbourg lager from Strasbourg and Fischer Tradition Blonde.  

Quiches, Pies, Cheese and more!

The big K and I also had our fill of the different quiches and pies Alsace had to offer.
Quiche with ham and eggs at Ribeauville. 
Quiche with potatoes from Eguisheim.
Quiche with herbs and onions and hot pie vigneron at Colmar.
Flaky Tuna pie and potatoes au gratin from Sélestat. 
Tarte aux myrtilles or blueberry pie at Bergheim.
Tourte de la vallée de Munster at Strasbourg.
 Pain d'épices artisanal (gingerbread).
Coffee cake from Eguisheim
The macarons were so good!
Nougat cakes from Ribeauville.
Freshly made bread from a Sélestat bakeshop.
Big cheese....
Small cheese...
Smelly cheese....
All kinds of sausages.
Oh how the mighty have fallen! From a Michelin recommended restaurant to Le Fastfood. It wasn't all that bad actually.

Some helpful links about Alsace:

Alsace Tourism

The Alsace Wine Route

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