Alsace in North East France has more Michelin starred restaurants than any other region in France except Paris – and no wonder, the regional dishes of Alsace are a gastronomic delight.
Dining in Alsace offers a culinary tour of delights but you don’t have to look for the most expensive fine dining restaurant to enjoy the marvellous food. There are plenty of restaurants to suit all budgets and if you want to be guaranteed an authentic cuisine experience look for one of the many winstubs in the area. A winstub is a sort of bistro and you’ll find them only in this area, serving up traditional and classic regional specialities and not to be missed.
Alsatian cooking has a heavy German influence and wine and beer made here is similar to the style of bordering Germany. In fact quite a lot of French tourists go to Alsace to experience something “foreign” without ever leaving France and German tourists go for a taste of French cuisine – the region offers a joint cultural taste experience, sauerkraut married to foie gras.
Pork is big in this part of France (as indeed it is in most of the north of France) and there are plenty of pork specialities – saucisse of many different types, foie gras, ham, pate and terrines to name but a few.
Foie gras de Strasbourg is well known in France and there are plenty of websites devoted to its wonderfulness – try one of the local charcuteries to purchase a jar (or two).
One typical speciality of Alsace is Hochepot Flamand – which is a Flemish stew, based on a “hotch-potch” of mixed meats (pig’s ears and tails, breast of beef, oxtail, shoulder of mutton, salt bacon) though you usually find it just one meat such as oxtail these days. Cooked with local seasonal vegetables – and served with a good beer – it’s a popular dish for the locals. The word hochepot comes from the old French “hottison” – to shake.
Other well-known regional dishes include Baeckeoffa, a meat stew with a wine stock (usually Pinot or Riesling from the area), and Alsation Sauerkraut, which is a sausage, herb and sauerkraut dish with a wine stock made from local Pinto or Sylvaner.
A favourite dish available in restaurants of every kind throughout the North and an Alsation speciality is the Tarte Flambée or Flammekueche – a bacon, cream and onion pizza with a thin dough made with crème Fraiche.
For visitors to the area who are wine lovers and enthusiasts there’s an interesting tour you can take called the Alsace Route du Vin.
Cheese of Alsace includes the famous Munster – the recipe calls for the cheese to be made from unpasteurised milk and has a creamy taste. Supermarkets may stock it but the best variety – le vrai Munster or true Munster you’ll need to buy from a delicatessen or specialist cheese shop.
Alsatian cuisine might not be all finesse – its food that is honest, comfortable, enjoyable and delicious.