Alsace is a culturally rich land. In terms of culinary specialities, the region’s history has put it halfway between French tradition and German gastronomy, a seemingly out-of-sync blend that makes Alsace more attractive to gourmets, especially late in the year when hot dishes like sauerkraut and sausage from Strasbourg are especially appreciated. But are you familiar with some of the region’s lesser-known specialities?
FineDiningLovers has selected four items for you to taste on your next visit to Alsace and tells you, of course, where to find them!
Alsace Food: BAECKEOFFE
Baeckoeffe is a sort of Alsatian casserole. This hearty dish is a mix of beef, lamb and pork, simmered for many hours in Alsatian white wine, all served with potatoes, leeks, carrots, onions and spices.
Traditionally this speciality is prepared the night before it is eaten and baked in the “baeckeoffe,” i.e. the “baker’s oven.” For a taste of this typically Alsatian dish, head for Baeckeoffe d'Alsace.
As its name indicates, this restaurant has made the dish its speciality; the recipe varies with the seasons. In the spring, asparagus is added; in summer, chicken is included; in autumn, there is wild boar; and in winter, turkey and chestnuts make an appearance.
Le Baeckeoffe d'Alsace
14 rue des moulins, StrasbourgWebsite
Alsace Food: PRETZELS
No, the pretzel (“bretzel”) is not one of those little, dry snacks sold in boxes of 100 at the supermarket! The true pretzel dates from the 17th century. In fact it’s a sort of savoury brioche, tender inside and slightly crisp on the surface, with the crust garnished with rock salt. A real symbol of Alsatian baking.
Taste a bretzel made by the expert hands of a baker, in Eguisheim, at the Marx boulangerie-pâtisserie. Franck Roesch, who took over the shop from his father 12 years ago, makes these savoury little brioches in strict adherence to tradition. However, if you’d like to try a pretzel/bretzel on your next trip to Alsace, you’ll have to get up early! The Marx bakery is often jammed first thing.
Flammekueche is to Alsace what pizza is to Italy. This tarte flambée, garnished with a blend of cream, cream cheese, lardons and onions, is not unknown to the general public and is available everywhere in France in most supermarkets.
However, to enjoy a flammekueche baked in a bread oven and prepared using quality products, you’re better off sticking to the specialists. That includes Landhof, a small restaurant in Olwhisheim, a few kilometres from Strasbourg. This former post-house consists of four dining rooms with very different looks: the Stub, wood-panelled from floor to ceiling, the Étable with its rustic plaster, the Classique in Alsatian style, and the Auberge with its walls and ceiling covered in old farming implements. What matters here is that you will find a delicious flammekueche on your plate, to be washed down with a fine Alsatian beer or a Gewürztraminer.
27 rue principale, Olwhisheim
Alsace Food: BERAWECKA
Christmas is approaching, and we are already dreaming of an incredibly tender turkey or a creamy bûche. And to round out this traditional list, why not make a berawecka? This soft little bun, delicately spiced and consisting of fruit confit, dried fruit and toasted nuts, is one of Alsace’s specialities for year-end celebrations. It is enjoyed after dessert or goes great with some well-seasoned foie gras.
To find one of the best beraweckaaround, head for one of the Thierry Mulhaupt shops. This chocolatier-pâtissier won’t disappoint: he was named the best young pâtissier in France when he was 18 years old (1981) and best international young pâtissier the following year. After many such distinctions, in 2011 he was named best pâtissier of the year by the Guide Pudlowski.
Thierry Mulhaupt Patisserie
18 rue du Vieux Marché aux Poissons, Strasbourg
6 Place de l'École, Colmar
5 rue du Temple Neuf, StrasbourgWebsite