Alsace: regional food and drink
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Germanic influences are easy to see in the local food and drink specialities of Alsace in eastern France which include kouglof, pain d’épices and white wine
FOOD FROM ALSACE
Meat and fish: Pork takes pride of place on menus in Alsace, from charcuterie to lardons to smoked pork loin. Chicken is also popular, and is often served with mushroom and cream sauce. You’ll also find freshwater fish on the menu, such as fried carp, pike and salmon.
Cheese: When it comes to cheeses, the region takes pride in its Munster cheese, made from cows that graze the lush pastures of the Vosges, renowned for producing milk of high quality. Munster is an unpasteurised, soft fermented cheese, which many enjoy with a touch of cumin.
Choucroute (sauerkraut) is shredded cabbage fermented in saltwater and is often cooked with Riesling white wine, potatoes and spices.
Tarte flambée is Alsace’s take on an oven-baked thincrust pizza topped with cream, onions and chopped bacon.
Kassler is a smoked pork loin or fillet.
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Presskopf à l’alsacienne is a cold cut which is usually served in slices as a starter. It is made with pork brawn (tête de fromage) and slow-cooked with carrots, leeks, onions, celery, garlic, parsley, and white wine.
Baeckeoffe is one of the best-known Alsatian specialities. The dish takes its name from the word meaning ‘baker’s oven’ in Alsatian dialect. Traditionally, women would prepare this dish on Saturday evening and leave it with the baker to cook in his oven on Sunday while they attended the church service. It is made with pork, lamb, beef and sliced potatoes, and slow-cooked in a white wine sauce, usually Pinot Blanc or Riesling.
Pain d’épices is a French ‘spice bread’, a cake or bread made from honey, rye flour and spices.
Kouglof is a delicious sweet brioche with raisins.
DRINK FROM ALSACE
Wine – written by Richard Hemming
Most Alsace wine is white, and it’s usually made from a single grape variety. These tend to be strongly aromatic, and often have residual sugar. The main varieties are Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Muscat and Gewurztraminer, each of which has their own distinct personality. Pinot Blanc is usually quite light and citric, Riesling tastes more like lime juice, Muscat has a musky grape juice character while Gewurztraminer is a flamboyant, extrovert grape variety that reeks of Turkish Delight and tropical fruit syrup. Because Alsace white is aromatic and often quite sweet, the wines are often paired with spicy food, especially Asian cuisine – but they also make a fine accompaniment to the local Munster cheese.
Beer: Beer is also popular in Alsace. Traditionally, beer was brewed in the monasteries but once independent breweries started up brewing became an official trade in Strasbourg in 1268. Several big names have breweries in Alsace, including Fischer, Heineken and Kronenbourg, but there are also a number of micro-breweries.
Spirits: Many eaux-de-vie are made in Alsace with fruits such as cherries, mirabelles and raspberries.
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