An Alsatian Lunch

Naturmorte

naturmorte

Past weekend we were in the Alsace and Vosges regions of France. Strasbourg is so close to Stuttgart, we were there in one and a half hours. We engaged in our favorite pastime activity and walked around the towns (Strasbourg and Wissembourg), went to the market, to “Galeries Lafayette Gourmet” (calling it a supermarket would be an insult, it was like a very large Deli), drank coffee, watched people, read some, drank wine, and oh, ate.

For lunch at saturday, I had well laid plans. Clotilde was at an inn near Strasbourg two years ago and I was keen on trying this wonderful lunch menu at the Bürestubel she raved about (not to confuse with the 3-Michelin-starred Buerehiesel). So I very delicately allured T. into leaving Strasbourg and going to this lovely inn a 10-minute ride away. In this beautiful country-inn we both had the 3-course menu for 26 Euros.

Ok, so this is thin ice I am stepping on to: Disclaimer – I don’t speak french, my cooking tends towards italian cooking (I know, I know, there is no such thing as italian cooking, I am just simplifying for the sake of brevity) and anything and everything I am claiming throughout the rest of this post is not necessarily correct. My spoken and listening-comprehension french is non-existent (not that I can really read french either, but when it is written down I can combine all my roman languages and figure out what is meant and this works especially well when it is about food). The Francophone among you may feel free to correct me in the comments!

terrineAs an amouse-bouche (“bouche” is the more elegant word for “gueule” and therefore amouse-bouche a newish, finer term for amouse-gueule meaning the same, a palate-pleaser) we got a bite of some kind of meat-terrine in aspic with lentils on top. Unfortunately, as this was not on the menu (see above), I cannot specify what meat this exactly was and what the dish might be called. I am tipping cow. This was a good start and a warning that we were in for some meat.

Salad with foie gras and smoked duckNext came our first courses. T. had chosen the “salade composée au magret de canard fumé maison, foie gras d’oie à la fleur du sel, pains aux figues”, which is salad with home-smoked duck breast, goose foie gras (fat-liver) with fleur du sel and fig-bread.Smoked duck breast is something I want to do myself and I hope I will ever reach something near what was on this salad. Very delicate, the smoke not over-powering but definitely there, bringing depth and warmth. The foie gras, combined with the sweet brioche and the fleur du sel (There is a lot of discussion about salt but I think there are only two types of people: believers and non-believers. Pate en croûteI am a believer. David has an excellent entry about this salt in his blog) was very good. It melted in your mouth and was not too dense or heavy. Just creamy and heavenly. I had chosen the “pâté en croûte maison, crudités de saison”, which was a terrine in a pastry crust with various fresh and pickled vegetables like celeriac, carrots, red cabbage, zucchini and the like. Although this was good too, it wasn’t anything close to the salad T. had.

poussin rotiOne of our mains was “Poussin rôti à l’échalotte paille, petits légumes frais de saison, pommes de terre sautées, salada verte”, a very young roasted chicken (usually under 4 weeks old) with shallots and fresh vegetables, with sauteed potatoes and a green salad on the side. This was the best poultry we ever ate in a restaurant. Tender, juicy, with a lot of taste in the meat as well as the roasted shallots and vegetables. A perfect example that if you take the best ingredients and do as little as possible to them and handle them just right, it is very simple to create a perfect dish. The other main we had was the famous Alsatian dish “choucroute Bürestubel” which literally means sauerkraut the Bürestubel way. Choucroute BürestubelI dare you to find the sauerkraut in the picture! There were liver meatballs, salt-cured pork ribs and ham knuckle, fresh and smoked bacon, two kinds of sausages and some more smoked meats…. And underneath there was the best sauerkraut I ever ate, soft, lightly sweet and not sour at all! Both mains not only tasted great, they would have fed 2 – 3 people alone, without the support from a 3 course menu.

Petit RomeoTarte aux pommesWith dessert it was again T. who had chosen the better option: He had a “petit Romeo“, which consisted of coffee and vanilla ice cream, fruits poached in wine, some kind of white cake with a lot of cream and almond splitters. This was a really good end to this meaty menu, fruity and creamy and fresh. I had chosen the “tarte aux pommes“, an apple tart which was underwhelming, the crust too hard and thick, the filling not very interesting.

This meal was definitely something to remember and we have every intention to visit Bürestubel again. Next time we would order a bottle of wine instead of the unmemorable house wines by the glass we had this time and only one appetizer and one main and share it! I am thinking about maybe the “quenelles de pommes de terre”….

2 Responses

  1. Dear Hande,

    I usually read your entries during my lunch break time and I have realized that all this conversation about food blurs my mind and make me have hallucinations. I am afraid, one day I will go to the restaurant next to my office and ask for a “Poussin rôti à l’échalotte paille” and a “Petit Romeo”. Of course the answer I will get would be much more different than what you got. (Gorurum bakalim petit romeo mu yoksa petit ahmet’i mi yerim o zaman.)

    As you wrote previously, I am going to be in Italy (Rimini) next week and will report you my observation on seefood.

  2. Emre,
    please be careful, I can’t imagine what a mess it would be if you “ate petit ahmet”… But do eat a karniyarik for me! I will be waiting for your Rimini tales. If you have time go to Pasticceria Rinaldini Via Rinaldini (o via coletti) 131 in Rimini, it is “la miglior pasticceria italiana”.

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