Alsace! You know, that picturesque, quaint corner of eastern France? That place with hillsides covered in Riesling and Gewurztraminer grapevines? In case you’re not so familiar with Alsace, it’s one of France’s smallest regions and lays on the border of southwestern Germany. It’s well known for its dry Riesling and other white wines, beautiful countryscapes, lively outdoor Christmas markets and German inspired architecture.
While there is a lot that’s awesome about Alsace, we’re here to talk about the food. Better yet, we spent a couple months searching for and talking to Alsatian home cooks, restaurant owners and expats living in France so we could dig up some amazing authentic recipes to introduce to you on Cookmap!
So what’s so special about Alsatian cuisine anyway? First off, Alsace is a close neighbor with southern Germany and at one point was actually annexed into the Germany empire, therefore although Alsace is part of France now, its food tends to follow that of German tradition (with its own Alsatian touches of course). You’ll find Alsatian sauerkraut, all sorts of pork, sausage and potato dishes, Alsatian pretzels called mauricettes and plenty of Alsatian sweets. Some of the most well known dishes are baeckeoffe (potatoes and meat baked with Alsatian wine), flammekueche (a creamy bacon and onion flat bread. See more below!), choucroute (sauerkraut loaded with sausages and pork), fleischnacka (meat stuffed and rolled up in egg pasta) and bredele (spiced holiday cookies that come in endless varieties). A local specialty in Sundgau in southern Alsace are carp fritters and everyone probably knows glühwein, or mulled wine, a German-inspired winter warmer drunk at Alsatian Christmas markets and cold days at home.
Anyways, enough talk – let’s get to the recipes! We have five special recipes (complete with step-by-step photos) from five special contributors. We’ve personally tested all them ourselves and made sure they’ve been translated to English and other languages so more of you can enjoy. You can see the recipes by clicking on the titles, photos or links in the article below :)
Again, this is one of Alsace’s most famous dishes, and you might think of Tarte Flambée (or Flammekueche as they say in Alsatian) as Alsace’s own special kind of pizza, though in the end, it turns out quite different than any Italian style pie: Rather than a soft, fluffy dough, tarte flambée has an ultra-thin crispy crust; and instead of a tomato sauce base topped with melted cheese, it has a creamy white sauce spiced with nutmeg. The original tarte flambée recipe is topped with only lardons (= a kind of bacon) and thinly sliced onions, but you can find variations that use munster cheese, mushrooms or even turn it into an oven-fired dessert!
If you’re in Alsace, you’ll be able to find tarte flambée at almost every restaurant and sold at stands in the regions’s outdoor Christmas markets. Luckily, it’s not to hard to make at home and we have a great recipe contributed to Cookmap by travel blogger Ashley Fleckenstein, the writer of Ashley Abroad. We have it available for you in four languages: English, French/Français, German/Deutsch or Japanese/日本語. Your homemade tarte flambée will go lovely with some hot vin chaud (mulled wine) in the next recipe below ;)
Vin Chaud, glühwein, hot wine, mulled wine – whatever you may call it, it’s a winter and Christmas market staple in Alsace. There are countless variations for vin chaud recipes. The type of wine and spices differ depending on region, family and chef. Alsace is heavily influenced by the neighboring region of Germany, so its mulled wines tend to be similar to German glühweins which are heavily spiced and sweetened with cloves, star anise, cinnamon, oranges, honey and sometimes a shot of liqueur.
We have a very special vin chaud recipe contributed by the owner of a very special, authentic Alsatian restaurant called Brasserie Gentil. Gentil is actually located in Tokyo, and its owner Hiroyuki Tomita, fell in love with Alsace while traveling around France. So much so, he decided to open his own Alsatian restaurant that’s so good people have actually come from Alsace to visit.
Needless to say, Gentil’s vin chaud is going to knock your socks off. Instead of using heat to brew the spice flavors into the wine, this recipe lets the wine steep for three full days, which takes some forethought, but will result in a magical infusion of spices, apple paste and French liqueur. Perhaps the best part is the steeped wine require very little heating so you don’t have to worry about the alcohol evaporating or any unwanted bitter flavors seeping in from the mix-ins.
Potatoes, onions and bacon are traditional local ingredients prevalent throughout Alsatian cooking and this recipe, called “Pommes de Terre aux Oignons et au Lard” in French, combines all three into a simple, yet delicious casserole. It was originally made in the farmhouses of Munster and eaten by the woodcutters and coal burners in the region who would place the pot directly in the cinders to slowly cook it to buttery, bacony perfection.
You can recreate this Alsatian farmhouse classic in your kitchen with this recipe (also available in Japanese/日本語!) contributed by The Good Life France, a comprehensive English-language source on all things French.
You may have heard of “coq au vin,” the famous French made by braising chicken in red wine. Each region in France actually has its own version of coq au vin made with local wine. In Alsace, about 90% of the wine produced is actually white (the only red grape grown is Pinot noir!), so wa-lah! – we have coq au Riesling!
In Alsace, coq au Riesling is served with buttery noodles and unlike red wine versions of coq au vin, it often incorporates cream for an extra rich sauce. Most traditional Alsatian recipes also include a splash of cognac which is used to flambé, that is, literally lighting on fire, and tenderize the chicken (if nothing else, it’s going to impress your dinner guests ;) Check out this wonderful classic coq au Riesling recipe on Cookmap here, in English, French/Français, German/Deutsch or Japanese/日本語!
This recipe was contributed by Tourist Office of Turckheim in Alsace.
Aepfel wecka translates to “apple bread” in Alsatian and comes from Sundgau in southern Alsace which has a long history of growing apples and other fruits. Super traditional and deceptively simple, this apple bread’s no-frills style is a reflection of rough country life at a time when there was no need to make anything especially impressive and you could use just the farm-raised ingredients available. If you want a taste of rustic, European country baking, this is it!
The recipe for aepfel wecka was submitted by a local Alsatian home cook and author of the French/Alsatian food blog Cuisiner Avec Ses 5 Sens. It’s been translated into English and Japanese/日本語 just for Cookmap and we have it in available in the original French/Français, too!
What are your favorite foods from Alsace? There are still so many more local Alsatian recipes to discover and add to the collection! What recipes are missing that you want to see? Or, do you have your own authentic Alsatian recipe to submit?