Alsatian chefs and home cooks have been particularly clever in their ability to use everyday ingredients like cabbage and elevate them to a masterpiece. Choucroute garnie is usually composed of grated cabbage pickled in wine, accompanied by sausages and slow-cooked pork. It’s also delicious served cold with ham and local charcuterie.
This hearty casserole owes it name to the Alsatian dialect term for a baker’s oven. In the old days women would put all the ingredients together in a large oval earthenware dish that they would hand over to the baker who would seal the lid with a strip of dough and place in his oven usually to be picked up the following day. In the modern version, potatoes are slowly simmered in local white wine traditionally combined with three meat varieties: pork, beef and lamb.
Coq au Riesling
Although the red wine version of coq au vin hailing from Burgundy is far better known abroad, in regions such as Alsace, the dish was traditionally prepared with the more readily accessible local white wine, which gives a lighter and slightly tangy touch to the resulting sauce.
Tarte à l’oignon
A tasty treat served as a starter or as a main dish, this typical pie packed with layers of shredded soft caramelized onions, is a staple in every winstub (as local inns are called, literally a wine room).
This pie is one of those traditional meals that had its origins in the countryside, to provide sustenance to farmers while out in the fields. Over time it developed into a must-have delight. The meat is marinated, usually in Riesling, then cooked inside a light and flaky pastry pocket, to be eaten with your fingers or presented as a started with a side salad.
Flammekueche or tarte flambée
A close relative to the pizza, some restaurants specialize in this affordable and convenient dish. A thin pastry slathered with creme fraiche, onions and bacon bits, it can be enjoyed as a snack on the go or as part of a full sit-down meal with different toppings.
Other culinary delights you may come across on the local menu:
Fleischschneke, or ‘meat snails’: Don’t worry, no snails are involved. It’s made with meat on a noodle base, rolled and sliced (hence the ‘snail’ image) and cooked in broth.
Civet: preserved hare or rabbit marinated in wine sauce and served with homemade spätzle noodles or pflüte potato quenelles, a side dish similar to oversized dumplings.
Matelote: From the bounty offered by the river and canals, a plate of various freshwater fish filets accompanied by a creamy Riesling sauce and served with noodles.
Wädele: A small ham or pork shank, often served with sauerkraut