Art is an avid traveller, as you know. He loves
to pretend he is a local interview people about the local food. It may be due to his charm, or the dead season he travels in, people are usually super helpful.
Alsace is not an exception.
Everywhere you go in Alsace, you see food. First, you see wine, sometimes (a little) beer. But mostly -food. You get eased in with the famous tarte flambé, transitioning to guglhupf and finishing with a hearty bacheoefe (famous Alsace meat stew). Along with a stew, you will always get sauerkraut. After all, you are in Alsace.
The secret of sauerkraut is tenderness. Like any relationship that you intending to keep, it takes a lot of intuition, dancing, toe tipping and…. care. First, you never boil the sauerkraut.
You simmer it.
Second, never call a French person a German. Even if they are from Alsace. Be respectful. You would not call a Jerseyite a New Yorker, for Pete’s sake.
Finally, you have to know places where to eat the said kraut. Do not confuse Strasburg with Alsace. It is like to say that Berlin is Germany. It is not.
The secret in looking for a good restaurant in Alsace is to know what you actually want to eat. Modern cuisine that interprets tradition by replacing the kraut with salad leaves and smoked port sausage with crayfish or good old Ma’ and Pa’ hole in the wall where you get a a meal that possibly Victor Hugo had in 1753 here.
In any case, you have to know what is more likely to be you : an honest, simple and loyal country towns like Colmar, or cosmopolitan, colorful and multi-lingual Strasbourg. While Colmar wears its peasant dress with pride, Strasbourg like to change its dress multiple times a day: Prussian, Italian, French, German.
- 400-500 gr. Sauerkraut from a market vendor of your trust
- 20 gr. duck fat (replace it with butter if are all about diet)
- 100 gram chopped or sliced onions (or one large)
- 100 gram large, highly sour apple (or one large) chopped
- 0.150 L Riesling (to cook, for drinking the amounts will vary)
- 60 grams raw bacon cut in chunks, but Schinken is better
- 2-3 allspice corns, crushed
- 1-2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
- 4-5 juniper corns
- 0.150 l water or stock
- koriander corns, (ca 10)
- salt and pepper to taste
- one full onion + some bay leaves and cloves
- Rinse your sauerkraut thoroughly.
- Roast apples and onions in hot lard until golden brown.
- Add bacon (Schinken) and the allspice, stir
- Take an onion and stab it with spices: garlic, koriander, bay leaves and cloves. Be thorough. Think of woo-do.
- Add your onion to your roast. Pour in the wine.
- Cover and gently simmer for about 20-25 min. Visit often. Stir again.
- Serve with hot smoked sausage or sliced ham. Do not forget the riesling. Enjoy.
And remember: it is important to follow your gut (and nose) when you are in Alsace. Throw your tourist guides out of the window. They are usually written for the folks who eat microwave croissants for lunch. You deserve more than that. You deserve to indulge the very essence of Alsace: simplicity refined by tradition. And without tradition there is no future. Here is to the future!