Enjoying Alsatian Cuisine

The savory dishes usually found in Alsatian cuisine are perfectly suited for the lean, fragrant wines produced here.  Generations of Alsatians have successfully taken the best of Germany's hearty fare and fused it with the elegance of French cuisine.  Local foods include mushrooms in the Autumn, fresh asparagus in the Spring, fish (pike and perch) from the rivers and lakes in the Vosges, cereals and vegetables from the banks and flood plains of the Rhine, wild berries, boar, and game from the Vosges Mountains.

The most prominent cheese is Munster, a small creamy cheese that is made using un-pasteurized milk from the Vosgienne cow, often served with a sprinkling of cumin (Gewürztraminer is the most common mate to this fromage). In addition to wines, Alsace has a long tradition of distilling.  Although Kirsch is the most common eau-de-vie, locals will make it out of elderberries, strawberries or whatever fruit is locally available.  An alternative is the marc de Gewürztraminer, which is distilled to 45 proof.  Alsace is also known for its beer production (Kronenberg) and gingerbread (Guebwiller). 

The epitome of Alsatian cuisine, it successfully fuses traditional German fare like cabbage and pork with French flair.  The base is white cabbage that is harvested in autumn, then is sliced, salted and layered in large wooden barrels to ferment.  Later it is washed and cooked with spices and wine.  Traditionally, choucroute focuses on pork, spicy sausages, smoked and fresh meats with any where from four to eight varieties accompanying it.  It is far more delicate and less tart than its German counterpart.  Closely related are the Choucroute à l'Alsacienne, which includes potatoes, and five or six different sorts of meats like sausages, bacons, or smoke port.  Pinot Blanc makes for a good combination.

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Alsace is one of two French capitals of the one of the most famous regional dishes.  A meltingly soft goose (or sometimes duck) liver pâté, prepared in any number of manners, including the traditional way with truffles and wrapped in a rich pastry crust.  The perfect mate for this delicacy is a Tokay-Pinot Gris (but a Gewürztraminer or Riesling would be equally appropriate).

The region's traditional beef stew.  Full-flavored and rich, it is a combination of marinated beef and lamb, cooked slowly with potatoes, vegetables, and spices and then sealed under a pastry lid.  Again, a Tokay Pinot-Gris is the perfect match for it.

Refers to any number of arrays of sausages, diced and cured meats, hams, pâtés, and terrines.

Locally know as flamme kueche, this is not a dessert, but rather is a savory snack of thinly-rolled bread dough that is covered with bacon, onion, and lashings of cream and then baked in a hot oven (think "pizza meets onion tart").

The traditional turban-shaped sweet roll, stuffed with dried fruits and nuts. 

A sweet cake made with almonds (these are grown in a unique microclimate that is created by the surrounding hills and mountains around Mittlewihr).

Pairing Alsatian Wines With Foods

Aperitifs

Apéritifs and Cocktail parties:

Crémant d'Alsace, Muscat d'Alsace, Gewürztraminer

To end a fine meal with a flourish:

Vendanges Tardives, Sélections de Grains Nobles

Outside the meal (convivial moments, parties...):


Crémant d'Alsace, Muscat d'Alsace, Gewürztraminer, Vendanges Tardives et Sélections de Grains Nobles


Warm Starters

Classic salads, charcuterie, eggs:

Sylvaner; Pinot blanc

Shellfish, seafood:

Sylvaner, Riesling, Pinot blanc

Fish terrines, raw fish (Sushi):

Sylvaner, Riesling, Pinot blanc

Spicy salads (Mexican, Moroccan, Indian):

Gewürztraminer

Foie gras:

Tokay Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer, especially Vendanges Tardives


Cold Starters

Quiches, meat pies, soufflés:

Sylvaner; Pinot blanc

Snails:

Sylvaner

Asparagus:

Muscat d'Alsace, Pinot blanc


Fish

Grilled:

Riesling

Cooked in butter or in cream:

Riesling, Tokay Pinot Gris

Cooked with stronger flavored or more spicy flavors:

Tokay Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer


Poultry

Roast poultry:

Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Noir

Poultry in sauce:

Riesling, Tokay-Pinot Gris

Cooked with stronger flavored or more spicy flavors:

Tokay Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer


Meat and Game

Red meats:

Pinot Noir

Game:

Tokay Pinot Gris or Pinot noir depending on recipe

Roast pork or veal:

Tokay Pinot Gris, Pinot blanc


Cheese

Fresh, young, mild cheeses and goat's cheese:

Pinot Blanc, Riesling

Strong-flavored cheeses (Munster or Pont l'EvÍque):

Gewürztraminer

Roquefort, and other blue cheeses:

Pinot noir


Desserts

Pastries, tarts, creams, mousses:

Gewürztraminer, également en Vendanges Tardives


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