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Gewurtztraminer are somewhat sweet white wines which are excellent to be served with spiced or sweet-sour dishes.
The German word "Gewürtz" means spices and these wines combine spicy and floral flavours.
The Alsatian Gewurtztraminer "Grand Cru" wines are absolutely delicious. The description by the French of such wine is by itself a poem which I am unable to translate:
"D’un jaune or soutenu, le Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Pfersigberg délivre des arômes épicés, très poivrés. Le caractère floral, rose et fleurs d’acacia prédomine. En bouche, on retrouve nettement l’épice, avec un fruité subtil aux parfums de pêche."
You can buy such quality wines for about 10 -12 € in Alsace.
I drink them at home with Japanese Sushi or Sashimi raw fish. The Gewurtztraminer combines very well with the Wasabi sauce (maybe that Japanese will not agree with this but as they have no Gewurtztraminer wine …)
Alsatian Gewurtztraminer is also fine for deserts but here the choice will be a "Vendanges Tardives" late harvest which is sweeter.
My photo shows 3 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru from Wolfberger in Eguisheim. As Eguisheim was the birthplace of Pope Saint Leo IX the bottles show the papal coat of arms.
Updated Dec 26, 2009
Beerawecka (also berawecka) is fruit cake Alsatian speciality that makes me drive 500 Km to get some!
Traditionally prepared starting from the autumnal period, this cake is composed of dates, figs, prunes, dried pears, apricots, dry grapes, nut and almonds, and was always regarded as a very invaluable delicacy.
The mixture of these fruits is lengthily macerated in cherry (Kirsch) and pear brandy then bonded with a fine layer of paste sweetened with cinnamon, and worked out of bread of 200gr approximately rolls, which are then decorated and cooked.
What is nice with Beerawecka is that you can keep it several months to pass the hard winter months. The calories level of this delicacy is on the very high level!
The quality and taste of this unique fruit cake increases with the fruit content. Price also increases. A standard beerawecka costs 9 € for 500 gr., upper quality like the one on my photo costs 9€ for 250 gr.
Updated Dec 23, 2009
Among French sparkling wines the "Crémant d'Alsace" is a best buy.
Nearly as good as Champagne at one third of its price.
A good Crémant d'Alsace will cost 7 - 9 € in the shops while standard Champagne will cost about 25 €.
The Crémant d'Alsace is made using the traditional method (bottle fermentation) as for Champagne.
The "cépage" (grape type) is mostly Pinot Blanc but other grapes from Alsace such as Riesling and Pinot Gris may be used in combination.
You can of course drink this sparkling wine as "apéritif" but you can also drink it with all sort dishes, certainly "choucroute garnie". Should be served "frappé" at 5 - 7° C.
In an Alsatian restaurant a bottle crémant turns around 20 -25 €. For a glass as aperitif 4 -5 €.
My preference goes to the "Brut" (only Pinot Blanc) or "Prestige" (Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Riesling) or Brut Pinot Gris from Wolfberger located in the nice village of Eguisheim.
You can buy them at their cellar and shop in Eguisheim, 6 Grand Rue.
Prices 7 - 9 €/ 75 cl.
As they export to Belgium I find their crémants at home in the large shops but it is a greater pleasure to buy them at their cellar in Eguisheim where you will get a good advice for your choice.
To my American friends who have a preference for Chardonnay type wines I would suggest the Wolfberger CHARDONNAY crémant, millésime 2006, which got a silver medal for sparkling wines.
Updated Dec 23, 2009
Alsatian "Flammekueche" or "Tarte Flambée" is similar to a pizza as it is baked in an open wood-burning oven.
It is a thin-crust pizza made with "fromage blanc" (fresh white cheese), sliced onions and smoked lardoons.
As with pizza there are a number of variations. The cheese can also be gruyere, there can be mushrooms added.
My favoured one contains Munster cheese which gives a quite powerful taste to the Flammekueche. The problem is that restaurants serving this type of tarte flambée smell so strongly that they might cause environmental problems!
Tourist from overseas shouldn't leave the Alsace without trying Munster cheese. This is unique.
There are also sweet Flammekueche with apples and Calvados alcohol.
My wife and I usually eat Flammekueche at noon time; first a salted one and then a sweet one as desert.
For the wine we like a Pinot Gris. This type is excellent for Flammekueche and Munster cheese.
Please note that the name Tokay, (a Hungarian wine name) is not more allowed as name for Alsatian wines since 2007.
Updated Dec 21, 2009
In the wine village of Eguisheim I read this on a monument to the Alsatian wine:
Mon Dieu donnez moi la vie pour longtemps
de l'Amour de temps en temps
du Boulot pas trop souvent
mais du Vin d'Alsace tout le temps.
My God give me life for a long time
Love from time to time
Work not too often
But Alsatian Wine all the time
Written Nov 26, 2009
From April 1st, 2007, the Alsatian wine growers do not use any more the term "Tokay" on the labels stuck on their bottles.
This results from a long legal battle between France and Hungary.
Following an agreement between the two countries the French will no more use the term Tokay, reserved for Hungarian wines and the Hungarians will banish the names “Medoc” and “Cognac” on their territory.
Presently that type of white wine is labelled Pinot Gris in Alsace. Of course you might still find bottles from 2006 and before labelled Tokay.
Updated Nov 24, 2009
In Alsatian restaurants you will find on the menu that strange name Baeckeoffe which means baker's oven in the Alsatian dialect.
You might wonder what it is and try it like we did during a visit of the nice town of Kaysersberg.
Baeckeoffe is a mix of sliced potatoes and onions, cubed lamb, beef and pork which have been marinated overnight in Alsatian white wine and juniper berries and slow cooked in a sealed ceramic casserole dish.
In old times women would prepare this dish on Saturday evening and leave it with the baker to cook in his gradually cooling oven on Sunday while they attended church.
I doubt this is still done nowadays.
We tried it but were not really enthusiast. We are not so fond of boiled meat.
Written Nov 21, 2009
Even if you can eat choucroute all over France and Belgium, entering a restaurant in Alsace after visiting a Christmas market on a cold winter day increases the pleasure.
You will see that Alsatian restaurants serve various choucroutes garnies. The basis is the choucroute and pommes purée but the variations are found in the type and quantity of meat served called garnitures-garnish.
Basic is the "choucroute garnie", then you will find on the menu "choucroutes with 4 garnitures" = 4 types of meat or "choucroutes 6 garnitures" = 6 types of meat to end with the biggest the "choucroute royale". This last one is for big appetites.
There are also choucroutes au poisson - with fish.
To drink: an Alsatian white wine for example a Riesling.
Written Nov 21, 2009
It is a cake with seedless raisins and almonds.
Kougelhopf was made in the past as a cake for feasts: Christmas, Easter, grape harvest, engagement, marriage, birth, etc. Nowadays, it is of everyday consumption. It is appreciated with the breakfast.
It's not my preferred cake from Alsace because I find it a bit dry but I like the name Kougelhopf in Alsatian dialect (a Germanic dialect).
The word Kougelhopf could come from Gugelhut which was the hat of the members of the Parliament of Strasbourg, or from Kugel which means “ball”, the ending "hopf" being an allusion to the swelling of the paste. It is in any case certain that Kougelhopf cakes existed already at the 18th century, date of the oldest moulds which were found.
Written Nov 21, 2009
The origin of "Winachtsbredele" (Christmas cookies) goes back as far as the 15-16th c.
There are multitudes of Alsatian Christmas cookies. Bretele vary by their flavours as for their decorative various cut-out shapes such as hearts, Christmas trees, clovers, diamonds, moons or stars. Some say that they were intended to decorate the Christmas trees.
I remember a shop at the Koïfhus (former customs house) of Colmar where they were selling about thirty varieties!
Written Nov 20, 2009
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