Saturday, July 4, 2009

Excursion to Alsace

It was Canada Day, it is Independance Day. What better way to combine these 2 national holidays than by paying a visit to the country that provided both Quebequois & the Statue of Liberty? OK - I wasn't thinking of any of that when I planned the trip, I just took the day off & I wanted some good food.

Alsace, like the rest of France, is full of good food. Also, I can get there on my commuter ticket. I packed an overnight bag, slapped on some sunscreen & got in the train. It then promptly started to rain. Most of the day was spent running from one cafe to another, sampling local wines along the way. The wines were Rieslings & Edelzwicker, and we ate a cheese platter, a Tarte Flambée, and some Escargot. They actually had frog legs available, but I wasn't that adventurous.

The cheese platter had a regular hard cheese, a camembert, chevre, butter and a softened buttery-like cheese with herbs. Much better than the stale crackers on the table. I have to figure out what the softest cheese was - I think it was like a cheese ball, but in slices.

The escargot was good, but the tarte flambée was fantastic. We ordered the traditional tarte, which is topped with creme fraiche, onions & lardons - something akin to cubes or slices of ham. The tarte itself was very thin, crispy & in spite of the toppings, it was a light snack.

After having slept back into sobriety (it was really rainy), I went out for dinner & was dazzled. The French have this way with the fixed course menus. I opted for the 3 course dinner & a bottle of 1998 Bordeaux, plus an Auxerrois as an apperetif.

As a starter: a skewer of shrimp and prawn, on a bed of spaghetti a olio. The oil was lightly peppery and garlick-y, and the shrimp were good.

Main course: Duck breast, cooked a la point (they even asked how I wanted it done), in a cherry sauce, with a chili polenta. It was matched well with the 1998 Bordeaux.

For desert, there was a trio of mousse au chocolat, served in layers, as a little cake. From the bottom, there was dark, milk & finally white chocolate. On the side was whipped cream and a vanilla sauce with stawberry sauce swilled in.

After sleeping in this morning, we went to a local bakery for breakfast. French breakfasts aren't all that substantial, but they have fantastic baked goods. We ordered the "full" breakfast, which included cooked ham, cheese (including camembert), butter and jam. The 1/2 bagutte per person reminded me of why France is so good. I don't know if I've had a baguette like this outside of France, and while I am trying to reduce my empty carbs, I could not resist this freshly baked treat.
Another hour until the next train home meant I had a little more time to oggle patiseries. I really should have bought the Kugelkoepff - the local specialty that looks like a bundt cake, but I was really full. There were also macaroons that looked fantastic, but I was afraid of them getting crushed en route.

The town of Wissembourg isn't that far from here. I think I'll be going there more often to eat, but I'll check the weather reports first.


Cathy said...

That's it - I have to come and visit you!! Alsace has always been on my list to visit - love their reislings and Gewurtraminer wines! Happy Canada Day/4th! You should've tried the frogs legs, they are actually pretty tasty. And as for the cheese platter - great minds think alike....I was doing that yesterday overlooking the lake on our last "holiday day" and trying to sneak the camembert away when S wasn't looking!

Murasaki Shikibu said...

I miss France and its food. I wonder when I'll ever get to go there again. :(

taste traveller said...

Cathy, come on over! :-) I wasn't too up to the frogs legs: there's this pond by my office & we are often entertained by the sounds of the frogs, so, before I sat there, I think I would have been fine with it - now, I've been spending too much time listening to them & thinking of the Looney Tunes frog to be able to eat their legs.

Murasaki: I thought you didn't live too far from France? Also, Spanish food is fantastic! But it's nice to visit now & then...

Amanda said...

Wow, that sounds like an amazing getaway. You're so lucky to be able to just take a jaunt to France like that. :)

The look of that cheese plate, not to mention the croissants, have me drooling!

taste traveller said...

Amanda: I know! it's crazy how close everything is here. I mean, I got there on my commuter pass! The croissants were good, but I should have found a store to get some cheese & bread. Next time, I guess.

Paul said...

Okay, taste traveller please stop, its too much. Couldn't you find some less appetizing food in France, just to assuage those of us who can't possibly make it there anytime soon?

taste traveller said...

Paul: I'll take more shots of dog poo next time.

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