In Strasbourg, cooking is more than just an art of living, it is a vibrant and living culture backed up by centuries of tradition, yet constantly experimenting and innovating, driven on by the talent of the great chefs and the dynamism of the city's restaurant owners.
Traditional Alsatian specialities such as sauerkraut, baeckeoffe, flambé tart, spaetzle and foie gras can be best enjoyed in the "winstubs", local Alsatian taverns known for their friendly atmosphere. Strasbourg is renowned for its hundreds of restaurants and brasseries offering the latest culinary trends and dishes from all around the world.
Alsace is a region well known for its cooking, which has created countless specialities. Where the Alsatian chefs have been particularly ingenious is in their ability to use day-to-day ingredients (eggs, potatoes, cabbage etc.) when creating culinary masterpieces. This rustic-inspired cuisine quickly became popular with the urban classes, leading to the creation of delicious specialities such as foie gras, meat pie and pastries, while at the same time never losing sight of its rural origins.
The Alsatian brewers formed their guild back in 1268! Their passion for beer hasn't diminished one bit ever since. More than half of all beer consumed in France is produced in Alsace.
This farm produced white cheese is used to accompany sautéed potatoes. It can be flavoured with garlic, parsley, chives or onion.
Each year, the appearance of these little Christmas biscuits signals that Christmastime is just around the corner. As innovation is something of a tradition here, there are almost as many shapes and tastes of bredele as there are stars in the night sky!
This savoury heart-shaped biscuit has been the emblem of bakers since the 14th century. Its origins are as distant as they are mysterious.
This potato dish simmered in Alsatian white wine includes three meat varieties: pork, beef and lamb. It is cooked in a special dish which is sealed with dough.
Reared in ponds here since the 12th century onwards, carp can be enjoyed in many different ways. Jewish tradition has further added to the huge range of mouth-watering possibilities.
The grated cabbage is pickled in barrels and was once the only vegetable available in winter. As the ultimate symbol of Alsatian gastronomy, sauerkraut can be enjoyed at any time of year. It is accompanied with cold meat or (in a waistline-friendly version) by fish.
Civet (jugged hare or rabbit)
Hare and rabbit meat has never tasted better than in this marinated wine sauce. "Civet" is served with spätzle, home-made noodles or pflüte (potato quenelles).
Flammekueche ou flambé tart
Some country restaurants serve virtually nothing but this delicious dish. This thin pastry covered with cream, onions and bacon pieces is placed on the table on a wooden board. The tart is perfect for sharing among friends and is eaten using your fingers. There's no need to order a fresh batch, because they'll keep on bringing it to you until you say stop!
These "meat snails" are produced by placing the meat on a noodle dough base which is then rolled and sliced before cooking it in a broth. Yet another Alsatian culinary treasure.
"Pâté de foie gras" (goose liver pâté) was invented by the Strasbourg cook Jean-Pierre Clause around 1780. He had a little help from the Romans however, who introduced this superb fowl into Alsace, and by the Jews who had mastered the technique of fattening-up and preserving the liver (since their departure from Egypt).
A leading symbol of Alsace, this cake made from brioche dough has a unique shape making it ideal for sharing. It can be enjoyed sweet, with raisins and almonds, or savoury with bacon pieces and walnuts.
This sausage owes its name to the noise that it makes when you bite into it ("knacken" in German). A long-standing ingredient of sauerkraut dishes, "knacks" are always popular at village festivities.
Lewerknepfle (liver quenelles)
This delicious traditional dish dates from back in the days when many a grandmother was a past master at skilfully combining offal varieties to produce something absolutely mouth-watering.
Männele ("little man")
This brioche shaped like a little man is made in December around the feast of St Nicholas. In Alsace, all of the key dates on the calendar have their own special pastries.
A plate of various freshwater fish steaks, accompanied by a creamy Riesling and served with noodles.
The abbey of Munster was said to have invented this cheese around 1339. Its strong smell can be deceptive, as this is a delicate flavoured and tasty cheese. Munster can be enjoyed cold or melted on baked potatoes.
Navets salés (salted turnips)
These white turnips are sliced into thick strips and pickled just like sauerkraut. This winter dish is served with a knuckle of ham or sausages.
For centuries, the Alsatians believed that they were the inventors of noodles (being totally unaware of the Chinese and their cooking). One thing is certain however: delicious egg-rich Alsatian noodles are unique of their kind in the world.
Pâtisserie (pastries and confectionery)
The Alsatians simply love pastries. Contemporary creations based on the use of fruit mousses go well with classical specialities including fruit or cheese tarts, brioches, or frozen meringues, etc...
According to a well-known saying, "all parts of a pig are good". This pâté which is also nicknamed "headcheese" perfectly demonstrates this.
The plum, which is often made into dried prunes in the South of France, is used rather differently in Alsace. Here, it is enjoyed in tarts, made into jam or distilled.
The horseradish, (or "raifort", which literally means "strong root"), is a herb very similar to mustard. This powerful condiment is used to accompany meat dishes or stews.
The roïgabrageldi are part of the marcaire meal served in the farm-inns of the Vosges hills.
These potatoes simmered with onion and bacon pieces prove that cuisine can be delicious and imaginative even when using only the most basic of ingredients.
Salade de pommes de terre (potato salad)
Served warm or cold, this well seasoned salad is served with knacks, ham or smoked shoulder.
These thick and irregularly shaped noodles used to be made by hand. They form the perfect accompaniment for jugged hare or coq au vin.
Tarte à l'oignon (onion tart)
A highly typical small dish served in the local brasseries and winstubs. For hearty eaters this will often be a starter while for others it can be a delicious main dish.
Wine growers' pie is one of the traditional dishes served in the region's farm-inns. It is comprised of marinated meat cooked in flaky pastry and often flavoured with Riesling to add a delicious extra touch.
Brandy often washes down a hearty meal in Alsace. This is usually made with raspberry, mirabelle, prune, plum, kirsch, pear or gewurtztraminer marc. Schnaps has lent its name to the word "Schnapsidee": a wonderful expression which refers to some fabulous and outlandish idea designed to put the world to rights.
The star product at the Christmas market with its spellbinding fragrance of spices and cinnamon.
Alsace is a major wine producing region. Its "Appelations d'Origine Contrôlée" are named after their grape variety and there are 7 in all: Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Pinot blanc, Tokay Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Sylvaner. Appreciated the world over, these light and fruity great white wines can be enjoyed as an aperitif or form a marvellous accompaniment for sauerkraut or fish dishes.
This small knuckle of ham or pork shank is often served with sauerkraut. This is the traditional dish served in the winstubs.
These popular Alsatian inns, where visitors come to eat, drink and be merry are well-known for their friendly atmosphere. The cooking is traditional and the atmosphere something truly special.