In southwestern Germany, the food traditions are very closely related to Alsace in northeastern France. The states of Baden, the Palatinate and Saarland border Alsace, separated only by the Rhine river. Alsace cuisine is close to German food because the land has belonged to what is now Germany, Switzerland, and France at various times, depending on the conquering rulers, and boasts a Germanic dialect, Alsatian. The typical dishes of this area are heavier, "deftiger," than other French regions and are focused on farm or peasant fare.
01 of 07
Flammkuchen paired with dry Riesling is a typical meal for this area on both sides of the Rhine. A Flammkuchen is an Alsatian and German-style pizza. Thinly - rolled bread dough is sprinkled with raw onions and raw bacon (Speck, a cured and smoked bacon) and then covered with a cream made out of sour cream or Schmand (closely related to crème fraiche) and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. It is baked in a hot oven, like a pizza for a short time. Traditionally used to test the heat in a wood-burning oven after firing, the crust is almost burnt after a couple of minutes if the temperature is right.
02 of 07
Beef, lamb or pork, including pig's feet at times, is marinated in dry, white wine with vegetables for a half a day and then baked (braised) in an oven together with leeks and potatoes. The pig's feet release gelatin when heated, which provide an unctuous thickness to the broth; however the casserole can be delicious without them, too.
The name of the dish comes from the bakers' oven that was found in every town. The women would bring their casserole dishes to the bakery and use the leftover heat of the ovens to cook them. This was very common on Monday's which was laundry day. They marinated Sunday night, took it down before going to the river, then picked the casserole and a loaf of bread up on the way back home. See recipe here and easy recipe (no marinating) here.
Baeckeoffe has its own casserole dish, an oval, clay terrine. Soufflenheim, a French city just a few kilometers from the border of Germany, is famous for their clay casseroles. They have been producing pottery there since the bronze age (from 2500 to 1300 BCE) when a thick layer of clay just below the sandy terrain was discovered which were used as the raw materials. The traditional dishes are thrown on a wheel, then decorated after drying. They are rust brown in color with a white daisy (Margariten) pattern. In addition to the oval casserole form, they are famous for Gugelhupf pans.
03 of 07
Choucroute garni or Choucroute Alsacienne - The way sauerkraut is served in Alsace. Choucroute is sauerkraut, although many people say it is less sour and more delicate than German sauerkraut. After fermentation, it is rinsed and always cooked in white wine.
This fall and winter family dish, Choucroute garni, combines the sauerkraut with onions, wine, spices and various cuts of pork, including ham hocks, salted bacon, smoked bacon and various kinds of sausage. The dish is covered and baked for about two hours, then served with boiled potatoes, several kinds of mustards and prepared horseradish.
04 of 07
Schupfnudeln - aka "Bubespitzle" or "Wargenudle" are rolled noodles, similar to gnocchi (little, potato noodle dumplings). Schupfnudeln are found all over southern Germany and Austria and can be made with rye and wheat flours bound with egg, as well as from potato, which was introduced to the area in the 17th century. Rolled by hand, they are thicker in the middle and pointed at the ends. The dough is rolled into a log and small slices are then formed into shape between the palms of the hands. The noodles are then boiled, deep - fried or pan fried, depending on the recipe. If they are boiled first, they are often sautéed to a golden brown in a pan afterward, with sage - butter and cubed bacon (Speck), and served with sauerkraut. They can also be served sweet with poppy seed, melted butter and sugar.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Gugelhupf - The word, "Gugelhupf," refers to the baking pan as well as the type of cake. It is known as "Napfkuchen" or "Topfkuchen" in other areas of Germany but the word "Gugelhupf" is considered to come from Alsace. The baking form is a high - walled pan with a chimney in the middle which looks like some steamed pudding pans but without the lid. The dough is usually a sweet yeast dough, similar to a Sally Lunn or batter bread, with raisins and lemon zest. Gugelhupf recipe
Mandeltarte - Almond cake - the almonds are grown in a microclimate in Alsace created by the hills and mountains around Mittelwihr, a city near Colmar on the Wine Road. In fact, it is the only place in Alsace where almond trees are found. Mandeltarte can be a flat, round cake made with a crust covered in an almond cream and baked, or a Mandelkuchen, where a Rührteig made with almond meal or flour is baked in a Gugelhupf form.
Elsässischer Apfelkuchen - Part pie, part cake, this "Kuchen" is made by pressing apple halves in a crust and pouring an egg cream over it which sets up when baked.
06 of 07
Munster Cheese - The name comes from a small town in France in the Vosges mountains between Alsace and Lorraine. It is made with whole, raw milk from grass - fed cows. The small, flat wheels, less than 10 inches in diameter, are ripened in damp cellars for 5 weeks to several months and washed regularly with brine to develop the bacterial rind. The mature cheese is soft, white, about 50% fat, with an orange, edible rind. It has a strong, penetrating odor and a strong taste. It is often eaten with boiled potatoes and raw onions for a light supper.
Disambiguation: "Münster" is the name of several areas in Germany including a larger city often spelled Munster, which has nothing to do with this cheese. It is also the German word for "monastery."
07 of 07
Alsatian Wines - the wine-growing region of Alsace is special. It is fairly far north for wine so white varieties are primarily grown, but due to the microclimate of the area, these grapes reach good maturity, making very aromatic wines with high alcohol content.
Traditionally made dry, modern winemaking is leaving some residual sugar in many styles, especially for the export market. Indeed, as for German wine, it is rare to come across a dry Alsatian in the United States. Schade.
The main grape grown and bottled here is Riesling. In Alsace, unlike in the rest of France, the varietal is prominently displayed on the label, making it much simpler for visitors to see what they are drinking.
The second most famous grape is a red-skinned variety which is made into a white wine, called Gewürztraminer, or spicy grape. They also grow Pinot gris, Pinot noir, Sylvaner, Muscat and Chasselas.