March 15, 2016

Sample some of the world’s best wines in Alsace© Sylvain Naudin

France. It is, undoubtedly, a foodie’s paradise. What with the abundance of quality produce, the culinary expertise of French chefs, and a countrywide love for all things delicious, it’s easy to see why it gets so many taste buds tingling. While French cuisine is an absolute delight all year round, winter brings about some mouth-wateringly good dishes guaranteed to keep the winter chill at bay. Alsace, a region in France’s north east, is home to some wonderful local produce, and it is particularly famous for its array of white wines. We take a look at some of the best dishes and wines, which you can enjoy in Alsace during the winter months.

Something savoury

Choucroute garnie

Probably the most famous of all Alsatian dishes, choucroute garnie is commonplace on many winter menus, and is a hearty addition to any meal. The dish itself is heavily influenced by Alsace’s proximity to Germany, featuring sauerkraut (with an Alsatian twist), potatoes, sausages and other cured meats. Although recipes vary, the sauerkraut is usually heated with Riesling, pork fat, herbs and seasoning, and Frankfurt, Strasbourg and Montbéliard are the sausages of choice. Typical cured meats include ham hock, back bacon, pork knuckle and salt pork. Settle down into any of Alsace’s cosy restaurants and enjoy a hearty plate of choucroute garnie, washed down with a bottle of Alsace Riesling.

Baeckeoffe

Like many Europeans, the French speak a range of dialects, usually dependant on the location of the region they live in. In the case of Alsace, Alsatians speak a Low Alemannic German often interspersed with French and English. Baeckeoffe is Alsatian for ‘baker’s oven’, a name which refers to the dish’s beginnings, when it was cooked all day in the local baker’s oven. The dish is made using mutton, beef, pork, onions and potatoes which have been marinated overnight in white wine and juniper berries, and then slow cooked in a casserole dish with leeks, herbs, garlic and carrots. Although it isn’t cooked all day in a baker’s oven, the result is a delicious, meaty stew that’s exactly what you need on a dark December evening.

Baeckeoffe will warm you up on any winter’s day
Baeckeoffe will warm you up on any winter’s day © francois schnell

Something sweet

Bredele

After filling up on choucroute garnie and baeckeoffe, you’ll want to sample some of Alsace’s best-loved Christmas treats, bredele. Bredele is a collective name for small cakes and biscuits (of which there are many) made with different flavourings and spices. Anis bredele, cookies flavoured with aniseed, and schwowebredle, cookies spiced cinnamon and orange, are two popular types of bredele. During winter you’ll find piles of these delicious biscuits at the many Christmas markets dotted throughout the region, and they’re great as a gift for loved ones back at home.

Treat yourself to some Christmas bredele
Treat yourself to some Christmas bredele © Frédérique Voisin-Demery
Kougelhopf

Kougelhopf is a light, ring-shaped cake which is a traditional dessert in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and, of course, Alsace. Made using yeast, flour, butter, sugar, eggs, raisins, almonds and orange zest, the texture is similar to brioche, and the taste is delicious! It’s usually eaten alongside a cup of coffee and you’ll be able to grab a slice at most coffee shops throughout the region. So wherever you are in Alsace, you can escape the winter weather and indulge in a tasty midmorning treat.

Something to drink

Riesling

Riesling is often considered the most respected wine in the Alsace, and any visitors to the region simply must give it a try. While German Riesling’s can be sweet, Alsatian Riesling is much drier, making it the perfect accompaniment to rich dishes.

Gewürztraminer

Another popular wine in Alsace is Gewürztraminer. The grape itself is incredibly aromatic, and can be used to make wines that range from the very sweet to the very dry. As it has a high sugar content, it is also used to make Alsatian dessert wines.

Alsace’s wines are famous all over the world
Alsace’s wines are famous all over the world © Anna & Michal

Feeling hungry?

You can travel with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle from Folkestone to Calais in just 35 minutes. So what are you waiting for? Alsace’s delicious cuisine awaits.

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