I’m spending a couple of weeks on placement in Strasbourg at the moment – it’s a gorgeous little city right on the border between France and Germany (so it’s in France, but as the name suggests, it has a good mixture of the two cultures). I’m staying in The Grand Ile, the old town in the centre, which is like an illustration from a book of fairytales come to life – tall, narrow buildings lean in conspiratorially over winding cobbled streets, there are little wrought-iron balconies, turrets and spires on every corner, secret courtyard gardens are shaded by ancient trees heavy with blossom. The Grand Ile, which is the oldest part of the city and a UNESCO world heritage site, is encircled by the slow green waters of the River Ill and is mostly pedestrianised, so that there is a lovely tranquility and slowness of pace, with most people on foot, bikes or rollerblades.
For my first culinary adventure I wanted to try one of the Alsace region’s most famous dishes – flammekueche in Alsatian, or tarte flambée in French. After a long stroll around the Grand Ile I ended up in the Café Rohan, a friendly, cosy little place on a narrow street off the cathedral close. Flammenkuche looks a little bit like a pizza – bread dough is rolled out very very thinly, spread with crème fraiche and topped with onions and bacon or a mixture of these with other ingredients, and then baked in a woodfire oven. The one I chose had onions, bacon and soft gooey goats cheese on it, and it was delicious, especially washed down with a glass of good red wine. I can’t wait to experiment with making my own when I get back (I do have access to a kitchen where I’m lodging, but I’m staying with a family so I don’t quite feel comfortable spending too much time pottering about in there). I’m planning to get stuck in to the local cuisine (any excuse, eh?) so keep an eye out for more posts on the subject.