Spätzle and La Corde à Linge

The other day I took myself out for lunch in Petite France, the most picturesque corner of the Grand Ile, where little black and white timbered houses, their windowsills laden with red geraniums, cluster along the banks of the river in the shade of ancient plane trees. I ended up at La Corde à Linge, the Washing Line (click here for more details, if you're curious), which takes up one side of a sunny little square in an area along the riverbank where the Strasbourgeois once washed their clothes. It’s a lively place with solid wooden tables and a ceiling open to the rafters, and views out through the low windows over the river, with tourist boats making their slow and stately progress past.
Spätzle is another Alsatian speciality, which is sometimes described as pasta or noodles, but to me seemed more similar to gnocchi, in texture at least. It’s created by scraping portions of dough off the edge of a chopping board into boiling water, where they cook rapidly and then rise to the surface, where they are scooped out. This process shapes the spätzle into short fat lengths with a slightly heavy, squidgy texture, and eggs are one of the main ingredients, which makes it much richer than pasta. In this case, I reckon that once boiled, the spätzle had then been added to the pan with the creamy sauce in which it was served, because it was slightly browned on one side. It was mixed in with tender wild mushrooms and a kind of parsley butter, which was delicious. A few hunks of crusty, chewy sourdough bread and a glass of very fruity Merlot helped temper the richness, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, although I regretted being too full to sample the wonderful-looking desserts that I could see other people tucking into – so I went back again a few days later, on Easter Sunday.
This time I ordered a platter of nibbles, which included rilettes de canard (a duck paté where the meat is slowly cooked for a long time until it is tender enough to fall apart, and then preserved with some of the fat), wonderful creamy goats cheese, and another cheese called comté, which has a strong, slightly sweet taste (and which, I must admit, I didn’t like at all), as well as some wonderful fresh bread, of course. I also managed to keep enough room to try La Caprice de Germaine (Germaine’s Caprice), one of the restaurant’s whimsically-named ice cream sundaes, which included homemade chocolate, vanilla and caramel ice cream, whipped cream and salted caramel sauce. It was every bit as divine as it sounds, and somehow I think I’ll probably be able to fit in another visit to La Corde à Linge before I leave…