Potatoes and cabbage, spätzle and stews – if you’re wondering how these seemingly traditional German dishes fit into our unequivocally French setting, the answer is Alsace.
Heavily influenced by German culture, Alsatian cuisine features hearty meats, tangy choucroute and doughy delights ranging from tarte flambée to the ever-popular bretzel. Having taken a figurative jaunt through this unique region during our Harvest in Alsace brunch back in October 2017, Chef de Cuisine Malcolm Campbell turned his intrigue into an opportunity to highlight the comforting, winter-appropriate ingredients of Alsace – with a modern French twist, of course.
Your journey through this eastern French region starts with one of its renowned specialties: the Tarte Alsacienne or flammeküeche, which translates literally to “flame cake” – a nod to the blazing wood-fire oven in which it’s cooked. While most of our toppings mimic the traditional tarte Alsacienne, the crust itself is pure Chef Malcolm flair. Instead of conventional pizza dough, he whips together a light, flaky shortcrust and festoons the tart with Périgord truffle and escargots imported from France.
Taking the richness up a notch, the Terrine features Madeira and Cognac infused foie gras, rolled out into near-perfect slabs and layered with braised Ontario wild boar – Chef Malcolm’s succulent alternative to Alsace’s most commonly used protein: pork.
Both the Choucroute de Poisson and Rable de Lapin boast quintessentially Alsatian components. Of the former, Chef Malcolm admits he initially found the combination of fish and sauerkraut unusual.
“But this is more of a rustic pub dish in Alsace. Everywhere you look, they’re eating trout and cabbage.”
Trout is one of the only fish found near the landlocked Alsace region, but the strategic infusion of crayfish in the Nantua sauce and powdered nori in the spätzle bring out the flavours of the sea.
The latter stars Ontario rabbit – deboned, seasoned, pulsed, rolled into a ballotine, cooked at 65°F in the immersion circulator and finished in the pan with foaming butter. Once again, cabbage plays a significant recurring role – this time laced with aromatic notes of port, brown sugar, cinnamon, clove, butter and red wine. The schupfnudeln, Chef Malcolm notes, is a starchy potato-based noodle similar to gnocchi.
Ending the meal on a sweet note, Chef Domenico Giammarella transforms Alsace’s signature Strudel into a flan-filled phyllo cannolo with almond butter, amaretto-poached pears, pear sorbet and parsnip ice cream. And don’t worry – we didn’t forget about the classic Alsatian bredele! “We made them into apple shapes,” Chef Dom adds, alluding to the iconic symbol of Auberge du Pommier.