Home to more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other region, tiny Alsace has a reputation for fine food far out of proportion to its size. Americans, however, seem to know little about it.

The region's history of invasion, occupation and dual nationality, has influenced its cuisine. From the combination of German raw materials and French culinary know-how emerges the best of both worlds.

Popular Dishes

Choucroute formally known as choucroute garnie a l'alsacienne. The classic presentation consists of sauerkraut simmered with onions and smoked bacon, piled high on a platter and surrounded by a substantial array of sausages and pork chops, ham hocks and blood pudding. Not a dish for the faint of heart or vegetarians.

Foie Gras - Goose liver. For centuries Strasbourg has rivaled Toulouse as the foie gras capital of France. Served in many formats, one of the most famous is pate de foie gras en croute (pate baked in a crust).

Flammeküche or tarte flambe. Regional speciality often described as an Alsatian pizza. A round of thin dough topped with a mixture of cream, cheese, bacon and onions.

Coq au Riesling - chicken cooked in Riesling wine with mushrooms and cream.

Bäckeoffe - a traditional stew of various braised meats, onions and potatoes in white wine.

Munster Cheese - strong flavor with a brick-red rind. Delicious with Gewürztraminer wine.

Wine

Alsace is blessed with four 'noble' grape varieties.

Riesling—a rich and versatile white wine. Enjoyed as an aperitif or with meals.

Gewürztraminercomplex, assertive and spicy. Excellent with pate or Munster cheese.

Tokayrobust and unrelated to the Hungarian version of the same name.

Muscataromatic aperitif

Fermes-Auberges

Farm-inns are hostelries, exclusive to Alsace, that serve local dishes to hungry travelers in a family setting. A good chance to experience a taste of Alsace life along with typical rustic food. Inquire at local tourist offices for a list of those approved by the Association des Fermes-Auberges du Haut-Rhin. Members display a sign showing a set table topped with a steaming soup tureen. Be sure to book ahead to avoid disappointment.

April 1998