Alsace Food Binge PT2

So, I began to reach the conclusion that there is something deeply awry with the Alsatians' colour sense. Not just in terms of the exteriors of their homes…


Never mind, there were plenty of things they do get right: namely, gut-busting winter dishes, like this Baeckaoffa (one for any food-themed spelling bee you might be planning). This one-pot stew features not just mutton, not merely pork, but mutton, pork AND beef. Baeckaoffa is apparently Alsatian for baker's oven, where these were traditionally cooked while the women carried out their Monday laundry duties.


This, meanwhile, is the home of the world's greatest jams, made by the legendary Christine Ferber and on sale at her small grocers, Au Relais des Trois Epis, in Niedermorschwihr.


A wonderful example of nominative determinism (though not sure the contents of the can is the kind of thing he offers sips of):


A Baeckaoffa in the wild:


The Statue of Liberty's ear. Seriously:


Street name in Colmar ('only in France', etc…):


Totally fell in love with Colmar – like Strasbourg, but more intimate, fewer tourists:



So, me and the Bugatti stopped off at the most famous restaurant in Alsace, L'Auberge de L'Ill, headed by chef Marc Haeberlin. His family have held on to their Michelin stars here for over 45 years. I have to say, this is slightly mystifying based on the meal I had which, though far from awful, was, equally, far from exceptional. I suspect we can put this down to the 'Bocuse' effect – there are some people to whom Michelin will give three stars in perpetuity regardless of the quality of their food (Gordon Ramsay is another). It's like the monkeys at the Rock of Gibralter, or the ravens at the Tower of London. If these places lose a star, the whole edifice crumbles.

Mackerel: forgettable.


Overcooked perch (I think it was perch):


Exquisite lobster dish, one of their 'signatures':


Hey, Mr Haeberlin, the '80s called, they want their dessert back:


In contrast, the exceptional carrot dish – cooked for some hours in carrot and orange juice – and consequently the carrottiest carrot I have ever eaten, at the exceptionally good one-star, Le Bistro des Saveurs at Obernai. Can't recommend this place enough. And not just for carrot fans. Chef Thierry Schwartz is clearly a great talent:


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