December Food adventures in Strasbourg - a guest post from Janelle & Scott Gould - DistantFrancophile
Maison Kammerzell - Strasbourg - Restaurant review
My virtual friends, Janelle and Scott Gould from Melbourne, who run an interesting blog called DistantFrancophile were visiting Alsace recently and on their own accord went to explore one of the most ancient restaurants in France: Maison Kammerzell in Strasbourg, which has been operating since 1427 with further additions in 1467 and 1589, when three upper floors of timber panelling were added, resulting in the building we know today.
Their "signature dish" was invented 45 years ago by the Chef who is still running the show today, Guy-Pierre Baumann. He almost went to jail for what was looked at as a blasphemy on the traditional meat choucroute! So I won't steal the show and direct you to our Restaurant Review page where I have hosted their article! Bon appétit!
I am lucky enough to live in the same building (and on the same floor...) as Jon and Barbara, the gorgeous owners of Baska-Jon food emporium, and we (not...) often (enough...) cook each other lunch or dinner. They are great company and we are running a bit of cooking competitions across the hallway! Added bonus: we don't have to drive very far, so we can sample a few more bottles of wine that we probably should...It is all in the interest of research, bien sûr (and we are not killing any whales in the process, just ourselves laughing...).
Anyway, Jon and Barbara came for dinner last week-end and gave us some of their goodies as presents, including their fabulous organic "choucroute", so, I had to invent a recipe to use it!
My son was home for lunch, a rare occurrence these days, and he wanted me to get some sushi from the Sydney Fish Market, and doing so, I found a nice sushi and sashimi combo, with plenty of salmon sashimi. I had smoked salmon in the fridge, and bought some fresh salmon from the market: et voilà!
So, back home, I negotiated to share the sashimi with son number two - son number one lives in St Tropez, so no competition there - and daughter "unique" was away with her BF.
Then I started to enhance the already very good sauerkraut with a few of my own ingredients: cloves, pepper corns and leftover of daughter's cider which would have gone to waste otherwise - the cider, I mean, not my daughter, lol! Simmer for twenty minutes, during which time you boil some potatoes, cut the salmon, roll the smoked salmon, reheat leftovers of braised carrots for Madame in the steamer with her piece of salmon, eventually grill some pork belly and my own piece of salmon and plate!
Season the sashimi with a bit of soy sauce and ginger, the smoked damon with a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar - from Baska-Jon as well - and open a nice bottle of Riesling - you are done! Enjoy!
Photo by Gregoire LIERE
One of the first challenges is to find my original photos...
The last time I went to Provence was in 2009, and I was not doing digital photography just yet, and was still content to use my Nikon F60.
So, I had to spend some time shiffling through quite a large collection of prints and CDs...and that involves a big trip down "memory lane"...
Why taking this challenge now? Well, it was triggered by an article in our local newspaper, The Sydney Morning Herald and it is thirty days to my birthday, so it will give you a chance to save for a gift! Just kidding...
Episode 1 - Our journey starts in Paris
The TGV station at CDG airport
Chances are that wherever you are reading my prose, a trip to France will certainly either arriving or departing from Paris, and frankly who would miss the pleasure of spending a few days there when coming all the way from across the World?
And if you are on your way to the South of France, then you will take the TGV from Gare de Lyon in the 12th arrondissement and debark 2h40mm later in Avignon.
So, it might be a good idea to stay near by and stay for instance at
Pavillon Saint Louis Bastille.
It is close to the station, the Opera Bastille, the Marais is not far away
and there are many buses and metro stations within walking distance.
After a night at the Opera, it might be a good idea to dine in style at the station, at Le Train Bleu restaurant.
There are dozens of more affordable options around - just open your eyes and be prepared for a good time!
Stay tuned for Episode 2 tomorrow Paris to Avignon!
Choucroute (sauerkraut) is a traditional alsacian/german way of conserving cabbage. It is traditionally served with pork belly, sausages and charcuterie.
Over the last 20 or 30 years, a new trend has emerged to replace the meat with seafood.
More recently, I had the chance to taste or make various implementations of this "choucroute de la mer" - literally "seafood sauerkraut".
And as people do "vertical tastings" of the same wine from different vintages, I propose we go on a "horizontal tasting" of these various avatars of one of my favourites dishes.
So, to go from the most amateurish to the most professional, I will start with my own implementation:
Sauerkraut (from a tin) - try Andre Laurent if you can find it.
Note: the photo above comes from their website
White fish, like turbot or snapper
Mussels, Scallops and Prawns
see photo underneath and recipe here - keeping it simple!
The second recipe comes from a restaurant in the island of Noirmoutier, where my sister took me, and where we used to go when we were kids (the island, not the restaurant...). I will have to find out their name later...
Again, choucroute, mash, mussels, white fish and small scallops (called petoncles) with a nice creamy sauce.
The presentation was certainly the messier of all, but it tasted very nice - although you can't beat the taste, freshness and crunchiness of Australian prawns...
Last but not least, Maitre Karl had his own choucroute de la mer last Friday. I usually have lunch there on a Friday, and I had my camera handy, so all was going to be all right.
It started even better with Karl pouring me a glass of German Pinot Gris, not what I would have chosen myself, but I know I can trust Karl and so I went along and was rewarded with a very good drop, certainly not as sweet as one would expect and a great match with the choucroute.
And again the sauerkraut and the mash were topped with a very nicely cooked piece of salmon, and surrounded with beautiful scallops and prawns. A light creamy sauce keeps everything moist and interesting!
None of these recipes contained a combination of fresh fish AND smoked fish, which might be a mistake, as a piece of haddock gives some flavour reminiscent of the smoked meats used in the traditional choucroute.
Maitre Karl, my favourite bistro in Sydney, not least because it sits across the road from where I worked, has just been awarded the 2010 Metropolitan European Restaurant of the Year by the Restaurant & Catering Association.
To celebrate, a good colleague and myself had lunch there today for Melbourne Cup, enjoying a glass a bubbly and chocolate on the house, as well as my favourite dish: Choucroute de la Mer, and MR had the pork knuckle, another signature dish of Maitre Karl!
BTW, I am planning a vertical review of "Choucroute de la Mer" later on, so stay tuned...
The place was packed, and Karl had a very big smile on his face: Well done, mate and keep up the good work!
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.
A link here for our non-metric readers: