Going to the Source

Colmar, France

The current theme of the blog is near and dear to my heart.  You’ll be reading about Colmar, one of my favorite cities in Europe, and none other than… kugelhopf !  It was years ago, in the colorful and charming town of Colmar, that I first discovered kugelhopf, a yeast cake with raisins and almonds baked in a crown-like earthenware dish.  In the Alsatian region of France, Colmar is equidistant between Strasbourg and Basel, under 2 hours from Zürich by car, and about 5 hours from Paris.  It feels neither French nor Swiss, having strong influences from Germany and thus an overall atmosphere unique to Alsace.

Colmar, FranceColmar, FranceColmar, FranceColmar, France

Colmar is known for many things: for being the capital of Alsatian wine, for its well preserved old town full of multi-colored timber framed houses and small canals, and for its architectural landmarks.  It’s mainly for the rainbow of houses that I adore it. But step into a local restaurant or winstub (similar to the neighborhood bistro), and you’ll see that Colmar has yet even more to offer: flammekueche (tartes flambées), choucroute, baeckoffe (Alsatian stew, which tradition says housewives would let slowly cook in the baker’s oven while they did the washing), and Glühwein (German for hot mulled wine).  And most importantly, kugelhopf in every pastry shop window in town.

Colmar, FranceColmar, France

Colmar, FranceAbove left is a Tarte Flambée Strasbourgeoise, a variant of the typical thin crust tart, topped with creme fraîche, bacon and onions.  This one was made with fromage blanc as well, and piles of sauerkraut on top.  You can’t get much more Alsatian than that in a dish.  Above right is Choucroute Garnie, another dish omnipresent in Alsace, which consists of a hefty bowl of sauerkraut hiding beneath an assortment of salted meats, sausages and potatoes.  It’s the perfect lunch to warm you up before a (very) long stroll around town, to admire the architecture, fall into the many boutiques, photograph the picturesque scenes, and work up a new appetite for an afternoon kugelhopf.

And speaking of which, you’ll next read about a pastry shop to put on top of your list for Colmar.  Many say they’ve got the best kugelhopf around.  I tasted it, along with their chocolates, individual cakes and cookies, to see for myself…


Colmar, France

Colmar, France




11 Responses to “Going to the Source”

  1. Stéphanie says:

    I took the same pictures last year!!!!!!!!
    I love Kougelhopf!!!!

  2. Paul Miller says:

    Dear Stephanie

    Wonderful pictures! With an Austrian grandfather and traveling yearly to Austria as I do, I simply must mention that in the land of its birth the beloved cake is known as Kugelhupf… about which I am with you heart and soul… I love it to.

  3. Siddhartha says:

    Apropos Austria – on Sunday mornings, the Austrian radio broadcaster ORF ö1has a political satire programme called Guglhupf

  4. Lani says:

    Just loved the ambiance of Colmar. I will have to put this little city on my “favorite” list. Wandering around looking at the buildings along the canals, tasting the foods of Colmar was a highlight of my trip. Thanks for sharing the tastes and sounds of Colmar…..

  5. Kerrin says:

    Thanks for the comment Paul. On the blog, there’s a piece about the kugelhopf’s many contestable origins, of course including Austria (click “Kugel-what”). Thanks for letting us all know its proper name, as I thought it was called a gugelhupf in Austria. Any great Austrian addresses or kugelhupf recipes to share?

    Siddhartha, good to know about the radio program! That’s certainly a funny name for political satire, no?

  6. Paul Miller says:

    Good to hear from you and well done! That is, you are absolutely right: in
    Austria it IS indeed spelled “Gugelhupf” and not Kugelhupf as I suggested.
    I am afraid I was led astray by the pronunciation, the “G” being hit with
    such a hard sound in Austria that it actually sounds like our “K”, which is why the French quaintly take the spelling route they do, I suppose. As to recipes,
    no, I simply enjoy the same, plain version as has been handed down from time
    immemorial. Where we go in the countryside of Austria, I think they would
    be rather shocked at the idea of adding raisins, though in the last few
    years I notice that a heavier chocolat swirl has been added in, which is
    delicious. Let’s keep those Gugels hupfing (that’s called “enriching the language”).
    Paul Miller

  7. Paul Miller says:

    Oh, and one more plug for things Austrian: I notice the French, despite their well-deserved pride in French cuisine, actually bow to the Austrians in one particular area, that of sweet desserts, putting one entire section of French desserts under the charming and communicative label of “Viennoiseries” – high praise indeed from the French. That said, I doubt whether Gugelhupf finds itself in that category – too plain-Jane of an affair, me-thinks.
    Paul Miller

  8. Jenn says:

    What a charming town — I can see why you keep making the trip, Kerrin! I’ll definitely have to put this on my list of places to explore.

  9. Steve says:

    Do you work for the town of Colmar? Because if you don’t, they should hire you. I’m ready to hop on a plane. It looks magical from your extraordinary photos. That shot over the water is a real winner. Thank for taking us there.with your blog. And yes, we’ll be back on our own.

  10. Parisbreakfast says:

    I LOVE Alsace and I do love choucroute, but kuglehof I don’t get..
    It’s like pound cake or sponge cake..
    But then I don’t even eat birthday cake so I’m not one to judge..
    I do remember exactly where I sat nibbling my mini kugle though..hmmm

  11. jen laceda says:

    Oh my, this is so awesome and beautiful!! I missed that whole Alsace area when I was travelling around France, although I am hoping to visit this part in the near future. Hopefully, in combo with Germany!!

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