Going to the Source
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 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.
Above 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…