Alsatian Specialties

How to Read a
Restaurant Menu in Alsace


There are so many Alsatian specialties...

And so many Michelin Guide restaurants in Alsace...

It wasn't easy to sort them all out, but I think I've managed to narrow down the hundreds of Alsatian specialties to the classic must-have items on almost every restaurant menu in Alsace.

Hopefully it will help you decide which ones you have just got to try...

And reading a menu in an Alsatian restaurant will be a lot easier when you have this list with you!

Everything is in alphabetical order listed in French and Alsatian...

Because sometimes restaurants use the French name and sometimes they use the Alsatian name.


Alsatian Specialties



Asperges avec Trois Sauces or Spargla mit Drei Sosse

If you want fresh Asparagus in France, you go to Alsace.

You'll find green asparagus, but Alsace is famous for it's white asparagus...

It's one of the few regions in France where it grows. It's traditionally eaten with ham and three sauces. Every restaurant and café in Alsace will be serving a few different meals involving Asparagus when it's in season.


Baeckeoffe

This is one of the most well known Alsatian specialties.

And I do mean "meal" so make sure you're hungry!

The story of this Alsatian specialty goes that on wash day the village women would put everything in the pot and take it to the baker to cook. "Bäckeoffe" means baker's oven in Alsatian.

So, that's the story...but what does it taste like?

It's made with pork, lamb, beef and sliced potatoes. Slow cooked all day in a white wine sauce, usually Pinot Blanc or Riesling.



Bibeleskas

You'll find this Alsatian specialty in the appetizer section on the menu in a restaurant in Alsace...

Or you could even make it yourself.

Bibeleskas is made with a soft white cheese called "fromage blanc" which looks a lot like yogurt. In fact, we substitute it for yogurt sometimes at home.

Then chopped bacon, potatoes, chives, parsley, garlic, a bit of oil, salt and pepper, and you're done.

Everyone I know eats it on bread, but I've never met a Frenchmen that wouldn't so...


Bouchées à la Reine or Suppepaschtete

This Alsatian specialty can be made with a number of different meats...

Sometimes with chicken, sometimes with veal. Carrots, turnips, celery, leeks, and mushrooms, but I've seen it with different vegetables as well.

The important ingredient is the sauce which is a wonderful cream sauce...

And served in puff pastry cups!


Boudin or Bluetwurst

Here's a traditional sausage from Alsace...

It's the red version of boudin or blood sausage and, unlike in the US, you can find it everywhere...

Even in the grocery store.

You will see this Alsatian specialty on restaurant menus and it's most likely going to be the red boudin, as most of the recipes I have looked at called for "bluetwurst".


Carpe Frite

There are a lot of creeks and streams in Alsace.

So there are a lot of traditional dishes that involve fresh water fish. And this is one of them.

You'll find Carpe Frite more often in southern Alsace. It's fried carp, usually served with french fries and salad.

Carpe Frite has a similar taste to fish and chips.


Cervalas or Knack

Here's something you can look for in a butcher or charcuterie shop...or a restaurant...

It's an Alsatian sausage that is short and fat.

This Alsatian specialty has a taste similar to a hot dog. You'll find it in salads a lot.


Charcuterie

You're probably wondering what a Charcuterie is...

I was too when I first got to Alsace because they are everywhere here!

It's two things. It's the name for a delicatessen and the name for the stuff you find in a delicatessen like sausages and cured meats.

But don't show up hoping to get a corned beef on rye. Charcuteries don't normally do lunch.

They are more like butchers, but they specialize. And sometimes a butcher shop (boucherie) will also be a charcuterie.


Choucroute or Sürkrüt or Sürikrüt

This Alsatian specialty is what Alsace is famous for...also known as sauerkraut.

Except that it tastes lot different than German sauerkraut...

It's shredded cabbage fermented in salt water over a period of time. And before freezers and refrigerators, it was the only way to preserve it for winter.

It's often cooked with a Riesling white wine from Alsace, potatoes and other spices.


Choucroute Garnie

Sometimes you will have the opportunity to have choucroute as a side item...

And then there's Choucroute Garnie...

It's Choucroute served with potatoes, very thick slices of bacon and other smoked and salted pork meat, sausages, etc...

Make sure you're hungry...


Coq au Riesling

I wish I had a picture of Coq au Riesling that would do it justice...

If you think chicken, shallots, garlic and carrots would taste good in a Riesling wine, cognac and cream sauce, then you might want to check this out...

And if you have no idea what that would taste like, let me tell you....

It's really good!!!


Escargots à l'Alsacienne

Yes, I know...snails...but not just snails...

Snails in a garlic, shallot, parsley, white wine butter sauce. I'm telling you, you would like ANYTHING cooked in this sauce!

You'll definitely need some bread for this dish...mmmm


Flammekueche or Flammakuacha or Tarte Flambée

The traditional Flammekuecha is similar to an oven baked thin crust pizza with cream, onions and chopped bacon.

But most restaurants have a few different versions for you to try...

"Nature" is the normal Flammakueche.

And then there is usually one with Munster cheese or maybe with mushrooms...

There's no limit to what might be on the menu including dessert Flammakueche.


Filet de Sandre au Riesling

Shallots and parsley cooked in a bit of butter with Pike Perch filets...

After the fish is finished, the sauce is created by adding Riesling, cream and mushrooms...


Fleischschnacka or Fleischschnecke

Literally it means "meat snail" but don't worry...there are no snails in this dish.

The meat is slow cooked beef like from a beef stew.

They grind it up and spread it on a crepe or very thin pancake, then roll it up. So when they cut it into slices, it looks like a spiral which is where the "snail" name comes from.

Then they cook each slice in a pan with a little butter...

And it's usually served with a sauce made from the slow cooked beef...yum!


Jambon en Croute

This Alsatian specialty is simply a ham cooked in a crust similar to pie crust.

There are quite a few dishes in Alsace that are cooked with a crust around it or "en croute".

Usually, it is served sliced...


Jamboneau or Wadele or Waedel

It's the ham hock or ham shank cut of pork

A very popular cut of meat in Alsace. You'll see this Alsatian specialty served in so many different ways.


Kalbskopf or Tete de Veau

This traditional Alsatian dish is similar to Presskopf.

Except that it is made of the meat (not organs) in the head area of a calf.

It's slow cooked with carrots, leeks, onions, celery, garlic, parsley, and white wine, then it's pressed into a container until it cools.

Tete de Veau is usually served in slices as an appetizer in restaurants.


Kassler

Technically it's smoked and cured pork.

This Alsatian specialty reminds me of Canadian bacon, except much larger...usually about twice the size.


Knack or Cervalas

Here's something you can look for in a Charcuterie...or a restaurant...

It's an Alsatian sausage that is short and fat.

This Alsatian specialty has a taste similar to a hot dog. You'll find it in salads a lot.


Knepfle or Spaetzle

This is an Alsatian specialty that everyone will love.

It's handmade Alsatian pasta.

You'll get plenty of opportunities to try it because it comes as a side item with almost everything on the menu.

The only difference between Knepfle and Spaetzle is the size of the pasta. Knepfle are larger than Spaetzle.


Lewer Knepfle or Lawer Knepfle or Quenelles de Foie

If you like liver, you're going to love Alsace.

They have come up with so many ways to cook liver that even someone who hates it would probably be willing to try some...

This recipe is ground liver and bacon mixed with bread crumbs, eggs, shallots and parsley.

They make little "knepfle" shaped balls, boil them for a few minutes and then cook them in a pan...

If no one told you, I doubt you'd ever guess it was liver...


Munster

For those of you who think you know what Munster is...

Let me tell you that the "Muenster" in the US has absolutely nothing in common with what is made in Alsace except that they are both made from cow's milk.

Munster made in Alsace is a soft creamy cheese.

It's the sort of cheese that you are either going to hate or love...

There's no room for indifference with Munster because it has a very distinct taste and there's only one way to find out if you like it.

If it's your first time, try a young Munster.

If you like the young Munster, you may like a more mature Munster, but if you don't like the young Munster, you can forget about aged Munster.


Palette à la Diable

Palette is the cured and smoked shoulder cut of pork.

It's the same cut used to make BBQ pulled pork.

And if the idea of cured, smoked pork shoulder cooked in a onion, mustard and Riesling sauce sounds interesting...you'll find Palette à la Diable in many restaurants in Alsace.


Presskopf

Presskopf has been around for a long time...

It is made of the meat (not organs) in the head area of the pig. It's slow cooked with carrots, leeks, onions, celery, garlic, parsley, and white wine.

Then it's pressed into a container until it cools. Presskopf is usually served in slices as an appetizer in restaurants.


Quenelles de foie or Lewer Knepfle or Lawer Knepfle

If you like liver, you're going to love Alsace.

They have come up with so many ways to cook liver that even someone who hates it would probably be willing to try some...

This recipe is ground liver and bacon mixed with bread crumbs, eggs, shallots and parsley.

They make little "knepfle" shaped balls, boil them for a few minutes and then cook them in a pan...

If no one told you, I doubt you'd ever guess it was liver...


Salade Vigneronne or Wurst Salat

There are a number of variations for a Salade Vigneronne.

Usually, it involves chopped Cervalas or a sausage similar to it with a Swiss cheese, usually Emmentaler or Gruyere.


Schiffele or Palette Salée et Fumée

Palette is the cured and smoked shoulder cut of pork.

It's the same cut used to make BBQ pulled pork.

You'll find it cooked in lots of different ways. Sometimes plain, cooked in a crust, cooked with beer, or mustard, just to name a few possibilities.


Spaetzle or Knepfle

This is an Alsatian dish that everyone will love.

It's handmade Alsatian pasta.

You'll get plenty of opportunities to try it because it comes as a side item with almost everything on the menu.

The only difference between Knepfle and Spaetzle is the size of the pasta. Knepfle are larger than Spaetzle.


Spargla mit Drei Sosse or Asperges avec Trois Sauces

If you want fresh Asparagus in France, you go to Alsace.

It's one of the few regions in France where it grows. It's traditionally eaten with ham and three sauces.

Every restaurant and café in Alsace will be serving a few different meals involving Asparagus when it's in season.


Soupe à la Bière

Onions, butter, flour, chicken broth, cream and...beer...

Aren't you curious?


Suppepaschtete or Bouchées à la Reine

This Alsatian specialty can be made with a number of different meats...

Sometimes with chicken, sometimes with veal. Carrots, turnips, celery, leeks, and mushrooms, but I've seen it with different vegetables as well.

The important ingredient is the sauce which is a wonderful cream sauce...

And served in puff pastry cups!


Sürkrüt or Sürikrüt or Choucroute

This Alsatian specialty is what Alsace is famous for...also known as sauerkraut.

Except that it tastes lot different than German sauerkraut...

It's shredded cabbage fermented in salt water over a period of time. And before freezers and refrigerators, it was the only way to preserve it for winter.

It's often cooked with a Riesling white wine from Alsace, potatoes and other spices.


Süri Lewer or Suri Leberle

Suri Leber is beef or veal liver cooked in a tart sauce.

Onions and sliced liver are cooked in a pan with a dry white wine or for a more sour taste, balsamic vinegar.

I had never eaten liver when I tried this...

And if no one had told me, I would never have guessed that it was liver.


Tarte Flambée or Flammekueche or Flammakuacha

The traditional Flammekuecha is similar to an oven baked thin crust pizza with cream, onions and chopped bacon.

But most restaurants have a few different versions for you to try...

"Nature" is the normal Flammakueche.

And then there is usually one with Munster cheese or maybe with mushrooms...

There's no limit to what might be on the menu including dessert Flammakueche.


Tarte à l'Oignon or Zebelekueche or Zwebelekuacha

A thin pie with no top crust made with onions eggs, cream, and minced bacon.

Think French Onion Soup in a pie crust!

Usually served with a salad or crudité...


Tete de Veau or Kalbskopf

This traditional Alsatian dish is similar to Presskopf, except that it is made of the meat (not organs) in the head area of a calf.

It's slow cooked with carrots, leeks, onions, celery, garlic, parsley, and white wine.

Then it's pressed into a container until it cools.

Tete de Veau is usually served in slices as an appetizer in restaurants.


Tourte Alsacienne

A tourte is a deep dish pie with a top crust...

This Alsatian specialty is made with pork shoulder cut into cubes, eggs garlic, shallots, parsley, nutmeg, cloves and an Alsatian white wine.


Tourte au Reisling

There are a number of different deep dish pies in Alsace...

This one is made with pork shoulder and veal shoulder, eggs, cream, parsley, chives and ...of course...Riesling wine.


Wadele or Waedel or Jamboneau

This Alsatian specialty is the ham hock or ham shank cut of pork

A very popular cut of meat in Alsace. You'll see it served in so many different ways.


Wurst Salat or Salade Vigneronne

There are a number of variations for a Salade Vigneronne.

Usually, it involves chopped Cervalas or a sausage similar to it with a Swiss cheese, usually Emmentaler or Gruyere.


Zebelekueche or Zwebelekuacha or Tarte à l'Oignon

A thin pie with no top crust made with onions eggs, cream, and minced bacon.

Think French Onion Soup in a pie crust! Usually served with a salad or crudité...


More Information on Alsace Cuisine



Alsace and Food

Your Own Personal French Food Dictionary

Shopping in French Supermarkets in Alsace

French Restaurant Food in Alsace

Alsatian Christmas Cookies: Bredele

Your Alsatian Food Questions Answered



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