The Very Hungry Frenchman
Episode Four: Alsace
Thursday 23 February 2012
When the Black mountains of Germany are on the horizon and the Rhine which marks the border with France appears, Raymond Blanc can only be in one place Alsace. Nestling in the north east corner of France, Alsace is unique; it has spent as much time controlled by Germany as France.
That history is everywhere from the street signs to the memorials.
Germany last had control here during World War 2, something Raymond’s father would have remembered as a veteran of the French resistance. Raymond’s home region is neighbour to Alsace and like all of France, it was occupied through most the 2nd world war.
And for Raymond the food story begins in the ground.
Fields of cabbage shout sauerkraut in German or choucroute in French.
While in the hills, the vineyards are home to a true French treasure – Alsatian wine.
One regional favourite, Choucroute tells all. Fermented cabbage, is cooked with spices and Alsatian wine, then served with German sausages and French charcuterie.
And the famous kugelhopf. Derived from the German for ball - kugel - it shares the French love for yeast baking and is similar to a brioche.
Beyond never feeling hungry, Alsace’s influence on Raymond has come more from people than recipes. He’s always been drawn here because Alsatians really know how to party and feast.
So, Raymond’s next few days in Alsace will be a testing journey, as he tries to recreate their famous hospitality.
For one night only, he will be taking over a restaurant in the old town of Riquewhir to try and impress his Alsatian friends with a four course feast inspired by their region.
He’s hoping his attempt at cooking in Alsace will leave his guests feeling satisfied, impressed and full of joie de vivre.
Recipes from the series will be published on Raymond's website following the broadcast of each episode. Recipes from Episode Three (Lyon) are available here:
For more information on the restaurants and places that Raymond visited in Lyon, please click on the links below:
L’Auberge de L’Ill
A top restaurant in the region which has held 3 Michelin stars for 44 years. Chef Marc Haeberlin is a good friend of RB’s and cooked Bakehoffe for him. Bakehoffe is a local dish using various cuts of pork.
Leon Bayer, Vins d’Alsace.
Marc Beyer is an old friend of RB. Marc is from an old family of winemakers dating back to the 17C. Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris & Gewürztraminer are famous Alsatian wines.
Christine Ferber, Au Relais des Trois Epis.
Christine is the Queen of Jam. Raymond and she share Kugelhopf, a tradition that has survived in Alsace for centuries.
Christine Spiesser, Boucherie Spiesser.
RB struggled to find local pork; the breeds have all disappeared. Christine is a master butcher, and delivered Liedelsheim pork to RB for the service.
9 rue du lieutenant Lespagnol. 67810. Holtzheim.
Téléphone : 03 88 78 07 79
La Table du Gourmet, Riquewihr
The restaurant in the heart of the town of Riquewihr where Raymond cooked his Alsace service:
Raymond Blanc's book, Kitchen Secrets,
featuring recipes from Kitchen Secrets Series 1 & 2 and many more,
was published by Bloomsbury on 14 February and is available to buy
online from Amazon, from Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Brasserie Blanc, Maison Blanc, and from online and retail bookstores.
Follow Raymond Blanc on Twitter
Contact Raymond via the Contact page of the website
To find out more about The Raymond Blanc Cookery School, click here