Global Cuisines and Cultures: France Trip 7- Strasbourg
After a long ride to Strasbourg, we made it to our final hotel stop—Hotel Maison Rouge, located right on the edge of the historic city center. We were ready for our biggest evening of the trip, dinner at La Fourchette des Ducs, a two-Michelin-star restaurant in Alsace, with Executive Chef Nicolas Stamm. As we walked in, we were led into our own private dining room that overlooked their beautiful courtyard. Sitting down, we viewed our menus, each with a note attached from Chef Nicolas himself. He reminded us, “Dans la vie, il y a deux choses, l’amitié et la gourmandise”—“In life, there are two things, friendship and good food.” The chef even went as far as coming out of the kitchen to take pictures with all of us. The food was absolutely incredible, and it was my first time dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant. The first three bites were a parmesan cone, sausage with horseradish cream, and raw salmon, accompanied by a glass of champagne. Next, we were served a kugelhopf, and our first course, Spanish mackerel with pickled carrots and yogurt. At that time, Chef welcomed us into his kitchen. It was absolutely amazing to see how quietly and precisely everything was coming out of a relatively small space.
Our first course at La Fourchette des Ducs: mackerel, pickled carrots, yogurt, and cucumber
After being reseated, we moved on to our next courses. We enjoyed pea ravioli with brown butter and truffle emulsion; poached fish with zucchini scales and Alsatian sauerkraut; noisette of veal with morels and white asparagus; and my favorite dish of the night—the cheese course featuring a truffled soft polenta with a warm brie cheese mousse. It was incredibly creamy and decadent! We followed this course with a caramel, coffee, and chocolate dessert that I honestly don’t know how to describe, other than as delicious.
Truffled soft polenta, brie mousse, gold
Poached fish with zucchini scales, shrimp emulsion, and Alsatian sauerkraut
More Memorable Places to Visit
Following an amazing night, we had plenty more to do! The next morning, we visited a winery about 30 minutes away. Our guide, co-owner Martin, showed us all around her vineyards and the village surrounding it. The history of Alsace, and of her village, in particular, are very important to Martin, and it’s reflected in the passion that she puts into her wine. In Alsace, they grow many varietals, including my favorites, Riesling and Gewürztraminer, and we got to taste most of them. With Martin and her brother, we tasted Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Gewürztraminer! Each of the wines showcased different flavors and aromas, and I decided to buy a bottle of dry Muscat, which made for the perfect Mother’s Day gift.
Afterwards, we went to Lucien Doriath Duck Farm for a tour and a foie gras lunch. Our first course was duck rillettes spread on good bread with a glass of Cremant D’Alsace, followed by a duo of foie gras: foie gras terrine and seared foie gras served with balsamic reduction and a goat cheese crostini. For our main course, we had duck breast Wellington served with a foie gras emulsion sauce. Our dessert was a brightly acidic, palate-cleansing lemon sorbet.
Foie gras terrine, seared foie gras, goat cheese crostini
Many people, myself included, have had a bit of a tumultuous relationship with foie gras—enjoying the taste but questioning whether or not it’s ethically okay to consume it because of the force-feeding process. I won’t go into the details here, but after our tour, I feel much more comfortable; the ducks seemed to be quite happy.
Because we had a big morning and afternoon of eating and drinking, many of us decided to take it easy and sit around Strasbourg in the early evening. For dinner, my friends and I ventured out to get one of Alsace’s most famous dishes: Flammkuchen, or “Alsatian pizza.” It consists of dough rolled very thin and crackery, topped with cheese, bacon lardons, and onion. It…was… incredible! Even better when you wash it down with the favorite drink of the region: Picon Bière. Picon Bière is simply adding Picon (a bitter liqueur made from oranges) to a beer.
A Life-Changing Experience Comes to an End
Our last day in Strasbourg was especially interesting because it was May Day or European Labor Day. Many shops and restaurants were closed because workers have the right to the day off. Because of this, I decided to stay in a little longer than usual and chill out with some French TV. I was jolted awake from a mid-morning snooze, however, by very loud music coming from the street. I was lucky enough that I could lean out of my window and watch the protest unfolding below. Every political party that you could imagine was marching—Socialists, Communists, Leninists/Marxists, Far Right, Far Left, everyone. This May Day was particularly charged because of the upcoming election between Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron. The fervor that these people were marching with was exhilarating.
The beginning of the protests on May Day in Strasbourg, France. The sign reads “RESISTANCE.”
Our final dinner together was a big one. Even though it was the wrong time of the year for it, we had a traditional Choucroute dinner. To begin, we toasted with a glass of Champagne, reflected on the life-changing two weeks that we’d shared together, and got ready for our meal. The plates of Choucroute came out, and each of us was amazed. Each plate consisted of a huge pile of sauerkraut and potatoes, topped with a frankfurter, knockwurst, blood sausage, roasted pork loin, and pork belly, served with plenty of Riesling. Only a few finished their plates. And even fewer of us finished the slab of Munster we received, and the sorbet covered in alcohol. Don’t mistake not finishing the food for it not being very good, because it was delicious—just a lot of it! We went out for our last, and much needed, digestif before we would fly home the next day.
Reflection time! When I say that this trip was life-changing, I mean it, and I would absolutely recommend going on one of these to any student enrolled at the CIA. I met people that I would have never met otherwise and gained friends that I plan to stay in contact with for years. Everything we did in France made it feel like we were there forever, and all of us are anxiously awaiting our return.
Vive la France!
by Sean Morrill
- 7 Reasons to Choose a CIA Bachelor’s Degree - December 18, 2017
- Global Cuisines and Cultures: France Trip 7- Strasbourg - September 22, 2017
- Global Cuisines and Cultures: France Trip 6 – Champagne - September 5, 2017