Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Sunday, 13 September 2009


By leaving Saverne at 3.30 p.m. on day 1 of our Alsace trip, we had ample time to do some more sightseeing before trying to find our Chambre d’hôtes in the tiny village of Hipsheim. Until then our GPS had guided us flawlessly without getting off track. So we programmed ‘Mauricette’, as we have nicknamed our Mio580 GPS, to take us to Obernai.
Once again ‘she’ did a great job, taking us straight into the centre of the town. Obernai is just as pretty and typical as the other villages and towns in the area.

Colourful timbered and richly decorated houses, sumptuous flower decorations, churches with typical spires, souvenir shops, sidewalk terraces, restaurants recommending their ‘choucroute garnie’ and ‘baeckoffe’ as the best in town ... and tourists … September seems to be a very popular month to visit the Alsace!

We squeezed our car between the dozens of others parked at the foot of the church. On the corner was a large souvenir shop. We walked in and bought some postcards and had a look at the impressive collection of knickknacks that were on display. I couldn’t resist buying two mini stoneware pots, which look exactly like miniature versions of the ‘Le Creuset’ cast iron pot that I use for making stews and soups. The little pots are perfect for serving individual portions of soup, vegetables or rice.
The shop also carried a large selection of the typical colourful Alsace platters and pots that are used for making and serving traditional dishes such as ‘Choucroute’ and ‘Baeckoffe’. Apparently, the ‘Capitale de la Choucroute’, the village of Krautergersheim, is just 8 km down the road. Choucroute or Sauerkraut is finely shredded cabbage that is left to ferment in big stone jars. Salt, crushed peppercorns and juniper berries are added. You can also add some milk to accelerate the fermenting process. A heavy weight is put on top of the shredded cabbage, to press out all the air that is left between the leaves. The 'new' choucroute is ready to be eaten after a fortnight or so. This is called ‘La Choucroute nouvelle’. It is made with the first cabbages that are harvested at the end of the summer and the beginning of autumn.
I’ve had some of this ‘choucroute nouvelle’ during an earlier stay in the Alsace
and find it much nicer than the traditional one, which can be rather hard to digest. It also has more crunch than the cabbages that are left to ferment for months before being sold in jars and tins. Unfortunately, you can get it only locally during a very short period … unless you want to try and make it yourself. Do you feel like giving it a try?
It was almost 5 p.m. when we left Obernai following the instructions of ‘Mauricette’. On our way to Hipsheim we drove through the above mentioned village of Krautergersheim
. It certainly lives up to its title of ‘Capital de la Choucroute’ as cabbages are the main culture in the fields surrounding the village.
At 5.20 p.m. ‘Mauricette’ delivered us flawlessly at the front gate of the ‘Moutonneaire Fleurie’ in Hipsheim were we would stay for the two following nights.



chm said...

Having some Alsatian blood running in my veins, choucroute is one of my favorite dishes and kugelhopf [pronounced couglof] is definitely my favorite pastry. Just to think about it makes me hungry!

Toutefois, je n'avais jamais entendu parler du Baeckoffe. J'essaierais bien si je pouvais trouver certains des ingrédients comme le mouton et le pied de porc qui ont disparu des supermarchés de mon coin de Californie du Sud!

ladybird said...

chm, C. had a Baeckoffe last year at 'La taverne Katz', a gastronomic monument in Saverne, and found it rather bland. It all depends of course of the spices you put in it, I suppose. Martine