Strasbourg and its choucroute

Choucroute is an emblematic dish of Strasbourg and the Alsace region generally. And so it’s natural, when you arrive here, to wonder: “Where can I eat a good choucroute in Strasbourg?” Not surprisingly, a true Alsatian will tell you that the best choucroute recipe is their mother’s. And, of course, if you are invited to try it, it’s an offer you shouldn’t refuse. But otherwise, you need to put in a bit of work to hunt down a good choucroute.

Now, your first instinct will probably be to avoid tourist areas, but where choucroute is concerned, it pays to do the exact opposite.

One good area to try is around the Cathedral. This is where you’ll find the Maison Kammerzell, a must-see for the frescoes by Léo Schnug that decorate the walls, and the view of Strasbourg’s Cathedral of Notre Dame (from the terrace and some of the rooms). Among other versions, Guy Pierre Baumann’s fish choucroute is still served here.

But for a good traditional choucroute, our advice is to take a gentle stroll down the Rue du Maroquin to Le Tire Bouchon.

The facade of this winstub (a typical Alsatian restaurant) is what first made it famous, but its reputation rests on its cuisine.  This is where you can taste one of the region’s most delectable choucroutes. You’ll love it, especially with an Alsatian beer or a glass of Alsation wine!

My personal advice is to save a bit of room for the chef’s cheesecake, which is to die for!

I’ve saved the original restaurant until last: the very aptly named  Porcus!

Partly a pork butcher’s shop, it’s principally a restaurant specialising in pork meats, created by Olivier Klein.

The menu here varies with the seasons and carries a dazzling selection of ten or so choucroutes, including two that particularly stand out: the Christmas Choucroute (with Truffée d’Alsace®, white pudding with truffles, escalope of foie gras and confit duck leg) and the Summer Freshness Choucroute.

Traditional pork meats make way for seasonal products. Knackwurst  is cleverly replaced by saveloy, Morteau sausage by a wild garlic sausage, shoulder of pork by a piece of Kassler. A quenelle of Alsatian potato salad with lardons replaces the potatoes. It’s truly ground-breaking!

For those of you who like a dish with a story, I’ll close by mentioning that choucroute, and cabbage in brine generally, is a Chinese invention. Indeed, it seems to have been something of a magic potion, as it was served to the workers who built the Great Wall of China.

So, you know what do to build up your strength next time you’re in Strasbourg!

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