The incredible diversity of Grand Est dining06-06-2017
The Grand Est, or “Great East”, is a newly formed uber-region in eastern France encompassing the former regions of Champagne-Ardenne, Lorraine and Alsace. It offers a vast array of culinary delights and delicious wines.
Introducing the Grand Est’s tastes…
The food from France’s Grand Est region is defined by a particular affection towards pork and local fruit and vegetables, all staples of the region’s culinary fare. Think lardons in Quiche Lorraine, while pork also features in the famous Alsace knack and wurst. While Mirabelle plum and damson tartlets are typical of the former Lorraine region, Champagne-Ardenne offers a huge array of regional specialities; Reims ham made from Champagne-seasoned pork shoulder, noix de jambon, cured ham from Ardennes, and pork trotters from Sainte-Menehould. In Rethel, sampling the delights of boudin blanc in golden truffle pastry, a speciality of La Richelieu, is not to be missed. Meanwhile, over in Troyes, andouillette reigns supreme.
When it comes to wine, Alsace and Champagne are the region’s showpieces. While the latter has attained worldwide renown, Alsace is gaining market share in international markets year on year, notably by virtue of a range of high quality wines including Cremant d’Alsace, Gewurztraminer, Riesling and Tokay Pinot Gris.
Two staple main courses
This regional speciality is Alsace’s equivalent of Quiche Lorraine, but with a subtle French twist to be transformed into a tarte flambée. It is a star player among the region’s local cuisine, and France in general. Since time immemorial, Flammekueche consists of a rectangular-shaped bread dough base, covered in fromage blanc or cream (or sometimes both!), and garnished with lardons, onions, then cooked in the oven.
Did you know? According to purists, to truly appreciate this dish, the “flamma” is placed in the middle of the table and guests eat to their heart’s content, with fingers rather than cutlery. In certain traditional restaurants, plates are topped up as soon as they are empty, and the feast continues until guests are suitably full.
A speciality dating back to the 16th century, this typical dish of world-wide renown comprises a shortcrust pastry case filled with eggs, milk, butter, fresh cream and smoked pork belly. While the debate continues as to whether cheese appeared in the original recipe, one thing is certain: meat was distinctly lacking in early versions. Traditionally served with a green salad, a Pinot Gris or a good beer would make a great match to these dishes.
Did you know? The name Quiche Lorraine derives from kuchen in Lorraine local dialect, meaning tart or cake.
A contribution to the wide family of French cheese
AOC Chaource is a soft cow’s milk cheese with a white rind.
AOC Langres, with its distinctive cylindrical shape, is a creamy, soft cheese made from whole cow’s milk.
Sweet is not push aside !
A marble cake made from yeast dough, kouglof’s distinctive shape comes from the high, creased mold with a hole in the centre, that is used during the cooking process. Kouglof comes in both sweet and savoury versions: with raisins soaked in rum or cherry brandy and almonds, or with lardons and nuts. A festive favourite, today it is more likely to appear on breakfast menues in its sweeter guise, while the savoury version is enjoyed as an aperitif.
The flagship fruit of the region, the mirabelle
Cultivated in France for five centuries, Mirabelle plums developed rapidly in eastern France. A coveted quality label, guarantees exceptional quality and dainty, golden fruit packed full of goodness. Available on shelves from mid-August, Mirabelle plums are extremely versatile and can be used in a wide range of sweet and savoury recipes.
A region producing high profile wines
Champagne is produced on the chalky soils between the towns of Reims, Epernay and Chalons en Champagne, where more than 33,000 hectares of vines produce 268 million bottles every year. Biscuits rose de Reims, delicate, pink, sweet biscuits, are a heavenly match to this famous nectar. The brainchild of a thrifty 17th century baker, the cakes were left to dry in the hot bread oven, having already been baked, which explains the name “bis-cuit”, which signifies twice heated in French. The biscuits are traditionally enjoyed dipped in Champagne.
A wine that has grown to become a symbol of the Alsace wine region, Gewurztraminer, with its distinctive pink grapes, would be impossible to confuse with other grape varieties. A noble plant, the grapes are particularly well suited to “late-harvest” style, producing well-balanced white wines. The distinctive style is appreciated the world over, notably in northern Europe, in Holland, Sweden, Denmark and Finland.
Beautiful products and tasteful recipes that gives a lot of inspiration.