Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Strasbourg, France: La Choucroute for Lunch at Maison Kammerzell

So I have come to my last day in the Alsace region. April weather did me well when it comes to expectations vs. turnout. Most days the skies were coloured grey with a few moving blue skies shining through but it was mostly dry. I only experienced very little rain in the form of showers. Knowing that April can sometimes be unkind, I was quite lucky to finish this early spring trip with a hurrah.

With the days I had taken for this holiday, it was impossible to visit all the lovely villages along the Alsatian Wine Route but I managed to see a few of the highlights which I am quite happy and contented about, but only for now! You can read my stories and see the pictures here: Colmar and Alsace Wine Route Villages

My next itinerary for this trip: Strasbourg and I will be having my CHOUCROUTE lunch in this city.

What is ‘La Choucroute’?

You’ll probably know it in German—‘sauerkraut’. Fermented or sour cabbage. It’s one of those dishes that the Frenchies and the Germans share together, albeit only in the Alsatian region of France. There is no fixed recipe for this regional dish but the most popular and very typical I must say are choucroute with pork cuts (bacon, knuckles, ham), sausages and charcuterie. Other variations are game meats and even fish. And then paired with of course a Riesling from the region.

So before leaving Alsace, I would like to try this meal, and because choucroute is a heavy dish, I reckon it is best eaten during lunch where I have enough hours to move around and digest everything before venturing into yet another food battle on the dinner table.

Maison Kammerzell Restaurant 
Website: Maison Kammerzell 

I picked this restaurant for 2 reasons: (1) They have choucroute in their menu and it looks like they are famous for this (2) The restaurant is housed in one of the most important medieval buildings (circa 1427) that survived in the city and it looks awesome. Their slogan—‘Traditional cuisine in a historical house’

Moreover, the medieval hotel and restaurant is located on Place de la Cathedral itself! Now that is very handy for the restaurant to be right in the smack of Strasbourg because I don’t have a lot of time. The location is just perfect and I was able to find (how lucky!) street parking just a block away along the quay as well. Everything just fell into its right place when I arrived in Strasbourg. I could not have been any happier.

This is the interior of the restaurant on the ground floor and for the rest of the photos, where I had my lunch:

Umm yes, I managed to take a picture of myself from a mirror. Selfies these days rule... strange, when I have been doing selfies since a long time ago. The other picture was taken at a later time when most guests have left.

The lovely frescoes were by Alsatian painter, Leo Schnug.  The architecture style historically belongs to the German Renaissance.

Choucroute with Salmon and Dill

Not very keen on meats, I ordered the fish choucroute, their specialty on the menu that they are famous for: Baumanns Choucroute aux 3 Poissons (Baumanns Sauerkraut with 3 Sorts of Fishes). This dish was created in 1970 by Guy Pierre Baumann, an emblematic dish that has become the specialty of the Maison Kammerzell.

But after almost 30 minutes of waiting, there was no Baumanns Choucroute aux 3 Poissons that arrived on the table, so I asked one of the waiters what happened to my order. He came back apologising informing me that they had ran out of the fishes but they however have the ‘Sauerkraut with fresh salmon and dill’ and they can quickly make this for me.

I obliged, but I have to admit that I was completely annoyed. I hate waiting, and if I did not check on them I might have sat my way through in this restaurant hungry. If not for its breath taking interior I was sure I would have been bored to death.

Instead of having the choucroute with 3 sorts of fishes, they gave me the choucroute with salmon and dill. The choucroute is inside, and instead of riesling, I paired this with a gewurtzraminer. 

Et voila!!! Choucroute with salmon and dill. This was soooo good but unfortunately the meal was too big for me, I could not finish it. We do not do doggie bags here in Europe. You order what you can eat and leave the leftovers on the table.

The restaurant didn’t put the coffee into my bill though as a token of appreciation perhaps for the long wait I had to endure for this meal. Final review score without the wait: 4.1 stars out of 5.

Peek at the 1st floor of Maison Kammerzell

Design and architecture sits in my blood, as well as having an ultra-curious mind, so with that I right away noticed the winding wooden stairs in the corner going up to the first floor of the restaurant. The wait staff were very busy cleaning up and getting the restaurant ready for the evening, and for all they cared, I have paid already, so they just pretty much ignored me. That left me with enough opportunity to tinker around =) As quick as a cat, I dashed to the staircase and stealthily climbed up.

This is what greeted me:

The view from the first floor to the Place de la Cathedrale. Those glass work on the window are pretty amazing, they are so beautiful, and in different hues even.

So gorgeous dining in a room like all these!

Beautiful and historical interior like this make me go weak at my knees and at the same time bubble with excitement. I mean, together with the cathedrale, this is the most important building on the square! The oldest  (circa 1427) that survived, and very well preserved.

Sometimes I wish I could relive my past art and design life. Although I am happy with my life now, I do wonder about the what ifs... what if I chose to continue design or anything related to fine art? What would have become of me now? Which is why I seek solace in art, design and architecture when I travel.

I highly recommend this restaurant and do try to sneak to the first floor so you can take a picture of the Cathedral square.

 The dark mahogany building facing Place de la Cathedrale is Maison Kammerzell Restaurant while the beige also old building annexed to it at the back (see picture) is its hotel.

Travel Period: April 2013
Destination: Strasbourg (Haut Rhin – Alsace), France

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

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