France is home to the concept of terroir – the taste of a specific place – the combination of geography and season, history and culture, tradition and food that give each region its unique specialties. Chef Chantal Véchambre combines her study of the history of French cuisine with decades of experience in the kitchen to offer us a glimpse into the diverse flavours of France.
Oberkutzenhausen, Souffelweyersheim, Voegtlinshoffen, Schwindratzheim — not names that just slide off the tongue. These are the names of villages of Alsace, one of the most charming areas in France. Situated adjacent to Germany, the region of Alsace has had a history of turmoil and conflict as is often the case along borders. But delicious food knows few boundaries, so German flavours and ingredients — beer, cabbage, pork, buttery cookies — all feature prominently in this now-tranquil and pleasant countryside of improuncable names, savoury food and cozy, colourful houses.
Flammekueche is a famous thin crust savoury tart topped with lardons, caramelized onions and sour cream (in place of the more traditional (but-unavailable-in-Canada) Bibeleskäs, a local soft, white cheese). Flammekueche was traditionally baked on countryside farms and became more widely popular in the 60s.
Soupe Paysanne à la Bière
Beer has been a popular beverage in Alsace since the Middle Ages; today Alsacian breweries provide more than half of all French beer. This very ancient recipe makes a light and creamy soup with a hint of warm aromatic spices and topped with crunchy slices of gingerbread.
Choucroute Garnie à l’Alsacienne
Fermented sauerkraut is the iconic (and healthy!) way to preserve and serve cabbage in countries across Eastern Europe. “Garnish” it with plenty of pork in all it’s delicous variety: smoked ham, pork belly, hocks, sausages, plus some potatoes and a selection of mustards, and you get your classic choucroute.
Spiced Cider Granita
A delicate palate cleanser, a kind of sorbet of spiced apple cider.
Assortment of Alsatian cookies
Alsace is renowned for its tradition of little cookies, especially popular around holidays. So we end this dinner with a delightful assortment: Linzertorte, Spritzbredle, Spitzbuebe, Bredele… Lots of butter, marmalade, cinnamon, poppy seeds, and almonds. Smells like Christmas!
Chantal Véchambre, originally from Paris, is a chef certified in both French cuisine and Pastry/Chocolate. In 2005 she moved to New Brunswick where she began her own business as caterer. Her independent research in culinary history led her to the Fortress of Louisbourg (Nova Scotia), a National Historic Site of Canada, where she developed new recipes for the site’s restaurant, and culinary workshops to the public, inspired by the 18th century recipes. She wrote the award winning book French Taste in Atlantic Canada, 1604-1758, A gastronomic history (CBU Press), featuring ingredients and recipes of the colonial period. Now established in Toronto, she pursues food writing and cooking ventures about French cuisine : supper club at The Depanneur, events in the city, gourmet private and corporate catering… You can find her with her company My Creme Caramel Catering these next weeks as food vendor at events like the ROM Friday Night Live or the Foodie Holiday Market…
Every weekend The Depanneur invites an amateur or professional guest chef to host a fun, informal dinner party.
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