In their January 2003 issue, Saveur included in their Saveur 100 the confitures of Christine Ferber, an Alsatian woman who is reputed to be one of the top pastry chefs in France. Her jams, jellies, and sweet-sour preserves are supposedly used by many of the 3 star chefs in France (and Alain Ducasse wrote the introduction to her book, Mes Confitures, yet she still does her work and sales from the little family shop in Niedermorschwir, a tiny village on the wine road which happened to be about 15 minutes from where we were staying. And so we made a stop one morning. The Ferber shop is basically the village grocery, bake shop, confectionary and magazine rack! But all along one wall and throughout other areas of the little store are small jars of Christines many products. These range from very traditional flavors, like Morello cherries (griottes) with kirsh, to more unusual one such as a combination of bananas, oranges and chocolate. At the store, open for tasting, we were able to sample a traditional Quetsche (Damson plum) as well as a somewhat peculiar plum-banana combination. I purchased 7 jars including such items as a passion fruit coulis, a cherry-kirsh preserve, a cherry-rose preserve, Williams pears with vanilla, Alsatian apples with beer, a red onion and sherry vinegar aigre-doux (sweet and sour), and a carmelised shallot, red wine and herb aigre-doux. On returning home, I was able to share the cherry-kirsh with local confiture maker June Taylor (check out her English style marmalades), and have so far tried the passion fruit sauce and the caramelized shallots.
Im a real passion fruit lover, and the coulis was intense and the best passion fruit flavored anything that Ive ever had. We spooned it over vanilla gelato, and plan to finish the jar this weekend with something chocolate. The sweet-sour caramelized shallots were equally wonderful. These I added to just a bit of fish stock, swirled in a table spoon of butter and served with fresh wild pacific salmon. The sweet-sour, oniony flavors were a perfect counterpoint to the rich salmon.
Another trip to Christines shop will definitely be on the agenda for next year! I only wish she had an internet sales site.
This year we decided to spend one night in Strasbourg before heading to Heidelberg for 2 nights and then home. While Jesse loves Alsatian wines, he was craving beer and we visited one of the prettiest bierstubes in the city for dinner. This was LAmi Schutz, in the Petite France area, and the focus was in fact equally on wine and beer. Unusually, they offered two set menus, one designed to go with wine and one with beer with appropriate beverages for each, consisting of an aperitif plus a beverage matched to each of the three courses. While the wine aperitif was a good, if somewhat overly sweet cremant and blackberry liqueur combination, the lemony beer aperitif was quite good, as were the beers. Sadly we did not determine where they were from but they were definitely better and more full-bodied than anything from the major Alsatian brewers. For food, I enjoyed a very good house-made rabbit and rabbit liver terrine, followed by a 3-fish choucroute very tasty, but the choucroute itself was more to my liking at Zum Pfifferhus. Jesses first course was an excellent salad of all sorts of lightly marinated vegetables, including some wild asparagus, followed by sandre with a mushroom sauce. We both had a gewurtztraminer sorbet over which marc de gewurtztraminer had been poured for dessert. Refreshing, if boozy, on that warm evening.