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Monday, February 16, 2004

eG Food Blog: from Scarywurst to Buerehiesel, what a ride!

My eating life today has been quite a roller-coaster.

The day started out in Heidelberg with the usual breakfast of bread, butter, and honey, and a great big mug of coffee. Adding to the usual breakfast diet were some saucisson sec and Vacherin Mont d'Or cheese, leftovers from last night's simple dinner. The Vacherin and the saucisson both were fantastic. If you've never had Vacherin, I suggest you try it whenever you've got a chance. It's stinky, earthy, creamy, runny, and absolutely delicious.

For lunch, we continued our search for Scarywurst, aka Currywurst, a relic from his childhood that he insisted I try. When Thomas emailed me a photo he found on the internet to show me, it was so spectacularly frightening that I started calling it Scarywurst rather than Currywurst! Look at this picture and see for yourself! We found it at a tiny stall at the outskirt of Heidelberg.

So we had Scarywurst for lunch. It was actually not anywhere near as disgusting as it looked. The wurst was freshly grilled, sliced into small pieces, then smothered with ketchup and curry powder, then served on a paper plate with french fries. Plus, it was kind of a fun way to prepare ourselves for the dinner at the three-starred Le Buerehiesel.

Near dinnertime, we hopped into the spunky Audi and raced down the fabled German Autobahn to Strasbourg, about 150 km away. Barely an hour and a half later we arrived with over an hour to spare, so we decided to take a walk around the Petit France area again. This area was where I bought all those fantastic cheeses the other day. I wanted to buy another Vacherin for my lunch on the plane tomorrow, so we went back to La Fromagerie des Tonneliers again. Unfortunately, luck wasn't on our side when it came to photographing this place. When we were there the other day, the battery on my camera was dead. Today, we left the camera in the car. Sorry.

Anyway, we bought a petit Vacherin, a small chevre called Briquette de Langoumois, and another local Alsace cheese called Berville. The shop also sells some other food items, so I grabbed a jar of mi-cuit foie gras, a jar of creamy miel de fleurs de Provence, and a jar of confiture de prunes Reine-Claude, which is a type of prune local to the Alsace region. On the walk back to the car to go to the restaurant, we stumbled upon another nice looking shop selling confitures, so in we went and out we walked with five more jars, one of confiture aux clementines et Campari, two jars of confiture de quetches, and a large jar of miel d'acacia). By then Thomas's eyes were filled with panic, or perhaps it was marvel, at my ability to acquire ridiculous amount of things to eat in an improbably short time period. (Right, I forgot to mention another tiny stop at a patisserie to buy a croissant and two éclairs for tomorrow.) Anyway, I decided to give it a rest and went on our way in search of dinner.

Le Buerehiesel is located in a beautiful old building in the Orangerie park just across the street from the European Parliament building. I'm sure business from all the Euro-politicians is almost enough to keep a three-star place in the Black.

Before we arrived, I decided that I would bring my camera, but if it looked as though I would disturb other patrons, I wouldn't use it. Luckily, we were seated at a nice window table, far from other people, so you've got the pictures to see after all.

We decided to order le menu truffe. For Aperitif, I had a Muscat d'Alsace and Thomas had a champagne. I forgot to ask for the names of these, sorry. With dinner we shared a bottle of Kientzler, an Alsace Grand Cru from 1999. It was very dry and fragrant, and was perfect with the food.

The first to come was some amuse. These items were not listed on the menu so I couldn't give you the name in French, but they were poached quail egg in vinaigrette with dandelion greens (This is the second day in a row that I saw dandelion greens on a French menu, perhaps they are in season already?), a fried little pocket of duck and vegetable, a slice of Boudin Noir, topped with a sliced of cooked apple, on a tarte fine, and a small glass of gelee of lobster and creamy chestnut sauce.

My favorite was the gelee in chestnut cream, which was a fantastic mix of flavors and texture. The second favorite was the boudin noir. The other two amuse were just good, not great.

Next was a Terrine de Poireaux et Coquilles St.Jacques aux Truffes.

This was fantastic. The fantastically fresh scallops were ever so slightly poached before being added in the terrine with leeks. The dish was subtle yet fully flavoured, a difficult balance to attain IMHO.

Grenouilles poelees aux truffes, Lasagnes truffees et jus mousseux.
The chef here is rightfully famous with his frog legs. This dish of frog legs in truffle sauce served with a ‘lasagne' of truffles and caramelised onions. The lasagne was a bit more like a ravioli than a lasagne in my opinion. Well, whatever it was, it was simply fantastic. I nearly cried at first bite!!

Poitrine de Pintade aux truffes, petite tourte au foie de canard, marrons et pommes de terre.
Guinea fowl's breast, roasted with truffles underneath the skin, in truffles and jus sauce. The small tart was of duck foie gras, chestnuts, and potatoes, encrusted in thin slices of crisp potatoes.

Cheese! Oh, what can I say about those cheeses, except that they were all to die for?

The pre-pre-dessert were two small plates of thin cinnamon wafers, petits financiers with cherries, grapefruit pate de fruit, and caramelised sesame cookies.

Then the pre-dessert arrived, two small glasses of fruit compote, mainly orange, with a few other things thrown in for good measure, a tiny creme brulee of macademia nuts, and the creamiest egg custard ever topped with meringue.

Oeuf de Poule glace a la truffe fraiche.
The most amazing icecream I'd ever had. The glace was light and fantastically creamy, with small bits of truffles throughout. This is the first dessert made of or garnished with truffles that I've ever liked. The truffles felt like they belonged perfectly in the glace, instead on being a gimmick added on for more value.

Pine apple tast with Sizhuan peppercorns, vanilla, and lime, served with a pineapple sorbet. I wasnät too wild about this one. The tart was sweet and tated of canned pineapples. Yuck!

The last course was coffee, served with chocolate truffles, candied grapfruit peels, caramels, and assorted sugar. They were all great.

I'm off now to bed, to catch a few hours before my flight back to California.


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