The Perfect Choucroute
I never knew that there is an ideal season to eat choucroute until I visited Alsace in November. A local friend invited me to dinner at a classic winstub, a restaurant serving traditional dishes from Alsace. Nothing is as typical for Alsatian food as choucroute garnie, a wonderful dish of sauerkraut garnished with potatoes and different cuts of pork.
The choucroute garnie aux cinq garnitures at Muensterstuewel in Strasbourg is exceptional, in large part because the sauerkraut is made with fresh Autumn harvest cabbages. After six weeks of curing, the cabbage is flavorful without much of the bitterness that is so typical in sauerkraut. This sprightly sauerkraut, seasoned with juniper berries and bay leaves, combines perfectly with the richness of the pork, particularly the seven-hour pig’s joint.
To top it all off, there were many friends around the table, joyously sharing the choucroute, as is typical in Alsace. And of course, wine was free flowing, in this case a perfect match: a light dry Riesling (the house wine from a carafe, for which I was unable to determine the producer). It was the perfect late-Autumn dinner.