Day 4 Alsace: Colmar and a Culinary Gem in Nedermorschwihr- 11 May
A 30 degree day in Alsace in May - can you believe it? We couldn’t even manage that in Sydney in the middle of Summer!
Bearing the temperature in mind, we thought we’d take it a little easy in Alsace today and do things that didn’t require too much effort, like explore another quaint town. Oh yeah, and eat. Next town on the agenda for us today was the city of Colmar.
Colmar, the capital of Upper Alsace, is situated at the point where the Munster valley widens out into the broad plain of the Rhine. Brimming with history, there are two areas that sit side by side in Colmar that warrant a visit:
The Ville Ancienne (Ancient Village), the heart of the ‘Old Town’, comprises the Place de l’Ancienne Douane, Rue des Marchands and Rue Merciere. You’ll find a plethora of old houses with corner turrets, oriel windows and half-timbering, and balconies adorned with geraniums.
Petite Venise (Little Venice) is comprised of place d’Unterlinden and following rue Tanneurs along the canal. Renovated in 1974, the ‘tanners district’ along the canal is named after the inhabitants who used the river to tan and wash hides (a practice discontinued in the 19th century).
After succumbing to Colmar’s charm for a couple of hours, the heat got the better of us. After a simple Italian meal at one of the local establishments - What? No Asperges Avec Jambon? - we headed off to Kaysersberg to view the home where the iconic great Dr Albert Schweitzer was born and lived for part of his life.
Culinary Gem in Nedermorschwihr:
After escaping the intense heat of the afternoon in the cooler heights of our B&B, La Haute Grange, we resurfaced in time for, you guessed it, dinner. But wait. Tonight promised to be different.... we were told about this local gem called Caveau Morakopf at the tiny town of Nedermorschwihr by a lovely Irish couple who were staying at our B&B who seemed to know their food. They loved it so much, they ate there 2 nights in a row. The restaurant happened to be one of Maggie and Philippe’s local favorites. Was that a good enough recommendation? We thought so!
The restaurant, Caveau Morakopf was a culinary revelation. Having been in the same local family for 45 years, the passion and dedication that went into the running of this establishment in this tiny, unassuming town was something to behold, With traditional recipes passed down from generation to generation, there was a contemporary edge to their cuisine in terms of their lightness and freshness of local produce - not at all heavy like the majority of the Alsace dishes we had eaten in the past few days. But most impressive of all was the equal-to-none service we received from owner, Paul-Andre Guidat. Having worked for the likes of The Peninsula and Shangri-La Hotel chains for much of his professional life, he knew a thing or two about customer service and satisfaction.
So let’s get down to the nitty gritty, what we ate for dinner. As my main, I ordered a dish called Fleischschnacka. Quite a mouthful, I know, but the dish itself was a culinary wonder: slices of minced beef rolled in fine slices of pasta dough, cooked and served in a sensational beef broth and served with a selection of salads. While it sounds heavy, it was in fact quite delicate and light. I relished this dish with a couple of glasses of a crisp Pinot Gris from Alsace. Heaven on a stick!
Peter enjoyed an incredible Magret de Canard avec Sauce au Miel (duck breast with a honey sauce, which was served with potato and salad). He enjoyed his dish with an Alsace Pinot Noir, slightly chilled. After a shared dessert of fresh strawberries au naturel - that’s right, no cream, sugar or licquer - Peter and I shared a raspberry brandy, totally clear in color but with a 43% alcohol kick. Like our Irish friends at the B&B, we were so thrilled with our restaurant experience at Ceaveau Morakopf that we booked dinner there again for the following night.