More Cheese, Please!

In twenty-six days Teacherman and I leave for our honeymoon: two weeks in the German Black Forest and in Alsace (which, in spite of Teacherman’s pseudo-naive assertions, is in FRANCE).  We are both far too excited about the food.

Sure, we read all the guidebooks and marked down the museums and castles and natureparks and picturesque towns that we wanted to go to, but in the midst of this genteel cultural orgy there would inevitably come a shout from whoever was in the other room:

“Do you think we’ll be there during asparagus season?”

“Look at the website for this cheese shop!”

“Strasbourg geese!  That is all I’m going to say: Strasbourg Geese!”

I think our most extreme moment of glee came when we realized that the farmer’s market in Freiberg is held Every Single Day on the square directly out the front door of our gasthaus.  There was some imperfectly-suppressed joyous leaping. 

And, because I always like to know what I’m getting myself into, I’ve been trying to read cookbooks from the region.  For the most part, this was a futile excercise.  Hearty Germanic cusine is not remotely “in” right now, and both regions, Alsace in particular, tend to be slighted in books of recipes meant to represent the entire country (whichever one that happens to be).

I was elated, therefore, when I discovered Black Forest Cuisine by Walter Staib on the New-Book shelf at the library.   I won’t give a review of the book here–I don’t actually know enough about the subejct to be a reliable auditor–but I will say that I loved the recipes, the traditional salad recipes in particular.  They hearken back to the self-created salad recipes of my childhood (meat, cheese, dressing, ancillary vegetables), but are so far above them in quality and inspiration that they really can’t be compared thereto.

My current favorite is for something called a Camembert Cafe Frei.  A whole round of Camembert is broken into pieces and mixed with a finely chopped amalgamation of chives, onions, caraway seeds and paprika, then served on top of lettuce and sliced radishes. 

I made the recipe last Sunday night, as part of our travelling cooler-fodder picnic.  The cheese I used was not a Camembert, but a something-without-a-name-I-could-discern, from Normandy.  It was runny and pungant, though, so runny that it couldn’t be broken into bits.  Instead we sprinkled the oniony mix-ins over the top and ate it bite by bite, chasing the chives around the plate and dipping the cheese into them. 

Wow. 

I know that the taste of the final dish had everything to do with the quality of the ingredients (the amazing cheese, the chives and shallot [because I had no onions] from the farmer’s market) , but it was still a revelation.  It was incredibly rich, but not so rich that I wanted to stop eating it.  The radishes and the lettuce provided a contrasting spicy crunch that worked well as an alternate bite with the gooey cheese. 

This is a recipe worth saving.  And, more, worth hoping to find in Germany itself.

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Published in: on June 1, 2007 at 6:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

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