Strasbourg; Christian patisserie and chocolate shop Strasbourg; Viking River Cruises; boomer travel; chocolate

judiboomergirl travel logoAre you ready to join me for my best-ever day in Strasbourg? If you are hungry now, you’ll be ravenous when you’re done reading about and viewing all the pictures from the “Taste the Best of Alsace” excursion I went on during my “Rhineland Discovery” river cruise (courtesy of Viking River Cruises).*  I guarantee you’ll want to book a visit to the Alsace region of France to try Strasbourg food during your life after 50.

Arriving in the Alsace region of France to sample Strasbourg food

It was the next to last day of our cruise on the Rhine and activities were reaching a peak. Following visits to Bruges, Amsterdam, Kinderdijk, Cologne, Heidelberg, and Rudesheim, the Viking EIR arrived outside Strasbourg, the largest port on the Upper Rhine and the center of France’s Alsace region. Since Strasbourg borders on France and Germany, it boasts a unique cultural blend of both countries.

One day in Strasbourg

The cobblestone streets of Strasbourg.

Food and City Tours Strasbourg

While my boyfriend L stayed back and rested, I departed our ship early morning with five fellow female foodies for what would be the most ah-may-zing day of eating — literally ever, ever, ever from 9:00 am to 5:00 p.m. — with Food and City Tours Strasbourg.

Food and City Tours Strasbourg

My fellow Strasbourg foodies.

Bonjour,” said our guide Virginie as she greeted us for our bus trip into town. We each were given a shopping bag to fill with foods for our lunch at a local wine shop.

Virginie shared the history of Strasbourg, from it’s early Roman founding, to the years under French rule, then back to German rule, then back to France, then back to Germany. “Since 1944, after WWII, Strasbourg became French again,” said Virginie.

Strasbourg scene in the Alsace Region of France

The beauty of Strasbourg.

Ready, set, eat

Our tour began in the Public Square where a food market with local purveyors is held each Wednesday. The climate is like the Mediterranean — that’s why there are wonderful fruits and vegetables. (Virginie told us that the Christmas market is here each December. So go book your river cruise now for next month. Maybe I’ll go with you!)

(If you cannot view the video click here: “36 Hours in Strasbourg – The New York Times.)

For our first taste of Strasbourg food, we sampled sweet Mirabelles, tiny yellow plums, which were in season. We bought some authentic Alsace pretzels for consuming at lunch. We tried Kougelhopf, a traditional Alsace bread from the organic bakery Kristof Boulangerie. “It’s like a brioche but round like the sun,” said Virginie. “Kougelhopf is eaten on Sunday mornings. It takes a long time to bake and must rise twice. You can’t keep this bread for more than a few days,”

Market Square Strasbourg

Mirabelles are sold at the Strasbourg market.

Kristof boulangerie in Strasbourg

Kougelhopf is a traditional Alsace bread.

A chocolate lover’s dream

Next, we strolled the cobblestone streets to Christian patisseries and chocolate shop. We sat down in the back of the tearoom for our tasting of Fromage Blanc ice cream made with French cheeses, Mirabelle sorbet, followed by a selection of handmade chocolates. The first chocolate was made with cinnamon, the second was made with Chinese tea, and the third was a chocolate robed orange rind. Pure joy!

Christain confection shop and patisserie in Strasbourg

Christian is known for his handmade chocolates in Strasbourg.

We met Chef Christopher, the owner and maker of these wonderful chocolates. He told us about his network of small purveyors from places like Vietnam and Guatemala where he sources high quality cocoa beans.  I bought a few dark chocolate bars made with cocoa beans from Venezuela (which Chef Christopher said were best) to take home to L.

Christian patisserie and chocolate shop Strasbourg

Christian is a master chocolatier.

Sampling bread, cheese, and pastries 

Full from our sweets, we headed to Pains Westermann, a popular boulangerie, to buy baguettes and then to La Cloche à Fromage where more than 500 kinds of cheeses are sold for our next sampling of Strasbourg food. Yves, the owner, offered us a variety of cheeses to sample including Munster cheese which originates from the area and is often served with a sprinkling of cumin, Comte cheese, Bleu cheese, and a split cheese made half with the morning milk from the cow and half with the afternoon milk. So creamy! So good! 

Strasbourg Pains Westermann baguettes

It’s hard to resist these breads.

Strasbourg; La Cloche a Fromage and Alsace cheese

Sampling Strasbourg cheeses.

We left the cheese shop with a chilled bag filled with cheeses and charcuterie and walked to Litzler Vogel patisserie, known for its macarons and eclairs. I picked out a fig and vanilla macaron and Virginie bought a selection of eclairs for lunchtime. This shop is heaven, pure heaven!

Strasbourg; Litzier Vogel pastisseries and macarons

Who can resist the macarons?

Strasbourg; Litzier Vogel patisseries

Litzier Vogel cakes are a work of art.

Strasbourg Carousel

I love carousel rides.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Strasbourg

The Notre Dame Cathedral was magnificent.

Alsace wine, cheese, and eclairs

By early afternoon, after passing through the flea market, riding on a carousel, and oohing at the Notre Dame Cathedral, we arrived at the wine shop for lunch with Sommelier Christopher. “Cheese and wine is a French tradition,” said Christopher. Out came the breads, cheeses, and sausages and all the goodies from our morning walk. Our table was filled to the brim with amazing Strasbourg food.

Food and City Tours Strasbourg

Pairing our food with wine.

Then came the wine pairings. We sipped Muscat with the Bleu cheese, Pinot Noir, and other wines from the region. There was even wine jelly to top the cheeses.

Sampling Alsace wines

We learned all about the regional wines.

And then, and then, and then, OMG, it was time to bite into the coffee and vanilla eclairs paired with sips of Cremant d’Alsace sparkling wine. “It is called eclair which means lightening because you will eat it is so fast it is like a lightening bolt,” said Christopher. I actually ate it slowly, savoring every last crumb. It was the best eclair I’ve ever eaten.

The tour could have ended with the eclairs and I would have been happy. But it wasn’t over. Could my stomach partake of more? Absolutement!

Check out the video promotion about the tour. Do you see anyone you know? If you cannot view the video click here: Food and City Tours Strasbourg

Tarte flambe and gingerbread

Our afternoon walk took us to Au Bon Vivant Cafe where we dined on escargot, drank Picon, beer mixed with brandy, and helped Chef Michel make a Tarte Flambe. Bon Vivant means to enjoy life and I was definitely enjoying this special day.

Bon Vivant Cafe in Strasbourg

I played chef making a taste flambe.

Au Bon Vivant Cafe in Strasbourg

Ready to eat and drink at Au Bon Vivant.

Before leaving Strasbourg we made one final stop at Pain d’Epice, where the baker Mirelle Oster sells her homemade gingerbread. Did I say I LOVE gingerbread? I do. I do. Mirelle makes a delicious gingerbread with seven spices: mace, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom pods, cloves, and black pepper.

Pain d'Epices gingerbread in Strasbourg

Last stop for gingerbread.

Virginie and her partner Patricia said their goodbyes as we boarded the bus back to the Viking EIR. The six female foodies all agreed that the day was a best-ever feast of Strasbourg and thanked City and Food Tours for a most spectacular way to experience the Alsace region. (BTW, Strasbourg is only an hour ride by train from Paris.)

Viking River Cruises; Strasbourg scene

The views in Strasbourg were picture perfect.

Back on board

“I’m starving. Are you ready for dinner?” asked L when I entered our room. I accompanied L to the dining room but could not and would not put another morsel in my mouth after all that delicious Strasbourg food. The waiter wondered if I was feeling okay. Yes, my tummy was full, or as they say in France, j’ai trop mangé (literally, I ate too much)!

Soon our cruise on the Rhine would be coming to an end. Stay tuned for a recap of our last day including our trip into Germany’s fabled forest. Will JudiBoomergirl be tempted to eat Black Forest Cake? Will she convince L to try it too? More to come.

Black Forest Cake

Can you guess what kind of cake is eaten in The Black Forest?

Judi

 

P.S. – In case you missed my first recaps you can find them at:
My Travels on “Rhineland Discovery” – A Delight for the Senses
My Travels on “Rhineland Discovery” – First Stop Beautiful Bruges
My Travels on “Rhineland Discovery” – Adventures In Amsterdam
My Travels on “Rhineland Discovery” – A Lovely Last Day In Amsterdam
My Travels on “Rhineland Discovery” − Welcome To Kinderdijk and Cologne
My Travels on “Rhineland Discovery” – The Great Castles of Germany

*Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” Viking River Cruises provided me with a complimentary press trip river cruise on the Rhine. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.