I’m running late to one of the best joints in town. My friends had just wrote me and I had flown into action to meet them. It’s a quick walk and past the pass sanitaire control, I enter the brasserie, Au Brasseur, famous for its food and history as a brewery. The place still makes beer. The brewery machinery and vats are the centrepiece in the ground floor.
It’s a little past 8pm; the place is already full. This is typical for a Friday night. My friends are in the cellar, my two friends surrounded by 4 on one side and 3 on the other. One corner spot on the bench is free. For me, this is the first night out for a tableful of social interaction and for a tarte flambée (in French) since February 2020.
My friends, upon my arrival, have already chosen what they want to drink but the waiter hasn’t come by yet. When he does come, we scramble, eager to do everything at once in a rush of adrenaline. “Drinks and food!”, they demand. One round of pints please! Different shades and mine is a quarter pint. I can never smell the hop but to taste the fruit of the red beer and feel the twist of sweetness differs from the amertume of the amber beer.
Here, tartes flambées are the real star. Served on wooden platters, flammekueche (in Alsatian) is a thin flatbread pie baked in a wood fire oven with crème fraîche or fromage blanc, thin bacon slices, and onions. Mushrooms, different cheeses, or vegetables can be added. The best variety is difficult to choose but the one with Munster cheese is just as traditional as the original. Munster cheese hails from the town of Munster, in the south, near Colmar.
Our table is laden down with 10 magnificent crispy flammes: 1 classic, 4 Munster, 1 vegetable, 4 forrestière (added mushrooms). Over the clamor of football supporters in this deep cellar, we smelled the wafting of the bacon and the Munster cheese, quite powerful, before the waiter turned the corner to our table.
On est servie. No matter what your grandmother says about proper etiquette, forget your cutlery with flammekueche. The slices are pre-cut, making it easy for our fingers to take one slice after another at snail or wolf pace, depending on appetites and beer glasses. On my platter, the smelly Munster cheese sifts through my fingers. Nicely melted, it’s all over the place. What are napkins for, of course?
However, be careful in this pandemic world. If, as it was for me, this is your first big outing, one flambée is enough to wear one out completely.
The problem? The devil is temptation and temptation is Munster cheese. And that is all I need for fuel.
The crisp crust of the flatbread base crumbles to black dust on my wooden platter. The melted cheese sometimes spills onto the platter; the leftovers are scraped. At this point, it is a first for my fork. My glass still needs nursing. Dessert time.
Summer is almost over at this point and so, as my friends read the menu and debate on what is best, I choose an ice cream coupe. It will be my last until next spring. My friends elaborate a plan: 3 flambées with plums, 3 with apple-cinnamon, and 4 little pots of chocolate sauce.
When we’re all served, an extra flambée comes along. A mix-up from the waitress, who doesn’t flinch, but we don’t complain after debating. More importantly, do we have the place? A spot’s here so let’s move these plates this way and that. Push the glasses too. We’ll share. I eat the cold first. It sounds rich but there’s nothing like chocolate to finish off a preceding heavy delight. I am not alone; we are two. As we spoon in, the others battle for the pots running around the table to spill onto the slices. Before long, we are full but not done. There’s an atmosphere as we jump at the Italians screaming in the corner opposite us. The match is going well: as the players fight over a tiny ball, we fight over the last plum flambée. Fruit is everywhere, the only sugar in sight.
Cut in slices and placed directly on the flatbread base, it is served baked and warm. For this last one, no more chocolate sauce. One quarter of a plum runs off onto the platter. It cannot escape the trap.
As that too comes to an end, we chase a water jug down. As that arrives and we are satisfied, we slowly make our way out: compliments, payments, thank you and a desire to come back one night.
Hej all! Béa here! Above is a piece I wrote recently for a job opening. I’m not sure what the outcome will be but since I almost never go out and I went for tartes flambées with a couple of friends, celebrating a milestone, I wrote about that particular Friday night. If you are ever in Strasbourg, don’t hesitate to eat and drink at Au Brasseur. Excuses for the lack of relevant photos from that night. I’m no food blogger but I do relish cooking and eating. Cheers ❤️