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Friday, May 3, 2013

Tarte Flambée,Tarte Flambe, Flammekueche or Flammen Kuechen; Alsace’s Signature Slow Fast Food.

The traditional tarte flambée made with the traditional recipe.
Behind the French Menu
Bryan Newman

A traditional tarte flambée, tarte flambee.
Photograph courtesy of cbcastro

The recipe for tarte flambée .
The original  tarte flambée is a rolled out, very thin, pâte à pain, bread dough, covered with crème fraîche and a soft white cheese, usually this is a  local cheese called bibeleskaes, to this are added thinly sliced onions and lardons, smoked or fried bacon bits. All baked in an oven for about ten minutes and served.
Tarte Flambée Forestière  or aux Champignons de Paris
A traditional tarte flambée with added mushrooms
Photograph courtesy of clg20171
A tarte flambée, often offered in large and small sizes, makes an excellent entrée, the French first course, when shared between two, or a plat, the French main course.  The dessert versions of tarte flambée come with fruit, often with a taste of a strong eau-de vie, a fruit brandy, and some may have ice cream added just before serving.  Tarte flambée remains the name used in English as there is no other accepted English name.


A sign for “all you can eat” tarte flambée menu.
Photograph courtesy of picnic
Tarte flambée on the menu.
Advertisements outside restaurants offering tarte flambée may offer Tarte Flambée Salée ou Sucrée, that indicates that both savory and sweet versions are available. The options are endless, but the favorites are noted below:
Tarte Flambée Classic, Nature, Traditionnelle or à l’Ancienne -   All these names represent a tarte flambée made with the traditional recipe noted  at the beginning of this post.
Tarte Flambée au Magret de Canard Fumé  - A traditional tarte flambée with added slices of smoked duck breast.
Tartes Flambées au Feu de Bois - Tarte flambées cooked in a traditional wood burning oven.


Tarte flambée in  a wood burning oven
Photograph courtesy of Romain Decker.
Tarte Flambée aux Bananes Flambée au Rhum – A banana dessert tarte flambéed  with rum.  Dessert versions of tarte flambée were created much later than the traditional versions; they came with the increase in tourism and  the tourists also brought with them a taste for restaurant theatre.  The tarte flambée dessert versions now often include a brandy or an eau-de-vie, which will be, flambéed,  set alight in front of the diner; shades of Crepe Suzette!
For more about Crepe Suzette see the post:
La Tarte Flambée aux Pommes, Flambée à l'Alcool de Quetsches –  An apple, dessert tarte, flambéed  with the eau-de-vie, the plum brandy made from the Alsace and Lorraines’s famous quetsche plums. 


An apple tarte flambée flambéed with a quetche eau-de-vie
Photograph courtesy of Photograph courtesy of Romain Decker.
For the citizens of the regions of Alsace and Lorraine, this plum is a native son. The quetche is a mauve to almost black plum has fragrant and sweet yellow flesh; it is oval shaped often with a almost pointed ends; its nearest UK relation is the damson plum which is not as sweet.  In season, these plums are on sale all over France, and out of season you may request, for a digestif, the 40% alcohol quetsche eau-de vie.


A quetsche eau-de-vie
Photograph courtesy of sashafatcat
Like all other plums this plumb’s origin is Asian, and this one, again like many other fruits, reached France, Germany, Spain and the UK with the Romans.  The quetsche plum is, in fact, a German cross and  in Germany is called a zwetsche.
For more about eau, water, and eau-de-vies in France see the post:
Tarte Flambée : Formule à partir de 6 personnes par  table: Tartes Flambées à Volonté Salée, Sucrée et Salade à Volonté.  This is an all you can eat serving made for a group of six or more, with all the optional extras included;  who can ask for anything more! The offer is accompanied by an all you can eat salad. NB..The salads served with tarte flambées are usually mixed green salads so, unless noted on the menu, do not expect anything more.


Sign advertising tarte flambée
Photograph courtesy of notfrancoise
Tarte Flambée Gratinée à l'Emmental/ Gruyère/Munster. Salade Verte Mélangée (supplément par personne)   A traditional tarte flambée baked with added French Emmental, Gruyere or Munster cheese. A green salad is offered with a per person surcharge.
Tarte Flambée  Moitié/Moitié ... C'est vous qui composez  - Moitié-moitié  means half and half; and  no, this tarte flambé is not made with that American coffee cream! Here, moitié-moitié  is on the  menu for a tarte flambée made to your order with two different additions. Moitié-moitié is also what you say, in French, when you ask for two different dishes to be split between two diners; each diner having one half of the other's dish. 
The wine to accompany your tarte flambée.
Order a semi-dry Alsatian white wine with your tarte flambée and you may enjoy the perfect light Alsatian lunch or dinner. Choose a white, semi-dry Alsatian Gewürztraminer or a white semi-dry Alsatian Pinot Gris and you will not regret it.

Pinot Gris Louis Sipp Grand Cru Kirchberg de Ribeauville 2007
Photograph courtesy of Jayson_Bryant
The origin of the tarte flambée.
Some guide books call a tarte flambée an Alsatian pizza; however, those who wrote that obviously know zero about pizza and zero about tarte flambé. Tarte flambée and pizza are quite different dishes and have different histories, different doughs, and the tarte flambée has no tomatoes and no mozzarella in its history.
The Alsace together with région of the Lorraine were, over hundreds of years, ruled by France and or Germany in turn.  The result today is while the Alsace and the Lorraine are indisputably French a large percentage of the locals also speak German dialects along with their perfect French.  Flammen kuechen is one of the names for a tarte flambée in the Alsatian-German dialect called Allemand Alsacien or Elsässerditsch; the words mean cooked in flames in English. Cooked in flames relates to the original method of cooking in the traditional wood burning stoves that some restaurants still use. The French name tarte flambée is derived from that original name and essentially means a pie cooked in the flames.
Bryan G. Newman

Behind The French Menu
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