New Delhi, India
June 17, 2009
Serendipity, fortunately, is something we often find ourselves blessed with; and it happened again. Right across from the museum, at 2 Rue Unterlinden, we found an attractive winstub called (what else?!) Unterlinden. This is a picturesque little building painted a pale yellow, with light greenish-blue shutters on the windows and a smattering of stained glass. What I liked particularly was a vaguely rustic arrangement of dried flowers and leaves spreading above the main door. Artificial, I’m sure—natural stuff wouldn’t survive the elements for long—but pretty. Through the windows, we could see a dimly lit interior, but the tables outside, with their white beach umbrellas, looked much more inviting. We’d barely seated ourselves when a brisk but friendly waitress, speaking adequate English, came by to hand us the menus (in German, French and English).
The choice at Unterlinden is fairly limited: you’ll get the usual Alsatian fare of sauerkraut with sausages, but other than that, there isn’t much unless you count their specialty: flammekeuche, also known as tarte flambée. Flammekeuche is something I hadn’t even heard of before I went to Alsace, but I’d soon learnt that this was a local savoury tart, something like a pizza but without the tomatoes. It sounded good, so I ordered a traditional flammekeuche, while Tarun settled for one with added seasonings. And, since it was so hot, I asked for a Coke Lite while Tarun ordered a Reisling.
We sat and cooled off for a while, admiring the tablecloth (a cheery striped and printed affair in red, pink and yellow) and the placemats (with a charming illustration of Alsatian dancers against a backdrop of half-timbered houses) while our drinks were served. A few minutes later, our flammekeuche arrived on large individual `plates’ of thin wood. One bite, and I knew people had it wrong: the only resemblance a flammekeuche bears to a pizza is in the crust. In all other respects, it is mouthwateringly different. My traditional flammekueche had a gloriously thin and crisp crust, topped with yoghurt, lots of onions, and lardons (bits of smoked bacon) before being popped into the oven. Tarun’s flammekeuche had some Mediterranean add-ons: thyme, olive oil, and some goat cheese. Both flammekueches were out of this world: hot, flavourful, and just the right size to fill us up without leaving us feeling like we had something sitting in our tummies. Perfect for a hot day, really.
At €25 for our two flammekeuches, including the drinks and a tip, this was a reasonable meal. The food was excellent and the service was efficient. Plus, Unterlinden has a wide range of flammekeuches to offer, including (if you like pizza but aren’t willing to experiment too much) some with tomatoes and other familiar ingredients. And, of course, it’s very convenient if you’ve just emerged from the Musée d’Unterlinden. Much, much recommended.
From journal Great Reasons to Visit Colmar