If French Camembert disgusts you, forget about Munster, unless you want to get rid of a suitor. This cheese also made out of cow milk reaches a 8.4 on the Richter scale of odorant product. It originates from a typical Alsatian village of the Vosges Mountains, Munster, with it half timbered houses and real storks on the top of the church.
If you wish to bring back the outrageously smelly material without having to sell your car right away, you need to ask the saleswoman for a vacum packing ( emballage sous vide). Or you can buy a milder version of Munster in the farms of the area by just stopping where you see the sign « vente de fromage ». You should ask for a « munster blanc »(white munster) or you can buy it at la « maison du fromage » in Gunsbach, where there is a constant exhibition about the story of Munster and a generous and cheap restaurant « la Stub de la Fecht » where you can taste all kind of charcuterie and cheese in front of a very serene landscape.
Like most of the smelly cheese, the Munster was elaborated in a monastery hence the name of Münster, monastery in German. It could come from Charlemagne (800), but it is most likely that the recipe of this outrageous creamy material is due to the creatitivity of a travelling… Irish monk in the IXth century… In 1139, the Munster was used by villagers to pay their taxes. Hence maybe, the idea that « money stinks » ?
Two wines I advise to go with Munster : a Gewurtztraminer (a half sweet white wine from Alsace) or Saint Perray (white wine from the Rhône valley)
Maison du Fromage and Restaurant de la Stub de la Fecht
Vallée de Munster
23 route de Munster
open everyday from de 9am till pm
+33 (0)3 89 77 9000
Places to visit :
Villages in Alsace are well preserved for the region was at stake between France and Germany during three wars from 1870 till WWII and none of the belligerants dared destroy what they thought belonged to them.
While you are here, visit the bucolic village of Riqwihr, still standing from the XVth century.It looks like Disney, only it is real with its incredible shop « Féérie de Noël », completely dedicated to Christmas decorations. Bring back a wooden sculpted lamp (average price 100 euros).
A wonderful, less touristy village is also, Turckheim.
Where to stay at Turckheim.
At the beautiful Hostellerie des Deux Clefs buit in 1540. The former black eagle became the 2 keys Hostellerie after the French Revolution, refering to the key of the past and of the future, is an important stage on the Saint Jacques de Compostelle way. It has belonged to the Schubnel family for four générations and has hosted famous people like Hortense de Mancini, the niece of Cardinal Mazarin , the nobel peace price, Dr Albert Schweitzer, and the Général de Gaulle himself… ( ffrom 139 to 189 euros for a double room
address : 3 Rue du Conseil,
phone : 03 89 27 06 01
Bluff your way about Alsace.
You will notice that some old houses have a ground floor that is smaller than the first floor. It is because people used to pay taxes on the surface of the ground floor. So people managed to have the first floor larger than the ground floor. Are Alsatians, Scottish ?
Over the Schlurt mountain pass ( col de la schlurt, pronounce schloorte) in Lorraine, two nice hotels :
A very nice Inn:
*L’Auberge du Val joli
Near the col there is a very nice Inn, the room are really basic but it is a family business and the chef has worked with Joël Robuchon and the deliciously provincial restaurant with its table d’hôte is really worth it. I really enjoy the calliflower mise en bouche and the smoked trout with sorel cream.
70 euros/ for a double room/120 euros for halboard for 2
Le Val Joli Hôtel-Restaurant
Address : 12 bis le Village
88230 Le Valtin
phone : 03 29 60 91 37
Another place to stay at the col de la Schlurt,
more sophiticated : L’hôtel du Collet
91 euros for a double room/ 176 euros for halbboard for 2
Adresse : Col De La Schlucht, 88400 Xonrupt-Longemer
phone :03 29 60 09 57
My best addresses for cheesemongers in Paris :
62 Rue de Sèvres
01 47 34 33 45
Madame Quatre homme ( litterally) MRS Fourmen, apart from being a good looking woman, is worth the trip. She aslo wrote a cooking book about meals you can prepare the day before. Less classical than Barthelemy (see below), the classical fromager affineur, the atmosphere is also more relaxed and less snobbish.
51 Rue de Grenelle
01 42 22 82 24