I love a good story and because of that, often have a tendency to embellish. So you’ll have to smile and forgive me when I tell you that this Tarte Flambée, a regional specialty of Alsace is insane, incredible, and reason enough alone to travel to the northeast of Alsace. In the town of Hoffen – about a 20-minute drive from Wissembourg (where we are staying with Pierre’s parents), Au Soleil is legendary among locals for Tarte Flambée.
In NYC, tarte flambée from The Modern is great. Or so I thought. The one we had last night put everything in a different perspective. Tarte Flambée is made for group eating. Order each tarte one at a time, and it’s served in precisely 10-minutes. Slice into eighths and devour. Sometimes they give you plates, sometimes they don’t. Either way, this is one dish that even the French eat with both hands. Baked in a wood-fired oven, the cracker-like crust is smothered with fromage blanc, sliced onions and an even distribution of salty, meaty lardons. The spread of fromage blanc looks thin upon first sight, but then you realize that the edges of the crust are slightly raised and the center is pushed in, making for a quarter-inch thick spread of the cheese. It is heaven and the more you eat, the more you’ll crave.
Start with a few rounds of Tarte Flambée Traditionnelle, the classic version. And then get creative. Do you want Tarte Flambée Gratinée? That comes with a layer of grated emmental melted over the top. Pierre actually prefers Tarte Flambée Gratinée over Traditionnelle. I can’t say that I agree. Original is best. Au Soleil also offer Tarte Flambée avec du Munster (with munster cheese) and Tarte Flambée Aux Champignons (with mushrooms). We shared three tartes between four people, making sure to save room for dessert…
…a sweet version of Tarte Flambée! Here we opted for a half-half of apples and bananas. It’s served in the same style as the savory tarte, only here the surface of the fromage blanc is dusted in white sugar. A glass each of rum (for the bananas) and calvados (for the apples) is poured over the surface and lighted. WOOOOSH!! Flambée!! Slice and devour, no talking.