La Grange du Paysan – Alsace/Lorraine
La Grange du Paysan is the reason why the town of Hinsingen is even on the culinary map. The Michelin red guide lists the establishment as a bib gourmand, meaning great food at moderate prices. Patricia Wells raves about their flammekeuchen in her Food Lover’s Guide to France. Pudlo goes as far as calling it the Rolls Royce version of this Alsatian pizza.
We arrived shortly before noon and were the first diners there. Looking around the empty room, I marveled at how pleasantly cozy everything was — honey colored wood on the chairs and floors, a working brick fireplace and a massive iron chandelier hanging from the ceiling beams. When I complimented her on the room, our hostess replied that this was typical of Alsatian decor. I grinned at the thought of all Alsatian houses having farm implements gracing their walls.
When the kitchen was ready, we were presented with an amuse bouche of shrimp paste wrapped around lemon grass sticks and coated with black and natural sesame seeds. It was very tasty but reminded me more of shrimp toast than anything remotely Alsatian.
A platter of home-made pate and sausages followed. Now this was more like it. The darker one is boudin or blood sausage. After one bite, I decided I didn’t care for it, too bland and gummy.
Our flammekeuch was next. Since we ordered it as part of a prix fixe menu, we were only served one fourth slice each. Our hostess mentioned that all its ingredients, from the cream to the crispy bacon, were home-made. It certainly lived up to its reputation because it was gone in a flash.
The main course was a grilled porcelet served with wild mushrooms and innards. It’s essentially like a suckling pig, and the innards are the same ones used to make the Filipino specialty of “dinuguan”. The dish was rustic, amply portioned and really satisfying.
When asked how big the serving was for dessert, our hostess shrugged, “Oh, not so big.” Obviously, she lied. One slice of the apple pie took up almost an entire plate.
I have to say that while the food here is good, the service is exceptional. Our hostess was warm and gracious, maintaining a certain formality to the meal without being stiff. It was like eating lunch at the home of a very refined aunt instead of at a restaurant.