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Need apps and dessert for Alsatian dinner.

We are entertaining senior colleagues for the first time in a week or two. We're making choucroute garnie (sauerkraut cooked with wine, spices, potatoes and a variety of smoked meats) from a recipe I've made many times. We'll also serve homemade dark bread and mustard and no doubt some good beer. It's a heavy meal, but I'd still like to have a few nibbles out to start. So far all I'm planning is radishes with sweet butter and salt (for dipping). I also need a dessert-- something elegant and light. I'm not going for a super wow-factor-- something that isn't trying too hard, but that is delicious and fits with the meal. A fun apertif would also be great. I'd love any ideas you might have!

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  1. For dessert I suggest a fruit tart. Plum tart is typical in the fall, but apple will always be good, especially if you throw in a handful of cranberries to up the tartness factor. Serve with crème fraîche. Can't help you with appetizers. They are my most hated part of meal planning.

    1. Alsatian apple cake ...

      1. The classic Alsatian app is tarte flambe or flammekuchen depending on what language you're going with :-)

        This can be either a puff pastry base or a bread base topped with something creamy, bacon and onions. They would use fromage blanc ... i've improvised w a number of things. Andre Saltner's [sp?] recipe was one of my faves; he put cottage cheese in the food processor with creme fraiche if I recall. It was in a Julia Child book . . . Julia and the Master Chefs or something? It was a squarish paperback with a lot of red on the cover.

        I see lots of recipes with raw onions on the top but I can't imagine they'd be as nice as those that have been gently sweated with thick-cut pieces of bacon or lardons.

        1. For app: a very simple leaf salad with pumpkin seed oil dressing would be great. It's also known as Kurbiskernoel. You could also do a savory Flammekuche, but risk being a bit heavy with the rest of the meal: http://www.marga.org/food/int/alsace/...

          A small platter of cornichons would not be out of place, along with maybe some cheese, fig jam, and crackers.

          For dessert: this rhubarb tart sounds delicious: http://onewholeclove.typepad.com/one_...

          1. I forgot you asked about an aperitif. The Aperol Spritzer is popular in Germany, so I imagine it wouldn't be too out of place in Alsace (but who knows):

            http://www.ehow.com/how_5254564_make-...

            Here in Berlin, it's usually made with still white wine, rather than sparkling. It's very tasty and helps to get the appetite going.

            You could also do a kir or kir royal (with cassis or Chambord). I personally like sweet martini vermouth (bianco) over ice with lots of lemon slices, but that might be more Italian.