Legend has it that tarte flambée was created in Alsatian farms where, in the 1930s, women farmers were accustomed to baking bread in batches from time to time. The bread baking was cause for celebration, and to mark it they reserved some dough, rolled it thinly and uniformly, then took advantage of the oven heat to bake these flatbreads which were then presented to farm workers. It was a tear and share celebration, something which is still very common practice today – even in restaurants.
This small, modest dish occupies a special place in the French culinary tradition, and it is this which best represents the soul of the Alsace region. It's simple, delicious and unfussy.
It's composed of a rectangular bread dough covered with Fromage blanc, a fresh cheese originating from the north of France and the south of Belgium. The tarte is then topped with bacon and onions before baking until golden and bubbling. Product quality is paramount, so be sure to purchase a high quality bacon from your favourite butcher. This recipe is by no means original or authentic; I use a simplified method but this tarte flambée still retains the delicious flavours and texture of the original dish.
Gewurztraminer is a pink-skinned grape most associated with the Alsace region. There is nothing modest about this grape, you either love it or hate it. Thanks to its spicy flavour (gewürz means spice in German), this is one of the few wines which can keep pace with Asian food and many fragrant and intense cuisines, standing up to powerful spices such as those found in Indian cuisine. However, I've found that its soulmate is a ripe Munster cheese, the main ingredient in the topping to this Tarte flambée; it's said that best food and wine pairings are are a result of local ingredients and grapes. Gewurztraminer has a subtle freshness that makes it an ideal partner with strong cheeses as well as sweet savouries such as dates and figs.
'Gewurz' is a scented variety with an intense and complex nose of exotic fruits (lychee and tropical fruits), rose, citrus (orange); spices (cloves, and pepper), honey and ripe fruit also give these wines richness and an attractive nose.