September 7, 2004
Maxence and I are spending a few blissful and brightly sunny days, hidden out in my parents' vacation house in the Vosges mountains. Today, we took a happy little daytrip to Alsace, the region just on the other side of the mountain, famous for its wines, its storks, and little houses with pointy roofs and exposed beams.
Amongst other fabulous things, what we did today was go on a pilgrimage to Niedermorschwihr, the Alsacian village where Christine Ferber, whom I've mentioned before, officiates. This is where she makes her jams, and this is where she sells them, in a little boulangerie-pâtisserie named Au Relais des Trois Epis.
Needless to say, I had been dying to go there ever since I learned about it, and grew increasingly excited as we neared the little village. We parked on the tiny church square, got out of the car and were instantly enraptured by the powerful and sweet fruit smells coming from a small ground-floor window, through which we could see "the lab".
We stepped inside the store, which seems to operate as the sole grocery store in the village, selling bread, a small assortment of pastries, some charcuterie, dried goods, an array of typical Alsacian ceramic dishes, a few magazines, some postcards, and... the whole collection of the books Christine Ferber has written or participated in.
There was also a large table loaded with an army of sujets en pâte d'amande, those tiny animals made of marzipan. I used to adore these when I was a child, and my grandmother used to buy them for me every time she came to visit. I loved them so I had the hardest time bringing myself to eat them, although pâte d'amande was -- and still is -- one of my favorite things in the world. Christine's were strikingly beautiful and expressive, looking up at you like cute puppies, begging you to adopt them.
And of course, two of the walls were lined with shelves and filled with what makes Christine Ferber's international reputation and fame : hundreds of jars of her confitures, with their signature polka-dotted hats and little ribbons, in more varieties than I had ever seen before.
I spent an inordinate amount of time studying all of the flavors, while Maxence was waiting, with the patience of an angel and a camera, for me to make up my mind.
What did I get? Well, I limited myself to six jars -- quite heroically I might add -- some for my own enjoyment, some to give out as presents : confiture de mirabelles, confiture de quetsches (mirabelles and quetsches being the two most emblematic kinds of plum from Alsace), confiture de framboise à la violette (raspberry and violet), confiture de myrtille (blueberry), confiture de cassis à la violette (blackcurrant and violet), and confiture de tomates vertes à l'orange aux épices de pain d'épices (green tomatoes and orange with pain d'épice spices).
We also got a slice of a delicious blueberry tart (though not as delicious as my mother's), which we shared in the car, me beaming with joy at the simple thought of my six treasured little jars safely tucked away on the back seat.
18 rue des Trois Epis
03 89 27 05 69