Monday, September 27, 2010

Wissembourg, France

Rolling hills lined with ripening fields of wheat and corn as far as the eye can see dot the countryside. It's 10 o'clock Sunday morning as I roll into the village of Wissembourg (population 6,000). I'm now back in France but not by much as the German border lies about a mile away. Looking at my map, I'll be passing through quite a few villages like this today and it might be a problem because Sundays usually finds everything closed----which could be a huge problem for my stomach. So, my first priorty is checking out main street for any open patisserie (pastry) or boulangerie (bread) shops. Bingo! two shops are open. I purchase several sandwiches and cookies to eat later for my lunch and then proceed to buy a chocolate elcair, large chocolate macaron and an apple pastry to wolf down now. With the belly taken care it's time to give Wissembourg a quick tour. Wow, this place is an absolute delight!

The parish church is huge for a village this size. A canal lined with hanging baskets of colorful flowers and filled with lazy streaming water zig-zags its way through the village.

Half-timbered homes are everywhere.

Parts of the medieval fortifications that at one time enclosed and protected the village can still be seen.

Unbelievable, here's another picture of that same chief hawking a restaurant's menu. Traveling through Europe I've probably taken pictures of him several hundred times standing outside restaurants, Hmmm, I'm beginning to think he isn't real.

Love this water fountain especially the faces. Water is ice cold and very refreshing on a day like today when it's suppose to hit 90 degrees.

So, I'm heading out of Wissembourg and take a street which I hadn't been down earlier because it looked like there wasn't anything of interest on it and spot another patisserie. Of course my bike stops automatically (it's been trained to do that) and I check out the window display.

Those colorful bite-size round things in the front of the display case in the photo above are macarons----best I've ever had!

Oh man! everything looks delicious and my usual modus operandi would be to try two or three items. However, idiot me mistaken thought my options were limited to the two shops on main street and pigged out (BIG mistake) on sweets there (which were nothing special). Never-the-less, blogging as Paul the Junk Food Junkie requires me to do a taste test so I opt for a half-dozen macarons. I'm going to now interrupt this commentary to give you some background on macarons.
French macarons are NOT to be confused with American macaroons (different spelling) which are dense chewy treats with sweetened coconut. This delicate French confection is made with egg whites, ground almonds and sugar. The hard outer shells are sandwiched together with a soft creamy center that can consist of a variety of flavors from chocolate, pistachio to the more exotic like rose petal and violet. To me, the ideal macaron shell is a cross between chewy and crunchy. Macarons have short shelf life (one or two days) and it's very tricky buying them because you can't tell by looking at 'em through a glass display case if they're fresh or been sitting there for a week. Read any article about macarons and the name Laduree will be mentioned. Laduree in Paris ( is world famous for macarons and guess what, several years ago stores were opened in Geneva and Lausanne (where I hang out). I've tasted macarons at easily more than several hundred places in France, Belgium, Switzerland and USA (Trader Joe's sells 'em frozen), and Laduree ranks number one. HOWEVER, that changes today as I knock Laduree off the top pedestal and replace it with Daniel Rebert's devine delectable delicacies.
The magnificent macarons I have at Daniel Rebert's shop in Wissembourg ( are the best I've ever had! After wolfing down the half-dozen I go back in and buy a half-dozen more. The caramel, vanilla and pistachio are my three favorites. However, I have a conundrum. If I buy any for the road they won't last long in this heat. I also calculate the odds of my ever coming back to this place as it's very out of the way. I also figure in the rules for posting sweets like this on the "Tasty Goodies" section of my website ( which states that I can't post any "goodies" on my website unless I've sampled said "goodies" on three separate days. This clause was inserted to make sure potential nominees were consistent in the quality of their offerings. Hmm, I compromise and elect to return to the store and buy a half-dozen more macarons for the road--thus ensuring that I tried the macarons on three separate occasions.
I ask the woman in the shop (who speaks zero English) for a business card and after figuring out what I was after gives me several magazine articles on Daniel Rebert. It turns out various trade publications rank Daniel Rebert's store as one of the best in France---and don't forget I'm just eyeballing the pastry side of the store and didn't even bother checking out the other half which is filled with chocolates.

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