About Sue Style

Originally from Yorkshire I've lived and worked in Spain, France, Mexico and Switzerland, now based in southern Alsace. Author of 9 books, the latest about Switzerland's finest farmhouse cheeses. I freelance for anyone who'll buy my stuff (FT Weekend, Decanter, France Mag, Culture Cheese Mag et al) plus I give cooking workshops and lead bespoke vineyard tours in Alsace and Baden (just across the Rhine).

A Table Chez Marie, Hagenthal-le-Bas

Tartare of home-smoked salmon, salad and frites - A Table chez Marie's yummy take on fish 'n chips

Tartare of home-smoked salmon, salad and frites – A Table chez Marie’s yummy take on fish ‘n chips

As mentioned elsewhere on this site, there are loads of modest eateries in our frontier country of the Sundgau/Alsace and a handful of more ambitious ones farther afield, but all too few that occupy the middle ground – the kind that serve mildly aspirational food at approachable prices.

A Table chez Marie in Hagenthal-le-Bas is out there in that underpopulated middle ground. Though the restaurant’s address is Hagenthal-le-Bas, it’s actually about halfway between the village and Hegenheim. Remember the Hotel Jenny? The hotel no longer runs its own restaurant and has rented out the kitchen and dining rooms to the eponymous Marie, who in another life worked at the Au Violon brasserie in Basel. Continue reading

Unveiling the New Vintage of Vin Jaune

[A shorter version of this article appeared in FT Weekend, 14th February 2015]

The bishop of Saint Claude blesses the new season's vin jauneThe diocesan bishop of Saint-Claude in France’s Jura region stands facing his flock, which is packed sardine-style into the tiny twelfth-century church of Montigny-les-Arsures. Arrayed in a semi-circle behind him are members of the honourable company of Les Ambassadeurs des Vins Jaunes, resplendent in primrose-yellow robes and floppy fur-edged hats. In front of the altar sits a small wine barrel, awaiting benediction.

1-62-IMG_1385After a spirited sermon in which he draws elegant parallels between the qualities needed to make good wine and those required of a fine upstanding Christian, the bishop blesses the barrel. It is then hoisted onto the shoulders of some strapping young vignerons and carried through the streets to the chateau of Montigny, where beneath fluttering snowflakes a huge crowd huddled under hoods and umbrellas listens – with only occasional heckling – to a series of lengthy speeches. Finally the barrel is ceremonially broached, the wine bursts forth, glasses are waved wildly in the air and the festival is declared open. Continue reading

Carnival is in the Air (again)

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Fasnachtskiechli or merveilles de carnaval

Around here in Basel, Alsace and Baden, Fasnacht or carnaval or Fasching (it all depends which country you’re in) is a big deal. You can tell carnival’s in the air when the houses sprout jolly carnivalesque figures on their roofs, and those gorgeous sugar-dusted, deep-fried wonders called Fasnachtskiechli or merveilles de Carnaval start popping up in the shops. Continue reading

February Bread & Pastry Workshops – Not One but Two

My bread and pastry workshop scheduled for Friday 13th February (my lucky day?) turned out to be such a hit that I’ve scheduled a second session, on Friday 20th February.  Let me know if you’d like to join us. We’ll start at 9.30 and finish at 1.30 on both days, and here’s how we’ll do it:
breadclass3
Bread dough can take any amount of pummelling, but pastry needs a light touch. In this workshop we’ll turn our hand[s] to both. First we’ll make bread dough and leave it to rise. Then we’ll get busy on shortcrust/pie crust and turn it into a range of pies and parcels. Finally we’ll shape and bake our daily bread. Lunch will be pastry-based goodies and there’ll be a home-baked loaf for all to take home.

Vin Jaune & Company – Exploring the Jura

[*a version of this article appears in the February 2015 issue of Decanter.]

Vineyards of Chateau-Chalon, Jura

Vineyards of Chateau-Chalon, home of vin jaune

If you’d asked anyone about France’s Jura region and its wines a couple of decades ago, chances are you’d have received a blank stare. A few enlightened souls might have muttered something about vin jaune, or dredged up memories of faded signs for Henri Maire’s vin fou, affixed to the sides of dilapidated barns in the remoter parts of rural France.

Fast-forward twenty years and the name Jura is on many lips. The wines are enjoying cult status on both sides of the Atlantic – marginally more so in the US than in the UK. Wine educator Wink Lorch, with impeccable timing, recently devoted a whole book to them entitled Jura Wine, which has received critical acclaim. Continue reading

Comfort Food – Toad in the Hole

1-8-IMG_0370A good toad-in-the-hole is perfect comfort food for the depths of winter. A soothing dish of sausages baked in batter — the same as for Yorkshire puddings — it’s a distant cousin of pigs in a blanket, only that the sausages, instead of being tightly swathed in a blanket of pastry, are reclining in a delicious duvet of batter, which billows up agreeably around them. Get the full story here, on Zester Daily.

Eating Out 2014 – Highs and Lows

IMG_5818When I’m faced with the choice of whether to eat in or out, it’s usually eating in that wins. I love poring over books, planning a meal (maybe testing out something for an upcoming workshop), buying it (especially if this includes a visit to Saint Louis or Loerrach market), cooking it up in my azure-blue Alsace kitchen and enjoying it in the comfort of my own home – with wines selected from our own cellar. I even have a SO who takes care of the bits of washing up that won’t go in the dishwasher. What’s not to like? Continue reading

Workshops for 2015

The autumn schedule took us from Sicily in September to the Middle East in October and then back closer to home again in November with a foretaste of new recipes to be featured in the possible re-edition of my book A Taste of Switzerland.

Time now to look forward to the 2015 schedule, which I’ve had fun putting together with loads of help and input/requests from regular customers (thanks to all!):

Friday 13 February – Bread and Pastry, 9.30 – 1.30
breadclass3Bread dough can take any amount of pummelling, but pastry needs a light touch. In this workshop we’ll turn our hand[s] to both. First we’ll make bread dough and leave it to rise. Then we’ll get busy on shortcrust/pie crust and turn it into a range of pies and parcels. Finally we’ll shape and bake our daily bread. Lunch will be pastry-based goodies and there’ll be a home-baked loaf for all to take home.

Spring vegetables in an Italian marketThursday 16 April – Vegetable Fusion, 9.30 – 1.30
In this all-veggie workshop we’ll look to both Asia and Latin America for our inspiration, but the raw materials for our menu of light, bright, flavour-packed starters, main courses and sides will be seasonal and local with a definite spring (ahem) in their step.

 

Thursday 7 May – Fishy Fix, 9.30 – 1.30
1-3-20140901_114325Stumped for what to buy when faced with an array of fish and seafood, and fearful of what to do with it when you get it home? This workshop takes us to the fish counter of a supermarket in France on Wednesday 6 May (venue to be communicated) to see, select and buy. On Thursday 7 May we’ll fix a fish and seafood menu with spring vegetables.

IMG_2921Thursday 4 June – Summer Sharing Buffet, 9.30 – 1.30
Tapas, raciones, buffet riche, apéro dinatoire, sharing plates…whatever you call this kind of food, the grazing, mix ‘n match model is all the rage. For our summer workshop we’ll cruise around the Mediterranean selecting an eclectic bunch of delicious morsels to share on your buffet table.

All workshops take place in my kitchen just across the border from Basel in Alsace/France. Seasonal, sustainable, creative, eclectic and hands-on, they culminate in a shared meal (table d’hote) around the dining room table (or on the terrace, weather permitting) with wines to match.

Full details on my Workshops page.

Seeya in 2015!

Kugelhopf Bread & Butter Pudding with Dark Chocolate and Marmalade

1-8-IMG_1330Anyone got a panettone, kugelhopf or any other soft, slightly sweet, yeasty bread hanging around at home awaiting its post-Christmas moment? A few weeks ago Jamie Oliver wheeled out a wicked-looking bread and butter pudding featuring panettone, dark chocolate, marmalade, cream, butter, milk and loads of brown sugar. I’m not much good on rich, calorie-laden nursery puddings but – as ever – he made the dish sound completely irresistible and mildly bonkers (his title is in fact Bonkers Bread & Butter Panettone Pudding). I filed away the idea for a snowy day.

Yesterday, after a fabulously frosty/sunny New Year’s Day walk, its moment came. I tried a version using kugelhopf, broadly similar to panettone but less sweet – and also easier to find here in Alsace. Continue reading

Eating Out Around Basel with Baselgehtaus

AAA_BGA_Cover_2015_CC.inddIf you want the skinny on good places to eat in and around Basel, you have a number of options at your fingertips. First, natch, there’s the Eating Out: Alsace, Basel and Baden page of this site, which I strive womanfully to keep current, and which attempts (not always successfully) to keep a balance between the various eating possibilities in the three countries on our Dreilaendereck doorstep.

There’s also the Michelin Guide to Switzerland, the Swiss Gault Millau guide and the Guide Bleu Suisse, all of which have entries for Basel. And then there’s Basel Geht Aus, the annually published magazine devoted to good eats, whose 2015 edition was launched at the Kunsthalle on 1st December and which is now on sale at Jens and Franziska Stocker’s brilliant Bider & Tanner, Basel’s best and liveliest bookshop, and in kiosks around town. Continue reading