This year the Knepfelfacht in Riquewihr (Quenelle festival) will take place on June 15-16, 2019. See the program below.

It’s been four years since Riquewihr decided to pay homage to one of the most emblematic dishes of the Rhenish and Central European universe: the Knepfel also called Knoedel in certain regions. We can translate by “quenelle”. Knepfle are traditionally served as side dishes for sauce dishes. We know the Knepfle since the Middle Ages (period when here in Europe we do not know the potatoes yet). The recipe variants are endless! This is the opportunity to enjoy food during a weekend in June, every year around June 10. 

Riquewihr Knepfelfacht 2017
Riquewihr Knepfelfacht

Chefs and winemakers are accomplices …

The concept of the Knepfelfacht is based on a dozen pairs of cooks and winemakers. The chef creates a recipe around the Knepfel that he prepares in front of visitors. The winemaker offers one or more wines to accompany the dish. The party takes place on the square in front of the town hall where a dozen tents shelter as many cooks and winemakers. There is also a cook show during which well-known Alsatian chefs fight each other in a friendly manner. Who will produce the most original knepfel recipe? The jury will decide.

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Here are some pictures.

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Program of the Knepfelfacht 2019

The godfather of this fourth edition is Patrick Fulgraff, Président des Etoiles d’Alsace, an association of chefs which promotes the Alsatian gastronomy.

Saturday, June 15, 2019 from 11:30 am to 5:30 pm

  • 10:45 – INAUGURATION with the presence of Margaux Jung, Queen of Alsace Wines, Place de l’Hotel de Ville in Riquewihr.
  • 11:30 – Tastings ; Restaurateurs / Winegrowers / Brewer
  • 16:00 – Competition of four Chefs proposed by Jean-Luc Brendel, La Table du Gourmet (Michelin-Star restaurant in Riquewihr) and led by Nicolas Rieffel.
  • 19:00 – Alsatian traditional meal: Knepfel / roasted on a spit / sauerkraut
  • 20:00 – Music Night with TRIO Die Lausbuba

Throughout the day, musical entertainment will be provided by The Folkloric Ensemble Acordina 1936

Sunday, June 16, 2019 from 11.30am to 6.00pm

  • 11:00 – Concert of the Riquewihr Men’s Choir
  • 11:30 until 18:00 Tastings with the chefs, winemakers and the brewer
  • Pascal Lacom will play music and care for the entertainment.

But what is Knepfla or Knepfel?

Knöpfle, or Knepfle, means “little button” in many language variants of German, including Alsatian. The French word “quenelle” comes from the German Knödel (“dumpling”, from the Latin nodus, “knot”). These terms broadly refer to an egg pasta dish served as a side dish to sauce dishes. The Spätzele (better known) are a finer and longer variant of Knöpfle, or Knepfle.

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Flour, water and eggs form the basis for making a more or less liquid dough. Depending on the recipe of the chef or grandmother, other ingredients and seasonings are added. The dough, formed into pellets (but here again the form is variable) is cooked in water. As I have already written above, the Knepfle are served mainly with sauce dishes that elegantly enhance them to produce a very popular dish in Central Europe, from its western façade in Lorraine to its eastern end Slovakia through all German-speaking, Hungarian and Slavic regions. But Knepfla can also be served as a main dish with a sauce or grated cheese, or even vegetables.

The variety of possible recipes means that at the Knepfelfacht in Riquewihr you will only eat different dishes. And unexpected ones.

Knepfle: a secular dish …

Engraving of the cover page of Christian Egnolphen's cookbook published in Strasbourg in 1530 - Staatsbibliothek Bayern.
Engraving of the cover page of Christian Egnolphen’s cookbook published in Strasbourg in 1530 – Staatsbibliothek Bayern.

Pasta existed in Alsace probably from the end of the 15th century: some websites mention a very first cookbook published in Alsace in 1507. Despite my research I have not managed (for the moment) to get my hands on this work. So I’m happy here with an unverified quote but found everywhere. At the time, the pasta was divided into two different families: Wasser Striebele and Nüdle. The Wasser Striebele came from a liquid paste which was dropped more or less thick in boiling water. Knepfle and Spätzle are still in this category. Nüdle (noodles) were strips cut into a thin paste rolled.

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In 1671, the abbot Friar Bernardin Buchinger, an Alsatian from Kientzheim near Colmar, published in Mulhouse a cookbook entitled “Cookbook for religious households as well as for the laity”. Obviously the book was successful since barely a year later, in 1672, it was necessary to reprint. This is the second edition I found at the Staatsbibliothek Stuttgart. I got some Knepfle recipes from 350 years ago for you.

Cover page of Bernhard Buchinger's cookbook published in 1672
Cover page of Bernhard Buchinger’s cookbook published in 1672

The book of the abbé Bernardin Buchinger has 297 pages! Very dense, it looks more like a reminder or a memo of ideas rather than a very precise description of recipes. But a real cook should be able to reconstruct the recipes … Thanks to the help of my friends Angela and Stefan Maaz, here is the transcript in old German of those concerning the Knepfle.

Eier-Knöpfle – The numbers are those of the original work.
571. Harte Eier gehackt und mit anderen rohen Eiern ein wenig gut Mehl, Ingwer, Pfeffer, Salz zu Knöpflin gemacht. Als dann gebacken oder gesotten und in einem Erbsen-Brühle aufgegeben. Mit frischer Butter Ingwer, Pfeffer oder Gelb-Gewürz (Cumin) aufgemacht.
572. Man mag auch geschnittene Petersilie und sonst wohlschmeckende Kräuter, Salz, Muskatblüte, Gelb-Gewürz (Cumin) oder Safran, auch gestoßene Mandeln und Rosinen darin tun. Oder auch gehackt und in Schmalz geröstete Äpfel oder Birnen. Man solche Knöpfli gebacken man man in einem gelben Erbsen-Brühe oder süßen Zimt-Brühe auftragen.
573. Oder man tut Milch und andere Sachen über solche Knöpfli und macht wie über gefüllte Eier und Brühe darüber.
574. Oder man mischt Eier und gehackten jungen Mangold oder Spinat, hübsch Semmel-Mehl, Salz, klein geschnittenen Salbei, Minze, Majoran, Petersilie, Ingwer, Pfeffer siedet es in einer Erbsen Brühe und geht trocken mit Schmalz begossen und gelben Gewürz bestreichen.
575. Oder man klopft Eier, verrührt es mit rein gestoßenem Semmelbrot, Milchrahm, Salz, Majoran, Inger, Pfeffer, gelbes Gewürz auch Muskatblüte, gut Mehl, macht Knöpflin daraus und siedet es in Erbsenbrühe oder backt es in heißem Schmalz, man kann geschälte, gestoßene Mandeln, Meertrauben oder Rosinen daran tun.
576.Man mag gesottene Fisch oder Stockfisch alles klein gehackt darunter tun und wenn sie gesotten in einem gelben Erbsenbrühe geben und belieben mit Safran anmachen.
577. Man mag auch ein gut Teil klein gehackten Mangold oder Spinat geschnetzelte grüne Zwiebel oder Schnittlauch geröstetes und gewürfeltes Brot (Croutons), hübsch Mehl, Milchrahm, Eier, Salz, Ingwer, Pfeffer, Rosinen unter einander rühren. Knöpflin daraus machen und als dann sieden wie gehabt.
578. Man macht auch Knöpflin aus gehacktem Weißkohl oder Wirsing Kohl zuvor mit siedendem Wasser abgebrüht, mit Eier, gut Mehl, Salz, wohlschmeckenden Kräutern, grünen Zwiebeln, Ingwer, Pfeffer angemacht.

While waiting to be able to implement yourself these very old recipes that are part of the culinary heritage of the Rhine, come and taste the Knepfle recipes offered at Riquewihr at the Knepfelfacht!

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