Molsheim in Alsace, the birthplace of the Bugatti brand and the location of its headquarters to this day, is often mentioned in the same breath as the brand’s eponymous founder. But there is a place just a few kilometers further south which has similarly close ties with Ettore Bugatti – the little Alsatian town of Obernai, where Clos Sainte Odile was established by Ettore Bugatti 100 years ago, subsequently becoming the two-star restaurant La Fourchette des Ducs, which exists to this day.
Clos Sainte Odile came about due to Ettore Bugatti’s plans to create an exclusive venue where he could fittingly receive his customers. Around 100 years ago, he asked his friends Lucien Weissenburger, Charles Spindler, and René Lalique to help him in this venture. Lucien Weissenburger was the owner of a winery in the Vosges mountains and running the restaurant was assigned to him. The talented Charles Spindler was, among other things, responsible for the carvings on the beams of the half-timbered house. And artist René Lalique created some of the building’s exclusive interior design such as the matching wall lights. Ettore began to receive customers in this extraordinary place of indulgence in 1921 and shared his love of cuisine with them there.
Clos Sainte Odile has since evolved and transformed into La Fourchette des Ducs. For more than 20 years now, head chef Nicolas Stamm and manager Serge Schaal have been preserving the spirit of Ettore Bugatti at this restaurant which has been awarded two stars in the Michelin Guide. They achieve this on the one hand by creating an exceptional atmosphere that draws on the building’s historical furnishings. The Winter Room, for example, features wall lights designed specially by René Lalique as well as Ettore Bugatti’s favorite spot right by the fireplace, which is virtually one of a kind worldwide. “The atmosphere in the Winter Room is really quite special. It is almost as if you could reach out and touch history here,” says Nicolas Stamm.
Desserts for the holidays
And it is not just the ambience that brings the building’s history to mind – so too do the dishes prepared by two-Michelin-starred chef Nicolas Stamm and his team. Traditional Alsatian recipes from the time of Ettore Bugatti are regularly reinvented at La Fourchette des Ducs. “While it is not always possible to replicate the dishes exactly from bygone times, we do try to encapsulate the essence of the recipes – exactly as the atelier in Molsheim does with its manufacture of Bugatti vehicles,” says Nicolas Stamm.
During the holiday season, the restaurant will be offering its guests a special selection of traditional Alsatian desserts. The chariot de Noël dessert cart features 15 exceptional desserts such as Sapin de Noël (Christmas tree), Tarte aux Poires (pear tart), and Tarte de Linz. There is one dessert that stands out in particular among the many offered – Tarte Obernoise, which Ettore Bugatti served around 100 years ago on his wedding day.
Recipe "Tarte Obernoise"
INGREDIENTS FOR THE PIE
- 250 g sifted flour
- 125 g sugar
- 125 g butter
- 3 egg yolks
- 40 g milk
- 3 g baking powder
INGREDIENTS FOR THE DECORATION
- 125 g raspberry jam
- 3 egg whites
- 100 g powdered sugar
- 100 g almond powder
With a mixer, mix all the ingredients for the pie until obtaining a homogeneous paste. Let rest in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Afterwards, roll out the dough in a pie pan and spread with the raspberry jam. Set aside in the refrigerator. Beat egg whites until stiff. Add powdered sugar and almond powder. Spread on the pie with the jam. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 20 minutes until the “meringue” is colored. After baking, let cool to room temperature.
Recipe "Kipferlé with Hazelnut"
- 210 g sugar
- 720 g butter
- 840 g sifted flour
- 360 g hazelnut powder
- 2 vanilla pods
- Powdered sugar and cinnamon for the finish
With a mixer, mix all the ingredients until you obtain a homogeneous dough. Form into rolls of about 3 cm in diameter. Let rest in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Afterwards, cut pieces of about 4 cm length. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 15 minutes. After baking, let cool to room temperature and roll the cookies in sugar and cinnamon. Store in an airtight box.
With its special atmosphere and exclusive dishes, La Fourchette des Ducs succeeds in taking Ettore Bugatti’s penchant for the extraordinary beyond the limits of Molsheim – and is still doing so 100 years after its foundation.