The calendar may say September but it’s the final days of Oktoberfest in Munich. Oktoberfest in September? What’s up with that? Well, the original Oktoberfest actually was in October but as the party expanded from one week to three, it pushed its way into September.
Perhaps you remember your first Oktoberfest. The sun was bright and warm that afternoon. With a festive air, you and your buddies gathered in the beer garden at the Hofbräuhaus to eat and drink, laugh and sing. It was all quite jolly.
If you’re lucky, you still have a few stained and raggle-taggled cardboard coasters you nicked from the Hofbräuhaus for a souvenir. If you’re not so lucky, you have a dirndl or pair of lederhosen, hopefully not both, as a memento of the day. One or both sits in the back of your closet, a not so subtle reminder to never drink and shop. Not a total loss, the dirndl came in handy at a pirate party back in 1992. The lederhosen are always good for a last minute Halloween costume. If only you had the nerve to wear them!
Let this be the year to drag out that dirndl, put together a fine collection of great beers and brush up on your chicken dance. Create your own fun and festive Volksfest. Fill your garden with singing and camaraderie, simple food and great beer. If it turns cold or rainy, just bring the fun indoors.
There are lots of great microbreweries in New England. Splurge and try a couple. Experiment with a beer tasting. Instead of huge beer steins, like the ones you had at the Hofbräuhaus, use shot glasses for a tasting. Explore ales and lagers, wheat beers, stouts, porters and bitters with a small sip or two of each until you find a favorite. Then, fill up a frosty mug.
Along with the tasting, sing a few songs and maybe play a little football. And by football, I mean soccer. We may call it soccer in the U.S. but the Germans call it football and most are über-fans. Much to their delight, Germany won the World Cup this past summer, so a game would not be out of line. Besides, chasing a soccer ball around the yard will keep you warm as the day starts to cool off. Soccer not your thing? Well, how about some oompah music and a go at the chicken dance?
You’ll also want to haul out the grill for one last cookout, sausages, of course. Serve them as the main course with sauerkraut or coleslaw and potato salad and a slice of rye bread. Better yet, try my bite-sized sausages for a tasty appetizer. Since it gets chilly, if not downright cold, as soon as the sun starts to go down, be ready to move inside. A warm and cozy goulash will hit the spot for dinner.
So, what are you waiting for? Stockpile some microbrews, invite friends over for late afternoon and fire up the grill. Be sure to tell everyone to dress warmly and bring a favorite Oktoberfest story. And for those without an Oktoberfest tale? Any shopping disaster will do.
Enjoy the early autumn sunshine with your own version of the world’s biggest beerfest and bon appétit!
Homemade Bratwurst Bites with Horseradish Mustard
A hearty hors d’oeuvre for Oktoberfest or anytime. Enjoy!
2-3 tablespoons minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
About 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1/4 cup beer (more if cooking inside)
Olive oil if cooking inside
Put the sage, spices, onion and garlic in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the pork and beer and gently mix until combined. Cover and chill for several hours, preferably overnight.
Use a 1-tablespoon ice cream or cookie scoop to scoop up the sausage meat and gently roll into balls. Can be formed several hours ahead, covered and refrigerated.
To grill the sausage bites: preheat the grill to medium high. Arrange the sausage bites on the grill and grill, turning once, until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.
To cook inside: Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches if necessary, add the sausage bites to the skillet. Cook the bites until nicely browned, about 5 minutes per side. Add 1/2 cup beer and shaking the skillet a few times, continue cooking until the beer evaporates, a few minutes more.
Transfer the bratwurst bites to a large platter, add your favorite pretzels and serve with Horseradish Mustard. If you can find soft pretzels, or like to bake, give them a try.
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1/3 cup whole grain mustard
1/4 cup prepared white horseradish, well drained
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 teaspoon or to taste honey (optional)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Put all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Cover and store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to combine the flavors. Serve at room temperature.
Can be made ahead.
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What’s your favorite Oktoberfest story? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going.
Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2014