Sunday, October 28, 2007

Oktoberfest At Last!

Oktoberfest at last! Brews and brats! Freundes, as the Germans would say, and fun! With all the zeal that Johnnycakes and I pursued Oktoberfest festivities this year, one would think that we were of German ancestry. It all started in August really when we started talking about schnitzel, beer and the like with some friends. In the midst of the summer heat, we longed for cooler days filled with beer, friends and funny sounding food. As October approached, we resumed our talks and took some efforts to find or plan the appropriate activities. Several Internet searches, a drunken phone call to a friend, and the scanning of tons of neighborhood flyers and newsletters later, we had all but given up. As Halloween approached and threatened to overshadow any Oktoberfest events, we resigned ourselves to celebrate another year.

And then, out of the blue, we received an invitation to a cookout in endearing Ridgely's Delight. We weren't sure at first if it would be one last homage to summer cookouts, like we've been thinking about having, or something more seasonal. This party had all the makings of an Oktoberfest celebration.

What was on the menu? Brats, a curious veggie topping, grilled chicken, saurerkraut, potato salad and grilled corn on the cob. There was even a mixed cheese, cured meat and cracker platter that was all class, along with a crudite plate. As for beverages, there was plenty of "bier" to go around, as well as Dark and Stormy's, a rum and ginger beer cocktail worthy of a future post unto itself (perhaps the photos are a bit blurred because of the effects of all the alcoholic brews or maybe it was just the camera phone). I have to say that the feast lended itself a certain level of authenticity. I'm not sure to what extent our host intended it that way or not, but it certainly satisfied any demands I might have for an Oktoberfest party.
As for the preparation, I observed the brats, the exact kind I'm not sure but I will tell you that they were not the Johnsonville garden variety, being preboiled in an aromatic beer and onion mixture before being placed on the charcoal grill along side some chicken drumsticks. There was also a veggie topping, I would call it a relish, for the brats. It was a brew of beer, canned tomatoes, chopped green pepper and onions and a few seasonings. I don't think the sauerkraut was run-of the-mill either, as I observed some onions sauteing in butter for the additon to the kraut. Unfortunately, we had to leave as that fun was getting started. We would like to have stayed longer to enjoy all the offerings but, as I said before, Halloween loomed and threatened to overshadow our Oktoberfest efforts this year...
From a grilling standpoint, I even learned what a chimney starter was. I've never seen one of these devices before but apparently you stack the coals in the column to start the fire without the use of lighter fluid. A more natural approach, I am told:)

So after all that, I'm happy to report that we can put Oktoberfest to rest this year, and set our sights on Halloween related culinary pursuits. A round of thanks to our host for extending the invitation. Great party! Danke!


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