I’m an IT professional, and people constantly ask if I studied Computer Science in college. Nope, I majored in…German. I loved the coursework and my semester abroad in Berlin, and though I can’t say I’ve used my major after college, I still harbor a love for the country’s language and food. My family is German, so I suppose you could say it’s hereditary.
An Oktoberfest party seemed like the perfect idea this year. You might be wondering, why an Oktoberfest party in September? The real Oktoberfest in Munich actually starts during the end of September and continues through the first week of October. But if you still want to throw your own party, I think any time in October is fair game.
We took the planning seriously, testing recipes and tasting beer. We chose Paulaner Oktoberfest for the keg and picked out a number of recipes. For our sausage needs, we took a drive to Karl’s Sausage Kitchen in Saugus, Massachusetts. I especially enjoyed their Weisswurst, which along with Seven Stars multigrain bread, was a tasty breakfast for our friends who came early to help in the kitchen.
Sausage from Karl’s, the beer, prepping for Hasenpfeffer, “Bavarian camouflage”
My favorite recipe source was Luchow’s German Cookbook, a 1950s gem with recipes from the legendary, and now sadly missed, New York restaurant. I also browsed one of my favorite food books, Culinaria Germany, for inspiration. Each book in the Culinaria series is a vivid, comprehensive encyclopedia of a region’s food. The German volume has a chapter for each state, with descriptions of regional specialites and food customs, photos and recipes.
Here’s our final menu:
- Assorted Sausages – Knockwurst, Bauernwurst, 2 types of Bratwurst
- Himmel und Erde – mashed potatoes and apples topped with sliced blood sausage and crispy onions
- Käsespätzle – Spätzle (noodle dumplings) baked with layers of Emmentaler, topped with crispy onions and browned butter
- Goulash – finished up in a crock pot while we made merry
- Hasenpfeffer – a red wine rabbit stew, also finished in a crock pot
- Pretzels – brought freshly baked by Sean and uglyagnes
- Potato Salad – generally, German potato salad is made without mayonnaise
- Cucumber Salad – just like Mom used to make, herbed with dill
- Baked Sauerkraut with Apples
- Red Cabbage
- Assorted Mustards
- Assorted Breads
- German Apple Cake
- Linzer Torte
Weisswurst for breakfast, my red dirndl, the first guests at the table, washing the steins
The day of the party, we filled the iPod with drinking songs, covered the living room in blue and white tablecoths (fortuitously left over from a party my parents had two decades ago!) and cooked all day. Even though more than 30 people came to help us eat and drink, we ended up with plenty of leftovers. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised – my shopping list included 20 pounds of apples and 10 pounds of potatoes!