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For some reason, among the first German phrases I learned many years ago was “essen und trinken,” which translates to “eating and drinking.”
Essen und trinken are essential activities during Oktoberfest, a month-long salute to German food and libations–although revelers in Munich are already saying Auf Wiedersehen to Oktoberfest, which began in mid September and ends in early October.
However, the early Oktoberfests did in fact take place in October. The tradition started in 1810 to celebrate the October 12th marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to the Saxon-Hildburghausen Princess Therese. The citizens of Munich were invited to join in the festivities, which were held for five days on the fields in front of the city gates.
Anniversary celebrations were held annually, eventually becoming larger and more elaborate. When the city began allowing beer on the fairgrounds, makeshift beer stands began cropping up. They were eventually replaced by beer halls in 1896. The beer halls, like the beer tents of today, were sponsored by the local breweries.
And speaking of beer, tradition dictates that only six brands of beer are allowed to be served during Oktoberfest: Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, and Spaten.
Oktoberfest was eventually moved to September to allow for better weather conditions. Today, the last day of the festival is the first Sunday in October. However, since Americans tend to take things literally, we celebrate Oktoberfest throughout the entire month.
My favorite place to celebrate Oktoberfest along the coast of OC is Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach, which every year offers a special menu packed with authentic German dishes courtesy of Executive Chef Josef Lageder, who grew up in Austria and uses many of the recipes that were handed down from his family.
“This is a very classic, very traditional menu,” explained Chef Lageder. “People come here for Oktoberfest because they know they can order these items. It’s comfort food—very rustic.”
Chef is right–I dine here every October so I can get my fill of his fabulous German cuisine, which includes such items as Linsen Suppe (Lentil Soup with apple wood smoked bacon and sliced Wurstchen)..
…Wiener Schnitzel (Center Cut Pork Loin breaded and pan fried, with potato and cucumber salad), and my favorite: Paprika Goulash with slow braised pork and homemade Spatzle, plus sour cream and red cabbage.
Other items include Gebratene Schweinshaxen (slow roasted pork shank with mashed potatoes), Bavarian Bratwurst (boiled in milk instead of cooked on the grill or sautéed)…
..and of course, warm apple strudel with vanilla bean ice cream.
Balboa Bay Club also imports official Oktoberfest beers.
Oktoberfest dishes range from $9.50 to $24.50, and are available in both the First Cabin restaurant and Duke’s Place. Call 949-630-4145, or visit BalboaBayClub.com.
Thanks for reading!