Dust off your lederhosen. Lay out your dirndl. Upgrade your “oompah” playlist. And, naturally, start practicing the chicken dance.
Oktoberfest is already upon us. While some of these festive German traditions harken all the way back to the 1800s when the celebration first took place, many have evolved over time and even enjoy regional differences. But there’s one constant: Brats and brew still hold a prominent place at the Oktoberfest table.
An abundance of “wurts” (a type of sausage) is typically served, along with other traditional Germanic foods such as giant “brezels” (we call them pretzels), German potato salads, schnitzel, sauerkraut, gingerbread heart necklaces and other various sweets. Germany’s official Oktoberfest features six major German breweries: Löwenbräu, Hofbrauhaus, Augustiner-Bräu, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr and Spaten—all found in the seven halls or tents established to mark the celebration.
Oktoberfest originated as a royal event that marked the celebration of the marriage between the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. It’s also one of the oldest and largest beer festivals in the world, drawing around 6 million attendees each year.
Nelson’s at Terranea will kick off its own Oktoberfest with a special menu:
PRETZEL BUNS, CARAWAY ONIONS, SMOKED GOUDA, BACON AIOLI, $14
LARGE BAVARIAN PRETZEL
BAVARIAN MUSTARD AND BEER CHEESE DIP, $12
GERMAN POTATO SALAD, $4
PEPPERS AND ONIONS WITH BEER MUSTARD, $10
WITH CURRY KETCHUP, $11
CRISPY PORK SCHNITZEL SANDWICH
FRENCH BAGUETTE, DIJON MUSTARD, ARUGULA, SWISS CHEESE AND FRIED CAPERS, $15
CHOICE OF BEER CHEESE DIP OR FRENCH ONION, $9
Beer offerings will include Samuel Adams OctoberFest, Rebel IPA and Angel City Pilsner. Festivities at Terranea Resort begin Saturday, October 1, and will include themed activities and the seasonal beer garden, hosted by Sam Adams, from 5 to 9 p.m.
If you need home-style inspiration for Oktoberfest, follow our recipes below.
Southern Style German Potato Salad
Serves 6 to 8
2½ to 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (approximately 3 per person), scrubbed and washed, skin left on, cooked and sliced 1/8-inch thick
3 tablespoons kosher salt for potato water
5 pieces slab or gypsy bacon cut into ¼-inch cubes, sautéed until golden brown
bacon drippings (from above), approximately 4 tablespoons
2 to 4 tablespoons of butter, unsalted (as needed to supplement bacon fat)
1 whole medium red onion, small dice
3 tablespoons whole grain sweet mustard, preferably German
1 teaspoon mustard seeds, black and/or brown
3 tablespoons mild honey
¼ cup granulated sugar
1/8 cup white vinegar
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup chicken or beef broth
½ cup fresh dill, chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped or leaves only
¼ teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
2 to 3 teaspoons kosher salt, season to taste
6 radish, sliced thin
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes, optional
1 carrot, peeled and sliced thin, optional
1 bunch small bitter greens (such as watercress, dandelion or mustard leaves), stems discarded
3 cloves minced fresh garlic
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
Place potatoes in large saucepot filled with cold water. Bring to a simmer, add salt and cook until done but still firm. Drain and reserve. Sauté bacon until golden brown, remove and reserve drippings. Heat bacon drippings, adding butter as needed to produce approximately 4 tablespoon of fat. Sauté onions on low heat in bacon drippings until translucent but not brown. Stir in mustard and seeds. Slowly add in honey, sugar, vinegar and broth and reduce mixture until it begins to thicken. Toss in potatoes; add in half the herbs, cooked bacon and seasonings. Let cool completely and store in airtight container overnight. Reheat and top salad with fresh herbs, sliced radish, tomatoes, carrot and bitter greens.
Check seasoning and adjust as needed before serving.
Individual Black Forest Donut Cakes — Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte
8 to 10 Buttermilk Chocolate Baked Donuts, preferably without icing (purchased or use recipe below)
Kirschwasser simple syrup (see recipe)
Buttermilk Chantilly Whipped Cream (see recipe)
2½ ounces dark chocolate block, for chocolate shavings, or dark chocolate curls
1 cup Morrello (sour) cherries, frozen or in juice, drained
Kirschwasser cherries (see recipe), 1 per donut
To assemble, slice donuts in half through the center (like cutting a bagel) or into three discs. Use a pastry brush to coat the donut rounds with the Kirsch simple syrup. Pipe or spoon the whipped cream onto the donut round bottom. Top with a layer of drained Morrello cherries, add a layer of chocolate shavings and repeat with the second donut round for three layers, or pipe or spoon whipped cream on top of the donut top. Add more shavings and place Kirsch-soaked cherry on top. Prost!
Buttermilk Chocolate Baked Donuts
Makes 8 to 10
2 cups cake flour, plus 2 tablespoons for the pans
¼ cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, plus 2 tablespoons
2 eggs, large
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder, reconstituted
¾ cup dark brown or Muscovado sugar
1 12-count donut pan
Mix cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
In a separate bowl or pitcher, mix buttermilk, eggs, butter, and espresso. Slowly add wet mixture to dry and whisk until combined. Place mixture in a piping bag and pipe into a greased and floured donut pan. Fill batter up until 1/8-inch from the rim. Wet finger or a spoon and smooth down batter. Bake at 350º for 12 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool and reserve.
Kirschwasser Simple Syrup and Cherries
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons Kirschwasser brandy
¾ cup bing cherries with stems (1 per donut, plus extra to sample)
Heat water, sugar and brandy in a small saucepot over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Add cherries with stems and cook 8 to 10 minutes. Remove cherries with a slotted spoon. Cool and reserve under refrigeration. Continue to reduce liquid until it begins to thicken. Remove from heat and cool. Reserve under refrigeration. You will have some liquid left over after making the donuts. Save for cocktails or pour over the top before serving.
Buttermilk Chantilly Whipped Cream
1 pint whipping cream
3 tablespoons buttermilk
3 tablespoons fine granulated sugar or powdered sugar, or more to taste
Whip cream in a stand-up mixer or with a hand mixer until soft peaks form. Add buttermilk and sugar and continue to whip until thick and fluffy.
Use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler to create chocolate shavings—or use a cheese grater. Mix half the chocolate with the whipped cream and reserve the remaining chocolate for garnish.
Written & photographed Kara Mickelson