By Emily Meagher
As the air gets a slight chill, we look forward to incorporating fresh produce and locally crafted products into the many festivities that the fall season offers. Before we can think of Thanksgiving or Halloween, the Bavarian Oktoberfest gives us a joyful excuse to start connecting food and community in September.
Yes, September: Oktoberfest takes place in the two-plus weeks leading up to October. The world’s largest “Volksfest,” a beer festival and traveling funfair, originated in 1810 and is held annually in Munich. If you are looking to host your own Oktoberfest celebration, here are some ideas for items to grab from the farmers’ market to honor traditional Bavarian foods while supporting local food and drink producers.
The classic image of Oktoberfest is gleeful celebrants toasting (or “prost” ing) massive glasses of beer. The Saratoga Farmers’ Market’s newest vendor, Mean Max Brew Works, offers a special “Sixteen Days” Oktoberfest beer, referencing the traditional length of the fest. The brew is a traditional German-style lager and comes in four packs of pint-sized cans (two of which add up to the standard one-liter Oktoberfest serving). Mean Max offers other beers like sours, ales, and stouts, as well.
Then, for food. As expected, pork plays a part in traditional festivities in the form of sausages and shoulder and knuckle roasts. Stop by Ramble Creek Farm, Grazin’ Acres Farm, or Mariaville Mushroom Men to pick up a pork cut of your choice. But an even more common meat found at German celebrations is roasted chicken. Pick up a whole bird or parts at producers like Squash Villa Farm, Longlesson Farm, Ramble Creek Farm, or Grazin’ Acres Farm. Season thoroughly with poultry seasoning, found at Muddy Trail Jerky. And a lesser known but equally traditional protein is “Steckerlfisch,” literally meaning fish on a stick. Use whitefish, mackerel, or trout from Pura Vida Fisheries and roast with oil, garlic, and spices.
Lastly, include dishes made from seasonal produce like salted beer radish, available at Green Jeans Market Farm, which serves as a light snack to wash down all that beer. Other traditional snacks include potato pancakes or dumplings, sauerkraut, and of course, freshly baked soft pretzels. Dip the latter in this “obatzda,” a Bavarian beer cheese spread.
This week’s recipe: Obatzda (Bavarian beer cheese spread)