Oktoberfest 101

Choucroute_Garnie_016.tif

Choucroute_Garnie_016.tif

Sauerkraut mixed with pork and potatoes on an oval white plate

Ladies, don your dirndls, and gentlemen, fasten your lederhosen, because Oktoberfest 2011 is officially underway. Though this beer barrel-tapping festival runs from September 17 through October 3 in Munich, Germany, you can bring the party stateside with our comprehensive guide to everything Oktoberfest, which includes clever (and useful) German phrases, a traditional Oktoberfest menu, classic German and beer-centric recipes and a list of local biergartens. So pitch a beer tent, grab a keg and experience this annual tradition like never before.

After the formal tapping of the first barrel during Oktoberfest, festival-goers proclaim, “ O'zapft is!” (“ It’s been tapped!” in German). Start your celebration by tapping a bottle of authentic Weihenstephan Hefe-Weissbier (a German wheat beer). Prost! ( Cheers!) to that.

Bring the flavors of Bavaria into your kitchen with Food Network Magazine’s Sausage and Kraut (pictured above). Quick, easy and filled with flavor, this traditional German dish comes together in just 40 minutes. For a time-honored German feast, make this Oktoberfest menu, complete with Sauerkraut Balls, Wiener Schnitzel and Grilled Bratwurst With German Potato Salad. Bobby puts his own spin on the German sausage by making Beer-Simmered Bratwurst with a light German ale and aromatic spices.

For a more casual spread, try Rachael’s smooth and creamy German Cheddar and Beer Fondue (pictured above). Dunk chunks of rye bread, pickled onions and mini franks into this gooey good mixture for fun, interactive fare. Serve Anne’s bright and crunchy Red Cabbage Slaw as an easy, party-pleasing side. This simple salad is filled with fresh vegetables and laced with a mayo-mustard dressing. Finish with Michael Symon’s go-to dessert recipe for Bavarian Cream, ready in less than an hour.

Stopping by your local biergarten ( beer garden) tonight? Check out Food Network Local and some suggestions below for popular spots across the country. When you’re there, don’t forget to tell the bartender, “ Die nächste Runde zahlen Sie!” (“ Next round is on him/her!”) while pointing to your best friend – or the stranger sitting next to you. However, don’t have so many rounds that tomorrow your friends – or strangers – will be saying about you: “ Gestern Abend war sie eine echte Bierleiche!” (“ Last night she/he was a complete Bierleiche!Bierleiche being German for beer corpse).

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