Oktoberfest, held at Abbott’s Glen Inn in Vermont, is always a fun fall-getaway event. Each year our naturist guests join us from all over New England to enjoy the beautiful fall foliage and a great dinner in celebration of Germany’s Oktoberfest. The menu this year, presided over by our own new chef Gerry, who is of German decent, included numerous dishes all harking back to his German heritage. We had “the best of the wursts,” representing five different varieties, two cabbage dishes, a spaetzle dish with a creamy Swiss cheese sauce, potato pancakes with homemade apple sauce, potato dumplings in broth, and a variety of hearty German breads and mustards. No German dinner would be complete without a sauerkraut dish, simmered with beer, apples (from our orchard), and sweet onions.
New to our table this year was a relish tray, which chef Gerry said was common in German restaurants. The tray offered horseradish-infused cottage cheese with fresh chives, a corn and bacon relish, a light white cabbage slaw with just a hint of vinegar and sugar, and saltine crackers to scoop it all up.
The meal was accompanied by German music, and the table was set with vintage linens, steins of various sizes, and candlelight. The aromas of Gerry’s cooking wafted through the Inn all day, tempting guests to periodically pop into the dining room to ask, “What am I smelling, and when can we eat?!”
Our naturist guests were encouraged to contribute to the German atmosphere wearing any German attire they wish to adorn. Now this can get a little freaky with a bunch of fun-loving nudists, but we maintained some decorum when it was time to sit down and dine. Green felt hats with a variety of feathers were the uniform for most. My husband felt comfortable enough to wear a silly Dachshund hat most of the day and we had a great great time poking fun at him, with his suspenders connecting to an old pair of jean shorts. Not exactly lederhosen but, hey, he’s English, and anyone who knows my husband Lindy knows he definitely has his own special fashion sense. The guests and staff are given a selection of fun aprons they can wear: the ones for the women depicting buxom St. Pauli girl garb with steins of beer and tiny wastes. The men could choose either a lederhosen-wearing gent with six-pack abs holding the obligatory stein of frothy beer, or one depicting a more portly sort, with a beer belly, and sausages and fat German pretzels hanging from his lederhosen. All the garb we needed to enhance the sense of fun and revelry of this beer-drinking day. Abbott’s Glen does not have a liquor license, but guests bring German beers and wines, and sometimes a bottle of Jägermeister to share throughout the day.
The dinner concluded with a fabulous chocolate torte Gerry had prepared. Eight layers of yellow cake held together with a chocolate pudding type of filling, glazed with a thick nap of German chocolate ganache. Although most of us had eaten more than usual, we all managed to enjoy the buttery sweet layers intermingled with a silky pudding filling and fudge-like topping. A cup of coffee gave us a respite from all the German beer and wine enjoyed throughout the meal.
What a great way to begin the beautiful month of October. Vermont is legendary for its brilliant fall colors, apple orchards brimming with a variety of apples, and roadside stands full of pumpkins and winter squashes. We celebrate the harvest all month with beautiful meals reflective of the season. Stay tuned for more recipes from this beautiful time of year.
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. each salt & nutmeg
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/3 cup of milk
1 onion, sliced
1 1/2 cups shredded Emmentaler cheese
- Sift together flour, nutmeg, and salt & pepper in a medium bowl. Beat eggs in a medium bowl. Alternately mix in the milk & flour mixture with eggs until smooth. Let stand for 30 minutes.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Press batter through a spaetzle press into the water. (If you don’t have a spaetzle press, a large-hole grater can be used, but be aware that it will be messy!) When the spaetzle float to the top, transfer to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Mix in 1 cup of cheese.
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until limp and golden. Stir in spaetzle and remaining cheese until blended. Serves 8.