Oktoberfest

German Night Is Monday at Octopus’s Garden

Oct 03, 2017
Octopus’s Garden in West Creek is owned and run by the Schmid brothers who also own the Dutchman’s Brauhaus, now closed for renovations. They have brought their German food recipes with them.

Over a year ago, the one area restaurant that served authentic German food, the Dutchman’s on Cedar Bonnet Island, closed for renovations that include a new bulkhead and elevating the restaurant. And it is not due to reopen until the summer of 2019. But owners Rick, Bob and David Schmid have filled the dining void by purchasing the Octopus’s Garden in West Creek, and offering German food there every Monday night in October to celebrate Oktoberfest.

Manager Mariesa Monetti said the German food, prepared by chef Rodolfo Vasquez, includes Otto’s Bratwurst, knockwurst, wurst combination, weiner schnitzel, huhn zigeuner and sauerbraten. Otto’s Bratwurst is so named because the brothers Rick, Bob and David all share their father’s name, Otto, as their middle name, said Monetti.

Germany is sometimes referred to as a country of sausages, a world leader in sausage production and consumption. In a country made up of former Germanic kingdoms or fiefdoms where most of the work was farming, spiced or smoked sausages was one way to preserve meats. It was also a handy food that could be eaten with a slab of coarse bread and a dollop of mustard for lunch while out in the fields.

Bratwurst is a sausage made from finely minced pork that is smoked and seasoned with marjoram or caraway. Knockwurst is all beef and seasoned with marjoram and garlic.

Then there is the wurst combination (and there are many bad jokes about ‘wurst’) of bratwurst and knockwurst. All three dishes are served with sauerkraut and white sweet potatoes mashed.

Weiner schnitzel is a thin cutlet of veal, breaded and fried and served with spaetzle and red cabbage. Huhn zigeuner is medallions of chicken, grilled and tossed with onions, bell peppers and tomatoes in a chicken demi-glaze and served with spaetzle and red cabbage.

Then there is the best dish of all, sauerbraten, a German pot roast that is so much more. Beef roast is marinated for three days in the refrigerator; the marinade could include wine, cloves, juniper berries, peppercorns, ginger, cardamom, star anise and bay leaves. The meat is then slow-simmered in a broth that contains onions, carrots and crushed ginger snaps.

The flavor is like nothing else, and the meat is fork tender. It is also served with red cabbage and spaetzle. Cabbage is a staple in colder climes like Germany because the heads can be harvested far into the fall and brined to make sauerkraut or red cabbage.

A word about spaetzle. My grandmother made spaetzle in her kitchen in the Bronx. It was always considered a great occasion for our third-generation Americans who came from Bavaria. It’s just a simple peasant noodle made from eggs and flour and water that is dropped into boiling water from the bowl in a dribble that is then sliced with a knife to make the spaetzle. It’s the perfect size and rough shape for holding the rich gravies that ‘Nanny’ made. Again, nothing fancy but perfectly German.

The Octopus’s garden also offers Bavarian-style soft pretzels served with Dusseldorf mustard.

“Aufessen!” (Eat Up!)

The Octopus’s Garden is located at 771 South Main St. in West Creek. Call 609-597-8828 for reservations.

—P.J.

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