Oktoberfest is so much more than that. I remember going with my grandfather, who took me on fun rides. There are all sorts of foods for sale, including chocolate hearts wrapped in shiny paper and a ribbon so people can wear them around their necks.
Sure, beer plays a big role, but so does food in general. Roast pig, bratwurst, pretzels, and, of course, red cabbage.
Red cabbage is a big German favorite. I received an email recently, touting recipes for Oktoberfest. But when I checked them out -- oh my! Red cabbage cooked with spices in chicken broth? No, no, no!
Now, I am the first to admit that red cabbage could be perfectly good cooked that way. And, I concede that when it comes to recipes that have been around for a long time, there are regional variations of recipes that invariably lead to the that's-not-how-my-mother-made-it complaint. But that recipe just wasn't real German Rotkraut! You'll note that I've tucked in an image of Niman Ranch Bratwurst. I'm not Natasha, so I don't make my own sausages. If you're looking for a great bratwurst, Niman's Ranch is terrific. It's worth finding where you live. It costs a little bit more than grocery store brands, but the difference is incredible.
So back to red cabbage. It's ridiculously easy to make. But we do break one major rule here (Dave is going to have some trouble believing this). They say not to cook with any wine that you wouldn't drink. Well, Manischewitz Blackberry (not Concord Grape!) Wine doesn't taste bad, but it's not the wine I would choose to go with my dinner. Yet, it brings terrific flavor to a lot of foods, like stewed venison and -- you guessed it -- red cabbage. This is the secret ingredient that gives it that special taste.
Traditional German Red Cabbage
2 tablespoons olive oil (not with strong olive taste)
1 red cabbage, outer leaves discarded
2 apples, peeled and quartered, seeds removed
2 cups Manischewitz Blackberry Wine
2-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
dash of salt
Slice the onion, cabbage, and apples. This can be done by hand or with a slicing blade in a food processor.
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions. Saute until translucent. Add the cabbage, apples, and red wine. Add two tablespoons of vinegar. Put a lid on the pot and simmer, stirring occasionally. When the cabbage begins to soften, add a dash of salt, and taste to see if it needs more vinegar. Cook about one hour, or until it reaches the desired degree of softness.
They're not in season yet, but in the winter, adding roasted chestnuts to the red cabbage makes it even better!
Thanks to WikiCommons and Softeis, senator86, Bernhard J. Scheuvens, andHullbr3ach for sharing their photos of Oktoberfest!