As a young man just starting out in the culinary world, Daniel Porubiansky washed dishes to make enough money to make his way across Europe, eventually working in the Michelin-starred kitchens of Dieter Müller and Hans Haas in Germany. When he reminisces about his time there, it’s obvious it has a special place in his heart.
He remembers spending Sunday nights (after working double shifts five days a week) having dinner in little restaurants and enjoying schnitzel. “Chicken, turkey, pork. It didn’t matter, I fell in love with the dish.”
He was working in Munich during Oktoberfest that year and describes the experience as awesome.
“There are huge tents sponsored by Munich breweries. The beer houses would come to the restaurants and give us vouchers for free food and beer. They knew we weren’t making much money. The whole thing is part amusement park like Six Flags, part state fair since it’s set up only for a few weeks.”
At long family-style tables, festivalgoers, many in traditional German dress, would enjoy schnitzel, sausages and lots and lots of beer while traditional German music swirled all around.
The beer tents are open from morning to night. Porubiansky remembers enjoying what he describes as a “typical” Sunday breakfast of white sausage, pretzels, mustard and Hefe-Weizen, a Bavarian wheat beer he says is his favorite.
Jeff Sime of Legacy Ventures restaurants also has fond memories of Oktoberfest in Munich. “The celebration, the music, and camaraderie in the tents is unlike anything else I have experienced.” He and his partners opened Der Biergarten to bring the food and atmosphere of a German beer garden to downtown Atlanta.
As for pairing German beers with food, Sime said, “German beers as a whole are lighter than one may think. The most popular are Pilsners, which are light and crisp, perfect for when you’re eating heavy food out on a patio. As the beers get slightly more bitter, they can be very palate cleansing when eating cheese and fattier sausages.”
As might be expected, Der Biergarten has been celebrating Oktoberfest all month with weekly specials and tapping a new German imported beer. The party continues for one more weekend.
Jeff Sellers, executive chef of Leon’s Full Service in Decatur, said he didn’t have much connection to German food until he started working with Leon’s original chef, Eric Ottensmeyer. “His family is from Germany and he had lived there a couple years before becoming a chef. I learned a lot of the German cuisine from him, and from reading different books and recipes featuring traditional German cuisine.”
He provided a recipe for spätzle and says when thinking about pairing beer with the food for your Oktoberfest celebration, it’s important to consider all the ingredients in what you’re serving. But the most important tip? “Drink a beer that you know you are going to enjoy no matter what type of dish you will be eating. My beer of choice is Sierra Nevada Kellerweis.”
Don’t restrict your Oktoberfest celebration to bratwurst! Try these recipes from Atlanta chefs with a personal connection to either the food or the beer of Germany.
Der Biergarten’s Meatballs
At Der Biergarten, these meatballs are served as an appetizer. It’s an easy recipe to double or even triple. If scaling up, withhold some of the milk until you see if the mixture needs the additional liquid.
— Adapted from a recipe provided by Jeff Sime of Legacy Ventures restaurants, which include Der Biergarten.
Leon’s Full Service Spätzle
This recipe from Jeff Sellers, executive chef of Leon’s Full Service, is a great introduction to homemade egg noodles. The noodles are formed when the loose batter is pressed through something with holes into boiling water. A traditional spätzle maker looks like a little metal box positioned over a cheese grater perforated with 1/4-inch holes. The box slides over the grater, the dough goes through the holes and you have noodles.
No spätzle maker? That shouldn’t stop you from trying this recipe. Sellers offers the suggestion of using a strainer with large holes. We experimented with a potato ricer. Worked great.
Who wouldn’t love homemade noodles prepared in just minutes?
You can dress this pasta with just melted butter, but Sellers recommends doing as the Germans do: use browned butter and a little whole-grain mustard to sauce the noodles. In our photo, he’s paired the spätzle with bratwurst, kale and cabbage, and garnished it all with pickled mustard seeds.
— Adapted from a recipe provided by Jeff Sellers of Leon’s Full Service.
Daniel Porubiansky’s Pork Schnitzel with German Potato Salad
Pan-fried tender pork? In a recipe that goes together in minutes? You can see why this is an Oktoberfest (and all year-round) favorite.
Porubiansky, who has just been selected to lead the kitchens in Fia and Mr. B. in Buckhead’s soon-to-open Burgess Hotel, used his experience working in German kitchens and with Günter Seeger at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead to create these recipes.
— Adapted from a recipe provided by Daniel Porubiansky of Fia.
German Potato Salad
So often we see German Potato Salad made with bacon. Porubiansky’s version skips the bacon in favor of chicken stock. He likes fingerling potatoes in this salad because they hold their shape better than other potatoes, but says Yukon golds would be OK to use. No matter what the potato, he says German Potato Salad with its vinegary bite is the perfect accompaniment for schnitzel.
— Adapted from a recipe provided by Daniel Porubiansky of Fia.
This dessert is pure comfort food. Pancakes for dessert!
This makes one really large pancake. We found we had better luck when we divided the batter between two skillets. That made for much easier turning.
— Adapted from a recipe provided by Thomas Mikesell of Max Lager’s Wood-Fired Grill and Brewery.
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