Everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, and Oktoberfest brings out the German in us all. So dust off your Tyrolean hat and get ready to quaff steins of beer and consume enough pork to split the seams in your lederhosen.
Truth is, I’m German 365. I was raised on sauerkraut cured in great stone crocks in the basement and understood well enough when I was called dummkopf that I’d messed up in some way.
So I’m the first to seek out any occasion that serves up German food and oompah music. Not such a dummkopf after all, right?
Of course the biggest, oldest and best happens over two weekends at the German American Social Club in Cape Coral.
This year’s 34th annual Oktoberfest runs Oct. 18-20 and 25-27. Some 50,000 people show up for the festivities. They come for the bratwurst, wiener schnitzel and sauerkraut, jahwohl!
But there’s more to German culture than hearty comfort food. True German bands, vendors selling lederhosen and other souvenirs, religious services, folks in Bavarian costume dancing polka, and the Old World inflection of voices add authenticity to this Oktoberfest. Hours are Friday 4 p.m. to 12 midnight, Saturday 12 noon to 12 midnight and Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Fort Myers Brewing Company does not pass up an opportunity to celebrate beer-drinking. Oct. 3-6, it holds its seventh annual family-friendly Oktoberfest, replete with newly released craft beers, German food and live music. This year it introduces a festival first – the Wiener Dog Race. Ten food trucks, including the Schnitzel Express, will be dishing out good eats, while various bands orchestrate such events as stein-hoisting competitions. Hours are Thursday and Friday 3 to 11 p.m., Saturday noon to 11 p.m. and Sunday noon to 8 p.m.
Looking for a quieter, more food-centric way to celebrate? Southwest Florida boasts its share of German restaurants. Old Europe Bistro in North Naples is advertising Bavarian specials throughout the month, including herring salad, pfunkenkuchen soup, schweine haxe (pork shank). jaeger schnitzel, sauerbraten and sausages. It also will be serving Oktoberfest-style Paulaner beer during October.
In Cape Coral, Stanijas Restaurant devotes an entire section of its pan-European menu to schnitzel, roulade and other German specialties.