Brewing Up Oktoberfest Feasts

Jo McGarry
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Friday - October 07, 2005
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Chef Eberhard ‘Hardy’ Kintscher is offering Oktoberfest-inspired creations at Michel’s
Chef Eberhard ‘Hardy’
Kintscher is offering
creations at Michel’s

It’s hard to escape the smell of hops this weekend as numerous beer festivals take place around the city.

It’s Oktoberfest time, and that means it’s time to don clothes that are hard to spell as well as awkward to wear (dirndl anyone?), lift immense glasses of beer and twitch yourself silly in an imitation of a chicken dancing. No, I’ve never seen them dancing either. But the upside of Oktoberfest in Hawaii is an opportunity to taste some great German food and sip on some excellent beers.

At the Ala Moana Hotel, Oktoberfest has been a tradition for more than three decades, and it just gets busier as the years go by. The same German band has been traveling to Hawaii since year one, and as the upstairs ballroom gets decked out in Bavarian blue and white, it really is easy to believe you’ve stepped for a moment into a German Brauhaus.

I think that Ala Moana Hotel has the best atmosphere - and if you don’t mind the crush (there are literally thousands of people who attend), then you’ll have a fabulous time. Oktoberfest at the Ala Moana Hotel’s Hibiscus Ballroom runs Tuesday through Thursday from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m. to midnight; and Sunday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Admission is $5 per person weekdays (excluding Friday) and Sunday, and $8 on Friday and Saturday.

Tickets may be purchased through the Ala Moana Hotel’s concierge or at the door each night.

If Oktoberfest for you is more about completely authentic food in a truly lively atmosphere, then head over to the Hale Koa Hotel where they put on an outstanding display of Bavarian feasting.

The chef, German-born Rolf Walter, makes a pretty mean sauerbraten and a host of other traditional favorites including giant plates of knackwurst and bratwurst that come with sauerkraut, mashed potatoes and bacon-onion sauce. He also treats guests to some dishes you’re not likely to find on other menus in the city, including a fine Hungarian goulash soup, and Eisbein, that tasty delicacy featuring cured and boiled pork shank.

Beer and music are pretty much standard, with both hotels flying in bands from Germany to provide authentic music.

But if beer and the chicken dance are a little too much and you’d rather just get a fix of some good-quality European food, then try The Swiss Haus in Aina Haina, where Chef Freddy Halmes creates great weekly specials, or The Chef’s Table in Hawaii Kai where Austrian-born Chef Andreas Knapp serves up traditional fare all year round. And over at Sam Choy’s Big Aloha Brewery, brewmaster Dave Campbell has resumed production of his microbrews just in time for Oktoberfest. The microbrewery has a selection of seven different beers, and an Oktoberfest special lets you try any one for just $2.95 with the purchase of an Oktoberfest plate. And finally, my favorite German chef, Eberhard “Hardy” Kintscher, is offering superb Oktoberfest-inspired creations at Michel’s. “We’re doing them for the week,” says Hardy, “and if people like them then we’ll run them throughout the month.”

You’ll like them, I’m sure. One of the things I love about Hardy is his dry sense of humor along with his superb talent in the kitchen, and on the menu this week, you’ll find the romantically titled “Pearl Pheasant” joining set dinner items such as Alaskan sockeye salmon, Alsatian-style creamed escargot soup and grilled pork loin with baked maple syrup-glazed squash and truffle-infused mashed potatoes. Dinner ends with a wonderful, warm apple mango strudel with whipped cream and fresh berries. Think it sounds good, but not sure you’ve heard of “pearl pheasant” before? You’re not alone. The “pearl” refers to the little white collar on the guinea hen. “It’s just a nicer name, we think,” says Hardy, with a smile.


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