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Oktoberfest at Café Little Europa

Last weekend marked the official end of the celebration known as Oktoberfest, the German holiday encouraging people to 'eat, drink, and be merry' for the last 200 years. Café Little Europa celebrates with a hike followed by beer and brats.

Manuela Young, owner of Café Little Europa on Federal Road said growing up in Germany she never really heard much about Oktoberfest.  Upon coming to America as an au pair over 20 years ago, Manuela said she learned more about it here in the states.

Young has run her Federal Road café successfully for the last three years and is the most hospitable host you will find in the area.  Wanting to celebrate the festive occasion, Manuela decided on a hike because, "It makes me feel like I am back in my country."

Breathing in the fresh air on the hike at Macedonia Brook State Park in Kent last weekend (Check this Saturday's BHG for more),  Manuela said she wanted to host the event "to do something fun with my customers. It's a way to get to know each other outside of the restaurant and it's fun for me too!"

The holiday began in 1810 in honor of the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig's marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The festivities began on October 12, 1810, and ended on October 17 with a horse race. Over the years, the celebrations were repeated, prolonged and moved forward into September.

By moving the festivities up to September it allowed for better weather conditions. September nights were warmer so visitors were able to enjoy the gardens and fields outside of the beer tents much longer without feeling chilly. Historically, the last Oktoberfest weekend was in October and this tradition continues to this day.

This year's celebration began on Saturday, September 18, when the Mayor of Munich, Christian Ude tapped the first keg of beer and proclaimed, "O'zapft is!" which means "It is tapped!"

The celebration included drinking plenty of beer, dressing up in traditional German threads and scarfing down some delicious German fare such as knockwurst, bratwurst and any other kind of wurst your heart desires.

Last weekend, the café's regular customers did some of those things, minus the lederhosen.

Following the hike, we went back to Manuela's café for a delicious German Oktoberfest meal. The prix fixe menu included a three course meal and a beer or glass of wine.  Starting off with a Spaten Oktoberfest beer, the group of 12 of us (10 hikers and 2 late-comers) chatted and got to know each other over delicious herbed bread and butter.

Our friendly waitress brought out a fresh house salad topped with a light balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  This was very refreshing after a day in the woods.

Next came a hearty authentic German meal — bratwurst with a kassler, whipped, garlic mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. As we dined, Manuela chatted with us and made us feel at home.

The bratwurst was very tasty, accompanied by the sauerkraut, which has caraway seeds and a light spice to it. The mashed potatoes were light and fluffy and cooked to perfection. All of the portions were large and plentiful enough for a delicious lunch the next day.

Fresh-baked plum cake ended a perfect meal, topped with whipped cream.

The day was wonderful from start to finish. Guests commented that "where else can you go to a restaurant and have them make you feel so welcome, like family?"  Manuela says she likes to do the special events to get to know her customers and it really created a warm atmosphere that you won't find anywhere else.

The prix fixe Oktoberfest dinner was $30 and worth every penny.

The cafe holds many special events throughout the year. Check their website for more details by clicking here.

If you didn't get a chance to celebrate Oktoberfest, no worries. Café Little Europa always has authentic German specialties on their menu and Manuela will pamper you from start to finish.  The café is serving Oktoberfest Spaten, which is delicious and goes perfectly with the café's dinners.

Here are a few more Oktoberfest celebrations in the area:

10/12 — Bethel

Oktoberfest Buffet & Beerfest at The Putnam House.  The Putnam House presents an all-you-can-eat-and-drink Oktoberfest buffet from 6:30-10pm.  Cost is $31, which includes tax and gratuity, buys guests an authentic German Oktoberfest dinner including schnitzel, bratwurst, knockwurst, potato pancakes, stewed apples, spaetzle and much more. German music will be playing and Oktoberfest beers will be served in beer steins.  The event will take place rain or shine in the heated tent at the back of the restaurant.  Pre-paid reservations are suggested. 12 Depot Place, Bethel; 203-791-1852.

10/15-17 — Bethel

Old Heidelberg is hosting "Winefest."  A wide variety of traditional German cuisine and a sampling of various wines will be available. 55 Stony Hill Road, Bethel; 203-797-1860.

10/17 — Trumbull

Celebrate Oktoberfest With Scha-Musi. Scha-Musi will play, sing and yodel classic songs to modern German Folk and Volkstümliche music in Trumbull Library's Community Room.  33 Quality Street, Trumbull; 203-452-5197.

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