When Crown Prince Ludwig married his lady, Princess Therese back in 1810, I wonder if they thought it would mark a moment in time that we still celebrate today. Oktoberfest is a German celebration that started as a way to honor that marriage by the founding members of Munich. Today its the largest fest in the world drawing 5 million people over 16-18 days in Germany. In the spirit of that massive party many Chicago area venues are paying tribute to this fall tradition. We landed in the Gold Coast at the Peninsula Chicago Hotel to take part in a preview of the Oktoberfest menu for their upscale European-style cafe – Pierrot Gourmet.
Executive Chef Kai Lerman pulled out all the stops for a lucky group of 10 that attended this event. It was a whimsical ride through the history of German cuisine and, a non stop parade of tasty fare that the restaurant will be featuring for the next few weeks. Between the Dorspien (Appetizers), Hauptgerichte (Entrees) and Nachtisch (Desserts) we sampled just about every item on the menu. This was a fun event event, Oktoberfest after all is a celebration. Immediately when I arrived, I was tempted to order whatever beverage came in the awesome stein glass I saw on a shelf behind me. After meeting the 9 ladies I would be dining with for the evening, we all settled in to some choice selections from the oldest existing brewery in the world (1000 yrs) -Weihenstephan. The ladies in our party decided to sip the Kristall Weissbier a beer made with a secret fermentation process and a taste both pearling and effervescent. I opted for the soft, malty, full bodied goodness of their doppelbock- The Weihenstephan Heffeweisbeer Dunkel.
Our Chef who had just arrived from Oktoberfest in Germany just 12 hours earlier spent time introducing each dish, as well as providing insight on German traditions. I personally learned the proper way to take the 1st sip of a bier, ensuring the elbow is bent directly to the side. You must also tap the table with your glass before your 1st sip. There were 9+ plus items many of which were very meat friendly. Of the entree dishes, The Weiner Schnitzel was probably my fave, breaded veal served over potato salad and served with lingo berries and mustard. The same dish served over pasta instead of potato salad and topped with mushroom sauce was the Jager Schnitzel. Chef explained how his traditional sauerkraut made w/ crush black pepper, allspice, coriander and cloves would have a more robust profile over what you would find in the can, or as a topping for sausage at the ballpark.
It was fun to be surrounded by an all female party, only 10 invites city wide were issued for this dinner. @DanaMTedesco , @freshandfoodie , @Chi_DMB , @lisa_pugliese as well as the entire Pierrot Gourmet staff were very cool ppl to enjoy dinner with. While my fellow writers had a taste for Detscher Wein (German Wine) My tastebuds led me to 1 of 4 mixed beer drinks listed under the Mischgetrante-German Thirst Quencher section of the menu. The Radler ( popular mix of Spaten Oktoberfest beer & Lemon Soda) paired nicely with the Black Forest Cake, a chocolate sponge cake with sour cherries and whipped cream.
Oktoberfest runs through Oktober 30th, there will be a live entertainment from 4-8p on Saturdays. The Pierrot Gourmet is located at the The Peninsula Chicago Hotel, 108 E Superior St. 312-573-6749
For more scenes from our Pierrot Oktoberfest Preview and a full listing of the menu be sure to visit our facebook page (dont forget to hit the like button)