Archive for September, 2010

Winner: Trish the Dish

Oktoberfest trivia drew a good crowd of 17 players, including a former champion, Trish the Dish, and her German mom, Ilse. With tonight’s questions all focused on Oktoberfest, these frauleins figured to have an edge, but as the game started Pluto jumped to an early lead. As they stumbled on the first few questions, Pluto even questioned whether Ilse and Trish were really German. Trash talking these girls was a bad idea. They finished strong, played the last dozen questions flawlessly, and Dish won easily with Ilse right behind – a classic mother and daughter reunion.

Darin hosted a very fine Oktoberfest night. From first to wurst – sausage, beer, and cookies – it was a fun night to play trivia. And the ladies who came in their best hofbrau attire added just the right touch to the evening. BTW, did you know that the wearing of a dirndl has its pitfalls. By placing the knot on the right side of the apron the wearer can signal to the world that she is engaged, married or otherwise taken. A knot on the left side means: “I’m single, open to advances.”


If we learned one important thing tonight it was that someone who has had too much to drink and is passed out on the ground is “bierleichen” – a beer corpse.

For some great pix of this year’s Oktoberfest (and for a great photo site just generally) try the Boston Globe’s daily online feature: “The Big Picture”


Good Question!: Munich celebrates its Spring Strong Beer Festival every March. Why was the original “Strong Beer” brewed?

Answer: As a preparation for Lent

Munich’s annual starkbier festival, or strong beer season, is an homage to the traditions of 17th-century monks—and an insider’s alternative to Oktoberfest

Two weeks after Fasching, or Fat Tuesday, each year, a short list of local celebrities gathers at the Paulaner cellar in Munich to watch an honorary braumeister drive a brass tap into a new keg. The content he unleashes is called “strong beer,” and when it starts flowing, Starkbierzeit, or strong beer season, officially kicks off.

This is Munich’s subdued and slightly delayed Mardi Gras of sorts. It’s also described as the insider’s Oktoberfest—there are still the party tents, but the beer is stronger and the crowds thinner.

During Starkbierzeit, Muncheners sip earthenware steins of the dark, formidable suds to ward off winter’s lingering chill—strong beer was originally concocted by 17th-century monks who drank it in place of solid food during Lent. The locals still call it their “health tonic,” and, keeping with tradition, celebrate and imbibe it during these late-winter weeks.

Befitting of its name, the beer is much stronger than what is served in late September—almost twice as potent. Guidelines for strong beer, or starkbier, guarantee an alcohol percentage of at least 7.5%. Some weigh in at 9% alcohol, plenty potent to protect against the cold weather. (Standard Oktoberfest beers chalk up 4% to 6% alcohol.)

The “strong” in strong beer, however, doesn’t refer to alcohol content, but rather to the heavy, full-bodied flavor, which 400 years ago was meant to be as much a meal as a tipple.

Starkbier is actually a doppelbock, or double bock beer, which is heavy on malt. It was first brewed by way of a religious loophole of sorts: In the mid 1600s at Munich’s Neudeck ob der Au monastery, Paulaner monks concocted a beverage to sustain them through the Lent fast. They were forbidden to eat solid foods, but liquids were deemed acceptable. So they brewed the strongest, most nourishing beer they could come up with.

The strong beer brews require almost 1.5 pounds of malt (nourishment for the monks) per liter, giving it a sweet flavor. “Beer is called liquid bread and that’s no more truer than with a double bock,” says Jim Koch, founding brewer of the Boston Beer Company. He says the double bock holds a high place in the canon of great beers. “The double bock, along with stouts, Bohemian pilsners and Belgian ales are the foundational beers for brewers,” he says.

“Toffee, caramel, cloves, bread, toast, coffee and sugar are the common comparisons used for the taste of a starkbier,” says Henrich Schmidt, a professional beer taster from Munich. When poured, a creamy butterscotch head settles on a bright yet dark amber beer. Color, along with maltiness, are key differentiating characteristics among Bavarian double bocks.

During Starkbierzeit, each brewery opens a tent for revelers just as they would during Oktoberfest. Starkbierzeit is, at its core, meant to be a celebration of Bavarian culture, not a bleary-eyed race to the bottom of the stein. Like Oktoberfest, Oompah bands fill the tents with the usual rotation of drinking songs, while waiters don traditional costumes (think winterized versions of lederhosen) and manhandle 10 steins at a time for delivery to waiting customers.

Partially because of the alcohol strength, Starkbierzeit has stricter hours than its Bacchanalian equivalent in the fall. “The beer hall doesn’t open until six and it closes at midnight,” says Kerstin Jungblut, a manager at the Lowenbrau Keller. Attendance is also significantly smaller. “Our tent holds 2,000 [people] during Starkbierzeit and 10,000 at Oktoberfest,” Mr. Jungblut says.

But the lack of crowds also means the absence of astronomical prices. Entrance fees, which range from €7.50 at Augustiner to €16 at Lowenbrau, include a drink ticket. Single beers cost between €6 and €8, versus €9 to €11 during Oktoberfest. The Starkbierzeit festivities always end abruptly on the Saturday before Palm Sunday.

source: wall street journal

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Winner: Droppin’ Dave

We are back from our summer hiatus, but things have not changed much around here. Dave finished strong, showing fluency with German and scientific words, and eked out another win, edging Pluto and Driver Shea.

Although the conventional wisdom is that no one remembers or cares who finishes second in life, we are going to try and change that by including the second place finisher with the solo winners for the trophy photo.

Next week trivia nite celebrates “Oktoberfest” with $4 beers. Oh Boy! Can’t wait.

Good Question!: What was first offered for sale in NYC on June 8th, 1786?

Answer: Ice Cream

The story of ice cream begins over 3,000 years ago in China. The Emperors of China were the first people, we know about who were lucky enough to get to eat snow ice cream. Their cooks mixed snow and ice from the mountains with fruit, wine and honey to make a tasty treat for their rulers to enjoy when they wanted to relax.

In 1295, Marco Polo, a great adventurer, returned from China to Italy with a new recipe for making snow ice cream. His recipe called for mixing yak milk into snow in order to make it creamy. The idea of mixing a mammal’s milk into snow ice cream caught on and soon the rich people of Italy were enjoying frozen milk. From Italy the recipe for ice cream travelled to the royal courts of France and then England.

In 1700, Governor Bladen of Maryland who was from England was recorded as having served it to his guests. After the dessert was imported to the United States, it was served by several famous Americans. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson served it to their guests. Dolly Madison created a sensation when she served ice cream as a dessert in the White House at the second inaugural ball in 1812

The first ice cream parlor in America opened in New York City in 1776. American colonists were the first to use the term “ice cream”. The name came from the phrase “iced cream” that was similar to “iced tea”. The name was later abbreviated to “ice cream” the name we know today.

Whoever invented the method of using ice mixed with salt to lower and control the temperature of ice cream ingredients during its making provided a major breakthrough in ice cream technology. Also important was the invention of the wooden bucket freezer with rotary paddles which improved ice cream’s manufacture.

From Pushcart to Inventor of the Ice Cream Cone – Italo Marciony

In 1903, Italo Marchiony, a man who sold ice cream from a pushcart he pushed through the streets of New York City, invented the ice cream cone and patented his idea. He began his business selling his homemade lemon ice from a single pushcart on Wall Street, but his business quickly grew into many carts.

Although he was successful he still had a small problem that was causing him to lose money. At the time, most ice cream from vendors was sold in serving glasses called “penny licks” (because you’d lick the ice cream from the glass, and it cost a penny to do so).  There was a major problem with sanitation (or the lack thereof), but Marciony’s problem was that many people would accidentally break the glasses, or not so accidentally walk off with them.

His first solution was to make cone-like containers out of paper which worked fine until he was hit with a stroke of genius. He came up with the idea of making an edible container for his cool treat. So in 1896 he began baking edible waffle cups with sloping sides and a flat bottom – shaped like his serving glass – and it was an instant hit.

The closing of bars that sold wine and beer in 1919 led to the opening of many ice cream parlors in the United States. The more Americans ate ice cream the more they wanted to eat ice cream.

The idea for the Eskimo Pie bar was created by Chris Nelson, a ice cream shop owner from Onawa, Iowa. He thought up the idea in the spring of 1920, after he saw a young customer having difficulty choosing between ordering an ice cream sandwich and a chocolate bar. The first Eskimo Pie chocolate covered ice cream bar on a stick was created in 1934. Originally Eskimo Pie was called the “I-Scream-Bar”.

In 1920, Harry Burt invented the Good Humor Ice Cream Bar and patented it in 1923. This was the first ice cream sold on a stick. Burt sold his Good Humor bars from a fleet of white trucks equipped with bells and uniformed drivers. Who can forget their first Toasted Almond Good Humor bar!

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