The more things change…
Basil T's Toms River Oktoberfest 07
Saturday, September 29, 2007
By Kurt Epps—The PubScout
Much of what made the Basil T's 2004 Oktoberfest a smashing success remained in place for Oktoberfest 2007. I could probably save myself some time by just digging up and republishing my story about that 2004 Blast from the Past, but even that story couldn't capture accurately the upbeat atmosphere of the 2007 edition. The "Petes" (if you need to ask, you weren't there…sorry) proclaimed that this year's was "the best ever." They also proclaimed that from now on "we're going to do this every year." That's good news for great beer and great food lovers.
Nor would republishing the old column recognize some changes that have taken place at Basil's since I last hosted Basil T's O-Fest. Paramount among them is the name of the brewer. It's a name most US beer lovers will recognize—Dave Hoffman of Climax Brewing.
Anyone who has tasted Dave's handiwork (and that includes the late, great Michael Jackson) knows that the Hoffman name on a beer label pretty much guarantees satisfaction, regardless of style. And now Dave performs his alchemical wizardry on a regular basis about 60 miles south of his home base in Roselle Park. Dave and the GSP have become fast friends, except perhaps for last night when a monumental traffic jam started at about 4:30 PM near the 109 exit and became nearly impassable from Asbury Park to exit 82 where The "Pete's" place is located.
That tieup actually forced Master Chef (not Master Chief, Halo 3 fans) Steve Farley to postpone his 6:30 planned start for 45 minutes to allow those caught in the mess to enjoy the whole show from the start.
And enjoy it they did, regardless of start time. One of the "constants" from last time was the culinary magic of Steve Farley, whose fare never fails. A delectable Bavarian Shrimp Cocktail was followed by an outtasight German Veal Ravioli and a traditional O-Fest Wurst platter which included Brat, Bock and Bauern varieties.
Dave Hoffman paired those choices with his Hefeweizen, his Helles and a to-die-for Vienna Lager respectively. One wag suggested Dave call his Vienna XXX (Triple Equis) in a nod to the Mexican-made but German-brewed XX (Dos Equis) which is also a Vienna Lager.
Farley's Main Course--Smoked Pork Loin with Beer sauce, spaetzle, homemade apple sauce, sweet and sour red cabbage and potato pancakes--was exceptionally flavorful and succulent. It was accompanied superbly by Dave's Oktoberfest. If there's anyone who can make a true-to style Marzen, it's Bavarian Dave, son of Bavarian Kurt.
The Black Forest Cake (also known as SchwarzeWald Kuche) was so heavy the Dirndl Girls needed two hands to hold one plate. Farley winked slyly when he said this was the calorie-free version. It was absolutely wonderful, and it went well with the only non-Basil's beer of the night—Spaten Optimator. This double bock will match pretty well with any chocolate dessert, and, on chill fall and winter evenings, it's great as a standalone.
So the menu was classic, the beer choices were very complementary and the fact that they flowed in a seemingly unending bucket brigade staffed by those delightful Dirndl Beauties made for a most memorable event.
It was nice to see Brewer's Artist Gregg Hinlicky and his wife Celeste on hand for the event, and former Basil's brewer Tom Paffrath—who founded the Basil T's O-Fest—was also on hand with his wife Patti for some well-deserved recognition.
The Dirndl Beauties, as essential to the success of the night as yours truly and the Firehouse Polka Band, also changed. They are kind of like Radio City Music Hall's Rockettes. Replacements come and go, but the legend remains. For this dinner, only one Dirndl Beauty was a veteran of the last dinner—HS teacher Margaret Wilkins—and she hasn't aged a bit since she started. In fact, like a good barleywine, she gets better with age and she could pass for a student.
She was part of an efficient, friendly (not to mention gorgeous) team which consisted of Mandy Melo, Stacie Cirrincione, Tara Williams, Heidi Scamperino (hey, I don't name them, I just report them), Antonette Martinez (who's Irish…go figure), Theresa Skowronski, and Kim Azaceta. Their efficiency, great sense of humor and dedication to their customers were major reasons for the success of O-Fest 07.
And speaking of good humor, I have to mention one guy in particular. Gary. What a great sport! He took a ribbing all night—not just from me, either. And he handled it like a champ. His wife is a lucky woman, no matter what she says. I think Gary's last name was Gherkin….
Based upon last night's comments, this was the Best O-Fest yet. If you weren't here, you should order your tickets for next year's Fest as soon as they become available. And whatever date it's set for, leave a day early to avoid the Parkway traffic.
For a link to the pics from the Fest go here: http://picasaweb.google.com/pubscout/BasilTS07
©Kurt Epps 2007