Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In der Küche mit Karen

High Point Brewing, as we’ve noted a couple times since July, rolls out the Austrian oak barrel this Saturday (2 p.m. at the brewery in Butler), tapping their 2008 Oktoberfest seasonal beer. (See our video from last year.)

If you’ve been to this open house, you've probably enjoyed some complimentary food while you got a growler filled and sampled the Märzen. The beer is the main attraction, the food is that little extra that makes you feel at home, and the folks who make it happen are those indispensable volunteers that every craft brewery could probably use more of.

Like Karen Ontell, who has stepped up to fill the vacancy of Jack Brunner, the familiar food guy at High Point events, who has another commitment on Saturday. (FYI: Karen’s a Bulter resident and of German lineage; her father is from West Berlin, yes from the dark time when the city was cut off from the free world and divided with the then-Communist East).

Karen used to work for High Point in the brewery's early days, doing promotions like beer dinners and representing Ramstein at charity events, and has known owner Greg Zaccardi since Ramstein’s been a label. Husband Howard volunteers at the taps (as did Karen at the bar during the August open house), filling growlers from a jockey box in the brewhouse.

She now runs Karen’s Pet Concierge and does theme-based event catering (have a Halloween party planned? She’s got your mummy covered – in filo dough).

Here’s a sampling of Karen’s menu for Ramstein Oktoberfest 2008 (we spoke to her on Monday, so the menu could change):


  • Soft pretzels, with of course, mustard
  • Potato soup
  • Mini-stuffed cabbages with dipping sauce
  • Chicken friccassee
  • Turkey and cheese on skewers with horse radish sauce
  • Potato pancakes with apple sauce
  • Salad
  • Butter cake
  • Cherry streusel cake
Worth noting
If you’ve ever cooked for 100 people, then you know there are a lot of kitchen hours that go into it. So, some credit is due for Karen and Jack.

While you’re enjoying the beer, conversation and food – the Gemütlichkeit – don’t forget to toast the chefs.


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