Food, beer keep fans coming back to the German-American festival


It is true that at the 48th German-American Festival in Oregon, you can buy a traditional wooden cuckoo clock. You can ride rides and watch (or better still, participate) in the Steintossen (rock-throwing) competition. And of course there will be music and dancing galore.

But for many folks, the hugely popular annual event boils down to three things: food, beer, and beer.

The beer part is easy. Simply wander around the event at Oak Shade Grove from Friday through Sunday, find a beer or two you want to try, and drink it. There will be dozens of varieties on tap and in bottles— 46 in all, if you’re counting — most of them German.

The food part is even easier. Food stands are set up all around the widespread festival grounds, selling some non-German items and plenty of German items, including frankfurters, bratwurst, Leberkas, Kasewurst, schnitzel, potato pancakes, sauerkraut and an impressive selection of homemade pastries and desserts.

If you want to try your hand at eating competitions, the festival has you covered there, too. There will be a Swiss cheese-eating contest at 7 p.m. Saturday and a pretzel-eating competition at 9 p.m. Saturday.

But to some, the biggest food-related challenge of all is the annual German baking contest, now in its fifth year. This time, the theme is Küchen, which is German for cakes. Anyone can participate: Just bring an authentic German cake, along with a printed copy of its recipe, to the Sidewalk Café on the festival grounds before 2:30 p.m., Saturday. The cakes will be judged at 3:30 p.m. by a team of experts, with prizes awarded to the winners.

For more information about the baking contest, call Diane Schmidt at 419-693-8343.

Oak Shade Grove is at 3624 Seaman Rd. in Oregon. Admission is $7 for adults; children 12 and under are free. Two-day passes for $10 and three-day passes for $15 may be purchased online only at

The full oink

They used to say, when cooking a pig, that you can use “everything but the squeak.”

But that’s too déclassé for Dégagé. The popular Maumee restaurant will be holding what it calls “a full seven-course snout-to-tail experience” on Sept. 13. And because different types of beer will be paired with the various pieces of pork, they are calling the whole evening a Swine & Suds Dinner.

One man’s swine & suds is another man’s seven-course snout-to-tail experience. Either way, it’s pigs ‘n’ beer, and it’s all for a good cause: The proceeds will benefit the local chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The evening will begin at 6 with a cocktail two hours. The time is extra-long to allow for plenty of snacking on seasoned cracklins, trotters, skin braciole, extra-thick bacon, and other treif specialties. This time will also be used for a silent auction.

Dinner itself begins at 8 p.m., with a menu chosen and cooked by executive chef Joseph Jacobsen, with beers chosen by the good folks at Heidelberg Distributing.

Dégagé Jazz Café &Fine Dining is in the Historic Commercial Building at 301 River Rd. All participants must be 21 or older. Admission is $90, or $175 for two. Reservations are required at 419-794-8205.

GROWs market

If you are serious about cooking, or eating, or even not so serious about it, you probably know about all of the farmers’ markets scattered around the area like poppy seeds on a bagel.

But you might not know about the newest seed, as it were.

Toledo GROWs, the community outreach program of the Toledo Botanical Garden that works with more than 150 community gardens in the area, now has its own market stand. It is at 900 Oneida St., and it sells fresh vegetables, greens, and herbs every Thursday from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

For more information, call 419-720-8714.

Tofu or not tofu

In order to get their protein, many vegetarians turn to meat substitutes such as tofu, tempeh, and seitan.

Not long ago, carnivores scoffed at these soy and wheat-gluten products, calling them fake meat and some names that are far less polite. But who has the last scoff now?

According to the food-research firm Mintel, 36 percent of all Americans now eat these meat alternatives. And here is the kicker: Only 7 percent of consumers identify themselves as vegetarians. Which means an awful lot of meat-eaters are also eating them.

Why? According to the survey, one-third of all consumers say they think the substitutes are healthy — and just more than half of the people who eat them believe they are healthier than real meat. Thirty-one percent say they are trying to reduce the amount of meat they eat, and another 31 percent say they enjoy the taste.

Meanwhile, among the people who do not eat the meat alternatives, fully two-thirds of them say they prefer real meat, and 34 percent say they don’t like the taste of fake meat. Twenty percent — obviously, this survey allowed you to pick more than one option — said they do not like the texture of substitute meat.

We may never know if the survey went all the way and allowed them to call it “icky.”

Items for Morsels may be submitted up to two weeks in advance of an event to