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Tastemakers: Chili By The BAy/ Spaten Oktoberfestbier Ur- Marzen

Rick Coates - September 20th, 2010
Chili by The Bay
It is tailgate season and that means a lot of secret chili recipes will find their way to many stadium parking lots. Legend has it that chili originated in Texas sometime in the early 1800s by cowboys who drove cattle through the plains and needed simple meals. One theory is that cooks traveling in these cattle caravans planted oregano, chiles, and onions among patches of mesquite to protect them from foraging cattle. The next time they passed the same trail, they would collect the spices, combine them with beef, and make a dish called “Trail Drive Chili”.
In the Midwest, Cincinnati chili is the regional favorite. Typically “Cincinnati-style chili uses unique ingredients such as chocolate, cinnamon or cloves and typically does not use chili powder or chili peppers. It is usually served over spaghetti, hot dogs, chili or chips.”
Traditional dishes include two-way: spaghetti and chili; three-way: spaghetti, chili, and shredded cheese; four-way: spaghetti, chili, shredded cheese, and either diced onions or beans; five-way: spaghetti, chili, shredded cheese, diced onions, and beans.
Famous names of Cincinnati Chili include Dixie Chili, Gold Star and Skyline; all three are featured in several restaurants and sell their chili at grocery stores.
Now, authentic Cincinnati-style chili has made its way to Northern Michigan with the opening of Chili by the Bay in Petoskey this past summer. A cozy little diner with a ’50s feel and contemporary touches, Chili by the Bay offers their homemade signature Cincinnati-style chili on fries, a grilled hot dog, chips, or over a bed of spaghetti. I opted for the two dog coney attack 5 way that was topped with the chili, beans, onions and cheddar cheese. My dining companion -- a connoisseur of Cincinnati chili -- ordered 5
Way Spaghetti and told me it was as good as anything he had tasted in Cincinnati.
Check out Chili by the Bay; they are located in downtown Petoskey at 307 Petoskey Street. Their hours are 11:30 am - 8:00 pm. For additional details and to see a complete menu find their page on Facebook. --Rick Coates

Spaten Oktoberfestbier Ur-Märzen

This week kicks off the 200th Anniversary of Oktoberfest in Germany. The 16 day celebration was originally a wedding reception that has now grown into the largest festival in the world with six and half million people attending. It takes 1,800 waitresses to serve the more than 200,000 kegs of beer during Oktoberfest (that is the equivalent of about half gallon a beer per attendee).
Oktoberfest is more than just beer with with wine tents. The food includes half a million chickens served, plus plenty of other traditional German cuisine, including sausages and sauerkraut, cheese noodles, suckling pig, duck, oxen and salmon. Each beer hall offers a wide range of entertainment. All of this, plus no ticket charge, offers to the charm of Oktoberfest.
But the beer, often served in large one litre (33 ounces) glass mugs, continues to take center stage and one of those popular brews is Spaten Oktoberfestbier Ur-Märzen. The oldest brewery in Munich, home of Oktoberfest, Spaten traces its origins back to 1363 and was among the first to adopt the German Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot) in 1516, that is the only ingredients that could be used in the production of beer were water, barley, and hops.
Spaten operates four beer tents at Oktoberfest, including one that holds 10,000 people and where the mayor of Munich taps the first keg. Another tent is the Hippodrome, popular with the under-30 crowd and that holds 4,000. Both tents are always packed.
As a side note, during a recent trip to Grand Rapids, I attended their Polish Festival which was located smack in the center of town. It was fun and festive and the park hosts ethnic festivals throughout the summer. It seems this concept could easily work at the former Clinch Park Zoo location in Traverse City. The Paella in the Park/Blues Traveller concert showcased what a great spot this is for community gatherings. A weekend-long Oktoberfest surely would be a big hit, as area breweries and wineries could participate along with local chefs and restaurants. In the meantime, I will enjoy a bottle of Spaten Oktoberfestbier Ur-Märzen and dream. This Oktoberfest brew and several others are available throughout Northern Michigan. --Rick Coates

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