Foodie friends, Oktoberfest and home-made pretzels
Where do you think I found this mountain of pretzels? I bet that Dubai wouldn’t be top of your list but as the Autumnal months creep in Dubai residents can choose from a range of places around the city to celebrate Oktoberfest. A group of us, all united by a love of food and writing about it online, thought that a trip to one of the most popular venues would be fun. So off we went to the Hofbrauhaus in the JW Marriot in deepest, darkest Deira.
We arrived early and it was pretty empty giving us lots of time to take in the spectacle of Asian staff in full lederhosen. The menu options are over-complicated and by the time the waiter worked out what we were all having I decided that I would abandon my car and dive into the German beers (the super deluxe package!). I was gasping for my stein of authentic Hofbrau.
Sausage and sauerkraut
Apart from the pretzels, the cold buffet looked a little sad although there was a good array of smoked fish and salads. I’d been dreaming of sauerkraut, mustard and really good sausage since I visited Munich last December and there was a fair choice at the hot buffet. Suckling pig is not something you see on a buffet in many Muslim countries. The presentation was a bit lacking and there were no labels so I had no way of distinguishing my bratwurst from my knackworst. I also played hunt the sauerkraut and then had to walk back out into the corridor to the salad buffet to get some mustard. (Continued after images)
The entertainment arrived and I will be tactful here as I don’t want to come across as completely cruel and heartless. Just think Una paloma blanca German style. The place was now full, of German families in the main, who were obviously really enjoying themselves. Children, dressed up in their best, the girls with neatly plaited hair, were dancing enthusiastically and parents and grandparents were swaying in time to the music. Lederhosen was sported (complete with knitted knee warmers), dirndl dresses were swirled, steins were raised and weissbier consumed. I had eaten so much meat that I was dreaming of lettuce for a week.
Overall we had a jolly time, mainly due to the great company and atmosphere. The staff were great, it was good value for money and it was a family friendly version of Oktoberfest rather than standing on tables surrounded by young people singing loudly. Let’s just say it was an experience.
Make your own pretzels
Making your own pretzels is fun, easy and a freshly baked one is a wonderful thing. Apparently their exact origin is not known but could be France or Italy. The folded dough is supposed to represent a child’s arms crossed in prayer and they were given as rewards for diligence. See below for recipe.
For the dough:
350 ml warm water (about 45 C)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoon sea salt
2¼ teaspoons dried active yeast
620 g plain flour
60 g unsalted butter, melted
2.3 litres water
130 g bicarbonate of soda
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp. water
Pretzel or sea salt
Combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl and mix to dissolve the yeast (I used my Kitchenaid with a paddle attachment).
Add in the flour and melted butter and mix just until the dough comes together (I used the paddle again)
Knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl (I used the dough hook on low speed).
Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly greased with vegetable oil, turning once to coat. Cover with cling film and let rise in a warm place, about 50-55 minutes or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 220 C. Line two baking sheets with baking or parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray. Bring the water and bicarbonate of soda to a boil in a large saucepan or stockpot.
Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and roll each piece into a long rope, about 60 cm. Do not flour your work surface, the oil will stop them from sticking.
Make a U-shape with the rope and, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and onto the bottom of the U-shape in order to form the shape of a pretzel.
Place onto the lined baking sheet.
Put the pretzels, one or two at a time, into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon (I found it easy using 2 slotted spatulas) and return to the baking sheet. Once all the pretzels have been boiled, brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake in the preheated oven until dark golden brown, about 12-14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Do try them. Ours were a bit irregular in shape as we made them in a hurry but my girls pronounced them better than the ones in Munich! Praise indeed. Have you had success with holiday food cooked at home? Which items are best left to the experts? Love to hear from you in the comments.
P.S. Visit I live in a frying pan for a different account of our evening.