I thought about live-blogging the Isthmus's Wurst Oktoberfest much like I did The Great Taste Beerfest. However, watching as I slowly fell into a drunken stupor seems more entertaining then documenting a deep and persistent case of the meat sweats.
It was a cold and rainy day in Madison's new Central Park. This probably kept the attendance low and the lines for samples of sausage, beer, mustard, pickles, sauerkraut and various other Wisconsin products short and sweet. Also a lot of $3 beer drinking.
Wisconsin River Sausages were a highlight in the beef stick and summer sausage category for me. They had a cranberry sausage which totally blew my mind, giant chunks of dried cranberry studded throughout the summer sausage. This was the highlight of the stand but they were also sampling about 15 other beef sticks and flavored summer sausages.
K. Clark's Pickles and Preserves were another great treat. The beer jelly was pretty good, sweet with just a hint of beer. However the real treat for me at this stand was the Hot Santa Fe Sour Pickles.
They use a tiny gherkin style pickle called a Mouse Melon. That's just what it looks like a mouse sized watermelon! But it packs a lot of flavor in that tiny melon. Sweet, sour, spicy and all in just the right balance.
Of course the Essen Haus showed up! However they weren't selling glass boots of beer :(. They did have a shocker of a great Weisswurst.
It was absolutely delicious, flavorful but not overpowering, moist as hell, and warm on a cold, cold day. They are veal and pork, wrapped in some sort of unidentifiable casing which almost looks like the crust of a loaf of bread. I asked the cute girl at the counter what the casing was but neither she nor anyone else could tell me.
Cedar Grove Cheese brought a 100% sheep's milk "Donatello" cheese. Absolutely heavenly aroma and nice nuttiness with just a little bit of sheep bite. It's an aged cheese and well worth a try!
There were a lot of tasty things to eat, but by far the winner was the South African Specialty Sausage from SA Braai. Everyone in my group unanimously choose this as the best thing at the whole show.
This Boerewors sausage had an amazing texture, slightly finer then you would expect from a bratwurst and coarser then a hot dog or a Weisswurst. There was a hint of a darker flavor that is very difficult to place. This was absolutely the best sausage of the lot. They were also serving it with their homemade chutney which was absolutely fabulous sweet and tangy, without any spiciness. I immediately wrote down which stores around Madison sell this awesome sausage for future reference. But I'm not telling you ravel, I want it all for myself!!!
Fine... they sell
SA Braai at Metcalf's, The Jenifer St Market and Grasch foods.
Isthmus's Wurst Oktoberfest was an awesome 1st year event and I can't wait for next year's!