Philadelphia, Pa. Philadelphia’s first and only authentic German bierhall, will celebrate National Fasnacht Day. Starting at 12 noon, Jessica Nolen – pastry chef at Brauhaus Schmitz and owner of The Little Bird Bakery & Café – will be offering traditional fasnachts by the half dozen (six per order) and serving the festive fried dough until the restaurant runs completely out.
On Tuesday, February 28, Brauhaus Schmitz (718 South Street), when Nolen bakes her fasnachts in small batches at Brauhaus Schmitz their will only be enough for 100 total orders, with a limit of one order per customer. Packaged in a brown paper bag and sprinkled with hot sugar, fasnachts will be sold for $8 per order (cash only), with optional dipping sauces, such as Nutella, Molasses, Bavarian Cream and Fruit Jam, available for purchase for an additional $1. Brauhaus Schmitz routinely sells out of this yearly offering.
The word fasnacht, sometimes spelled fastnacht, translates to the “night before the fast” in German. Making these homemade doughnuts, usually fried and coated in sugar, was a practical (and delicious) way to empty the pantry of lard, sugar, fat and butter before the start of the Lent season. The long-standing tradition is also widely celebrated in Pennsylvania, mainly by the Pennsylvania Dutch in Lancaster, York and Berks counties. According to legend, the savory treats were viewed as good luck and greasing a garden spade with fastnacht lard would protect gardens against harmful insects. (We strongly suggest eating them instead, since it would be a shame to waste all that scrumptiousness).
“At Brauhaus Schmitz, we consider ourselves the guardians of deep-rooted Bavarian traditions, and sharing these sweet, seasonal treats with our guests is another way we can preserve an ancient custom,” says owner Doug Hager. “We’ve been serving fasnachts since we opened in 2009 and the demand for them has been overwhelming. Be sure to plan ahead because the line starts forming early.”
The National Fasnacht Day celebration is an extension of the annual Karneval Costume Party on Thursday, February 23 from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. at Brauhaus Schmitz. Karneval, or Fasching as it is known in Bavaria, is deeply rooted in the German city of Köln, where owner Doug Hager lived for two years before opening Brauhaus Schmitz in 2009. This “Mummer-like” party is a proud German tradition that occurs 40 days before Easter, serving as the last big festival before Ash Wednesday. Brauhaus Schmitz will provide live entertainment and encourages guests to come dressed in bright, colorful costumes.
Prizes and specials will include:
Kegerator Raffle: raffle tickets will be sold through purchase of beer (one ticket per Kölsch, or five tickets per Kölsch Kranz); and buyers are entered for chance to win a Kegerator; drawing at 10 p.m.
Ladies Night: female revelers can enjoy half-price Kölsch all night long
Costume Contest: the restaurant HIGHLY SUGGESTS wearing a costume; and they will award prizes for the 3 Best Costumes, including a $50 gift certificate