Oysters add a harmonic note to the beer-and-brats symphony of Oktoberfest. (October 12, 2011)

October is one of Mother Nature's finest moments, in theory. Cool, maybe even crisp. Occasionally, some rain. But we best remember the bright, sunny days, and the pleasant evenings, when we can enjoy both the great outdoors and the snug indoors.

Indeed, October's a great month to plan an entertainment that's easy and casual, before the more formal and traditional gatherings of the holidays. There's still plenty of local produce around. And since the 10th month is also National Seafood Month, it's simple to choose something to star at your get together. Actually, our menu du jour provides a trio of goodies to inspire. We combine seafood with Oktoberfest, only we take a Southern approach.

Here's what we mean: Begin with the appetizer every Southern belle has in her culinary repertoire: pimiento cheese. Only we serve it baked, as rouladen (very Oktoberfest-y). A spicy Gewürztraminer or other personable white wine and, naturally, some designer beers we'll serve throughout this meal. Assuming the weather cooperates, we can serve this appetizer outdoors near the grill, because …

Our main course combines seafood with wursts, all done up by the family grill meister while the rest of us "supervise." To go with the dual elements in this main dish, we provide seafood sauce (with horseradish) and/or tartar sauce, plus some imported mustards for the wursts. If you feel you must, also offer some toasted buns for the sausages.

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To go with?, we fix some spicy corn bread and some creamy coleslaw.

And for dessert, warm, comforting (and seasonal) apple cobblers.


Pimiento-cheese rouladen

Easy to do and fun to eat — and you don't even have to buy crackers. You may want to accompany the rouladen with crudités and a balsamic vinaigrette for dipping.

3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

3/4 cup mayonnaise

2 (4-ounce) jars chopped pimentos, drained slightly, divided

2 tablespoons finely chopped Vidalia onion

1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

16 slices white bread, crusts trimmed

1 tablespoon chopped, fresh cilantro

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cheese, mayonnaise, about 3/4 of the chopped pimentos, onion and ground pepper. Using 3/4 of the cheese mixture, spread it on the bread slices. Roll the slices, jelly-roll style and place in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Spread remaining cheese mixture atop the bread rolls. Sprinkle with remaining pimentos and the cilantro. Bake about 30 minutes until melted and browned. Cool slightly, then cut into 2-inch slices and arrange on a serving platter.

You can prepare these ahead, then reheat at 350 for a few minutes before serving.

Oysters and sausage roast

A charcoal grill is the preferred method, but the gas grill is virtually as good; although, you'll need a large one. You'll also need some burlap to wrap the bi-valves to keep them moist while cooking.