girl + baskets at Feral

I love a little alliteration and word play in beer events but most of all I just love creative and fun beer events – enter ‘Beer and Baskets’.

I love a little alliteration and word play in beer events but most of all I just love creative and fun beer events – enter ‘Beer and Baskets’.

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Presented by the wonderful Wendy Marinich of Me & Mabel food and held at Feral Brewing in the Swan Valley, it was an afternoon of sunshine, picnic baskets filled with lots of delicious food and plenty of Feral beer.

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I loved the attention to detail at Beer and Baskets, from the little native flower centrepieces to the Me & Mabel cushions and hand labeled jars each pieced added a little something to the event. But none of this meant that there big ticket items – the actual beer and food pairings – were overlooked. I couldn’t fault any of the pairings, each course was inventive, tasty and a little surprisingly. Brilliant!

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First up we had Feral Sly Fox matched with Bookara goat’s fetta, fennel jam and orange & fennel salad with crostini.

Feral Sly Fox was drinking very nicely and on a warm afternoon slipped down very nicely. Nectarine and tropical fruit aromas, lightly floral and very refreshing, it’s not hard to see why demand for this bad boy is growing.

As for the food I have to admit that I’m generally not a fennel fan, I’m usually anti-aniseed. However, I’ll try almost anything and this was a dish I sent back for seconds and perhaps even thirds. The fennel, despite listing twice in a fairly delicate dish was very subtle, it didn’t smack you in the face. The juicy fresh orange worked at bringing out citrusy flavours in the Sly Fox whilst the fennel bumped up it’s spices. Sly Fox effortlessly cut through the dreamy creaminess of the goats fetta and I was left pondering the social ramifications of licking the jar clean.

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Round two matched Feral White with beetroot cured salmon, zucchini and sweet corn loaf and beetroot relish.

At a table of self confessed hop heads it seemed Feral White was the least likely to be ordered from the Feral range. With the likes of Hop Hog, Fanta Pants, Karma Citra and Boris, all huge flavour bombs, White was the quiet spoken step child. But having it then only reinforced to me that this is a top drop. A solid Belgian white beer with those great orange peel and coriander additions that make the style so accessible and refreshing.

This match grabbed me, the pairing of sweet but earthy beetroot to the sweetness of the beer was spot on. The fresh salmon practically melted on your tongue and the beer continued on with those fresh and clean flavours.

The sweet corn and zucchini loaf was an unexpected treat. Feral’s head brewer Brendan Varis discussed this element of the pairing, highlighting the sulphur flavours of Belgian white beers, a flavour normally unwelcome in other styles, nicely complimentedcomplimented by the sweet corn.

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Round three matched Feral Hop Hog with chicken liver pate, Beersine Pale Ale Cheddar, Beersine palecetta, fig paste, fresh pear and Wild Bakery baguette

Everyone knows I’m a sucker for cheese and pate so this course had my name written all over it. Historically my two favourite places to get chicken liver pate have been The Brisbane and Must Wine Bar, both in Mt Lawley, that is until Sunday. Oh my, Me & Mabel’s chicken liver pate was sensational and had our table scrapping the jar. Uber creamy, full favoured and smooth, it was stunning.

The matches here were great – creamy pate with crisp Feral Hop Hog, rich pale ale cheddar against a big dose of hops in the Hog, rich slightly salty palecetta (aka pale washed pancetta) contrasting fresh, zingy and tropical fruits in the beer, it all made for a great grazing plate for the award guzzling Hop Hog.

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Round four matched Feral Fanta Pants with potted Blackwood Valley beef, Blackwood Valley smoked Bresi, fresh fig, Cambray Blue cheese and witlof salad with a balsamic and orange reduction.

The perfect matching of the Blackwood Valley smoked Bresi, wood smoked beef, with the Fanta Pants couldn’t have been more apparent unless it had grown limbs and slapped me in the face. In fact, I wish it had so I could shake its hands! It had been a while between Fanta Pants for me and this time around I got soft cured meat flavours, reminiscent of walking into The Re-Store, backed up with rich spices.

The fig went well with the dark fruitiness in the beer whilst the other more aggressive flavours like blue cheese and balsamic stood up to the bigger spice and bitterness that makes Fanta Pants so tasty.

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Round five was a Delish Ice Salted Malted Caramel Popsicle with Feral Barrique O’Karma

I first met Mr Barrique O’Karma at last years Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular and once again found myself loving another Feral beer. It’s velvet smooth with big oaky vanilla flavours, thanks to some time in barrels, and hints of coffee, chocolate and citrus. It finds its other half in the Delish Ice pop, created by Delish founder Katie Earl. It was such a good match that I promised Mitch aka Beersine I would quote my initial reaction to this pairing – “holy f**kballs”, I think I said (sorry mum) and proceeded to not talk whilst I enjoyed sips of beer and bites of salted malted pop. Rather than one flavour from the beer matching to one flavour in the pop it was more a case of everything just mingled together on harmony, like they were designed to go together.

The photo below definitely doesn’t do Katie’s grand creation much justice but I was too enamoured by my first taste to take a pretty photo, hence a slightly eaten image follows here …
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Keep an eye out for the next Beer and Baskets event because it’s one of the best events I’ve been to in WA with well thought out pairings, attention to detail that adds so much character to the afternoon and, of course, held in conjunction with our states best brewers.

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Quesadillas + IPA

When we decide to cook Mexican at home it usually ends up being tortillas, always delicious and I always have just one too many! This particular night, however, I decided to stretch my Mexican cooking skills a little further to quesadillas; a Mexican dish that Jamie Oliver describes as “basically a Mexican-style stuffed pancake”. Two different IPAs to match and another successful night in!

Drinking Ginger Beer and making Homemade Guacamole

When we decide to cook Mexican at home it usually ends up being tortillas. They are always delicious and I always have one too many because the pain of completely over eating seems totally worth it at the time.

On this particular night, however, I decided to stretch my Mexican cooking skills a little further to quesadillas; a Mexican dish that Jamie Oliver describes as “basically a Mexican-style stuffed pancake”. Its hard to fault that logic.

I am going to be adding quesadillas to my list of fun dishes to cook at home. I did them on the hot plates which ended up looking great on the table and kept them hot, hot, hot!

We always go for Pale Ales or IPA with this style of food and perhaps it is because it’s a great pairing or perhaps because it’s the type of beer we buy the most, hell it’s probably both.

Feral Hop Hog
Swan Valley, WA
American IPA | 5.8% abv

I had found Feral Hog Hog on special at Cape Cellars for just $14.99 leaving me no choice but to snap it up. Meanwhile, unknown to me, my boyfriend was picking up a case of James Squire Stow Away IPA. I guess great minds think alike (or, as my father would say, fools seldom differ).

Feral Hop Hog, always amazing, was first up before the cooking started. There was something very cool about coming home to find your boyfriend and dog playing in the backyard and a case of India Pale Ale by the back door.

James Squire Stow Away IPA
Sydney, NSW
IPA | 5.6% abv

The four pack of Hop Hog disappeared quickly which was sad but, knowing it will soon be flowing from a new brewery capable of 10 million litres of beer a year put the smile back on my face! We¬†moved to James Squire Stow Away IPA for dinner. The change in IPAs proved to be an interesting little taste experiment, the Hop Hog boasting far more hop aromas and flavours with crisp stone fruits whilst the Squire version was more malty sweet and biscuity. Maybe it’s about time we did an IPA tasting, I guess I better get to the International Beer Shop!

Beef Quesadillas with Fresh Lime, Guacamole and Sour Cream + Stow Away IPA

Quesadillas

  • Beef Mince
  • Garlic
  • Taco Seasoning
  • Spanish Onion
  • Chilli
  • Mushrooms
Throw it all together and breathe deep cause it all smells great!

Guacamole

  • Avocado
  • Roma Tomatoes
  • Spanish Onion
  • Fresh Lime

Fire up a hot pan and don’t be shy with the oil. I did this by cutting my tortilla in half but I guess it would be easier to just fold it over – not sure why I automatically picked the harder way to do it but never mind that! Sprinkle on a little cheese (I use the local Capel Shredded Cheddar) and then spoon the mix on over the top. Fold (or place the other half of your tortilla) and flatten with a spatula. Cook until crisp and repeat with all the ingredients you have left! Serve with sour cream, the guacamole and a wedge or two of fresh lime.

Oh, and don’t forget the beer!