Remember Strictly Ballroom, the film where Paul Mercurio strutted his stuff like a sexy but benign toreador? Well, I met him last Saturday. He even signed his cookbook for me. In fact, he even *gasp* put his arm around me. And yes, I went a little bit silly. Not as silly as when I met Rick Stein, mind you, when I giggled inanely while he patiently waited for me to offer up my name so he could sign my copy of Seafood Odyssey, causing my girlfriend Carol to almost prostrate herself with laughter. No, not that silly. I’ve matured since then. Sort of. But Mr Mercurio does have that actor’s way of making you feel a bit special. A girl’s bound to get a bit silly.

Then again, it could have just been the beer we’d been sampling all afternoon. See, last week was Newcastle’s inaugural Craft Beer Week, with functions held all over town. On Saturday, at The Albion Hotel in Wickham, it was the Cooking With Beer session, with Paul Mercurio manning the barbecue and matching craft beers with recipes from his Cooking With Beer cookbook. And did we have a ball!

The place was packed, the atmosphere fun and laughter filled, and the food was, to put it mildly, fabulous. Highlights were the caramelised scallops, crisp prosciutto and hollandaise de la beer, the crisp beer-battered prawns, the kick-arse hot beer mustard, and the barbecued American-style pork ribs. The wagyu steaks and chocolate tarts weren’t bad either, but there were plenty of other treats on the menu. In fact, so many we couldn’t try them all but from the sounds of appreciation emanating from the crowd, they were good. As for the beers, we tasted some crackers. Beer of the day, as unanimously voted by our merry band, was Holgate’s Mt Macedon, but the beers from Stone and Wood, Mountain Goat, and Wig and Pen were also excellent and we’ll be trying them again.

Judging from that day, and talking to people who had attended other functions (some of them every function throughout the week, which is a hell of an effort), Newcastle Craft Beer Week proved a raging success. So if you’re in the area next year when it’s on, take in one of the many events.  You’ll have a ball. We did!

Now, I was going to share my favourite beef in beer recipe, but being December and the start of what will no doubt be another long hot Australian summer it’s not really the weather for it. So instead I’m featuring something nice and salty and fatty to eat while drinking beer. Ahh, yes, if you’re going to go unhealthy, you may as well do it properly.

Hope you enjoy the happy snaps from our Cooking With Beer session. Sorry some are a bit wobbly. Nothing to do with the beer tasting. Nope, noooothing at all.

Don’t forget to come back next week when I’m hosting fabulous Harlequin Desire author and awesome web designer Paula Roe.



2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

2 tablespoons tomato sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons extra hot chilli sauce

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 kg chicken wings

Cut wing tips off the chicken wings, then divide wings into mini drumsticks and other nibbly bits.

Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Pour over wings and stir until wings are coated in marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight, stirring occasionally.

Preheat oven to 200ºC.

Remove wings and place on a lined baking tray and bake for 40 minutes until golden and slightly crispy.



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