Beer + food pairing #10: Champagne and strawberries, the beer drinkers’ version

Tonight, due to necessity (A.K.A. my resistance to the idea of either leaving the house or making an actual meal) and also creativity (A.K.A. my resistance to tidying my room, yes the truthful words of a 30-something procrastidrinker)…. I came up with this delightful pairing.

Something like that.

Champagne and strawberries is a bit of a cliché, but I am not here to deliver your stock standard.


I have tried making beer bread before, using a standard beer, but this time I decided to splash out on some quality ingredients. I’m telling you, it’s worth it!!! The smell of this beer bread cooking was fairly saliva inducing.

Maybe this in inadvertently inspired by Garage Project’s Beervana offering of Fairy Bread to match their 5th Birthday themed beers. This is kind of the adult version. I’m hoping they would approve.

I chose a pretty fancy sounding beer (Hops on Pointe was brewed for the Royal NZ Ballet) and initially I had an idea to pair it with something equally high brow. However, when searching the shelves for an appropriate beer to make a beer bread, this one seemed to fit. German malts, Nelson Sauvin hops, and Champagne yeast. A pale gold lager with a crisp, clean palate, rich tropical fruit aromas and tight champagne bubbles.

Hops on Pointe teases the traditional boundaries between high and low culture. I imagine drinking this with good friends and the resulting scene being like something from Absolutely Fabulous.



  • 330ml can of Hops on Pointe Champagne Pilsner
  • 2 and 3/4 cups of self raising flour
  • 3 tsp white sugar
  • friends (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil (or butter)
  • more Hops on Pointe Champagne Pilsner
  • strawberry jam and coconut butter (or whipped cream) to serve



  1. Make sure your beer is at room temperature for the beer bread, or heat it up it slightly.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  3. Mix the first 3 ingredients in a bowl. Lightly grease a loaf tin with some coconut oil or butter, pour the bread batter in (it will be quite a wet dough) drizzle with a little more coconut oil or butter and bake for 50 mins.
  4. Slice and serve while warm, with either coconut butter (I’m going for some vegan and dairy free options here, don’t judge me) or cream, and strawberry jam.
  5. Match with Champagne Pilsner, and follow with red wine or anything else you desire.

Beer + food pairing #10: Champagne and strawberries, the beer drinkers’ version

#shrublife (What to drink when you’re not drinking)

At some point in January 2017 I was flicking through old journals from 1.1.16 and found the following goals:

  • at least 1 day per week no alcohol
  • at least 1 day per week go to the gym

Then I cried.

I have reached the point in my life (again) where I am ready to start new, healthier habits. Drinking alcohol and having naps have become my main hobbies, and although I am genuinely passionate about beverage research and building a solid relationship with my mattress, there are more things I want to be doing with my life.


If you are also considering staging an intervention with yourself, or if you’re just one of those nice wholesome freaks who doesn’t drink alcohol everyday, you may be interested in an initiation to the world of Drinking Vinegars!

I was first introduced to shrubs through my place of work, and have been thrilled to find many recipes online, amidst myriad wholesome blog posts featuring pretty mason jars. The word shrub stems from the Arabic word “shariba” which means “to drink.”

One example cites 19th and early 20th century housekeeping manuals as a common place to find recipes, since shrubs gained popularity during the Temperance movement. Yes, 19th century housewives I feel your pain!

They are an economical and simple way to make a preserved fruit syrup, since the sugar and vinegar does most of the work and they require no cooking (yay!)

(Note: You can still add gin or whiskey or vodka and they taste very nice. Or rum… oh rum!)

I have stuck to the same basic recipe for various fruits; plum, strawberry, guava, feijoa. I don’t skin them, just wash and remove large stones, or top and tail them then slice in half. A little bit of natural fermentation is not a problem because the vinegar will kill any bugs. I normally use fruit that is available freely (i.e. growing in my backyard or obtained from a friend).

Plum and balsamic shrub

For the plum shrub I used balsamic as well as apple cider vinegar; with the other fruits I used only 2 cups of apple cider vinegar. The citrus peel can be added depending on the fruit you are using, such as orange peel with the plum or lemon with the feijoa. You can also add fresh ginger.


  • 4 cups of plums, halved and pitted
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 20 black peppercorns
  • 2 pcs orange or lemon rind or ginger (optional)
  • soda water and ice (to serve)


  1. Muddle fruit and sugar in a large sealable jar with the peppercorns.
  2. Leave sealed for at least 24 hours, stirring daily. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the vinegars. Stir and leave 2-5 days for the flavours to infuse. Then strain through a sieve or muslin cloth. Keep the syrup refrigerated.
  3. (Sadly I have found no use for the discarded fruit besides a drink garnish, I guess you could try adding some to a fruit chutney.)
  4. To make your drink, pour a little syrup into a tall glass, add ice and soda water.


Good luck


Recipe inspiration credited to the blog post below:

#shrublife (What to drink when you’re not drinking)

When to admit you were wrong (Wednesday)

I just committed a heinous crime. It is made so much worse because I purchased what is probably the most beautifully labelled bottle of beer I have ever seen. It is adorned with a mermaid holding two full beer glasses, her seaweed-like hair swishing around and it is called “Punk’in Drublic”.

It is made by Coronado Brewing Company, California, an Imperial Ale aged in brandy barrels and brewed with pumpkin and spices.


A hefty 8% ABV it is a rich golden colour, smells and tastes as expected: sweet spices, fruit leather, barrelly tones. Now this is when I committed that terrible sin: I added lemonade.

My beautiful handmade craft beer, travelled across the ocean, placed ceremoniously on the shelves of Liquorland Newmarket, sitting in my fridge for a week waiting for an occasion to drink it (occassion: it’s a Wednesday) – and I turned it into a shandy.

See, the problem is that I don’t actually like barrel aged beers. I did a stupid thing and bought one cos I liked the name and the label. I’m sure we’ve all been here before. The last time was Moa’s Rum Barrel Aged Sour (a whole lot less drinkable than this one). It is not a bad beer by a very long shot, it’s just that I’m the wrong person to make a happy match. This is a view I have adopted lately of human relationships. Two people can be perfectly great as individuals but sometimes they just don’t work together in harmony.

So, if you do make this mistake with your beer selection, here are a few things to try:

  1. Try food with your beer. I happened to have some maple syrup & pecan cream cheese on hand (how convenient!) and this went very nicely with the beer. (Interestingly, my significant other uses this same “just add food” technique on me – I’m as sweet as pie as long as you remember to feed me frequently.)
  2. Take your time. Maybe your palate got a shock, maybe you need a bit of time to adjust to the bitterness, hoppiness, sourness or sweetness of the beer because it just wasn’t what you were expecting.
  3. Add lemonade. This is the most delicious shandy I have ever tasted.
  4. Admit you were wrong, and move on! Don’t suffer silently or say bad things about it. There are plenty more fish in the sea!
When to admit you were wrong (Wednesday)

(Dump the) Trump, Alarms and No Surprises

My response to the recent U.S. Presidential election was void of emotion, bluntly lacking surprise. The alarm bells had been ringing for a while, throughout ten or more seasons of The Apprentice. Donald Trump’s callous comments and misogynist rants, as well as other events and clues in the media, did not make things look promising for my feminist allies in the U.S.A.

If his blatant racism and homophobia wasn’t bad enough, he also exhibits an abusive tactic known as gas lighting. In a brilliant article for Teen Vogue, journalist Lauren Duca explains “To gas light is to psychologically manipulate a person to the point where they question their own sanity, and that’s precisely what Trump is doing to this country.”

In a much-too-real example of the dangerous thinking that a person like Trump inspires, Duca has received misogynist online abuse following her recent appearance on Fox News, in an interview with Tucker Carlson. She delivered a heroic message despite a frustrating and humiliating exchange with Carlson, who tried to demean her for writing for Teen Vogue. “A woman can love Ariana Grande and her thigh-high boots and still discuss politics, and those things are not mutually exclusive.” Duca retaliated.

Watch it here – Tucker is actually appalling.

Another hero to (re) emerge from election night is Dave Chappelle, because we definitely need a little comic relief after that. In an Election Night skit for Saturday Night Live, Chris Rock and Chappelle laugh heartily at their fellow comedians surprise as the votes are counted. Cecily Strong remarks sincerely, “Oh my god, I think America is racist.” Chappelle responds “Oh my God… You know I remember my great-grandfather told me something like that. He was, like, a slave or something.”

Watch it here –

I know Hillary Clinton was the lesser of two evils in this apocalyptic “three ring circus sideshow,” but if she had won the election we would have had this awkward “choice feminism” moment where we all poured champagne into a rose tinted glass. They’d probably even tell us to smile, and we’d toast this glorious occasion… A woman is President, cheer up Buttercup! But then, maybe we could have had a serious conversation about what feminism actually means.

I’m not fighting as a feminist for my ego or personal gain (only don’t call me pretty!) I’m fighting because I believe this will help all of us. The goal of equality is not achieved through individual choices which privilege some but leave others behind; it demands collective structural changes to a world that values some humans more than others. If we fight this battle together, we are more powerful than any of us are as individuals.

The misconception by well-meaning opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement, and to Feminism as well, is the failure to understand this concept. It doesn’t hurt you (in any reasonable situation) to be an ally to someone’s struggle, whether this is racism, sexism, ableism, classism, or any other form of institutionalized discrimination. It doesn’t take anything away from you to recognize that someone else’s struggle is real, and you are not living in two separate realities. White culture has a troubling obsession to “not see colour” and to deny its racialized and gendered assumptions. But white is just another colour in the pigment box of flesh tones, just as there are “many colours in the homo rainbow.” Get over it, Honey.

I feel like we are spending way too much time defending the necessity to be feminists instead of just being feminists. We are defending our right to be women instead of just being women. It’s so exhausting.

“Dump the Trump” American IPA by Behemoth Brewing Company, Auckland, NZ.

Break time for another hero: this beer. Dump the Trump is a topical, assertively hoppy American IPA. It’s the perfect beer to drink when you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I recommend pairing it with picnics and friends. Fortunately the only wall it’s building is “the wall of hops around your taste buds” so you can relax and spit some truth to your allies.

Which brings me to my last topic in this rant, “Emotional Labour”: Work that requires careful management and regulation of emotion to perform tasks, usually to result in a positive experience for someone else, and sometimes without pay. The concept was introduced by Arlie Hochschild in her 1983 book The Managed Heart in which she describes the emotional labour work of flight attendants as being “nicer than natural”.

I have performed the act of “being nice” for most of my life. But, lately I have been examining how my use of positive energy can be exploited and how it is valued or not valued by society in the workplace and in the home. Not to mention, how it is tiring me out!

Women, it seems, are expected to be kind, caring, deferent, and to have empathy in situations where men may be entitled to lack these qualities completely. We saw it in the U.S. election; Clinton was expected to smile, to have dignity and remain calm throughout Trump’s display of arrogant misogynist shit. As women, we were expected to sympathise with her. Male arrogance is rewarded (with a Presidency nonetheless), while women are expected to grin and bear it? This is not a truth that I want to live.

There is a separate term for the skill set of “Emotional Intelligence”, a term which was only recently coined in 1990 and is quickly becoming recognised as a key skill in business leadership. Qualities such as self-awareness, self-regulation, and empathy are now recognized as valuable in the domain of highly paid professionals.

We have been gas lighted to think that kindness and empathy are not valuable, that they are not strong qualities. How often do we hear the phrase “Nice guys finish last?” In the current system of emotional dictatorship, to show your feelings signifies weakness. In fact, being sensitive to your own emotions and the emotions of others is one of the most powerful weapons in the world. If we flip the bird to this caveman attitude, and show our real capacity as human beings for kindness and empathy, we could be living in a different reality.

You don’t need to be nice to Ivanka Trump (I’m not saying accost her on a plane – nobody is!) but choose your allies and think about your values. Lift up those who deserve it, and don’t waste your energy on those who don’t. Your choice is powerful, and when you don’t make choices only for yourself, “Every 1’s a Winner.”

I want a dyke for president. I want a person with aids for president and I want a fag for vice president and I want someone with no health insurance and I want someone who grew up in a place where the earth is so saturated with toxic waste that they didn’t have a choice about getting leukemia. I want a president that had an abortion at sixteen and I want a candidate who isn’t the lesser of two evils and I want a president who lost their last lover to aids, who still sees that in their eyes every time they lay down to rest, who held their lover in their arms and knew they were dying. I want a president with no airconditioning, a president who has stood on line at the clinic, at the dmv, at the welfare office, and has been unemployed and layed off and sexually harrassed and gaybashed and deported. I want someone who has spent the night in the tombs and had a cross burned on their lawn and survived rape. I want someone who has been in love and been hurt, who respects sex, who has made mistakes and learned from them. I want a Black woman for president. I want someone with bad teeth, someone who has eaten hospital food, someone who crossdresses and has done drugs and been in therapy. I want someone who has committed civil disobedience. And I want to know why this isn’t possible. I want to know why we started learning somewhere down the line that a president is always a clown: always a john and never a hooker. Always a boss and never a worker, always a liar, always a thief and never caught.

– Zoe Leonard, 1992

(Dump the) Trump, Alarms and No Surprises

Beer + food pairing #9

Cos beer goes with more than just snarlers on the barbie, here is a perfect (and healthier) Summer BBQ alternative: ceviche.

This classic Peruvian-style raw fish dish is famous all over the world, and goes excellently with the citrus flavours of the Sauvin hops in this beer. Sauvin is a NZ varietal hop named after the grape Sauvignon Blanc due to its fruity, white wine characters. As Sauvignon Blanc is often paired with seafood, it makes sense that this beer should also work well with fish.


Saison (meaning “Season”) is a French farm-style pale ale. Traditionally it would be brewed in the cooler months to be drunk during Summer by the saisonniers (seasonal workers) who were allocated daily portions. It is a versatile style, as many types of grains, fruit and spices could be added depending what the farmers had on hand. The saison yeast imparts flavours of hay, fruity esters and wholegrain bread.

8 Wired have created a contemporary-style Saison with a blend of malts including Pilsner, Wheat and Crystal malts. It has a balance of earthy notes and tropical flavours due to its Sauvin hops, with a decent body and cloudy appearance.

Bon appétit!


  • 3 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
  • 500g fresh, firm white fish (e.g. kingfish, trevally, snapper, gurnard, tarakihi)
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice (I used a mixture of half/half)
  • 1/4 telegraph cucumber
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup coriander leaves
  • 2 long orange kumara
  • crusty bread to serve
  • a bottle of 8 wired Saison Sauvin


  1. Peel the orange kumara and cut slices around 2cm wide. Boil in lightly salted water until they are just tender (10-15 mins) then set aside to cool.
  2. Mix the sugar and vinegar in a small bowl and add the red onion. Pop into the fridge to marinate and pickle while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  3. Prepare the fish. (You want to use the freshest fish you can, because although the citric acid in the lime/lemon juice will denature the proteins in the fish to give it the appearance of being cooked, this curing process does not kill bacteria.) Slice or dice your fish into bite-sized pieces, then add the lime/lemon juice and mix though in a large non-metal bowl. Leave to marinate in the fridge until you are ready to make the dish (minimum of 15 mins and max of 3-4 hours).
  4. To make the ceviche, drain the fish but reserve a little of the marinating juice. Drain the red onion slices and mix these through. Cut the cherry tomatoes into halves and dice the cucumber. Mix these, with chopped coriander leaves and a little marinating juice, into the fish. Season with a little salt to taste.
  5. Serve the ceviche over the cooled kumara slices. Some grilled bread drizzled with olive oil makes a great side to this dish, and of course your 8 wired Saison Sauvin.

Adapted from a recipe by Nadia Lim.


Beer + food pairing #9

Beer + food pairing #8

Good George is a Hamilton based brewery that began in a former church. Their belief is that beer “shouldn’t be bland, full of chemicals, mass produced and boring. Nor should it be hard, pretentious or scary.” Amen to that!

Coffee is a daily necessity for me, and Good George’s collaboration with Rocket coffee could easily be a daily indulgence. The flavours in their Coffee IPA are not rich or overpowering; rather they compliment the bitterness of the IPA. It’s a sessionable beer with aromas of grapefruit, pine, coffee, lemon and lime.

I’ve tried this beer on 3 occasions and the best it tasted was alongside this simple satay sauce. The peanut and chilli in the sauce bring out the coffee tones in the beer nicely. Prawns and a garnish of coriander will compliment the lemon and lime flavours of the IPA.

#8 Good George Rocket Coffee IPA + Satay Sauce with Prawn and Vege Kebabs


  • olive or peanut oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp sweet soy sauce
  • 4 Tbsp good quality crunchy peanut butter
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • raw prawn tails (marinated in a little sweet soy sauce)
  • veges such as kumara and eggplant (whatever you fancy – this recipe can be vegan/vegetarian)
  • coriander leaves (optional)
  • 1 can (at least) per beer enthusiast of Good George Rocket Coffee IPA

Method for Satay Sauce:

  1. Finely chop the onion and garlic.
  2. Heat 1/2 Tbsp oil in a wok and fry the garlic, onion and chilli over a medium heat until the onion is soft. (Use less chilli if you prefer a more mild sauce.)
  3. Stir in the brown sugar until lightly caramelised.
  4. Add the soy sauce and peanut butter and stir through.
  5. Turn down the heat and add coconut milk a little at a time until you achieve your desired consistency.

Best served immediately, but can be reheated with a little extra coconut milk.

Method for Prawn and Vege Kebabs:

  1. Preheat your oven and roasting tray on grill to 200C. Cut peeled kumara into one inch cubes and rub with salt and olive oil. Grill for 30 mins.
  2. Cut eggplant into cubes and rub with salt and olive oil. Add to the oven tray with kumara and grill another 10 mins.
  3. Once veges are nicely browned, remove from the tray and grill the prawn tails (these should be thawed and marinated in a little sweet soy sauce for ideal results) for around 4-5 mins.
  4. Thread prawn tails and vege cubes onto skewers and top with satay sauce. Garnish with some fresh coriander leaves and serve with Coffee IPA.



Beer + food pairing #8

Love + Bitterness: Beer + food pairing #7, Beer + aperitivo pairing A.

Love is just a four-letter word, as sung by Joan Baez in her 1968 cover of Bob Dylan. The desire for love is a driving force behind our interactions as human beings, yet its realization is often elusive and slips away from us.

One way to reliably experience love is through food. For most of us, nothing says “I love you” or “I welcome you” better than sharing a meal or a bite to eat. Hospitality is a way to show respect for others, to share your culture and experiences, to unify and make lasting connections. This applies whether you are in a bar, a restaurant, or someone’s home.

These wonderful cookies are filled with love, nuts and chocolate. I have paired them with a beer that was created to be shared with someone you love, (if you’re single, preach that self-love!) Funk Estate’s Super Afrodisiac Stout.

#7 Funk Estate Super Afrodisiac Stout + The Best Biscuits I’ve Ever Baked

Baking was my gateway drug to cooking, among other things. These cookies are basically foolproof, and are almost as good as therapy. (I know this is a huge claim to make, but I am a massive believer in the power of chocolate.) If the cookies alone aren’t enough to light your fire, you have the added power of Funk Estate’s five aphrodisiac ingredients: vanilla, honey, more chocolate, figs and maca root.



  • 1 egg (at room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup extra light olive oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup self raising flour
  • 1/3 cup crumbed walnuts (I use a mortar and pestle to crumb them)
  • 150g Whittakers 62% Dark Cacao chocolate
  • 1 can (at least) of Funk Estate Super Afrodisiac Imperial Stout


  1. Preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan forced oven. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Chop the chocolate block into chunks (you can use chocolate chips if you prefer but I like the texture of larger and smaller chunks of Whittakers chocolate).
  3. Beat egg, oil and sugar in a large bowl until pale and creamy.
  4. Sift flours over oil mixture; then add the walnuts and chocolate chunks. Stir until well combined.
  5. Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls and flatten slightly with a fork onto the baking tray (makes 12-15 cookies).
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden. Cool on a wire rack until firm.
  7. Enjoy with beer!

On the subject of love, a little bottle of one of my greatest loves fell into my hands this weekend: Campari.

Campari has a long history of love, passion and dedication behind the brand. A classic bitter aperitif, it was created in Italy around 1860, by a young drink maker called Gaspari Campari. It was customary in Italy during this time for each local café to be producing their own distinct aperitivos, amaros and liquers. Gaspari Campari began to sell his product to other cafes, bottled and labelled, with the savvy marketing insights of his wife Laeticia and later their son Davide.

In the early 1900s Davide fell in love with a famed Opera singer named Lina Cavalieri. She never reciprocated his love, but he followed her through Europe on her tours and eventually to Moscow, carrying his stock of Campari with him. In this way, he made Campari an international brand, supporting Surrealists, musicians and artists along the way. He engaged with a broad range of artistic styles to create posters for the brand, favouring innovative and daring images, captivating the interest of the public.

Poster art for Campari by artist Marcello Dudovich, 1913

A. Funk Estate Rock Steady XPA + Campari

A departure from the theme of Opera and unrequited love, this little Funk Estate drop has more of a 70s “Free love” vibe. Rock Steady Xtra Pale Ale pairs nicely with Campari without overpowering the bitter Aperitivo flavours I love.


  • 1 part Campari
  • pour 3 to 4 parts Xtra Pale Ale


This beverage also works well with Panhead Quickchange XPA, or an I.P.A. such as Epic Armageddon if you prefer love to smack you in the mouth with a whop of hop flavours. I feel like Davide Campari might have been that kind of guy.

Interestingly, Davide is not the only man to have become obsessed with Lina Cavalieri. Piero Fornasetti, an Italian painter and designer, created hundreds of items featuring the Opera singer’s face as a motif; “What inspired me to create more than 500 variations on the face of a woman? I don’t know,” he admits, “I began to make them and I never stopped.”

Plates by Piero Fornasetti, mid-20th century

The legacy of Campari has been handed down through the generations, as has its ongoing support of the arts. Vanessa Beecroft, an Italian-born performance and watercolour artist, created a label for Campari’s 150th anniversary. “Her label focused on the female image, coherent with her art vocation that uses women’s prototypes to project the artist’s own image. She imagined an ethereal female character wrapped in a fantastic head of hair, red, like the glass of Campari she is holding”[1] and reminiscent of a) the reputably fiery haired Laeticia Campari b) the socialist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg or c) the artist Vanessa Beecroft herself.

Bottle label by Vanessa Beecroft, 2010
Beecroft’s performance work is something I have come across before; she “paints” individual and group portraits in three dimensions, with living girls and women. The girls stand or sit as if they are waiting for something that never happens, never making eye contact with the viewer, never speaking, in various states of dress and un-dress. Their discomfort echoed in the viewer’s discomfort creates an atmosphere of tension; a mixture of voyeurism, vulnerability, shame and detachment. There are rules unstated, desires unstated. The viewer seems somehow just as out of place as the girls themselves, while Beecroft assumes control.
“Without question Vanessa is a feminist,” states her dealer Jeffrey Deitch “but she’s a very contemporary kind of feminist…. If one is present at a Vanessa Beecroft performance, they are not erotic. You feel the power of the women’s presence. It is an intimidating image.”[2] The cast of later performances has expanded to involve marines, illegal immigrants, stand-ins for victims of genocide in Darfur, and other homogeneous groups in museums, art galleries, and public spaces.
Still of performance piece by Vanessa Beecroft
This legacy of obsession, love and pushing boundaries, adds to the intrigue of this bitter red aperitif.
Many thanks to Daniele Pirotta and David Fletcher from Campari for providing me with the background story, inspiration, and the wee bottle of love and bitterness.
Poster art for Campari by Marcello Dudovich
[1] Retrieved 25 September 2016.
[2] Retrieved 27 September 2016.
Love + Bitterness: Beer + food pairing #7, Beer + aperitivo pairing A.