My birthday Lunch

Caroline: For my birthday Kris took me away on a mystery trip. While the food was made by him, I thought I would share my side of the weekend.

It started as a meandering drive through the country with an esky  packed in the trunk full of things unknown to me. It’s still so weird to me having opposite seasons than I’m used to. Back in the US my birthday is in spring (April) and it was so surreal driving around and seeing all the fall colors in Tasmania. But Fall being my favorite season, I’ll take it.

After driving for a while we stopped in Mt Fields National park. It’s one of our favorites and not too far from town (~45 min). They have picnic tables and these great wood burning BBQs and they even supply a stack of wood!

We sipped on tassie bubbles from fancy champagne glasses while the fire heated up.

and the view was terrible. imagine having to eat lunch looking out onto this? poor me, right?

Kris brought some amazing steak scotch fillets from Cape Grim Tasmania. And there’s just something about cooking in this way, outside, over a fire and everything from so near by, it just makes everything taste better. I guess it might all be in my head.

Kris caramelized some onions in this Abbey Ale and we drank the rest. He just threw a splash of beer over the chopped onions and let them grill for a couple of minutes. He also grilled some hen-in-the-woods and some shitake mushrooms from the huon valley. 2 of my favorites, they’re so earthy and funky.

the assemblage begins

no mushroom left behind

even without steak, I would gladly dig into this. 

Next step: add cheese to melt. mmmmm cheese

We (and by we I of course mean Kris, but I like to feel involved) finished it off with some of our (Kris’) tomato chutney. Remember the chutney? You can find the recipe HERE.

man oh man. The steak sandwiches did not last long. We ate them sitting by the water and getting misted by a fall rain.

we put out the fire and went for a hike through Mt Fields. Well, when I say hike, it was really just a leisurely stroll, but since we were outside I’m going with hike. I’m tempted to put up pictures of weird mushrooms and moss and tall trees we saw. But, as they have nothing to do with beer or food I will spare you. Maybe next year…

Thankyou Kris for the best birthday full of all of my favorite things:

you, food, beer, and outside-ness (all in order of preference)

Elgaar Cheddar, Home-made Tomato Chutney with Victory Hop Devil IPA

Kris: As you can see, our tomatoes have done really well this year. Two of our plants even grew over 2 metres tall!

Caroline: I’m very proud of our tomatoes.

Kris: Now we have so many tomatoes it’s time to start making chutney and passata. My favourite varietal that we have grown are the Black Russian’s.They are the tastiest tomatoes I have ever eaten. I decided to make some spicy tomato chutney to match with some aged cheddar and a Victory Hop Devil IPA.

Caroline: We grew a bunch of different heirloom varieties, but my favorite must be the Black Russians (Kris is a copycat). They don’t get super red when they’re ripe, more of a purpley-green. But MAN are they delicious. We’ve got more then we can eat each night.

Spicy Tomato Chutney

2 kg tomatoes

2 brown onions

3 tbs grape seed oil

1 cup raw sugar

2 tbs grated ginger

1 tsp tumeric

1 tbs chilli flakes

1 tbs garam masala

1 tbs smoked paprika

salt and pepper


Fry off the sliced onion on a medium heat

Add the sugar and spices 

Fry for a few more minutes

Add the tomatoes

Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened (at least 2 hours depending on desired thickness)

Season with some salt and pepper

Place into sterile jars

Allow to cool and store in a dark cupboard

Caroline: A quick note about sterilizing jars, heres how I do it:

Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water

Place jars and lids on a baking tray in an oven at 150 C (300 F) for at least 15 minutes 

Spoon chutney into jars while both the chutney and the jars are still HOT

Leave to cool, as they do the vacuum seals should invert.
***if by any chance they seal properly don’t DON’T PANIC just refrigerate and eat your chutney within the month ***

Kris: I tried the Elgaar Clothbound Cheddar at the local Farm Gate Market and just had to buy some. The farm itself is certified organic and all of their products are fantastic.

Caroline: I love that the chutney has a lot of spices in it, it holds up really well with the cheddar which is SOOO sharp it’s almost spicy! All on top of my new favorite cracker: Arnott’s Country Cheese! YUM

Kris: The cheddar is rich, crumbly and sharp. Elgaar age their Clothbound cheddar for up to 3 years making the flavours really rich and intense!  Paired with the spicy chutney, the cheddar it is an ideal match for a big American style IPA.

Kris: Victory Hop Devil is a 6.7% American IPA. It has a sweet malt backbone and massive resinous/citrus and pine hop character with a lingering bitterness. A classic example of one of my favourite styles.

Caroline: Man is this a BIG one! So hoppy. Remember IPAs? All together, what an awesome pre-dinner snack…