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Brewer's Journal

Alanna Sapwell-Stone's Love Letter to Oaxaca

Alanna Sapwell-Stone's Love Letter to Oaxaca

Alanna Sapwell-Stone's Love Letter to Oaxaca.

Drive through the winding hinterlands outside of Byron Bay & you’ll discover the charming Eltham Hotel. Although it’s over 120 years old, this historical gem is on the forefront of modern Aussie pub culture.

Shrouded in palm trees & adorned with vintage treasures, the magic seems to emanate from the heart of the establishment – the kitchen. This is where head chef, Alanna Sapwell-Stone, is proudly serving some of the most delicious (yet beautifully uncomplicated) food, with a focus on sustainable ingredients.

Beers in tow, we headed south to crack open our latest release, Margarita Sour Ale, with Alanna & share a dish inspired by her recent travels Oaxaca, Mexico.




The Eltham Hotel has such an incredible charm about it, what do you love most about it?


“She's a beautiful 121-year-old establishment. You can really feel the history in the walls when you walk in. To narrow it down to one thing, it's hard to go past the community. It really is a place for everyone to gather. It's as if everyone has known each other for years! I am now used to punters leaning over the pass, raising their glass, and cheering the team for a top meal. That's a special feeling.”


Tell us about the food that you and the team are creating at The Eltham hotel.


“The CWA (Country Women's Association), as a concept, has been a real inspiration for me from day one. When I think of CWA, I think of wholesome, delicious, fun, traditional, fuss free, beautiful food!

An example of this would be our profiterole with craquelin, filled with Davidson plum jam & native thyme custard. Or our wild boar ragu with fresh pachiere pasta (like nonna's chunky bolognese but using a sustainable meat source in the area) or our Pig's head sausage with onion gravy, Yorkshire pudding, apple & sorrel salad. I feel these dishes have slipped in nicely next to the elevated pub classics that we still proudly serve at The Eltham. It's hard to go past a parmy, am I right?

Underlining every meal, is knowing where its sourced, how it got to us, and the minimisation of waste.”


Noting your focus on sustainability. What advice would you give people out there to eat more thoughtfully?


“Eating sustainably sounds complicated, but it's quite simple once you break it down. And like anything, with practice, you'll become better at it.

Start with your local farmers market. It's a treasure trove of incredible produce, generally grown right here in our own backyard, wherever that may be for you. Also, don't be afraid to have a chat with the farmers and producers, ask them questions; how is it made? Where do you grow it? How would you recommend I cook it?

Often, ethical meat can be more expensive, but the domino effect of those extra dollars far outweighs the cheaper alternative. Eat more veg, pulses and grains. They are so important for regenerative farming and closing the loop of a more sustainable food system.

The best piece of advice I can give is start small, with just one positive change, and then grow from there. Don't underestimate the flow on effect of your positive changes.”



What is it about cooking that keeps the fire burning ?


“It's a rabbit hole. Well more like a rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. There is excitement at every turn. There is an endless supply of inspiration, from ingredients to the styles of cuisine and everything in between. Not to mention the incredible people that work in our industry. Don't get me wrong, it's a major challenge at times, but when you're passionate about it, you quickly fall in love with it. All in all, it's about learning and opportunities.”


I believe you’ve recently had a trip to Oaxaca in Mexico. How was it ?


“It was incredible- a chef friend we know in Australia use to live and own restaurants there so we were shown around the area by some big dog chefs and eat and drank extremely well. There were wild street parades while we were there which was super special to be apart of. I also have this touristic thing I do when I visit another country- a cooking class. I find it incredibly insightful and we were grinding corn (using nixtamalizaton) and

making our own tortillas ect. It was fascinating learning what they would consider an every day technique.”


What do you love about Oaxaca ?


“The scenery is stunning, the pride & joy they have (especially about their mescal and its art form. It’s hard not to embrace all of its beauty.”


What are you into drinking at the moment ?


“I’m neighbours with Jared and Renae who own Jilly Wine Co. Let's just say it's a step up from a neighbours home brew. Being neighbours with a winemaker definitely has its perks, but learning of a wine's origins, concept, inspiration and outcome of a wine from the makers (while the sun sets in your own backyard) is pretty special. Other than that, a schooner of cold beer after a hectic service always hits the spot.”


Brisbane. We know we’ve lost you from Brisbane in recent years. But please tell us, what do you love most about Brisbane ?


“In my eyes, it's still a big country town, it still has a homely feel to it, even though it is at the forefront of international hospitality. It offers the best of both worlds. I love that it retains this closeness whilst offering all the perks of a city.”


As for this delightful dish you’ve prepared to compliment the Felons x Madre Margarita Sour Ale, what is the star in this dish and talk to us about it.


“Hand dived and collected lobster, on its own is a hero, but the star that enhances this sustainable seafood is the salsa. It's base is Napoles (the cactus pads sourced locally in The Northern Rivers from John at Picone Exotics - our go to guy). I've bbq’d it over fire to match that smokiness that mezcal brings to the beer. It’s unusual, in the best possible way! It has a texture similar to okra paired with a natural acidity. I hope to have hit that mark of nostalgic Mexican cuisine whilst utilising local produce.”



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