Irish Shandy Meldrum

Australian Survivor, Australian Survivor: Blood V Water, Drink, TV, TV Recap

As my love Jonathan reminded us, previously on Australian Survivor we staged a brutal, epic battle between brians and brawn to see who would reign supreme. Which, spoiler alert, was a brain who was also super strong which kinda means you need a little bit of yin and yang to win, no? On and said all rounder, was the iconic Hayley who managed to navigate around George’s wild game, being booted and coming back from redemption and Cara’s passion for cooking plans. 

But I’ve digressed. Like early season Probst transferring the final tribal council votes, Jonathan then literally jumped in a leftover Mad Max car from the BvB opening and drove himself through the outback from the desert of Cloncurry into the stunning oasis that is the land of the Gudjala People near the township of Charters Towers. Eventually he pulled up, issued his 47 days line and well, I have goosebumps!

First we met brothers Jordie and Jessie who look equal parts goofy and athletic, though they assured us that they were competitive best mates. Jessie is the one they’d get to lead them into a battle, while Jordie would be best for leading to the pub. And just like that, I live for Jordie. Sisters KJ and Sophie were up next with Sophie sharing how direct she is, while KJ is sneaky. And given Sophie is proudly controversial and outspoken, I have a feeling KJ will be making it further.

Ex-Rooster Michael Crocker – aka Croc – and his sister-in-law were ready to fight, well he was. She is proudly uncoordinated, thinks that tribal council is called tribunal and most importantly, is giving off big Cara energy and well, I love her already. Chrissy is life, long live Chrissy. King Khanh from Masterchef was joined in the game by his equally iconic sister Amy and well, I am ready for Khanh to come in and play as equally cutthroat as Sandra.

Speaking of former players, Andy is back looking for redemption alongside his sister Kate and ugh, I hate how triggered I am by Andy because I want to like him, however I know we’d have the same trajectory if I played the game and that makes me sad. Thankfully his sister Kate seems super sweet and ready to help him navigate the social aspect better than his first season. They were joined by Mark and Sam who met on season 2, fell in love and are now married with a super cute son. And damn, I hope we get the chaotic, controlling Sam from her first season because she was FUN.

Then, the moment we’ve all been waiting for – SANDRA AND NINA, officially, confirmed, here. Australia! They quickly jumped in a chopper and as the 22 other castaways – or peasants – climbed rocky terrain to meet Jonathan by a watering hole before it landed unveiling the Queen to her subjects. Or, well, fellow competitors. While Chrissy incorrectly identified Sandra as Oprah at first, the cast were gagged to see the Queen down under alongside her daughter. We then got a supercut of Sandra’s greatest hits including dumping the fish, burning a hat and eating sugar and gah, I just love her so much. And Nina seems so bubbly and fun and ugh, I. Am. Ready.

I mean, Sandra is ready to beat her own daughter down.

After everyone calmed down, Jonathan quickly painted a target on Sandra’s back, pointing out she is the queen. Thankfully, Nina quoted Sandra’s I don’t know about that when Sandra said she was confident in her chances, so maybe she will have trouble getting her third win. Particularly since Croc admitted to being a bit nervous to face off against former players, though was ready to fight them which you know means, get rid of them ASAP.

Surprising everyone on the shore but not a soul watching, Jonathan split everyone up from their loved ones putting one on each of the tribes. Before they were immediately tasked with battling it out in the first reward challenge of the season for a welcome fire pit. Which is a pretty epic way to start the game, TBH. One by one, each pair would face off racing down a slide into the water to grab a ring, which they need to drag over to a long, hard pole. First up were Jesse and Jordie with Jesse whipping down the slide before his big brother dragged him all the way to his pole, scoring the first point for the Water tribe. Because yes, we’ve gone from Brains, Brawn and Fire to Blood and Water.

KJ and Sophie were up next with the latter ready to destroy her sister, which she did, after a brutal fight, tying things up between the tribes. Andy kindly helped his sister up the stairs before scoring the second point for his tribe. What looked to be the most mis-matched pairing in Croc and Chrissy was actually a decent fight as Chrissy threw her body around and nearly dragged her brother-in-law over to her pole before he got a second wind and tied things up between the tribes. Then Sandra faced off against Nina and well, these two are just the best. I mean, neither were tall enough to grab the ring off the hook at first and then fought tooth and nail until Nina pulled the ring out of her mum’s hands and snatched victory for the Water tribe.

We followed the Water tribe back to camp where Chrissy realised that she is a little over her head given she hates the outdoors and is already losing her fake tan. Andy meanwhile rallied the group and congratulated them on their killer win. Which Chrissy struggled to celebrate given she is without her support system in Croc. Thankfully she is so charming and hilarious, I see her doing well after that initial shock wears off. The tribe sat in the water and did a quick getting to know you session, with Andy this time opting to go the honest route. Though given the editors gave him the joker music, I’m scared for him. As Mark opened up about his life, Jordie outed his brother Jesse as a huge fan of Mark and well, his edit is already night and day with Andy in how likeable and magnetic he is coming across. While Mark is a literal soldier, Andy took the lead on building their shelter which filled Mark with absolute joy as the target was firmly being painted on Andy, rather than him.

Meanwhile over at the Blood tribe, Jesse was mostly disappointed about losing to his brother rather than losing the challenge. More importantly, he is a superfan that is in awe of Sandra and I love him for it. Jesse and Jordie forever! After everyone else introduced themselves, the tribe got to work building the shelter as Sandra worried about a target being painted on her back. Jesse admitted that it would take him a while to get comfortable in front of her given he is such a fan, with Sandra calmly reminding him that she is just a person that is looking to fit in and ugh, I love her.

Sandra admitted that she knows the odds are against her as the queen, particularly given how physical Australian Survivor is, but as always, she will bide her time until she can take control and win.

The next day the tribe were trying to get comfortable, while Sophie quickly realised she was in the middle of the bush. Which is what happens when an animal licks you on the face while you sleep, to be honest. We then learnt a little more about her, a former WAG and super successful business woman and most importantly, she is bi so I will stan her until my dying breath.

Over at the Water tribe, most of them settled down for breakfast as Queen Shayelle – aka Slayelle – wandered around camp, collecting firewood and being an absolute provider. Though she did open up about feeling overwhelmed being apart from her partner Ben and ugh, I love her too. Which has nothing to do with the fact that she is so strong she could murder me with her bare hands. Honest. She started to bond with Briana who is kind and bubbly, though Shay quickly pegged her as a threat given her likability will take her far and as such, she will need to be cut eventually.

While collecting paperbark, Shay found the first clue of the season and quickly pulled Briana aside to fill her in on the deets. With said deets being that the hidden immunity idol is literally stuck to the front of Jonathan’s podium at tribal council. The first catch being they need to snag it in front of the tribe to activate it and the second being that there was a second clue hidden somewhere in their camp. Which was promptly found by tribunal queen Chrissy in front of most of her tribemates. Though given she is unsure about what tribal council is, I assume Shay and Briana are all good, right?

The tribes reconvened with my love Jonathan for the first epic immunity challenge where we learnt poor Alex had somehow sustained an injury and had to be supported (or carried) as they arrived at the challenge. His ‘in-law’ Jay was rattled by how pained his (ex-)girlfriend’s brother was, though it was quickly dropped to make way from some brief shade amongst loved ones. After which Jonathan explained that the tribes would have to race over a ramp carrying a battering ramp before smashing some walls, climbing over a ladder and then smashing a series of targets. And since Alex was injured, he was sitting out of the challenge with the Blood tribe also having to sit someone out to make things fair, with Andy’s sister Kate volunteering.

Which is iconic, since Sandra stayed silent, desperate to prove herself in a challenge and I live for that fire.

The tribes both shot out of the gate at the first obstacle with the Water tribe getting out to the earliest of leads on the walls until Croc took control, directing the Blood tribe and pushing them ahead. The Water tribe continued to struggle with the second wall as the Blood tribe whipped up the tower and started to toss their hammers at the targets, after a wistful look back at Shay from Ben and honestly, swoon. I ship the shit out of them. Croc and Jordan tossed hammer after hammer, only taking out one before Jay and Ben traded out and quickly knocked out two more. All while the Water tribe continued to work at their second wall before Mark straight up charged at it himself. Sophie switched out with Jay before she and Ben took out the last two targets and snatched immunity for their tribe.

Most importantly, keeping Sandra in the game for one more episode.

Back at camp the tribe discovered their fire had gone out in their absence which is just rubbing salt in the wounds at this point. Chrissy was worried about Alex, having quickly bonded with him and loving how kind and calm he is. As Mel tried to give him a consult, thankfully being a chiropractor, Chrissy and Jordie spoke about how nervous they are for him. Andy meanwhile was relishing the thought of going to tribal council, though tried to play things cool. As the tribe caught up in the water, Andy floated the idea of booting Alex which honestly makes sense given he can barely walk but given the looks on everyone else’s faces, I’m not sure it will be this cut and dry.

Shay and Briana meanwhile went for a walk to come up with a game plan for snatching the idol before Chrissy, to ideally get out the icon. They caught up with Nina, Khanh and Jordie by the well, with everyone agreeing that Chrissy is a liability to the tribe and needs to go. Nina however was just agreeing to their face, having learnt from her mother not to idly sit by and make decisions that benefit other people’s games and as such, knowing that she can’t work with Andy, she wanted to get rid of him instead. As such, she pulled Mark aside to talk things through with him before getting Mark to straight up suggest they get rid of Andy instead and ugh, how are the Diaz-Twine’s this damn good at the game?!

Jordie snuck up on them like a larrikin before quickly switching into game mode, willing to jump on board to get rid of Andy. Nina decided she would work on KJ and Mel, while Jordie would get Josh and Alex on board while all of them tell Andy that Alex will get the boot and ugh, I feel bad for him.

Speaking of Josh and Alex, they were catching up with Chrissy with Alex sharing how heartbroken he would be to be the first boot. Meanwhile Nina was busy pulling KJ and Mel in on the plan before finding Khanh and easily getting him on side too. She then caught up with Andy, Mark and Jordie, calmly talking about getting rid of Alex at tribal council before Andy threw out the idea of splitting the vote between Alex and Chrissy. Which only made Nina more concerned about Andy, and therefore confident in her decision.

At tribal council Alex spoke about how disappointed he was to be injured before the first immunity challenge and how big of a target it has put on his back. Out of nowhere, Shay and Chrissy jumped up to claim the immunity idol, with the former circling the podium as Chrissy calmly snatched it out from underneath her rival. And ugh, Slayelle, I was rooting for you! Jordie pointed out that that really shows what kind of game they’re playing, while Andy suggested the idol hasn’t changed anything for him. Which is something everyone agreed with, while Briana suggested that sometimes knowing there is an idol in the game means they have to burn some votes to get rid of it, threatening my love Chrissy.

Jordie spoke about the battle between everyone’s minds ahead of tribal council, admitting that it was hard to vote out someone you like even though they are injured. Briana continued her attack and straight up called out Chrissy for being a weak link in the challenge and let’s just say, the icon was not happy about it. On the flipside, Andy praised everyone for being so great and putting in so much effort. But he was also very ready to get rid of Alex given he is injured. Chrissy reiterated that Alex is likely in a little bit of trouble, while Nina admitted she was parking Alex’s injury and instead wanted to come out of tribal council knowing who she can trust. While Andy assured everyone that if he spoke to them today, he wants to work with them.

With that the tribe voted and despite Alex literally spending most of the day in excruciating pain, Chrissy (needlessly) played her idol on herself and Princess Nina got her way as Andy found himself becoming the first boot. 

And ugh, I feel so bad for the guy. Despite Nina and Mark already proving to be an iconic duo. 

I was surprisingly overwhelmed to see Andy arrive at Loser Lodge, knowing how hard it would have been to come back after his first season only to try and adapt his game, only to quickly be cut from the game. Again, because I fear I would fare similarly should I ever accept Jonathan’s standing invitation to compete. I pulled him in for a hug, told him how proud of him I was and reminded him that he was just blindsided by Sandra’s daughter, which as a superfan, should be an honour. After which I toasted to his Survivor career with a fresh Irish Shandy Meldrum.

My brother went through a period of advocating for the majesty of a shandy, though in my opinion, they generally end up ruining both the lemonade and the beer. But by adding a bit of whiskey, it truly makes it sing. Or at the very least, it makes it pack more of a punch which is honestly what you want after becoming the first boot.

Enjoy!

Irish Shandy Meldrum
Serves: 1.

Ingredients
¼ cup Irish whiskey
½ cup beer, ideally IPA for the flavour
½ cup lemonade

Method
Pour the shot into a glass, followed by the beer and then lemonade.

Then down, in honour of our first boot.


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Lamb Cassarahole & Ayles awaiting my dear Sarah Ayles to eat while I rant about Andy surviving.

Lamb Cassarahole & Ayles

Australian Survivor, Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders (2019), Main, TV Recap

Previously on Australian Survivor Jonathan threw a spanner in all of the works, forcing everyone to drop their buffs – sadly not John’s speedos, though – and switched up the tribes. The three Champion women lucked out and stayed strong together in a Champ majority on the new Contenders tribe, while David and Luke were royally screwed as the only OG Champs remaining on the Champions tribe. Oh and Daisy and Shaun’s alliance was also split up, though that only became relevant after the new Champions continued in the tradition and lost immunity. You see Shaun had told Andy about his idol, who then spread the information to the rest of the Contenders on the Champions tribe, with Daisy overhearing and deciding that he is no longer to be trusted. With that, she approached  John and Baden to flip to David and Luke with her and blindside Sam – who never got a freaking confessional – which they did, leaving the OG Champs alive for another episode with an idol in each of their pockets.

We opened up with at the new Contenders tribe where Abbey, Ross and Pia were still lamenting the downgrade of facilities from what they were useful at Camp Champ. While the girls struggled in the squalor, sweet angel Ross tried to find the bright side and honestly he is too pure for this world. I just get the goofiest grin whenever he is on screen and I hope he knows how much I appreciate him.The tribe sat around bonding and downing coconuts, while Janine was thrilled to have the majority on her new tribe. Though was struggling big time when it came to remembering Casey’s name. Or was it Cassie. Talk then legit turned to eating Harry, despite his fake child at home. Pia’s serving suggestion was to turn him into a kebab. Harry then vowed that he will be taking control of the tribe and was thrilled that Luke or David likely went home at last night’s tribal.

Speaking of the new Champions tribe, Andy – who looks more like Sonic the Hedgehog than the original movie version that they’re currently fixing – was still shell-shocked by the blindside while David was thrilled to have found his way into the new majority so quickly, thanks to Daisy’s vendetta against Sam. Desperate Andy approached David to pretend that he was trying to protect David at the last tribal and honestly, the desperation reeks of insincerity and I need him out ASAP. And if that performance keeps up, I think I’ll get my wish. Sarah too was seething after the previous vote, so approached Hannah to float the idea of wooing Baden back to their side to get rid of Daisy in a revenge plot which sadly seems shortsighted given the Contenders early domination. Shortsighted but good TV.

Jonathan summoned the tribes to a rolling river where the Contenders were shocked to find Sam was booted the night before, none more so than Harry who had just felt confident enough to get arrogant. But back to the challenge where someone from each tribe who swim against the flowing river, with the last person staying in the marked zone winning a point for the tribe. First to three winning a Survivor cafe experience, so everyone was as thrilled as I was given swimming calls for speedos. Once again Luke and Matt faced off against each other, with Matt making quick work of Luke. Again. Leading to even more arrogance from Matt. Ross and Baden went next and despite starting strong, poor Baden wasn’t a chance against the surfing champ. Janine got out strong against Andy, until the current washed her away and Andy – urgh – got the Champions on the board. Abbey and Daisy proved an interesting match up, with both women working hard as Daisy drifted into Abbey’s lane and Abbey almost wiped Daisy off the course before ultimately, Daisy won the point and tied things up. The final match-up between Hannah and Casey was far less interesting, as Hannah washed right out of the field giving Casey the point and handing victory to the new Contenders.

The Contenders arrived at their cafe reward where Shaun was thrilled to finally take out a reward, Casey got her first confessional and Matt was struggling to understand why he wasn’t miserable. While everyone was frothing over the food, King Ross smashed four coffees and quickly started to lose his mind before having a power spew and coming back for seconds. Harry meanwhile wasn’t so thrilled and couldn’t move past the fact that Sam was voted out, while Abbey and Janine quickly got all of the information out of Harry and Casey, finding out Sam and Daisy didn’t get along, meaning Harry likely won’t work with Daisy or her ally Shaun. While Harry desperately tried to make in rounds with the former Champs, he didn’t look to be having much luck and felt on the outs with his new closest ally Casey. The latter however had other plans, leaving him for dead and buddying up to Janine, Pia and Abbey to try and save herself while Harry wandered around until he found the damn idol.

And while it is exciting for him, I just want to know what happened to his eye and if it is what happened to Benji’s last year as it looks angry.

Jonathan returned for the immunity challenge where two people from each tribe would be placed in chambers while their remaining tribemates would race over balance beams to collect buckets of water from the ocean to fill up the other tribe’s chambers. Given poor Sarah can’t catch a break, she was submerged in one of the Champion chambers with Hannan in the other while Casey and Pia were the potential drowning victims for the Contenders. It is pretty hard to tell who is leading at any given moment, so let’s focus on the fact Hannah seems super fun and entertaining and I hate that she is the last person remaining without a confessional. Pia was the first to be completely submerged, followed closely by Hannah while the two desperately tried to keep their noses above water before Hannah and Pia dropped out one after the other, leaving Casey and Sarah to battle it out. Tragically Sarah fought valiantly however it wasn’t enough as the Contenders kept a steady flow of water going into her bath forcing her to bow out, handing victory to the Contenders.

Back at camp the Champions assured each other that they did all that they could at the challenge before Andy tried to find a way to live to see another day. He then approached David as, to quote him, David is smart for a model and he himself is scary smart, so he thinks they will make good allies. Sadly for Andy, David could see through all of his lies though given he holds the power, he doesn’t really mind. Yet. He rallied his allies and suggested they get rid of Sarah, given she isn’t as agile as Hannah with everyone jumping on the plan quickly. Andy left the group and approached Sarah to see what she was thinking, with Sarah suggesting going to the top of the totem pole and get rid of Daisy. Andy then ran back to the shelter, lay next to Daisy and told her what Sarah and Hannah were planning, filling the icon with rage.

Sarah then wandered over to Baden and Luke at the well, telling them that Andy threw her under the bus before David and Hannah joined them. Sarah asked David what his plans were, with him admitting that he was going to vote her out … though would happily turn on Andy instead. David then said Andy was playing so badly he was planting landmines, forgetting where they were and then blowing himself off all up the beach and I LIVE. Daisy and Sarah then caught up with Daisy suggesting that she would be willing to get rid of Andy instead. The only certainty as they headed off to tribal council, is that once again David and Luke are safe and their two idols will remain in the pockets for another episode.

At tribal council Andy tried to downplay how shocked he was by Sam’s blindside before Jonathan congratulated David on surviving the insurmountable odds. David downplayed the OG tribes, reminding everyone it is a new game and they are one unit. Sarah admitted that the lines were well and truly blurred, while Daisy reminded them it is eat or be eaten. Hannah admitted it is too hard to trust anyone in a long term way, while Sarah alluded to Andy continuing to play the middle and Luke blurted out that there was some madness back at camp. Andy tried to be coy about the situation, where he shoved his hole leg in his mouth which everyone was aware of, before Sarah verbalised that she is the one that walked up on Andy’s dick move with the Sonic impersonator getting more and more nervous. Wait, no, cocky, as his fuck-up is only an issue for Sarah. John told everyone to pull their heads in, Andy spoke about the importance of trust – much to John’s disgust – while Sarah sounded defeated, warning them to all keep one eye open.

With that the tribe voted and despite me crossing everything in my body, praying to a wide range of deities and promising not to cuss anyone out tomorrow for asking stupid questions, it was my dear Sarah who was booted from the game as low-rent Sonic sped to smug another day.

Once again, I was a giant ball of rage as Sarah entered Loser Lodge and fearing that I was on the brim of freaking out, she took me in her arms and told me to breath through the pain. She assured me she was proud of the game she played, and glad to prove herself and while I fought back tears thinking of all the ways the game has tried to bring up memories of the tsunami for her and the fake that yet another woman was booted over a smug, beige male, I realised that all we needed – Sarah, I and the world at large – was a big comforting Lamb Cassarahole & Ayles to dull the pain.

 

Sarah Ayles joyfully eating Lamb Cassarahole & Ayles while I rant about Andy surviving.

 

Thankfully this rich casserole is glorious enough to wipe away some of the pain of seeing this icon leave the game. Earthy lamb, the tang of ale and the sharpness of some gruyere work together in perfect harmony to honour the ultimate survivor of this season who deserved so much better. #Justice4Sarah

Enjoy!

 

Sarah Ayles joyfully eating Lamb Cassarahole & Ayles while I rant about Andy surviving.

 

Lamb Cassarahole & Ayles
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
olive oil
1 onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1.5kg lamb shoulder, diced
2 tbsp flour
200g mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
2 tbsp tomato paste
345ml bottle ale
2 cups beef stock
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp muscovado sugar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
1 baguette, sliced
100g gruyere cheese, grated
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped, to serve

Method
Heat a good lug of olive oil in a dutch oven and sweat the onion, garlic, celery and carrot for five minutes, or until your kitchen is hella fragranced. Add the lamb and cook for a further five minutes or so before adding the flour and cooking off for a couple of minutes. Add the mushrooms, mustard, tomato paste, ale, stock, bay leaves, muscovado sugar, Worcestershire Sauce, and a good whack of salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Once the casserole is thick and gloopy, top with the baguette and all of the cheese. Transfer to the oven and bake for fifteen minutes, or until the cheese is golden and glorious.

Sprinkle with parsley, serve and devour.

 


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Garry Shandyling

Drink, Emmy Gold, Emmy Gold: The Gold Wing

Given it is the 70th anniversary of the Emmys, I decided to kick things off with an icon that has hosted the ceremony before in addition to being a victor. And as such, I also decided it was time to get the time machine back out of the garage and go celebrate Emmys’ milestone by hanging with my dear friend Garry Shandling.

I first met Gaz in the mid-70s; I was working as John Travolta’s stand-in – and definitely not lover – on Welcome Back, Kotter when Gaz wrote an episode. While I was fired during the filming of the episode after a major non-lover’s tiff with Travolts, the final straw really was my inability to stop laughing because it was the funniest episode of all time.

As such, Garry felt bad about me losing my job and took me under his wing. Given I am a crafty Hollywood strategist, the tables turn and I took his career to the next level. That level being working with Johnny Carson, two hit shows and eventually in ‘98, an Emmy.

Now I know the name of this game is to run odds and it is extremely difficult to run odds with a dearly departed friend, but my drive in the delorean gave me enough time for some much needed clarity. While Ted Danson and Bill Hader gave killer – oft literally – performances, I can’t see anyone beating Donald Glover for lead actor, give how freaking creepy he was as Teddy Perkins. And obviously the Fonz is going to score his first Emmy due to being an icon slash robbed some many times. For the Emmys and an Oscar as Principal Arthur Himbry in Scream, may he rest in peace. That being said, if Tituss Burgess doesn’t win an Emmy for Kimmy Schmidt next year, I will riot.

By the time I arrived I back in ‘98, I was ready to celebrate Gaz’s sole Emmy win and catch-up with a clear mind. Well, until the Garry Shandylings kicked in.

 

 

I used to mock my brother mercilessly for enjoying a shandy … until I drank one, and realised how freaky delicious they are. Light, bubbly and a little bit sweet, there is no better drink to toast a friend or while away a summer afternoon.

Enjoy!

 

 

Garry Shandyling
Serves: 2.

Ingredients
1 ½ cups of beer
1 ½ cups lemonade

Method
Split the beer amongst two glasses. Top up with lemonade.

Down. Repeat.

 

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Jud Beerza Battered Fries

Side, Snack, Survivor, Survivor: Nicaragua

Finally! We have a cast – complete with icon Elizabeth ‘flip da ma’fuckin’ bird’ Olson – and we can truly get to countdown to Survivor: David vs. Goliath. And TBH, there is no better way to mark the occasion than by hanging out with my dear friend and ex-lover Fabio.

Cast your mind back to 2010, riding high on the post Heroes vs. Villains wave, Survivor was a hit again, Sandra became the Queen, Parvati was an icon, Russell was an iconic mess … and Nicaragua landed with a thud.

Yes, we can all agree that the Medallion of Power was a joke and the double quit episode a week out from the end destroyed the pace … but I actually kinda loved the season. I mean, it was a trainwreck but that is part of the charm. Holly breaking down, burying shoes and rising from the ashes of her own creation to almost make it to the end was a thing of beauty. As was Jane’s tantrum upon finding out she was about to be booted and a loveable, ditzy underdog being verbally abused by an eventual quitter, only to outlast the rest and secure her vote for the victory.

And I am lucky enough to call said victor my dear friend Fabio aka Jud Birza.

I first met Jud in 2009 when I was searching for someone with the last name Benjamin or the first name Judd, so that we could marry and become either Benjamin Benjamin or Judd Judd like Brady Brady of SATC fame. While he was missing a D, he more than made up for it with another one and we fell into a quick love affair.

While we eventually broke up due to one of my deportations, I suggested Probst give him a chance to carry on Sandy’s legacy. And carry it he did. In my opinion.

Obviously all we could talk about was the iconic Elizabeth Olson and how if there is any justice in the world, she will be out victor. I mean, the cowboy hat, the shit eating grin and the knowledge that if anyone sees it, a team of interns of Sonia Morgan quantities will lose their jobs – this woman needs to win AND be the breakout character of the season.

Well, as far as we were concerned whilst smashing a tonne of Jud Beerza Battered Fries.

 

 

Super crispy on the outside, light and crispy on the inside, these are the most fun you can have with beer while cooking off the alcohol. Well, as well as Lucy’s balls obvi. Which reminds me, I need to watch Jud’s post-Survivor film …

Enjoy!

 

 

Jud Beerza Battered Fries
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
1kg russet potatoes, cut into fries
1 cup flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper, to taste
375ml beer
vegetable oil, for fryin’

Method
Place the cut potatoes into cold water and leave to sit for ten minutes or so. Drain and dry completely.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the beer until you’ve got a smooth, thickish batter.

Place the oil into a dutch oven until it is about 10 centimetres deep and and bring to 160C on a fry thermometer. Once at temperature, place a handful of potatoes in the oil at a time and cook until lightly golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and allow to dry on kitchen towels.

Raise the temperature to 180C, dip the par-cooked fries into the batter and cook a few at a time for a couple of minutes, or until golden and crisp. Transfer to kitchen towel and repeat until done.

Sprinkle with kosher salt and devour, immediately.

 

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Lucille Meatballs in Beer Sauce

Main, Pasta, Snack

I was balls deep in this year’s Emmy Gold celebrations – after successful dates with Reets, Jackie-Boy and Chevs – when I was struck with a horrid feeling while driving away from Chevs’ … I’ve never documented a time-travel enabled date with the undisputed queen of television, Ms Lucille ma’ fuckin’ Ball.

Yes guys – how this kind of thing still comes as a shock to you, I will never know – I was a dear friend of Lucille Ball. I mean, probably even her best friend. The bestest.

I first met Lucille in the 30s while co-starring in the play Hey Diddle Diddle – where I was fired for diddling the director. While I was surrounded by scandal, Luce stood by my side and when the play was shut down after a week in DC, I escorted her to film the Too Many Girls which co-starred a friend of mine, Des.

Again, yes – of course it was me that introduced Lucy and Desi.

Anyway, given I wanted to see Luce at her best, I set the delorean for the ‘50s so we could catch up while they filmed a ep of I Love Lucy. It was such a joy to see them in a happy, successful time and it filled me with unending joy.

As this is the second date where I can’t reference the year, on account of the butterfly effect, I was left to run the odds all on my lonesome in the DeLorean. As she is the queen of comedy, I got to thinking about the female comedy awards. While I feel Pamela Adlon would prove an amazing person to end Jules’ streak, I can’t see anyone pipping her this year. Obviously Kate McKinnon is taking out supporting again, if only for her rendition of Hallelujah which made me cry for an hour.

Given that Luce was also the head of a production company – hallelu, desilu – I figured she’d be cool with me exploring the behind the cam odds. Donald Glover will win directing for a comedy, Jonathan Nolan (or the Duffer to hedge my bets) for drama, Don Roy King for SNL for Variety and Jean-Marc Vallée for Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special.

Seriously – it was an action packed date, which called for an extremely special Judd family favourite – after Luce cooked it for us in the ‘70s – my Lucille Meatballs in Beer Sauce.

 

 

Moist, zingy and entirely sweet, these babies are the perfect thing to pop in your mouth while filling a hole … or catching up with a departed friend and running the odds in a defunct car.

Enjoy!

 

 

Lucille Meatballs in Beer Sauce
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
500g beef mince
1 onion, grated
⅓ cup quick-cook oats
1 egg, lightly whisked
½ tsp ground allspice
1 tbs each of olive oil and butter
40g French onion soup mix
1 ½ cup beer
1 tbs brown sugar
1 pinch ground nutmeg
¼ cup sour cream
500g spiral pasta

Method
Combine the mince, onion, oats, egg and allspice in a bowl and scrunch to combine. Shape into walnut sized balls and allow to chill in the fridge for half an hour.

When raring to go, get a large pot of salted water on to boil and heat the oil and butter in a large pan over medium heat. Lightly fry the chilled balls in the hot, frothy liquid for a couple of minutes on each side, or until browned and glossy. Sprinkle with the soup mix and pour over the beer, stirring once the froth has subsided. Add the brown sugar, nutmeg and cook, stirring, for a further half an hour.

In that time, cook the pasta to packet instructions, drain and return to the pan with a small knob of butter. When the pasta is done and the balls cooked through, add the sour cream to the balls and stir to combine.

Serve the saucy, wet balls on a bed of buttered pasta … and devour.

 

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Alan Dale Sprouts

12 Days of Chrismukkah, Side, Snack

While Caleb Nichol is arguably the worst person to ever walk Orange County – barring all of the housewives, obviously – my dear friend Alan is as sweet as they could possibly come.

As you could probably guess from our down under connection – in both ways – I first connected with Alan in the mid-80s while working on the hit Australian soap Neighbours. Al was starring as Jim Robinson – stud of Ramsey Street – while I was working originally as the inspiration behind Mrs Mangel and eventually the character’s specific acting coach to ensure she was as awful as possible.

Despite the fact we were polar opposites – aka likeable and insufferable – Al and I quickly connected and became the best of friends, with me introducing him to his eventual wife Tracey (she was an ex-girlfriend of mine) and acting as Best Man Of Honour at their wedding.

With roles drying up for him in Australia – damn you type casting – I encouraged Al to take the leap and move to Hollywood. Thankfully it wasn’t long before I introduced him to Sorkin and his career took off.

I’d recently caught up with Al while he was back home filming Secret City (which FYI is actually pretty good) but sadly we were both to busy to take time out to reconnect over our favourite friendship feast of my Alan Dale Sprouts.

 

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So it may not be obvious given ale perfectly slots into dale … but these are beer and bacon fried brussels sprouts and they are freaking delicious. I promise.

Enjoy!

 

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Alan Dale Sprouts
Serves: 6-8.

Ingredients
1kg brussels sprouts, ends removed and halved
200g pancetta, roughly chopped
1 shallot, finely sliced
375ml pale ale
pinch of dried chilli flakes
pinch of muscovado sugar
salt and pepper, to taste

Method
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and fry the pancetta and shallots for a couple of minutes.

Add the brussels sprouts and fry for about five minutes. Pour in the beer and add the chilli flakes and sugar and reduce for about ten minutes, or until it is a sticky glaze.

Season to taste, serve and devour.

 

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Beef and Keith N’Ale Pie

Main, Party Food, Pie, Snack, Survivor: Cambodia - Second Chance

I was very sad to see Keith fall short of victory on Second Chances. As the affable, capable bloke that he is, he deserved to go far.

Ben and I first met Keith when we were scouting for the 1997 Shreveport Fireman’s Calendar. Obviously by scouting, I mean sneaking into the screening room and yelling smutty comments at some of the nation’s finest. I was mid disgusting sexual innuendo when in strolled a bastion of manliness and might – the glorious Keith Nale. I was so desperate to get Keith’s attention I made sure I wasn’t just looking hot that day, I was literally smokin’.

While setting myself on fire to get Keith’s attention was not my finest idea in hindsight, noble Keith rushed to the rescue and quickly put me out. A beautiful friendship, sadly non-sexual, has endured since that fateful day.

Now that Keith is back at Ponderosa, we are going to turn the heat up in the kitchen and cook something worthy of our old friend.

 

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The Beef and Keith N’Ale Pie literally has a heart of sweet, sweet bacon – dreamy and delicious, just like this fine man.

 

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Beef and Keith N’Ale Pie
Serves: 4

Ingredients
700g diced topside steak
4 tbsp plain flour
250ml dark ale
4 tbsp tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 small chillies, finely chopped
1.5 cups beef stock
1 brown onion
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
4 rashers streaky bacon
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1 beaten egg for pastry wash
Salt and pepper, to taste

Method
Finely chop the onion, carrots, celery and bacon. In a large saute pan, heat some oil and cook the chopped ingredients until starting to soften. Remove from heat.

Coat diced beef in flour and then brown in oiled saute pan in batches. Return all beef and vegetable/bacon mix to pan. Add garlic, chillies, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, stock and beer and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour into a pie dish and cover tightly with foil.

Preheat oven to 150°C. Bake for 90 minutes or until beef is tender and sauce is significantly reduced. Cover with thawed pastry and brush with beaten egg. Bake for additional 30 minutes until golden and puffed.

 

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