What a surprise, I’m back writing about Wylam Brewery! I just can’t get enough of this place and when I saw on Facebook that they were holding a Mexican Food Battle, I just had to go. On the 14th October, my university friends and I had a little reunion at the Palace of Arts in Exhibition Park, Jesmond and sampled some truly delicious Mexican food and of course, some real ales.
Like at the Burger Battle I had attended in the Spring, various food vendors from Newcastle and the surrounding area congregated in the grounds of the Brewery, offering their take on crowd-pleasing, Mexican food. We saw some familiar faces there such as Zapatista and Chucho’s, some new faces like those of Burrito Chulo, and even some that we would never have normally associated with Mexican cuisine: Lola Jeans and The Earl of Pitt Street! The variety of food, from unexpected taco fillings to toffee-covered chulos, was really quite astounding and we enjoyed every minute of our day at Wylam’s latest foodie event.
We started off with an unusual yet extremely yummy Tempura Chicken Mexican Wrap from Lola Jeans! Tempura chicken strips covered in a sticky, spicy sauce accompanied by salad and pickled veg – heaven on a paper plate! We had these alongside some real guilty-pleasure, Chilli Cheese Fries from Dastardly and Dutty’s food stall. Washed down with a pint of my favourite Wylam ale, Jakehead IPA, we knew that this was going to a good day.
Despite our starter sounding very much like a main course, we decided to go back outside and pick up even more food! After all, this was a Food Battle and we had to sample as many entries as possible to give a fair vote. We went for some jam-packed burritos and Dastardly and Dutty’s Jalapeño Poppers (which could have been a bit more on the firey side in my opinion). This time we decided to accompany the second course of our Mexican feast with pints of Hickey the Rake, a Limonata Pale Ale. I’m not going to pretend to know a huge amount about real ales but what I can say is that what we had went down an absolute treat with the spicy Mexican food!
What better way to end a day full of eating and drinking, than with more eating and drinking? It was time for dessert and we just couldn’t resist trying some Churros con Chocolate from the Churros stall on site. Crispy yet chewy churros covered in sugar and melted chocolate – what’s not to like? We also tried Wylam’s ‘Keep Taking the Pilsner’ blond lager, which was easy drinking after a day of drinking pints of strong, real ales.
I think you get the picture: the food and beer really was fantastic, as I expect it to be at my favourite Jesmond haunt. But what about the atmosphere? The Luncha Libre Food Battle attracted such a wide range of people, from students going out day-drinking, to families and groups of friends chilling and enjoying the food and great music – it was truly eclectic event. In the Grand Hall of the Palace of Arts, not only was there a decent DJ, but a Mariachi Band who we absolutely loved! It really was a Mexican spectacle.
My friends and I enjoyed our day at Luncha Libre from start to finish, and this event has shown us the very best of Mexican food in our region. I’ll certainly be heading to the restaurants of some of the food vendors, especially Chucho’s who won the overall competition! Whilst doing some research for this piece I noticed that Wylam have announced their next battle for November: the return of Arghie Bhaji! I can’t wait for this and look forward to some first-class Indian cuisine and street food – watch this space for another Wylam Brewery blog post soon!
Overall Rating: *****