Thursday, November 20, 2014

Celebrate with Cider

Recipe Pairing Flavors:
A bourbon barrel aged cider full of aromas and flavors of caramel, molasses and rum with a note of toasted oak, that’s all wrapped up in tart-sweet heirloom apples.  Mouthfilling, full-bodied and gently effervescent, it finishes dry and crisp, with a lingering warmth.

Cooking with Sea Cider Prohibition Series

Want the Cooking with Sea Cider 
Entrée Recipe?
You’ll find it in next Thursday’s post.

Want the Cooking with Sea Cider 
Side Dish Recipe?
Check in to the post appearing right after the Entrée.

Want the Cooking with Sea Cider 
Side Dish II Recipe?
It’ll be following the first Side Dish post.

Want the Cooking with Sea Cider 
Dessert Recipe?
It’s on the way after Side Dish II.

Want the Cooking with Sea Cider 
Dessert II recipe?
The series and 2014 will wrap up with this December 25th post.

It's that time of year again, so, how do you celebrate?

Some people swear by their favorite cognac or bottle of bubbly champagne.  But for me, I think I'll make an old tradition new again and celebrate the season with cider.

Long ago, the toast of colonial America, it was the settlers drink of choice.  Then over time, it fell out of favor, overtaken by changing tastes and times.  But to paraphrase Bob Dylan, “the times, they are once again a’changin’ " and artisanal ciders are again on the rise.  So, in this season full of celebrations, let's take an apple inspired plunge forward into the past, and take a ride on a holiday menu that’s bursting with an artisanal hard cider.

But, before we get started, let’s talk cider, because this isn't the sugary mass-marketed stuff found in your local grocery store’s juice section.  No, what I'm talking about is a traditional cider, that's fragrant and richly flavored, and often more darkly colored and cloudy.  But, don't mistake that cloudiness as a production defect, for that cloudiness is really flavor that just hasn't been filtered away.

And it's a flavor that comes from the apples themselves, with many varieties grown specifically for cider production, since cider apples need higher sugar levels to encourage fermentation. 

Of the four major categories of cider apples, "Sweets" are those low in tannins and acidity, while "Sharps" with their high acidity and low tannins can add a pleasant bite to a cider blend.  A third category, "Bittersweets" are the flip side of the "Sharps,” and are used to add bitterness, with their low acidity and high tannin.  And finally, the boldest of all are the "Bittersharps" which pull out all the stops, since they’re not only high in acidity but also in tannin.

And so, now that we've laid out all the possible ingredients, it's time to get blending, and Canada’s Sea Cider cidery has done a beautiful job.  Located on the Saanich Peninsula of Vancouver Island on Canada's far western coast, this 10 acre farm organically grows over 60 varieties of heritage apples and prides itself on the crafting of traditionally fermented ciders.

Made from primarily the firm and juicy Winter Banana apples, with their subtly sweet tropical aroma, along with a second variety, Stayman's Winesaps (apple photos –, which are crisp and tangy, their "Prohibition" cider was pressed by hand, then fermented with Champagne yeast, before being aged in rum soaked bourbon barrels for at least six months.

And as you can imagine, the barrels, with their former spirited inhabitants, really lend a sophistication to this heady cider, bursting with its rich and tart-sweet notes.

So, let the cider celebration begin this holiday season, for I've got a whole menu laid out and I'm ready to begin.  But first, let me whet your palate with the first recipe in the series it's Honey Glazed Ham with Drunken Cranberries & Apples and it's coming up next –

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