Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cider Sunday - The Apple Thief - Granny Smith Cider

In February this year I introduced you all to The Apple Thief's Pink Lady Cider  - A delightful drop and one of my favourite apple ciders.

At the time, Charlie Ostaszewski from The Apple Thief discussed the development of Granny Smith and Red Delicious varieties.

Until recently, I had no idea the Granny Smith variety had entered the market until I stumbled across it at a restaurant.

This light straw coloured cider has a lovely sweetness that is balanced by tart Granny Smith flavours. With a medium carbonation and acidity it finishes somewhat dry.

It will pair well with fresh summer flavours, salads, grilled meats and is perfect on its own too.

It is very refreshing and has great zing, characteristic of the Granny Smith variety.

At 4.5% alcohol, a 330ml bottle will provide you with 1.2 standard drinks.

The Food Mentalist purchased The Apple Thief Granny Smith Cider @ The Apple Bar in Bilpin.

For stockists contact The Apple Thief here

Now I eagerly the Red Delicious variety.

Are you enjoying the long weekend? or do you have to head back to work tomorrow?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sydney Fringe Festival 2012

Well, it's that time of year again here in Sydney and  in case you havent already noticed, the Sydney Fringe Festival is in full swing. I will be blogging about a few of the events as I did last year. Make sure you check some of them out - there are a fantastic array of events on offer which span across many genres. Something for everyone and all that...  :)
On Friday night we were transported into the whimsical world of Porphyria's Slumber  - Annabelle McMillan's debut Sydney Fringe performance.

Photo: Sydney Fringe

Upon arriving at the venue PACT:Centre for Emerging Artists in Sydney's Inner West suburb of Erskineville we head straight to the pop-up style bar in the courtyard where we find a great selection of beverages and snacks and I discover a new cider. The show is due to start at 8:30, but we are told that another show has run over time and there will be a short wait.

We are greeted by the director about 9pm and after a brief introduction are told to take a seat. Quite literally. A wall of milk crates is piled up high against the wall outside the theatre and so we all grab one and proceed inside. We are guided through a room, leaves underfoot, filled with random items and where pages of Robert Browning's monologues cover the walls. A female voice recording fills the space and pictures of bruised women's body parts are suspended from the ceiling.

Walking through we enter the main performance area where the artist is asleep on the floor - a clear parallel to Browning's Porphyria's Lover where Porphyria already lies dead when the speaker begins.

What ensues is a modern, somewhat quirky adaptation of Robert Browning's poem Porphyria's Lover. Like Browning, Annabelle attempts to challenge our perception of sensuality, materialism and the hopelessness of the human condition. The main character Porphyria awakes from her 'slumber' and takes us on an exploration through a timeless abyss filled with random objects and ideas. Annabelle does this by combining film, puppetry and physical theatre.

There are a few laughs, a little sexual innuendo, and a whole lotta quirky.

On the surface you might not be blamed for thinking you had walked into a play where Masterchef Live meets Mary Poppins. There is cake, a carrot or two and an umbrella. But there is more to it and there are deeper messages at play here - It's up to you to work them out.

It's definitely a conversation starter.

When: NOW! 21-29 September, 2012
Where: PACT Centre for Emerging Artists - 107 Railway Pde, Erskineville, Sydney
Get your tickets and find out more here

For a full list of Sydney Fringe Events visit their website

Check out my Sydney Fringe Festival Review here

Which events will you be checking out?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Cider Sunday - Wild Cider

This week's cider comes from the Central Otago region in New Zealand and is produced by boutique beverage company - Alpine Gold located at the foot of the Southern Alps in Cromwell.

Central Otago is renowned for it's award winning wines and fresh fruit so it's no wonder this cider claims to have captured the true essence of the region.

First thing I noticed about this one is it's slight yeasty aroma which told me that it was probably brewed in the bottle. I also noticed a speck of sediment rise to the top when I twisted off the lid. 

A very pale clear cider with fine carbonation, this one is not overly sweet which make for a nice change and is testament to the unique blend of Granny Smith and Cox's Orange apple varieties used in it's production. The overall flavour is subtle, there are no bold bursting flavours present - but this doesn't distract from the cider. It's welcome.

I wasn't surprised to discover that it is brewed and bottled the traditional way with production taking just over 6 weeks to complete.

A medium dry cider, this one is crisp refreshing and relatively smooth. This one is best enjoyed on it's own or with a nice cheese platter. It's subtle flavours would help balance out sweet dishes too.

At 5.5% this one is packs a bit of a punch. A 330ml bottle will provide you with 1.4 standard drinks.

My lavender came back to life 

What are you up to today? Tell me, have you tried any new ciders lately? I'd love to hear about them.

Max getting in on the action whilst I was taking the cider pics
The Food Mentalist purchased Wild Cider in New Zealand for $3.60 NZD per 330ml bottle.

To find out more about Wild Cider visit the Alpine Gold website here

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cider Sunday - The Australian Cider Awards 2012

If you didn't already have a 100 reasons to celebrate cider then you will come October! 

The Australian Cider Awards will be held in Orange NSW on Wednesday 10th & Thursday 11th October with over one hundred cider entries to be judged by UK cider expert Andrew Lea, Max Allen and Neil Cameron. The celebration of Cider will then continue in Sydney with a presentation dinner and a weekend of tasting at the Hotel Steyne in Manly.

Cider Apple from Small Acres Cyder - Orange

The Judges
The judges will include:

  • English Cider Expert and author of Craft Cider Making - Dr Andrew Lea
  • Award winning wine writer Max Allen - Follow Max Allen on Twitter or check out his site here
  • Architect of William Bull Brewing & Angus Red Pilsner - Neal Cameron.

The Cider
There are strict rules for entry and you won't find any flavoured cider or perry here. The classes in which the cider will be judged are:

1. Dry Cider – specific gravity up to 1005.
2. Medium Cider – specific gravity between 1005 and 1012.
3. Sweet Cider – specific gravity 1012 and above.
4. Bottle Conditioned / Methode Champenoise Cider.
5. Dry Perry – specific gravity up to 1005.
6. Medium Perry – specific gravity between 1005 and 1012.
7. Sweet Perry – specific gravity 1012 and above.
8. Bottle Conditioned / Methode Champenoise Perry.
9. Dry Cider made using water and/or sugar in the production process.
10. Medium Cider made using water and/or sugar in the production process.
11. Sweet Cider made using water and/or sugar in the production process.
12. Dry Perry made using water and/or sugar in the production process.
13. Medium Perry made using water and/or sugar in the production process.
14. Sweet Perry made using water and/or sugar in the production process.
The Events
A presentation ( 5 course degustation) dinner will follow the awards on Friday October 12 at the Sebel in Surry Hills. To find out more and register for the dinner click here

Saturday & Sunday @ The Steyne Hotel
To purchase tickets click here

It should be a wonderful few days. I look forward to meeting some of you out there. 

Will you be attending?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Street Food Fusion w/ Al Carbon - Saturday 15 September

I hate Monday's as much as the next guy. But this week I have just the thing to get you through the week ahead : Street food fusion at it's best - An 8 course feast to celebrate Mexican Independence Day featuring the very best of North Mexican & American Barbecue cuisine this coming Saturday 15 September.

Hoping to blur the lines between situational crime prevention and street food when his Sydney food truck Al Carbón - Taquería Móvil goes live in a few weeks, Ex cop turned Mexican Taquería Master: Attila Yilmaz has teamed up with Olivia Andrews from Firetruck BBQ for this collaborative Pop-Up.

Both Attila and Olivia know their stuff, having travelled respectively through North Mexico and across the American 'BBQ-Belt' perfecting their craft and learning from the best. 

The Result: Amazing authentic street food, culture and flavours right here in Sydney. 

Having sampled offerings from both, I can attest that this collaboration will be absolutely D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S!!!!! Think juicy melt-in mouth slow cooked pulled pork and succulent meats wrapped in fresh tortillas laden with all the trimmings. And don't get me started about the amazing Raspados - a signature shaved ice dessert that is sweet, fruity and soft as snow. Attila has even imported a specialised machine to make them.

All the trimmings...
Fresh tortillas being made
I have personally been obsessed with the concept Food Trucks and street food since first stumbling across the television show : The Great Food Truck Race on the Food Network whilst we were on our honeymoon in 2010.  Pete remembers me telling him how I had hoped that the trend would catch on here in Australia. Fast forward 2 years and here we are. 

Al Carbon Tacos - OMG YUM!
Soft as Snow - Raspados from previous Pop-up
Not only will the evening feature street food worthy of the 'taste sensation' title but there will also be loads of Latin entertainment too. 

The menu includes:

Mexican Botanas - Bar Snacks and a glass of Sangria or Cerveza

  • Tequila, lime and orange sea bass ceviche
  • Spicy smoked chicken wings with fire sauce
  • 15 hour apple and pecan smoked pulled pork slider with white sauce and O’s original sauce
  • Vampiro tostada – charcoal grilled carne asada with chilli de arbol salsa y garlic crema
  • 12 hour hot pastrami with red slaw, Russian dressing and American mustard
  • Tacos al pastor – spit roasted spiced marinated pork with chargrilled pineapple y salsa de tomatillo verde
  • Secret collaboration dish – when borders collide
  • Strawberry, chilli and lime raspados (shaved snow) with lime salt, dulche de leche y habanero infused agave syrup.

Cost: $67 per head.
Where: La Lupita - 325 Canterbury Rd, Canterbury in Sydney's Inner West.
Time: 7:30pm

For more information and to book tickets visit Al Carbón here and click on the purple 'Bookings and Store' tab.


If you can't make this week's pop-up connect with Facebook & Twitter above for  upcoming events featuring Al Carbon.

Al Carbón image and Logo courtesy of Attila Yilmaz & Interbrand

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cider Sunday - Isaac's Winter Cider

Last weekend Pete and I were in Queenstown where the average temperature was 9'C during the day. Just perfect for a winter cider. 

Mac's Isaac's Winter cider is a limited edition berry flavoured cider produced and marketed by Lion - a large beverage and food company whose portfolio also includes wine, spirits, dairy, soy beverages and cheese.

The name of this range of ciders is a reference to Isaac Newton who, had his best ideas while sitting under apple trees.

We purchased this at a bottle shop in Christchurch and the guy working there told us he enjoys it warmed slightly with a stick of cinnamon. Sounded very much like mulled wine at this point so I was intrigued.

As it says on the bottle " after a hard day on the slopes gently heat and serve with a stick of cinnamon for a sublime winter warmer". Perfect for the likes of Queenstown, so I packed it in the car for our trip South.

Whilst I didn't have the stick of cinnamon, I did have it slightly warmed and it was very similar to mulled wine (only carbonated) and was very easy to drink. Rather sweet, the tart blackcurrant flavours help balance this and a hint of manuka honey adds a little more depth. Overall, it's sweetness would probably prevent you from having too many. That said, it was absolutely delicious!

At 5% alcohol, a 330ml bottle will provide you with 1.3 standard drinks.

Mac's and Isaac's products can also be found throughout Australia and in a few other parts of the world. To find out where you can purchase them click here

RRP $16.99 NZD for a 4 pack (330ml) bottles.

Queenstown, New Zealand

Have you ever visited Queenstown? What did you think?

Friday, September 7, 2012

*WIN* with Hello Fresh - A New Food Concept

Pete and I recently had the pleasure of sampling a new food concept which has just  launched in Sydney. It's called Hello Fresh, set up by a group of foodies and home cooks including 2011 Masterchef contestant Tom Rutledge. The team also includes a qualified nutritionist.

What is Hello Fresh?
It's a great new food concept which provides you with an alternative way to prepare your evening meals. Each week the team at Hello Fresh put together a new range of tasty nutritionally balanced recipes using seasonal ingredients. You simply log on, choose from the classic or family options available (Minimum 3 meals) and place your order.
  • There are no contracts;
  • Ingredients are seasonal and fresh ( never frozen);
  • Ingredients are portion controlled - there is no wastage;
  • Recipes take no more than 30 minutes to prepare;
  • You can choose meals to accommodate between 2 to 6 people;
  • Delivery is free and at a time convenient to you (including after business hours).

What we cooked:
  • Cajun chicken w/ warm corn salad;
  • Barramundi w/ barley, capsicum & zucchini; and
  • Tuscan cavolo nero & bean soup

What we thought:
Firstly, we really liked the flexible delivery times. The ingredients all arrived in one box which was organised and packed really well - with cold items ( fish & chicken) packed in a separate cool pack contained within the larger box.

The meals themselves were absolutely delicious. There was no wastage which was fantastic and the recipes were really simple to follow and fun to make. The recipes are not complex and would be suitable for even your basic home cook to follow.

I enjoyed preparing the recipes as they were quick and involved new flavour combinations that were really tasty.

Overall, we loved the concept and have discussed placing an order in the near future. The best part about the concept apart from the fact that the food tastes great is that we don't have to think about what to cook each night and it fits in really well with our busy schedule.

The Competition:
The Food Mentalist & Hello Fresh are giving one lucky Sydney reader the chance to win a Gourmet Box which will be delivered to their home.

At the moment Hello Fresh only deliver to certain areas within Sydney so this competition is only open to residents who reside within a 20km radius from the CBD. Check if they deliver in your area by clicking here then click on Plans and Pricing and enter your postcode.

TO WIN - all you have to do is head on over to the Hello Fresh website here, find the sample menus and tell us which recipe you like the sound of most.

You can enter once daily until midday Saturday 22 September when the winner will be decided. 

The winner will be chosen from the correct entries at random and notified by email so please ensure you include a valid email address and your suburb with your response.

Enjoy & have a great weekend!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Three Oaks Pear Cider

The quest to find new and interesting ciders to review each week can often be very difficult and I am fully aware that not everyone who reads Cider Sunday is able to whip down to their local bottle shop and pick up the latest offering.

Thats where this week's cider comes in - Three Oaks Pear Cider. It is widely available so you shouldn't have too much trouble locating it. In fact I picked it up from my local supermarket liquor outlet.

Crisp and refreshing, Three Oaks in made South Australia from local and imported ingredients and it's bursting with Green Anjou and Nashi Pear aromas. A pale almost clear drop with sweet delicious and tropical pear flavours. It has a medium amount of carbonation which I found settled significantly over the course of 20 minutes or so.

This cider is crisp and refreshing is now exported to both Singapore & South Korea.

If you love pear flavours and dont mind a sweet cider then this one is for you. It will pair really well with Asian flavours or a nice cheese plate with fresh dates and dried apricots.

At 5% alcohol, a 330ml bottle will provide you with 1.3 standard drinks.

The Food Mentalist purchased Three Oaks Pear Cider from Supabarn Five Dock at $2.59 for a 330ml bottle.

To find out where you can purchase Three Oaks Pear Cider visit their website here.

Pete and I are currently in Queenstown, NZ - I'm hoping to bring back a few new ciders so stay tuned.