Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cider Sunday - Willie Smith's Organic Apple Cider

The other day I was chatting about cider with someone who I had just met and they asked me how I became interested in cider and when I thought the market started to embrace it here in Australia. 

My first true cider introduction came about whilst visiting a  friend in London. He suggested that we visit a local pub for lunch called the The Charles Lamb. It was a great little spot and very quaint with great British pub fare. Not being a beer drinker, I opted for a cider to have with lunch and was really surprised when I took my first sip and it had been served at room temperature. All I can say was after that I was hooked. Before we returned home to Australia we also spent several weeks in France where my curiosity for cider was cemented.

Inside The Charles Lamb Pub, London
That was late 2010, and when we returned my cider obsession took off. It wasn't until mid 2011 when I started to notice the trend really shift and only recently that I have noticed more traditional ciders like those I sampled in London and France coming through.

That said, I am still not sure how the Australian market will receive them, given that majority of cider consumers I talk to are still very much in favour of the sweet commercial varieties. Everything has it's place though, right?

SO, this week I am really happy to introduce Willie Smith's Organic Apple Cider made in Tasmania's Huon Valley - one of the most pure and untouched places on earth. The Smith Family have an impressive history in the region, with William Smith planting the first tree for the orchard in 1888.

Similar to the cider at The Charles Lamb, this cider is best served slightly warmer than fridge temperature. Serving a traditional style cider too cold ( or with ice) is practically a sin, as it mutes the complexities and flavour of the cider.

Willie Smith's Organic Cider is a lovely traditional Normandy inspired style cider which involves the following processes:

  • To start they handpick all their apples and using a press squeeze out all the juice.
  • The juice is then fermented in stainless steel vats with two different types of yeast from France.
  • Following a secondary ferment, the cider is then aged in French oak vats for up to 6 months. 
  • The final stage involves 'maturing' the cider in special maturation tanks for an additional two months before the cider is ready to be bottled.
Australian certified organic the Smith family are passionate about their product, adopting a holistic approach to everything they do. From the soil and plants to the food, people animals and environment in which they operate.

"We choose organic because we believe that making things the traditional way with more care and less of the artificial bad stuff is better for you and better for Tassie". - The Smith Family

In fact The French Agency for Food Safety have found that organic plant products :

  1. Contain more dry matter and are therefore more nutrient dense;
  2. Have higher levels of minerals;
  3. Contain more anti-oxidants such as phenols and salicylic acid (known to protect against cancers, heart disease and many other health problems).

Pouring a glass of this cider reveals a gorgeous golden coloured, slightly cloudy cider. This cider has a lovely aroma, with sweet apple and earthy notes coming through. It has a very fine carbonation and is incredibly light and well rounded on the palate, with a nice cleansing finish. Like the rest of the cider, the sweetness is very well balanced.  

I really really like this cider. 

When I drink this cider, many different food pairings come to mind. Serve with a nice cheese plate, pork roast with root vegetables, crackling & jus or with a piece of caramelised apple cake and double cream. Yum!

At 5.4% , a 330ml bottle will provide you with 1.4 standard drinks.

To find out where you can purchase this fantastic cider click here

The Food Mentalist sampled Willie Smith's Organic Cider compliments of the Smith Family.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cider Sunday - Monteith's Crushed Summer Berries Cider

This week's cider comes from Monteith's Brewing Co in New Zealand. These guys have established themselves in the market for both cider and boutique beer. To find out more about them click here to check out their dedicated YouTube channel.

To start, this cider pours quite heady but this dissipates quickly leaving a pale pink cider that is rather flat. To create this cider, Monteith's have added a unique summer berry wine to their apple cider. I must admit that the idea of a summer berry wine being added to a cider does hold some appeal. What I did like about this cider was the fact that the said berry flavours are actually subtle and don't dominate the drink. 

I must admit I was expecting something REALLY sweet with here but was pleasantly surprised to find it didn't have me reaching for a glass of water or salty snack to balance it out. That said, it is a sweet cider. 

Overall, it is a light and somewhat refreshing drink. There are no strong acidic tannins or complicated structure and Cider enthusiasts will probably not warm to this cider as it is  clearly aimed at the 'Ready To Drink' (RTD) crowd. That said, as far as flavoured ciders go, this one would have to be one of the better ones. One may argue, however, that flavoured beverages such as this are far from being a 'cider'.

Best served with lots of ice on a hot day with light salads and barbecued meats. I also think this cider would be best used to cook (dessert) with.  

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

The Food Mentalist purchased Monteith's Summer Berries Cider at Dan Murphy's.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Cider Sunday - Apple Cider 'Damper' Bread

It's been a while since I cooked with cider and knowing I was going to visit my Nan this weekend I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to experiment with this recipe. 

This recipe is a little similar to an Irish soda bread but instead of using bicarb the fizz comes from the cider. 

I used a low fat natural yogurt to give the bread a healthy boost. I also added a little cinnamon for spice, but you can omit it if you prefer or experiment with other spices depending on your tastes.

The cider gives this damper style bread a lovely sour dough flavour. It's prefect served with a little of butter and some golden syrup. Yum!

Apple Cider 'Damper'Bread
An Original Recipe by The Food Mentalist

Makes 8 (wedge pieces)
3 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup natural yogurt ( I used low fat)
1 cup good quality apple cider ( I used dcider
1/4 cup extra cider for glaze on top 

Preheat oven to 200'C or 190'C Fan Forced.

Combine sifted dry ingredients in a large bowl and make a well in the centre.

Add yogurt and cider and using a circular motion ( and your hands), gather all the mixture together until you form a sticky ball of dough. Remove from the bowl and knead very gently on a lightly floured surface to shape the dough into a round disc about 1 inch thick all the way around.

Score the disc into 8 equal slices.

Paint the top of the scones with a little of the remaining cider and place on a flat baking tray and bake for 15-18 minutes or until they are golden brown.

Serve with a little butter and honey or golden syrup.

Please find an estimated calorie value for each wedge ( minus the butter & golden syrup of course)

Tell me, do you prefer honey or golden syrup?