Sunday, July 28, 2013

Cider Sunday - 2008 Eric Bordelet Sidre w/ James Adams

Happy Cider Sunday! This week I would like to introduce you all to guest blogger James Adams, a cider enthusiast who reviews cider on his blog All About Cider. James has published articles for Beer & Brewer Magazine and was selected as a cider judge at this year's Melbourne Fine Food Awards. 

In this week's post James provides us with a great introduction to the world of French cider and the 'controlled designation of origin' (AOC) which is essentially a French government certification granted to particular regions of France for cider, wine, cheese and other artisan food related products. It often indicates a certain level of quality.

Enter James...


When it comes to cider, there’s no bigger name in the business than Eric Borderlet. One of my cider making heroes, Eric makes fine boutique champagne styled syders/siders on his 15 acre organically farmed property in the commune of Charchigné, southern Normandy. The soil composition of granite bedrock, combined with silt and clay is in Eric’s eyes perfect for fruit growing. Following strict bio-dynamic and dry farming practices, Eric’s property boasts twenty varieties of heirloom apples, and fifteen pear varieties. His Poire Granit offering is produced with pear trees believed to be up to three hundred years old, which really is astounding.  His philosophies are that of purity and honesty, and these really shine though into the Eric Borderlet range.

Norman cider is split into AOC zones (Appellation d’Origine Contrôleé), with AOC Cidre du Pays d’Auge being the most notable and biggest region. AOC zones help maintain quality and integrity of a product by setting strict growing and production guidelines. Pays d’Auge cider commonly comes in the form of Cidre Bouche, which loosely translates to cider under cork. The ciders produced can vary between alcohol and turbidity levels, but all share the same traditional elements. They are made using traditional French heirloom apples and pears, picked and pressed by hand and fermented naturally in oak vats. Domfrontais, the region where Eric Borderlet’s orchards lie, is also an AOC zone. Pear, or Poire cider falls under the AOC appellation of Pears of Domfront. Regulations strictly outline that pear must be present in a cider blend, and an orchard must contain at least fifteen per cent pear trees.

French cider is not only made in the region of Normandy. Brittany which lies to the west of Normandy also produces fine farmhouse ciders. Like Normandy, Brittany also holds specific AOC zones, with AOC Cornouaille being the most prominent. Breton cider is characterised by being traditionally very rustic, unpolished and confronting with higher sugars and lower alcohols. But the delicacy and unexpected finesse of Breton cider, makes them perfect to drink as an aperitif, or with food such as crepes.

So now with the knowledge of Norman and Breton cider fresh in our minds, it’s time to review an example - the 2008 Eric Borderlet - Brut Tendre pétillant-naturel. This cider retails for approximately $20 a bottle, and is easily and readily available in Australia – vintage may vary.  

On pouring, the cider forms a nice foamy mousse conforming into a soft and elegant bead. The colour shines a brilliant deep golden, with just a slight turbid haze. The nose displays lovely fresh upfront cider apples, apple skin, honey, caramel and soapiness. Earthy notes from the pears combined with subtle hints of dusty oak round out the nose perfectly, offering refined rusticity. The simplicity of this nose is rich and powerful. The beautiful primary fruit characters combined with secondary notes show such marvellous purity and balance.

A graceful up front, off dry sweetness adds essential mouth feel and weight to the front to mid palate. The sweetness is perfectly balanced with notable tartness from  acid apples used in the blend. Flavours of very ripe cider apples provide a beautiful depth of flavour and finesse. Soft and delicate tannins add texture, and towards the back palate a distinct minerality coats the sides of the mouth, along with persistent bitterness. The soft, natural carbonation adds excitement and another dimension of excitement. The palate is beautifully soft and delicate with delicious fruit characters.

This is a beautifully refreshing, elegant and refined cider perfect to drink as an aperitif or with food.  

Producer: Eric Borderlet
Country: France (Charchigné, Normandy)
Alcohol: 5%


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dumplings for Breakfast

New Shanghai are known for their delicious dumplings and long queues. Their Ashfield restaurant has been a favourite of ours for years, even prior to the renovation. And you may remember my Pork & Cider dinner experience at their Chatswood restaurant. 

Those north of the Bridge now have even greater choice, with New Shanghai's Lemon Grove branch introducing a special weekday breakfast menu. 

 Here's just a small sample of what's on offer.

Breakfast has arrived at New Shanghai
Sweet Glutinous Rice Roll $3.50 each
Fried Egg Pancake w/ Pork Floss $4.50
Savoury Soy Bean Milk $4.00
Fried Egg Pancake w/ Sweet Corn $4.50

Steamed Pork Bun $2.00 Each
Fried Egg Pancake w/ Savoury Deep Fried Dough Fritter $4.50
Chinese Silver Bread (Steamed) Served w/ Condensed Milk
Complimentary hot Chinese tea is provided and soy milk drinks are available for purchase.

Tell me, would you eat dumplings for breakfast?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake w/ Bertolli

I absolutely love olive oil, but rarely bake with it. I was recently sent some Bertolli olive oil to sample and I noted that the Extra Light variety is perfect for baking. So, I set out to test this theory.

Nigella Inspired Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

I adapted one of Nigella's recipes for this cake. I actually added some melted dark chocolate and a little plain flour. The results were impressive - a rich dense chocolate cake that went down a treat at work.

 cup light olive oil (plus more for greasing) I used Bertolli light olive oil
6 tablespoons good-quality unsweetened cocoa (sifted)
½ cup boiling water
2 teaspoons best vanilla extract
cup almond meal 
1/2 cup plain flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch of salt
1 cup superfine sugar
3 large eggs
100 grams dark chocolate melted

  1. Preheat your oven to 170°C/gas mark 3/325ºF. Grease a 22 or 23 cm/ 9inch spring form tin with a little oil and line the base with baking parchment.
  2. Measure and sift the unsweetened cocoa into a bowl or jug and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolatey, still runny (but only just) paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract, and stir through melted chocolate. Then set aside to cool a little.
  3. In another smallish bowl, combine the almond meal and flour with the baking soda and pinch of salt.
  4. Put the sugar, olive oil and eggs into the bowl of a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment (or other bowl and whisk arrangement of your choice) and beat together vigorously for about 3 minutes until you have a pale-primrose, aerated and thickened cream.
  5. Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture, beating as you go, and when all is scraped in you can slowly tip in the ground almond (or flour) mixture.
  6. Scrape down, and stir a little with a spatula, then pour this dark, liquid batter into the prepared tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and the very centre, on top, still looks slightly damp. A cake tester should come up mainly clean but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it.
  7. Let it cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, still in its tin, and then ease the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula and spring it out of the tin. Leave to cool completely or eat while still warm with some ice cream, as a pudding.

Tell me, do you bake with Olive oil? If so, what is your favourite go-to recipe?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Cider Sunday - A Week in Review

There appears to be a lot going on in the world of cider this week. Here's this week's Cider News - Click on the link to read the news story.


Concentrate imports for cider annoy fruit growers - ABC Rural

 Apple and pear farmers say they aren't enjoying the full benefit of the booming cider industry.(Laurissa Smith)

United Kingdom

A century of cider-making expertise at village company - The Weston, Worle & Somerset Mercury
Apples being collected at Myrtle Farm - The Mercury 24

Cider, live music and throwing jelly - a perfect weekend out - Lancashire Evening Post

Photo: Lancashire Evening Post


Hard Cider making a comeback - San Jose Mercury News

Hard cider, which taste is compared to a cross between apple juice and flat beer, is making a comeback. (AP Photo/CharlesKrupa)

Laid off, man pursues dream of making hard apple cider - Lansing State Journal

Jason Lummen fills a keg with cider earlier this month at the People's Cider production facility in Grand Rapids. / Lauren Petracca/AP

Have you read an interesting news story on cider this week? If so, please leave the link in the comment section.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cider Sunday - Guest Post by Frozen Summers

This week's Cider Sunday features a guest post by Mr Frozen Summers from Frozen Beer Reviews who has reviewed a non-traditional flavoured cider for The Food Mentalist readers - Rekorderlig Premium Orange-Ginger Cider

Oh look, someone else has been given the keys to Cider Sunday. I probably should start by introducing myself. I'm called Frozen Summers all over the Internet but mostly at, where I review beer (and sometimes cider) mostly on video. I also have a podcast over there and I've even been known to type things in a web log (or blog) from time to time.

So, let's start by talking about the spectrum of cider. At one end there is the kind that is made from nothing but fresh crushed apples fermented with naturally occurring yeast in small batches by people who really care about making a quality product that reflects the natural flavour and complexity of the fruit, and at the other we have this abomination of desolation (spoiler alert).

Rekorderlig, whether we like to admit it or not, is the main driver of the current cider trend. Mostly due to young whippersnappers moving on from RTDs but still wanting something that is sweeter than a bowl of sugar and doesn't taste at all like alcohol. Or fruit. Or anything natural really. Which is why even classic cider brands like Strongbow & Magners have released flavoured ciders.

Which brings us to Rekorderlig Premium Orange-Ginger Cider. Just like the rest of the range it boasts of being "Made from the purest Swedish spring water". Which is equivalent to a meat pie claiming to be made from the purest gristle.

Poured into a glass it is a pale pink, almost salmon, which colour wise reminds me of the pickled ginger that is typically served with sushi. 

The aroma is filled with sugary sweet citrus, close to what an orange-flavoured soft drink with absolutely no actual fruit juice involved smells like. Just think about a big cup of a cheap generic brand Fanta knock-off.

The taste is sweet, which shouldn't shock anyone who has ever had anything from the Rekorderlig range, but with a weird tang. It is like a mad scientist took some pickled ginger and replaced all the spicy bite with sweetness. It's horrid, cloying, and epitomises what is wrong with these RTD style ciders.

Please don't drink this, if you like the idea of ginger in a cider, go and try The Hills Hybrid Apple & Ginger instead.