Spring, when the new vintage is fresh, cidermakers all over the world are pulling their hard work out of barrels and tanks, constructing blends destined for a ready glass, somewhere. Working in this way, with the seasons, Spring becomes a time for deep reflection and joyful celebration, a time to take pride in a job well done and consider what the next harvest might hold. In Gijon, Asturias, cider makers from Sidra Trabanco, Sidra Muñiz, Sidra Peñón and Sidra Foncueva gather to taste the new vintage from their project La Sidra de Manzana Seleccionada, or "Selected Apple Cider." Manzana Seleccionada is centered around the traditional apple varieties of Asturias and seeks to establish quality standards for Sidra Natural from the orchard to the bottle. This past May, while traveling through Spain, we found ourselves watching the first bottles of the 2016 vintage popped, poured and wehappily drunk culíns of fresh Sidra along side them.
After a month and a half of heavy travel, we're finally settled back at home with our garden planted and the fire pit blazing. Last night we cooked our first dinner over wood burning coals and under the most gorgeous crescent moon. Burgers that were equal parts ground pork, lamb and goat, asparagus, corn on the cob, homemade apple-scallion kimchi, and roasted potatoes-peppers.
We've started to use cider instead of wine for cooking and then drinking the rest with the meal. Cider can have a similar acidity to wine and the bottles we choose to incorporate give it a fruit forward earthy depth.
Dog eared, highlighted and stained with olive oil, our growing body of Spanish cookbooks and culinary references have inspired our minds, kitchen and garden. As they continue to stack up, we get closer and closer to a trip we've planning all year - Our honeymoon to Spain.
We'll be traveling from Barcelona to Asturias, from San Sebastian to Rioja and just about everywhere in between. With glasses full of sidra, we'll be checking in with old friends, dining at places we've been dreaming of and while we plan to make a few long form posts when we return, keep in touch on the Cider/Food Instagram, Eva will be documenting the in-the-moment experiences we're swept up by on along the way.
Winter always has us looking for something deeper, darker, fuller. Thumbing through the recently released cookbook Dinner At The Long Table, we found a recipe for honey poached chestnuts to serve along-side blue cheese. I can't recall a time we put Chestnuts on the grocery list, so we were excited to search them out and roast them up. Once peeled, we pouched the chestnuts for a hour or so in honey from Glynwood Farm in Cold Spring, NY. We served the chestnuts with Jasper Hill's fantastic Bailey Hazen Blue and glasses of aged ice cider from our cellar. Eden's Brandy Barrel Heirloom Blend, full bodied with intense aromas of caramel, overripe apples and hints of oak and honey, was the perfect pairing. Honestly, it was hard to tell where one flavor ended and another began - sweet, salty, nutty, woody, funky... All blending together and intensifying by way of the the bright and balanced acidity of the ice cider.
In the process, we learned that the American Chestnut, once abundant up and down the east coast and as far west as The Mississippi, is all but extinct due to a blight that decimated the tree in the first half of the 20th century. Digging further we found that a strong effort is underway by The American Chestnut Foundation to breed blight resistant chestnuts and restore the tree to eastern forests. We had no idea - and as we enjoyed the last sips and bites, our conversation turned to the fate of American Cider Apples and all the work being done by cider makers, orchardists and universities to bring them back to their rightful place in our orchards and our culture.
After reading an article in the online publication PUNCH about Pittsburgh's growing Tiki culture, we took a detour on our way back to The Hudson Valley from holidays spent in Chicago.
While our tiki experience at Hidden Harbor was a hit, we left our hearts hanging with the Jamon Imberico at Morcilla. Chef Justin Severino's pintoxs and traditional Asturian dishes, washed down with Sidra Natural, was a jump start to our senses - We'll be heading to Spain in May for our honeymoon.
If we were going to put an inception date on Cider/Food, it wouldn't be when Ryan and I fell in love, but when our work did. It was on a trip we took across the pond, over meals in the English countryside, that our worlds of photography and cider, broke bread.
Hopping from pub to orchard, a pilgrimage unfolded and for me a new connection to the craft formed. We walked among fruit baring cider trees older then our great great grandparents and listened to the tales of cider makers steeped in history lost to our countrymen.
We drank, we ate, we documented.
Most nights you can find us bellied up to our dinner table long after the dishes are cleaned and cleared. We like it there, in the warm glow of a few candles and the last sips of a waiting glass. Eating for us is not only essential but educational, and drinking, the life source of our culinary experiences both in the kitchen and on the road. For Ryan and I, the labors of creating are an extension of ourselves. Cider/Food is more than just a namesake, it's a testament to our past, present and future.