Jake's Orchard Pure Still Kent Apple Cider
We've talked about this cider before, but just to recap, it is a fresh, fruity and refreshing cider with a big apple flavour. It's incredibly easy drinking, and you barely notice the alcohol on the taste. For the first food pairing we went with the classic combination - pork - using Marcus Wareing's 'Mum's Pork Chops' recipe from How to Cook the Perfect....
|Marcus Wareing's Pork Chop|
Jake's Orchard Still Kent Cider with English Nettles
The cider has lots of apple on the nose with a dry herbal edge. It isn't as dry as expected, with strong fruit flavours, a floral and slightly sweet taste. It is really well balanced between at the right side of medium dry with a slightly bitter savoury flavour from the nettle. It was very easy-drinking, the alcohol not being at all obvious in the flavour.
|Kinda Mac 'n' Cheese with leeks and cider|
Jake's Orchard Still Kent Cider with English Elderflower
The elderflower variety of the cider didn't yield much elderflower on the nose, nor is it very pronounced on the taste - which we both agreed was probably a good thing in terms of matching it with food. We paired this one with a salmon salad from Jamie's Great Britain, and it was a good match, nicely balanced and you don't notice the dryness of the cider. In this instance it very much works in the way a white wine would, complementing the dish without overpowering it on flavour.
|Salmon and new potato salad, with mint, cucumber and yoghurt|
The cider itself doesn't have a huge punch of fruit flavour (which was a relief), just a hint of the red fruits mingling subtley with the apple. We struggled to taste the strawberries, but the blackcurrant was more pronounced - it may well be that the sweetness of the strawberries balances out the tartness of the blackcurrant. It is still a very dry cider.
We weren't really sure about what to pair with this one, and referred to the website which suggested eton mess and pear crumble as food matches. As we had some homegrown Bramley apples in the fruit bowl the recipe we'd spotted in River Cottage Every Day for Bramley apple Eton mess was modified slightly to replace the (usual) meringue with some crushed homemade almond macaroons (the crunchy kind) I'd made a couple of days previous. The result was a rather visually unappealing, but incredibly tasty dessert which had both sour, nutty and sweet elements to it.
When paired with the dessert the cider works surprisingly well - the apple flavours complementing each other, and also cutting through the creaminess/richness of the dish. There's a surprising change when after a while when an almost tannic, lambic-like character comes out in the cider - this emphasized the sour notes, but was still very drinkable. At this point it was starting to remind us of a good quality lambic-based Belgian fruit beer. This flavour 'change' is fascinating, and we'd be really interested if they widen the range further down the line to see the effects of blending this cider with other fruits.
|Bramley apple Eton mess|
Some of the flavours were more difficult to match than others and maybe there are some foods which are never going to work with cider in the way wine would - for example a nice rare steak - but it will be interesting to experiment further with these combinations and branching out further than the usual pork and cider suggestion.