Cider is enjoying a surge in recognition on the culinary scene.
It’s sorely overdue, if you ask me.
Enjoyed in Europe for centuries, cider is now getting the respect it deserves in the States, not only as a stand-alone sipper but as a legit food partner as well. More restaurants are offering more cider options as part of their menu than ever before. Bottom line - cider is food-friendly. It’s also more versatile than you might think...
Everyone knows cider goes great with apple pie, cheddar cheese, and cinnamon donuts. Those are easy. What happens when you come across everything else you like to eat? (Hopefully you’re not eating only cheese and pie.) How can cider make the rest of your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners tastier?
Here are five cider and food combinations to push the pairings envelope a little. Well, it’s four ciders and a perry. Close enough, and just as tasty.
Pancakes with a Semi-dry Cider
Let it begin with breakfast.
While pancakes might seem a bit odd, I promise you won’t be disappointed. The secret is to incorporate the cider into the pancake batter. There’s a great recipe here. Of course if you use hard cider in the recipe (that is, alcoholic cider), you’ll need to keep these separate from the kiddie cakes but it’s worth the effort. Semi-dry cider has a touch of sweetness to it that lets it keep pace with the richness of the flapjacks.
Give Bantam Cider’s Wunderkind a try. Made with a hint of flower blossom honey, it’s a great way to start a Sunday brunch.
Bonus points if you make up a pitcher of cider syrup for drizzling. (I’m a big fan of Justamere Tree Farms’ syrup from Worthington.)
Salmon Burgers with a Rosé Cider
Just as people are getting comfortable with rosé wines, here come rosé ciders.
Trust me when I say they are every bit as refreshing and food-friendly as their grapey counterparts! Bright berry tones, zippy acidity, and a crisp finish make them a brilliant companion to firm-fleshed fish dishes.
Grill up some salmon burgers and let loose a few bottles of Wolffer Estate’s rosé cider. Use a wine glass to really let the aromas and flavors fly.
If you have a few extra minutes while the burgers are cooking, whip up a batch of cherry sauce for the buns and really turn the berry tones loose.
Sushi with an Extra-Dry Cider
Sushi is a bit of an oddball when it comes to pairings because there are a lot of flavors and textures at play, and it can be challenging to figure out which ones stand out.
It’s best to go with a cider that can cover a lot of bases. In my book, that means a French cider from Normandy. Made there since the thirteenth century, Norman ciders tend to be fuller-bodied, slightly tannic, and as complex as many wines. The earthiness emphasizes the sushi’s umami flavors.
Love wasabi? The heat will be quelled a bit by the cider’s body as well.
Quiche with a Perry
As a kid I refused to try quiche for years because, as Steve Dallas from Bloom County once quipped, “Real men don’t eat quiche.”
Boy was I wrong. My loss.
A Gruyère quiche with mixed greens tossed in spectacular Provençal olive oil and fresh citrus juice is just awesome. Alongside this simply elegant meal, sip on a perry. Made from fermented pear juice, perry is refined, subtle, and oh-so-classy.
Mission Trail Perry is a great choice. With intoxicating aromas and a super-clean mouthfeel, perry is a great companion to the delicate flavors in the quiche and salad. Forget what a cartoon macho man once told me. This is a top-notch combination.
Foie Gras with an Ice Cider
Ice cider is to the fermented apple world what ice wine is to grapes. When made well, ice cider has a secret weapon hiding in all that thick and rich viscosity.
Escorting that body and sweetness is racy acidity, keeping it from just oozing all over your palate. This combination of characteristics makes ice cider a brilliant choice for apple pie, or blue cheese, or cheesecake. But you already knew that. This article is about pushing the envelope a bit, right?
For this cider, how about a food considered royalty in hallowed culinary halls - foie gras?
Known for its opulence, foie gras means business and needs a dance partner as committed to your taste buds as it is. Ice cider is in it to win it.
My favorite clear and away is Still River Winery’s Apfel Eis. Made the same way ice wine is made this double-gold award-winning ice cider is bright and aromatic, with loads of acidity and just a little bite.
Grab some foie gras from Savenor’s Market and some brioche slider buns from Iggy’s Bread of the World. Cut the foie gras up into silver dollar-sized rounds. Fry it in a little butter until browned. Then make a little burger with the foie gras, some microgreens and fresh apple slices.
(Pro tip - foie gras is at its best when there is some kind of fresh fruit acid to act as a foil. The apple slices are perfect for this.) Chill down some ice cider and pour a glass. Take a bite, then a sip, then feel all fancy-like. Salud!