- Q) What constitutes a ‘real’ cider?
I, the naive city dweller, wrongly assumed that ‘real’ cider just meant cider that basically wasn’t Strongbow or White Lightening. No! In fact ‘real cider’ is made PURELY from fermented apple juice and nothing more. Different ciders have been made from different apples and some have been brewed for longer than others – which gives real ciders their unique taste and variety.
The other week, the Old Ship in Hackney transformed itself into a Real Cider Festival, with all ciders and meads supplied by real cider connoisseur Dan – founder of distribution and events company The Cider Box. Dan is on what he describes as a ‘crusade’ against the commercial ciders full of artificial sweeteners and carbonated liquids that currently flood the market. He was on hand from 1pm to 1am to chat to people about the delicious produce on offer and offer samples.
At 6pm we had the CIDER VS CHEESE TASTING SESSION – eight unique ciders ranging from 4% to 19.5% (!) in generous half pint measures, paired with delicious cheeses courtesy of Ian from London company Raw Cheese Power.
As a cheese obsessive, I feel honoured to bring you my highlights, which included a gorgeous Tomme de Savoie, a creamy Colston Basset Stilton and a cold smoked Cheshire.
The pairing of Joe Strummer’s favourite cider – the extremely dry Wilkins Medium, with an eighteen month matured unpasteurised Montgomery cheddar was unrivalled, except perhaps by the pairing of a ‘Perry’ – cider made from pears (and nothing like Kopperberg!) – with a pungent Warwickshire goats cheese.
Other highlights involved the Pilton keeved cider, served in a champagne flute, and the Somerset Pomona mead. I implore you to ask for mead next time you’re in a well supplied bar – sweet, warming fermented honey – could anything be better? No wonder those medieval guys loved it.
It was a fantastic evening – just the ticket to ease you into the festive season.
You can catch the Raw Cheese Power fellas every Saturday at Archway Market, Broadway Market and Maida Hill Market, and every Sunday at Chatsworth Road and Harringey.