Nov 19, 2014

One of these things is not like the others... actually all three are not like each other, and I reckon the only good one is the one that hasn't seen a fruit from the Rosaceae family.

Core Cider - Pith'd Sparkling Lemon
Perth, Western Australia.
4.8% ABV.
330ml bottle, Crown Cap (screw),
$4.50 Mane Liquor, Ascot.

Ok, so this one is odd. It's not a cider, but it is made by the people in the Perth hills that do make some really good ones. This is a sparkling lemon wine.

Slightly cloudy, with a really good lemon juice flavour. It's not as sweet as a lemonade but also not too tart. A good balance. 

Definitely something that may appeal to the Smirnoff mixer crowd. Recommended.

Core Cider - Peace Cider - Sparkling Pear
Perth, Western Australia.
3.5% ABV.
330ml bottle, Screw Crown Cap,
$4.50 Mane Liquor, Ascot.

A pear cider with a genuinely good pear flavour. It's alcoholic sparkling pear juice, with no fuss and no concentrates.  
Not much to it, but if you like the sweeter styles, this one is more refreshing than most.

Somersby - Pear Cider
Bottled in Victoria*, made in Denmark.
4.5% ABV.
330ml bottle, Screw Crown Cap,
$3.50 Mane Liquor, Ascot.

Carlsberg returns with another fake cider - this time allegedly made with pears.

Like their apple concentrate offering I reviewed here, this is an overly sweet, artificial pear-drop flavoured beverage. There is a hint of dried apple, a touch of acidity, but otherwise it tastes quite artificial, much like their apple version.

Not worth the $3.50 asking price. Avoid.

Nov 11, 2014

Mini Book Review: Feasting With The Ancestors

Ugh. I sure can pick them. Oswald Rivera's Feasting With The Ancestors is a book that in my humble opinion should have been left with the ancestors.

The concept is not a bad one. Write a series of well-researched essays on the evolution of cooking over the last 3000 or so years. Chapter it by culture from oldest to newest, then put together some recipes recreated as closely as possible to the originals - using modern ingredients where necessary - and smash it out. Sounds good. 

My problems with this book are twofold. Firstly, Rivera has an annoying habit of using colloquialisms in his writing. Nothing says professional editing quite like the use of the word "dude" when describing Roman nobles. 

The second is with the fast and loose adaptation of recipes, or as Rivera puts it, "I find that in transcribing the recipes, good old horse sense is all that is needed, and constant experimentation". 

Sorry, Oswald. If you are basing recipes on past experience and experimenting, you are not transcribing - you are making things up... Which then leads me to suspecting that the research performed for this book was more meta-analysis than primary reading. For example, it probably isn't a good thing to tell your vegan readers that the birds nests in birds' nest soup are made from seaweed, when in reality they are made entirely from saliva. Something that has been well documented since the 1830s.

So in short, it's just awful. Avoid. 3/10

Nov 1, 2014

So... about FaceBook

One of the accounts I was using to administer the blog's FaceBook presence was shut down this weekend by the admins. Apparently someone had reported it for not using a "Real Name".

As it's going to take far too much work to reactivate it. Not to mention that I would need to send private documents to prove my identity to a company on the other side of the world that I have no trust in. So i've decided to close down the FaceBook aspect of this site.

It's not the first time this has happened. Combined with FaceBook's poor interface and selective-exposure-unless-you-pay model, it really is just the final straw for this little black duck.

Sep 27, 2014

Dessert Cider

Small Acres "Pomona Ice" - Sweet Dessert Style 2012
8.5% ABV
375ml bottle, Stelvin cap
Orange, NSW
$25.00 Mane Liquor, Ascot

Not really a cider - this is an apple ice-wine. The juice concentrated via cryoextraction before fermentation. I'm not sure how to adequately describe it as it's tart, sweet, and cheerfully complex.

While expensive it is more affordable than true ice wines and really quite delicious. Recommended.

Sep 21, 2014

Mini Book Review: Two Asian Kitchens

Big call I know, but the best thing that has come out of Master Chef Australia was Adam Liaw's Two Asian Kitchens.

Split as its title suggests, into two kitchens - one old and one new - I found it to be surprisingly relevant to my cooking interests.

I think the weaker half was the new kitchen section, which were all fusion or adaptations on traditional dishes.The old kitchen, however, has filled a gap in my cooking library. It's all about the food that I actively seek out in hawker centres or when I'm travelling in South-East Asia. So it's going to be very handy.

Are the recipes any good? I'm on the fence on this one. The one recipe that I have tried so far was over-spiced, but that may well have been my fault. Much more research is required. Based on its readability and variety of recipes:

Recommended: 7/10

Sep 20, 2014

Out and about - with cider

A few new drinks hit the fridge this week. A bit hit and miss.

Woodchuck "Amber" American Hard Cider
5.0% ABV
335ml bottle, crown cap
Vermont, USA
$4.50 Mane Liquor, Ascot

An unusual and inaccurate beverage. I question the use of the word "Hard" on a cider with an ABV of only 5% - I guess it's a legacy of the idea of Hard Lemonade. The use of the word "Amber" also seems misplaced. What we have here is a light straw coloured apple soda flavoured with Woodchucks[1]. This is then allegedly poured over a bucket of fermenting apples before bottling.

If you are looking for apple flavoured soft drink, this is it. I will give the brewery kudos for being distinctive. I've not tried another cider that tastes like this one.

[1] I'm not being one hundred percent serious here. There are probably no Woodchucks involved.

Addlestones Cloudy English Cider
5.0% ABV.
500ml bottle, Crown cap,
~$7.50 Mane Liquor, Ascot.

An amber, cloudy, traditional cider with a soft natural carbonation. Funky old barrel and bittersweet apple flavours.

It's a mild cider. I don't think it's terribly big on flavours, but it is very easy to drink.

I'm of mixed thoughts on this one. Would probably drink again but it is pricey for what it is.

Sep 5, 2014

Mini Book Review: The Nasty Bits

It's been a while since the last book review, and this one is a good example of why it takes me a long time to finish food related books. I have no self control in purchasing them, and the vast majority are pretty dire.

Anthony Bourdain's The Nasty Bits is appropriately named. A collection of short essays that really aren't prime cuts and in that it's more an example of creative writing and editing than creative content.

The Nasty Bits doesn't so much take you on a journey, but recounts shotgun - like a particularly eloquent drunk in an airport bar - the behind the scenes events of foodie TV. I got a third of the way in and asked myself. Do I really want to go all the way with this? Isn't there better things to read? Other things I want to do with my time?

Where upon I put it down and read two Charles Stross novels and some Iain Banks instead.

That was six months ago. This week in a fit of sheer bloody mindedness (and possibly the effects of an overdose of Codral) I decided to finish it. Hmmm.

Bourdain fans may want it, but in my opinion - skip it and just watch the TV show.