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.


Sep 1, 2014

More Core!

YES! It's another mini cider review!

Core MeltdownCore Cider - Meltdown Sparkling Cider
5.0% ABV
330ml bottle, crown screw cap
Perth Hills, Western Australia
Around $5.50  - occasionally at Mane Liquor, Ascot

A light, colourless, and hard-to-photograph-in-an-exciting-way cider from the makers of the (really good) Hardcore that I reviewed way back here.  

Aimed more at the "session cider" market, this one is heavily carbonated, dry, but still retains the acidity and fruit of a classic cider. Not really my thing, but a good local alternative to the commercial types like Mercury and Strongbow.

Core ReactorCore Cider - Reactor Pear & Apple
6.5% alcohol
330ml bottle, crown screw cap
Perth Hills, Western Australia
Around $5.50  - occasionally at Mane Liquor, Ascot

Another moderately carbonated, light straw coloured beverage but in a slightly more interesting bottle. There's a hint of fine sediment to colour it, and it's very dry.

A solid acid backbone is present but not much else - think sour apple. The alcohol is starting to dominate in this one and frankly, it's too much like Strongbow Dry for my taste.

A very well made cider for a small local cidery, and as such, it really shows up the bigger breweries that have been stepping into the market with better resources and barely passable products. Looking forward to trying the rest of Core's range.

Apr 24, 2014

It's not English cider!

My first opportunity to get my hands on some Scottish cider. Scotland, not being well known for having apple trees, honestly was not a place I considered for the beverage. Pleasantly happy with these two...

Thistly Cross Cider - Traditional
Dunbar, Scotland.
4.4% ABV.
330ml bottle, Crown cap,
~$7.50 Mane Liquor, Ascot.

Golden hues and little or no aromatics. The traditional Thistly Cross cider is a very tasty, lightly carbonated sweet cider. It's got just enough acid and residual palate to reach a balance, and it's in no way cloying.

This is a really good example of a sweet cider. Slightly on the expensive side, but I would buy again.

Thistly Cross Cider - Whisky Cask
Dunbar, Scotland.
6.9% ABV.
330ml bottle, Crown cap,
~$7.50 Mane Liquor, Ascot.

Outwardly identical in appearance to the Traditional, the whisky cask has the faintest hint of American Bourbon barrel oak on the nose, but not so much on the palate.

The alcohol is far more noticeable replacing some of the sugar. Definitely a more complex brew that's not quite your typical English style of cider and dangerously quaffable. Recommended.

Apr 6, 2014

Mini Book Review - The Complete Bartender's Guide

Every now and then, a food related book comes along that makes you want to scream with frustration.

On one hand, Dave Broom's The Complete Bartender's Guide, is a neat pocket hardback with a good broad cross section of cocktail recipes. On the other hand, the rest of it is a few wanky opinions passed off as fact ("What's your poison?"), and a bunch of stuff thats not really for bartenders, but rather for the home drinker.

I understand Dave Broom is a successfully published author of many spirit related tomes, but with this book, he has crossed over to the genteel world of the (home?) bar - possibly without a sanity check.

Take for example, the chapter on the use of blenders in cocktail making - well it's two pages really - the formatting of the book isn't that great. Broom puts the boot into the use of syrups and soda siphons on one page, while extolling the blender as an absolute necessity for the modern bar.

"Soda siphons, and syrup concentrates, while an integral part of American culture, are not necessary for the home bar..."

Perhaps Broom is thinking of pre-mix drink concentrates (it's not specified), but would it have killed them to add another page and say what they actually meant? When you say syrup to me, I think of simple syrup or gomme. Likewise, I can think of a dozen uses for a soda syphon in modern cuisine, the least of which being to generate soda water as required. The inconsistency here is that half of the book is full of classic recipes calling for syrup and soda!

The Complete Bartender's Guild is a bit of a mixed bag. For the home user, it's a concise, roughly educational work, but I could not take a lot of it seriously. It just swings too much between a guide to the home bar and an opinion piece on what the author regards as the best drinks.

Worth a read for the first timer, but there are better guides to the home bar.