Tag Archives: apple cider

Happy 8th Birthday Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar, Roanoke, Virginia

On Saturday, September 8, 2018, Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar in Roanoke, Virginia, celebrated the cellars 8th birthday. Pictured above: Mr. Bill and Rebecca at Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar.

I always enjoy the signs that greet guests outside their front door.

We celebrated with a tasting of Francois Montand Brut Blanc de  Blancs. ($15 range) In the 1940’s Francois Montand moved from his beloved Champagne to the Jura, some of the oldest vineyards in France. He continued to use his expertise in champagne to make bright flavorful sparkling wines made according to the traditional bottle double fermentation method.

Consistent bubbles dancing in the flute with bright notes of golden delicious apples and Meyer lemons. Makes a delightful aperitif. Delicious pairing with Ceviche.   

It’s almost Cider Season so I picked up a bottle of Domaine du Verger Rosé Cidre Bouche. This wonderful French cider is made with red fleshed apples which gives the cider a pink hue. ($12 range) Notes of red apple and just a touch of cinnamon with just the right amount of effervescence.

clear glass mason bottles with apple juice

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Thinking of cider, some dear friends gave us some of their homemade hard apple cider when we visited their farm earlier this year.  It’s made with Granny Smith, Yellow Delicious and Stayman apples.

close up photography of wine glasses

Photo by Valeria Boltneva on Pexels.com

Weingut Schwarzböck Gruner Veltliner ($17 range) was one of our favorites that we tasted that day. This Australian wine is crisp and refreshing with plenty of lively acidity. Notes of lemon and lime and a touch of white pepper. Perfect pairing with spicy Asian food. 

glasses of rose wine

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Bernard Magrez Bleu de Mer  Rosé 2017 is one of our “house Rosés”…we keep a bottle in the refrigerator to serve to last minute guests. $12 range. This French rosé is bright with strawberry and cherry flavors.

Yves Guégniard Domaine de la Bergerie Sous La Tonnelle. $16 range.  ‘Sous la Tonnelle’ means ‘Below the Rainbow’. Blended 80% Chenin Blanc and 20% Chardonnay. This French white wine is deliciously crisp with notes of white peach, apricot, pears and mango.

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Make Summer Sparkle With Sparkling Wine!

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Summer Sparkles!

Wolfberger cremant d alsace

NV Wolfberger Cremant d’Alsace Rose Brut

Pale salmon color with lots of tiny bubbles and a fine mousse.   100% Pinot Noir grapes. Hints of red cherry and raspberry.  A Crémant Rosé bubbly that is fun to sip with a fun price… $17 range.

bugey champagneBugsey champange

Montagnieu NV Bugey, France

Montagnieu is a beautiful village of Bugey dominating the Rhône River in the eastern Alpine mountains.

Montagnieu sparkling is made using the traditional method (like Champagne) ; wine after a first fermentation is kept almost 12 month on its lees before final corking of the bottle.

This lovely bubbly is made from a minimum of 70% of Altesse, Chardonnay and Mondeuse Noire grapes, with Jacquère, Pinot Noir, Gamay and Molette allowed as accessory grapes. Balanced with notes of toasted almond and brioche.  $50 range (restaurant price).

My bubbly friend and I enjoyed a bottle of Montagnieu Bugey with a local cheese plate at River and Rail Restaurant.  http://riverandrailrestaurant.com  I love the little pickled mushrooms, carrot jam and honey that they serve with the Farmstead Cheese Selection.

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Tocco Prosecco D.O.C.

Tocco Prosecco has nice little bubbles…Tocco has more effervescence than other Prosecco  I’ve tasted recently. Notes of baked apple, a touch of citrus and a creamy finish.  $14 range.

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Domaine du Verger Rosé Cidre Bouche

So pretty in the glass…cider made from red-fleshed French cider apples which gives it a delicate rosy color.   Just enough effervescence to tickle your nose.   This cider is fairly sweet with lots of fruit (notes of raspberry and red currant) and just a hint of ginger.  I found it to be a delightful sippin’ cider on a hot summer day. $10 range (750 ml bottle).   Here’s a link to an interesting article about rosé ciders and red flesh apples:

http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2013/08/rose-cider-how-it-gets-pink-what-to-try-uncle-johns-lukeluk-traditions.html

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Lovin’ Sippin’ Cider!

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Both of these ciders are luscious sippin’ ciders.

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I love tasting ciders that are new to me during Cider Week!  Bold Rock Blood Orange Cider is such a treat! Blood orange juice blended with the juice of Blue Ridge apples. Crisp tart apple flavor paired with tangy citrus. Bright reddish-orange color. This is a fall and winter seasonal cider.

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Kelly’s ciders are imported from Ireland and the UK and bottled in the United States. Nice raspberry pop to it. Aroma of fresh raspberries. Tiny bit of effervescence and sweetness.

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Several local restaurants (River and Rail, Lucky, Fortunato and Local Roots) are having a friendly competition to see which bar creates the best cider cocktail during Virginia Cider Week (November 11 – 20, 2016).  Lucky Restaurant created the SCOTCHY Pippen- Foggy Ridge Pippen Gold, Rye, Drambuie, Lucky Artichoke Bitters #vaciderweek #foggyridgecider. Our Scotchy Pippen was prepared by Hunter Johnson, one of the owners of Lucky and local celebrity bartender.  He explained that this cocktail is “boozy” or “Spirit forward”.  I found it to be rich and deliciously sippable, perfect for Fall.

The ingredients for this cocktail:

1/2 ounce Drambuie
1 1/2 ounce Rye whiskey
3/4 ounce Foggy ridge pippin gold cider
Add a little squeeze of lemon if you’d like
1 drop Artichoke bitters
Orange twist

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and stir (stirring the ice gives the cocktail some “ice melt” which helps to diffuse the spirits since this is such a “spirit forward” cocktail). Strain and serve over large ice cubes in a cocktail glass. Garnish with orange peel.

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We enjoyed our cocktail with a Lucky cheese plate…freshly baked crusty bread with olive oil, olive tapenade, olive mix and camembert cheese.

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Francisco and the Giant Peach cocktail River and Rail Restaurant. (not a cider drink…just a little cocktail I enjoyed recently…)

Peach infused Lunazul Tequila, St. Germain, Yellow Chartreuse, House Dry Vermouth, Floral Peach, Herbs & Bitter Notes. Stirred. Served on a Large Ice Cube. Lemon Twist Garnish.  Crisp peach flavors, refreshing!

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Texas Honey Cider ~ A New Favorite!

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Celebrating Cider Week

with a new favorite…Texas Honey Hard Cider!

12 ounce can of light honeyed sweetness ~ not sugary sweet.  5% ABV. Austin Eastciders Texas Honey Cider made in Austin, Texas.

How do you like them apples?

Hard apple cider, honey, sugar and brown sugar. Light, appley and delicious!

Available locally in Roanoke, Virginia at the Natural Foods Co-Op on  Grandin Road:  http://roanokenaturalfoods.com

http://austineastciders.com/cider

Special Announcements in River and Rail Restaurant’s Newsletter:

River and Rail Restaurant, Roanoke, Virginia:  http://riverandrailrestaurant.com

Thanksgiving Cocktail & Cider Week 

Cider Competition: 

From November 11 – 20, River and Rail will be participating in a friendly competition with Lucky and Local Roots in the Annual Foggy Ridge Cocktail Competition. 

Our Foggy Ridge Cocktail, crafted by Shane, is also perfect for your Thanksgiving Celebration.

Come in and order one, or two – and make it at home for friends and family to celebrate together this month.

Recipe: 

Equal parts Eagle Rare Bourbon, Foggy Ridge Pippin Gold, and Cardamaro, with two dashes of each apple & angostura bitters.

The cocktail is stirred, shared, and enjoyed.

CHAMPAGNE AND SPARKLING WINE TASTING WITH MR. BILLS

Dec. 5th, 7:30 PM – 9 PM

$30 per person

Champagne & Sparkling Wine Tasting

Food Pairings

Holiday By the Bottle Discounts

If you haven’t attended our Wine Tastings, this will be one not to miss. Call 400-6830 to reserve your table.

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Grilled Romaine With Bacon, Fresh Corn Aioli And Ricotta Salata + Cider!

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The perfect entrée salad recipe for autumn…grilled romaine and charred fresh corn… yummy smokey taste…like a happy little picnic in your mouth.

For an entree size portion:

1 head romaine lettuce. Wash and trim off any brown spots on the romaine lettuce. Leave the end of the romaine intact.

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4 pieces black pepper thick cut bacon, fried crisp and crumbled, reserve the bacon fat.

1 ear fresh corn, grill until tender and lightly charred.  Take the ear of corn off the grill and remove kernels of corn from the cob with a sharp knife.

Roasted corn aioli  for garnish.

Heat the grill.  Brush romaine lettuce with bacon fat on both sides.

Place romaine on hot grill and grill until it is slightly wilted and charred (approximately 5 minutes over medium heat).  Turn romaine over and char on the opposite side.  Remove from heat and place on a serving plate.  Cut off the stem end of the romaine and discard.

Heat the corn kernels in the remaining bacon fat. Heat over high heat so that the corn browns just a bit. Pile the corn on either end of the grilled romaine on the serving plate.  Sprinkle the grilled romaine with crumbled bacon and finely grate Ricotta Salata cheese over the bacon. Dollop a small spoonful of corn aoili on top of the salad. (I used Private Selection brand Roasted Corn Aioli but you can make your own…here’s a link to a recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/aioli-recipe.html)   Serve immediately.

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Virginia Cider Week is right around the corner!  November 11 – 20, 2016.

On Saturday we visited Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar for a  Foggy Ridge Cider Tasting.

http://mrbillswinecellar.com

The lovely Devon Steiner, representing Foggy Ridge Cider provided tastings of their cider…here’s the lineup:

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Devon explained that their cider contains apple juice, yeast and Co2 and no other additives.  I enjoy the light effervesce of this cider that tickles my nose and I love the rich apple flavors that are so unique in each cider.

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If you want a cider that’s fruit forward and has a tang of fresh apples this is the cider for you. Although it is perfectly lovely on its own, I prefer a tiny bit of sweetness to my “sippin’ cider” so I would tend to pair this cider with food. Foggy Ridge suggests pairing their Stayman Winesap with spicy foods.

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The First Fruit Foggy Ridge cider was sweeter than the Stayman Winesap.  I declare it just fine for sippin’! Foggy Ridge website suggests browning a pork roast in bacon then roast in First Fruit cider and stock, with apples and onions…yum!

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The Foggy Ridge Handmade Cider is bottled in baby champagne bottles…adorable! Devon explained that this cider is dry like champagne…crisp with a smooth finish.

Here’s a link to a lovely article including an interview with Diane Flynt, the orchardist (as well as picker, presser, and cidermaker) at Foggy Ridge:

http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2011/03/the-cider-press-foggy-ridge-cider-in-dugspur-virginia.html

And a link to  the Foggy Ridge newsletter sign-up:

http://foggyridgecider.com/category/inspiration/

Devon shared with us that there is a lot to look forward to during Virginia Cider Week including:

Annual Roanoke Foggy Ridge Cider Cocktail Competition
The gloves are off as local restaurants and bars vie to see who can make the best cocktail using Foggy Ridge Cider brands. Joining the competition once again is Local Roots, Lucky, Fortunato,  River and Rail, and the newest competitor added this year Blue Apron.  The public votes by purchasing cider cocktails from any or all of the Cider Cocktail locations. At the end of Cider Week, we see who sold the most cocktails and they are named the winner. Many of these cocktails have gone on to further fame in other competitions across the state and country. It’s a great way to see how versatile cider really is in the masterful hands of our participants. Come out and “vote” for your favorite.

Foggy Ridge’s website…http://foggyridgecider.com/events

And for dessert? Here’s a recipe for Apple Cider Doughnuts from Food and Wine Magazine:

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/apple-cider-doughnuts?xid=NL_DAILY103116

And Foggy Ridge Pippin Gold Cider… made with apple brandy…a dessert style cider with a higher alcohol content (18%). Delicious and perfectly fabulous with dessert.  Foggy Ridge recommends  peaches soaked in Pippin Gold served with homemade pound cake.

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Celebrating Hard Cider~ Apple and Pear

 

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And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

— W. B. Yeats, The Wind Among the Reeds

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One of my favorite hard ciders is a cider my bubbly friend introduced me to…Bold Rock Granny Smith Apple Hard Cider.  Available most anywhere this cider is sold in 330 ml bottles. Made with apples picked in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. Crisp, nice effervescence, just the tiniest touch of sweetness to take the edge off of the tart apple.

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A west-coast style dry-hopped cider featuring Ahranum, Citra, and Centennial hops to compliment the bite of local Granny Smith apples.

I tend to enjoy the Hard Rock Granny Smith Apple Cider with creamier mild cheeses such as Havarti, but a mild Gouda may be more to your liking.  Country ham biscuits a perfect pairing with this cider.

Here’s a link to cheese and cider pairings to enjoy with your cider:

https://www.specialtyfood.com/news/article/easy-pairings-hard-cider-and-cheese

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Best way to greet Autumn?  Sip hard cider!  This week we attended a dandy cider tasting at River and Rail Restaurant in Roanoke, Virginia.  I tend to like a fuller, rounder taste to my cider (maybe just a light touch of sweetness) so my favorites were: Daufresne Pear Cider and Foggy Ridge Stayman Winesap cider. Each of the ciders we tasted are available 750 mL bottles.

http://riverandrailrestaurant.com

The lovely Kristen from Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar greeted us with a chilled glass of Castel Hill Terrestrial cider. The Castle Hill Terrestrial  ($19 range) Crisp, crystal clear, semi-tart, green apple notes, very dry.

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Our next sip was Potters Oak Barrel Aged Reserved Cider ($17 range).  Love the label on this one…it reminds me of Halloween! Aged in oak barrels, notes of caramel, vanilla and toasted oak. Very dry with a quick finish, crisp apple, pear and brandied cherry notes add the complexity of the flavor of this cider.

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Our next sip was Foggy Ridge Stayman Winesap. ($17 range)  Traditional hard cider (apple) taste. Considered “off-dry”. Full apple flavor with green apple skin notes and smooth finish.

Foggy Ridge Cider was highlighted in the “Best American Hard Cider” article in Bon Appetit magazine:

http://www.bonappetit.com/drinks/article/best-american-hard-cider

Stayman Winesap, Foggy Ridge Cider
Dugspur, VA

Somehow, sweetness is considered a bad thing in today’s dry-leaning cider world, but subtle sweetness and fruit are just as satisfying as the crispness of a dry cider. Here the Stayman Winesap apple has notes of cherry and ripe apple, dropping you somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains, without actually having to hike there.

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Our next sip was Le Brun Organic Cider. ($11 range).  Nice aroma of Fall spices and apples…like “drinking apple pie”.  Just a touch of sweetness. This was the perfect pairing with the appetizers that River and Rail served that evening, especially the grilled pork belly and coleslaw petite sandwich and the Gruyère cheese puff.

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Pictured above, left to right:  Grilled Chicken Sausage Biscuit, Flat Bread with Pear, Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onion, Grilled Pork Belly and Coleslaw Petite Sandwich and Gruyère Cheese Puff.

During our discussion of cider and food pairings we noted that cider (with it’s hint of sweetness) is a very good pairing with Thai food.

Our next sip was Daufresne Pear Cider.  ($14 range) My favorite cider of the evening!  I commented “The pear cider is a very good pairing with the Pear, blue cheese and caramelized onion hors’ d oeurve!” …and thought I was very clever.

Located in the lower part of Normandy, France, is the cidery Daufresne.  Made from small ripe pears it has sweetness that is balanced with acidity. I would enjoy this cider as an Apéritif or with a light creamy dessert or just to sip on on.

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We completed the evening with a Pippin Gold Cider made with apple brandy that was a dessert style cider with a higher alcohol content (18%). Delicious and the perfect way to end a fabulous cider tasting.

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It’s Time To Celebrate Cider!

“Will Garden For Cake” is a wonderful place to visit…this blog will take you on a fun frolic from garden to kitchen with fabulous stories and tons of delectable recipes. My fellow Virginian and  blogger friend Alisa Huntsman is the author of this spectacular blog:

https://willgardenforcake.com

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Alisa is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America who has been baking professionally for over 30 years She is the author of Sky High Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes and Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe. Photos of her lovely cookbooks are pictured above.  It would be worth taking up sky diving just to dive into her Sky High cakes! I urge you to delve into her Loveless Cafe cookbook to find treasures including blue-ribbon pies, country cakes, crisps, cobblers, short cakes and tea cakes…oh my!  Besides baking, Alisa is a Master Gardener, Beekeeper and a Chicken Herder and can be found at willgardenforcake.com and @janeofmanytrades(Instagram).

Please visit and follow her blog…you’ll be glad you did!

Her cookbooks are available on Amazon.com and here’s their review of Desserts From The Famous Loveless Cafe:

Delicious Southern sweets and treats from a Nashville favorite. Renowned for its Southern charm and superb comfort food, the Loveless Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee, serves some of the best desserts below the Mason-Dixon line. Aficionados of country cooking travel from near and far to sample the restaurant s extraordinary sweets. In “Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe,” pastry chef Alisa Huntsman takes the most beloved Southern ingredients and flavors from sorghum to buttermilk, persimmons to pecans and masterfully combines them to create desserts with a modern appeal. Big Momma s Blackberry Jam Cake, Honey Chess Pie, Bourbon Peach Shortcake, Blueberry Skillet Cobbler, Coconut Chews, and Lady Lemon Bars are just a handful of the more than 100 irresistible recipes included in this ultimate guide to Southern desserts. Easy to make and even easier to eat, all of the favorite Loveless dessert recipes are included. With a foreword by bestselling author Lee Smith, essays extolling the virtues of the Southern palate, and full-color photos showing the delicious confections, this book will help anyone who can t travel to Nashville or wait two hours for a table at this popular restaurant enjoy a taste of the Loveless at home.”

This long-awaited cookbook offers recipes for all of the famous cakes, pies, puddings, and crisps that the Loveless Cafe serves daily to throngs of hungry diners. The recipes highlight traditional Southern flavors such as peaches, pecans, bourbon, buttermilk, and sorghum. Including fruit, nut, and custard pies, layer and pound cakes, cheesecakes, pudding, bars, and cookies, the recipes are easy to follow, but the updated flavor combinations make them suitable for even more experienced bakers. Derived from Southern traditions, the recipes come with interesting stories, which are conveyed in chapter introductions and recipe head notes. Essays extolling the virtues of Southern ingredients and food customs are scattered throughout the book. The down-to-earth charm of the Loveless Cafe is reflected in the full-color photos and the design of the book.

Now Let’s Celebrate Cider With Alisa Huntsman!

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Celestial Merret is a locally produced sparkling apple cider

Fermented cider has a long history in Virginia that can be traced back to the colonial era and Thomas Jefferson is said to have favored a cider made from crabapples.  A quick search on cideries in Virginia will show that there are nearly a dozen around the state.  We happened upon Castle Hill Cider in Keswick, just outside of Charlottesville, and were hooked at the first sip.

Cider is made from apple juice and it is fermented, either in tanks or the bottles and depending on which variety of apple used, it can vary greatly in sweetness and flavor.  At Castle Hill, they use a variety of methods to ferment the cider and if you visit the tasting room, not only can you taste them, you will learn all about the methods and the apples used to make the cider.

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Freshly picked apples sit in the event space waiting to be pressed.

Ranging from dry to sweet, each one is unique.  Personally, I preferred the dry varieties, specifically Terrestrial, but Levity, another dry variety, is a bit more unique.  While both are made with Albermarle apples, Levity is 100% Albermarle while Terrestrial is a blend that also uses Winesap, Levity is the only commercially produced cider in the world that is fermented in a clay amphorae known as a kvevri.

Levity is actually a sparkling cider and is one of two sparkling varieties available, the other being Celestial Merret.  These two ciders are considered dry but are probably a little sweeter than you might expect and while they are “hard,” neither has the alcohol content that a more formal sparkling wine and both come in around 8.5% ABV.  This lower alcohol content still packs a bit of a punch, so drink responsibly.

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The large event space with its stunning view is a popular wedding venue.

Visit the tasting room and ask to sample the ciders, they do charge for the tasting but if you sign up for the cider club, you will get the tasting for free and a generous discount on every bottle you purchase.  Be sure to try the Black Twig and the 1764;   Black Twig gets its name from the variety of apples used and is aged in whiskey barrels from Tennessee, while 1764 is made from a blend of apples and crabapples and is aged in French oak barrels to give it a flavor and alcohol content that is similar to a fine Port.

Whichever you prefer, do go and visit, sit and sip a glass indoors by the fireplace or outdoors, either way, the view is beautiful.  Be sure to grab a couple bottles to take with you!  To learn more about cider in Virginia, visit the Cider Week Festival website.

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Celestial Cranberry Kir Royale

Kir Royales are traditionally made layering cassis and sparkling wine in a fluted glass.  Since cider is made from apples, using cranberries seemed like the obvious choice for this drink.

1 bottle Celestial Merret or Levity cider, chilled

Cranberry coulis, recipe follows

Frozen whole cranberries, for garnish

Place 1 tablespoon at the bottom of a fluted glass.  Carefully pour in 5 ounces of cider taking care to pour it slowly down the side of the glass so that the coulis does not get stirred up.  Drop 2-3 frozen cranberries into the drink to float on top.

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Cranberry Coulis

makes ¾ cup and is also wonderful over ice cream.

6 ounces, half of a bag, fresh cranberries-can be frozen

½ cup ruby port (water or juice may be substituted)

1/3 cup sugar

¼ of a vanilla bean, split and scraped-seeds added to the mixture along with the pod

1 cinnamon stick

1 star anise pod

1 green cardamom pod

Place all of the ingredients in a pot and place over medium high heat.  Bring to a boil, stirring to prevent the sugar from scorching, reduce heat to medium-low and allow it to simmer for 5-8 minutes.  Dump the contents of the pot into a mesh strainer which is set over a heat proof bowl.  Using a spoon, scrape as much of the mixture through the mesh as possible.  You are doing this to remove as many of the seeds ,as well as the skin, as possible so be sure to leave them in the strainer!  Whisk the mixture to combine it and allow it to cool to room temperature.

https://castlehillcider.com/

http://ciderweekva.com/

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