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Friday, 29 June 2018

Food | Food & Cider Pairing with Thatchers

Thatchers cider with the tannin table and apples at Pasture Bristol

Being born and raised in Bristol it's true to say that drinking cider runs in my blood. There is simply nothing more refreshing on a hot summers day than to open an ice cold cider and sit in the sunshine.

Fact.

Typically my cider of choice is something fruity and not too dry, I know what I like and I tend to stick to it. Or I thought I did until Thatchers invited me to a Cider pairing evening at Pasture in Bristol.

Thatchers Cider in crate infront of Pasture Jody Art Wall mural

Thatchers are probably best known for Thatchers Gold and Thatchers Haze cider but the Thatchers family of cider's have so many hidden gems including a sparkling cider voted the World's Best last year. I mean you can't really get better than World Best. The Thatchers brand is currently in it's 4th generation of family running the business and they are still based on the original Myrtle Farm in Somerset, which you can actually tour.

They have over 500 acres of apple orchards in and around the farm where they grow 25 different varieties of apple. Their exhibition orchard for research and development is home to over 458 different varieties. Richard Johnson who is a trained microbiologist who has a real passion for thatchers explained to us about tannin levels and how they extract and blend the different apples into the tastes we know and love.

Family Reserve

As we arrived at the event we were greeted by a chilled glass of Thatchers Family Reserve. The reserve is the Thatchers take on a champagne or prosecco and my god it's heavenly. It has a gorgeous delicate but apple-based taste that just leaves you wanting more which at 11% is fairly dangerous. 

The recipe for the family reserve was crafted over 100 years ago by William Thatcher himself which has been rediscovered. It uses the Katy Apple to create this delicious dry, sparkling apple wine. 

Tasting the Cider


To start us on our cider and food journey we were first taught how to really taste the cider which in fact is fairly similar to tasting wine. You should focus on four key concepts of appearance, aroma, flavour and finish. 

The appearance should be enticing and can often tell you the characteristics of the cider before you even taste it. This can be in the form of the colour, clarity and the sheer volume of bubbles. 

By swirling the cider in your glass you release the aroma. Some cider's you can smell the barrel, complimentary fruits and the trained nose can even distinguish the various varieties of apples used. 

The taste should pick up sweet, sour, bitter, dry, textures and importantly flavours. 

Finish is the impression the cider leaves on you once you've drunk the cider.  

Thatchers Katy with Scallop Ceviche

Katy

Katy is a variety of cider also crafted using the Katy apples like the Family Reserve. It's a cider that I'd tried before coming to the event and one of my favourites from the Thatchers family. At 7.4% it can be another quite dangerous drink because it just goes down so easily. 

Katy was paired with diver caught south coast scallop ceviche, pickled gooseberry, lime, tigers milk, and coriander. Having never had scallops before I was a little tentative but after getting some encouragement from the girls, and a little Katy dutch courage I finally took a bite. Safe to say it was not as bad as I was thinking. I think having the Katy with it definitely improved my first scallop experience but I wouldn't be scared to order them off a menu now.

Thatchers Haze with Onions En Croute

Haze

Haze was up next with forgotten onions en croute with summer squash. Haze is one of the best known ciders from Thatchers but this time tasted so much more delicious when not drunk from a sun-coated can in a field at a festival. I think from now on it will have to be ice cold in pub gardens only. It's made with dessert apples and is naturally cloudy which gave it a really fresh taste which worked wonderfully with the onions en croute.


Thathcers Vintage with Short Rib Croquettes

Vintage

Course 3 was Signature short rib croquettes, gouchong aioli and nasturtiums with Thatchers Vintage. I have to say the food in this course was sensational and my favourite by far which is a bold statement coming from a dessert girl. 

Vintage is a traditional medium dry cider with golden hues. It's made from a combination of Dabinett, Prince William, Jonagold and Falstaff to take apples from across the table to create the delicious rich flavour. It tasted divine with the bold flavour of the short rib. Perfect for a strong meaty BBQ in the summer. 

Thatchers Redstreak with Cured Duck Breast on Chia Cracker

Redstreak 

Redstreak is the Miss World of ciders with a bold and peppery taste which is a little bit like spicy apple pie. It was released in 2016 and has won multiple awards including the best sparkling cider in the world. It is made embracing the cuvage technique where the apples are left a little longer between mlling and pressing. It was paired with cured duck breast, juniper and orange marmalade served on a chia cracker. For me I would only want to drink this cider in smaller amounts because it does have a bold taste and texture but the orange marmalade and duck pairing worked wonderfully to compliment the flavours. At 8.4% it's probably wise to only drink in smaller quantities anyway.

Thatchers Old Rascal with Smoked Aged Steak Tartare

Old Rascal

Course five - yes we were truly spoiled - was smoked aged steak tartare with oyster mayonnaise and borage served with old rascal. Old rascal is another peppery full-bodied cider which is medium dry. It's taste could work well with spicier foods or strong cheese to really hone in on the flavours in the cider. The steak tartare was simply divine with it too.

Thatchers Summer Vintage with Raspberry Eclair

Summer Vintage


Our final course was hazelnut eclairs with praline creme patisserie, raspberries and thatchers summer vintage. Now I had a special eclair without the nutty content because of my allergy and it was heaven. Think I could eat my body weight in this and still want more kinda delicious. The simmer vintage is a light slightly sparking cider which works beautifully with fruity berry tones. I'd love to pair with some brie and creamy cheeses and cold meats on a summer's day. In fact I might pencil that in.

Overall I think my new favourite Thatchers has to be the Family Reserve. I might even be as bold to say that I could be converted from Prosecco. With my old favourite Katy coming in second. I'd always heard about wine pairings with food and I realise now that cider pairing works just as well if not better.

The delicious ciders and gorgeous food cooked by Pasture's head chef left me walking back to the train station a little woozy but also enlightened by the power of food and drink. I ended up googling tours of the farm, how to get into the friday cider tasting on the farm, how to get in their new hot air balloon and also how long the waiting list is to get a roast at the Thatchers pub. Stay tuned to my instagram to see if I manage to do any of them!

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