Thursday, September 03, 2009

A bottle of cider

I like the idea of drinking cider, since it's more indigenous to the region than other drinks, and I am currently in the midst of a resolve to try to consume more locally produced food, and break with supermarket dependency. This is one of those struggle-of-memory-against-forgetting things I periodically engage with, then find myself drifting back to the supermarkets for necessities, finding that the local produce is often cheaper there than anywhere anyway, and backsliding.

I quite like cider, but unfortunately not as much as I like wine. I like cider in a bol, with buckwheat galettes or crêpes. Or I like it as kir breton, the regional version of the famous and generally fairly boring aperitif composed of crème de cassis and white wine - or fizzy white wine or champagne if you're lucky. Story goes, Monsieur Kir the Mayor of Dijon had a thirst and asked his housekeeper to fetch him said blackcurrant liqueur diluted with cold water with which to quench it. She must have been a fairly dozy woman as she let it down with white wine, perhaps an Aligoté, instead. But he liked it, and the resulting cocktail bore his name thenceforward.

It's really a way to disguise not very good white wine, as it seems to me a total waste to contaminate anything decent with sticky blackcurrant stuff, similar to alcoholic Ribena. I made my own cassis a couple of times, you have to macerate and sieve blackcurrants and sugar and red wine and brandy and heaven knows what. I gave it up; it made a frightful mess of the kitchen and we don't even like the stuff.

Kir is better when made with crème de mûre, made from blackberries, or crème de pêche, from peaches, and better still made with cider. Though then it has to be with blackcurrant or blackberry, not peach, as these are the flavours that best complement the taste of the apples in the cider. We tried making blackberry whiskey once too, in the manner of sloe gin but it wasn't very good; the bitterness in the blackberries didn't disappear and was only augmented by that of the whiskey. Better to make the blackberries into jelly and drink the whiskey. We really aren't hopeless dypsomaniacs, honest.

This particular bottle comes from le Cellier de la Ville Loyo*, who are situated quite near to one of Molly's favourite walks in Tredaniel. I might make a trip there, I like cider farms. I lived for a short while in Somerset near Burrow Hill, now famous for making the only English cider brandy. I had one of the first half-bottles of that wondrous product, with a limited edition Elizabeth Frink print of a ram on the label. I really should have kept it, it would probably be worth a bit now, but, alas, it was just too good. (I think I downed the last of it with one of my nieces when she was having a bout of boyfriend trouble, which I'd inadvertently caused by calling the one she was at that moment smooching with by the name of the one she was lining up.) I used to cycle the five miles or so home on a summer evening with a three-litre plastic container of cider in my front bike basket, which gave me a good thirst.

This cider is very good, crisp and tasty. However, I have to say I found a bottle of a rather strange blueberry aperitif I picked up some while back in one of Lidl's odd batches of weird things they get in, and it really does make a very good match. Kir breton with a transatlantic twist.


(*via a newly opened craft shop in Moncontour, where I went in order to buy myself a small mirror made from beaten-out scrap sardine tins, an item which appealed to me, and which I would probably be writing this inconsequential post about rather than the cider I bought instead, if they hadn't sold out of them, not least because it might please Setu, my sardine-soul-sister in Finistère. At least I assume Setu is a she, she doesn't say in her profile. I quite like it when people do that, I enjoy trying to work it out...)


rouchswalwe said...

After a tough day at work, I find this relaxing and refreshing post. Äpfelwein was my Grandpapa Willi's favorite. His first kiss with my Grandmama was an Äpfelwein kiss beneath a full moon by the Main River. He told me he'd been tipsy with love from that moment on.

Granny J said...

I wonder if I might find a local cider if I went to the local farmer's market of a Saturday morning. Ciders have so many different flavors, depending upon the type of apple. We are fortunate to have wonderful scrawny old fashioned apples on trees in older sections of town.

Lucy said...

R - hehehm thought you might like this one! What a sweet story.

GJ - Yes, the scrawny trees are often good for cider apples. There is a Somerset cider variety that has my father's name - a Harry Masters red. My old neighbour still gathers all the hedgerow apples round the village, many of which he planted, to amke cider and Calva, and I bought some of the latter once. But it is a bit rough!

Crafty Green Poet said...

I lived in Cornwall for a while and got quite a taste for cider down there. Now I rarely drink it, most ciders you can buy here are too sweet for me (I prefer real ale) but I did recently have a very nice dry and tangy 'real' cider (ie from a small brewery)

Barrett Bonden said...

I'm ashamed. Here I am in the heart of the UK's cider country and have only a fraction of the knowledge you have accumulated. I do know that the medium-sized company, Weston, is to be found in the village of Much Marcle, birthplace of the notorious mass murderer, Fred West. In defence of this ignorance I must cite the same reason as you: I have been seduced from a very early age by the red stuff.

It was years before I questioned the phrase cidre bouché, so prominent in your neck of the woods, and then found myself asking the question - as opposed to what?

Jan said...

I am NOW longing for some cider...Hmm.

Lucas said...

I love your cider photographs and the experiental approach to Kir. I always think researching into alcoholic drinks is very enjoyable. I think it was Wilde who said that alcohol if taken in sufficient quantities has all the effects of intoxication.

Fantastic Forrest said...

Great post! You've made me thirsty.

We've got lots of lovely local beverages here in the Portland area, including Clear Creek Pear Brandy, but my favorite potable is mead, produced a little farther afield.
Have you ever tried it? There appears to be a strong mead culture in Brittany.

Lucy said...

Thanks all.

CGP - there are many wonderful Breton beers, and an excellent, fairly new, micro-brewery within a stone's throw of here, by Moncontour. But I don't drink a great deal of beer now.

BB - I lived a little while in Herefordshire, as well as Goucester. Being descended from Somerset yeomanry on my father's side, i feel duty-bound to claim that Somerset cider must be best, but I don't really know.

FF - Hello! Yes, mead. There is also a local family of beekeepers who make a very fine one; their honey is heavenly too. Its Breton name is chouchenn.

A Write Blog said...

Love the photo with the cork and the light shining through the glass stem. Beautiful.