Another year, another week of cider jubilation passed in NYC. The fun isn’t over for cider producers though; in fact, the apple harvest, which functions much like the vinous version (picking, pressing, fermenting), is in high gear. But for city dwellers who got a taste of apple country delivered to their doors this past week, the celebration culminated with Astor Center’s Applepalooza, coupled with a Cider and Cheese Pairing for VIP ticket holders.
The pairing seminar, hosted by Elizabeth Chubbuck, associate director of wholesale at Murray’s Cheese, and David Flaherty, beer and spirits director at Hearth and Terroir, opened with a tutorial on tasting techniques. Participants were instructed to make cement mixers of their mouths and create a cheesy paste through which to funnel and swirl cider. It seemed to work as tasters muttered “ah ha” through boozy curds. Chubbuck and Flaherty guided the group around-the-world through six cheeses and five ciders (one lucky cider got two cheeses) and outlined the principles of pairing beverages with cheese, which included looking for balance in flavor intensity and texture, terroir (what grows together, goes together), complementary tastes, and contrasting tastes like sweet and salty.
The main event, held in the study of Astor Wine and Spirits, showcased a global selection of cider. American producers included Eve’s Cidery from the Finger Lakes, Steampunk Cider of Niagara, and Farnum Hill from New Hampshire. Distinct regional styles of Spanish, English, and French ciders were also on hand for sipping. Calvados (brandy made mostly from apples), Applejack (an American, apple-based liquor, popular in colonial times), cocktails, and apple-inflected food rounded out the offerings.
Cider was once America’s most important drink. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson produced it, and John Adams was said to drink a tankard (pint) of it every morning with breakfast for good health and flatulence control. Prohibition nearly wiped out the craft, but with a new bill passed by Governor Cuomo to encourage the small cider house revival happening across New York, the future is bright for producers and, if Adams was right, those hopeful for a better smelling state.
Hit the next pages for a few photos.