Apples and pairs

Related tags Beer Cider Wine National association of cider makers

Lucy Britner continues PubChef's focus on food and drink-matching Cider is back in vogue. Premium cider tipples are not only popping up in pubs up...

Lucy Britner continues PubChef's

focus on food and drink-matching

Cider is back in vogue. Premium cider tipples are not only popping up in pubs up and down the UK - they are also working well on the food-pairing front, and proving to be an exciting ingredient in the kitchen.

British Pig Executive (BPEX) foodservice trade manager Tony Goodger says: "Pork cooked with cider is a great alternative to cooking with beer or wine, and there is a variety of ciders to choose from - dry and light or strong and sweet."

BPEX has been working with the National Association of Cider Makers to create a new range of pork and cider recipes for spring menus. Dishes include: pan-fried fillet of pork with cider and honey glaze; slow-cooked belly pork tandoori in cider; drunken gammon hock cooked in cider; crock-pot

sausages, cider and roasted root vegetables; and pork, liver, apple and cider terrine served with plum and cider chutney. For recipes visit

Henry Chevallier Guild, director of Aspall

recommends Aspall Premier Cru as a good

partner for charcuterie and a variety of

cheeses as well as mussels cooked in a cream-based sauce.

Draught cider is a unique selling point for many pubs and Henry describes Aspall as "off dry and quite complex, enhancing a long finish." He suggests pairing Aspall draught with well-flavoured dishes such as curry.

Gaymer Cider Company's Addlestones is increasingly being seen behind the bar in

gastropubs as is it a great accompaniment to a variety of foods. Food writer and head chef at London's Great Queen Street, Tom Norrington-Davis, has devised food and Addlestones matches. Matches include grilled pork chop with apple and celeriac mash, and grilled scallops with chilli, fennel and olive oil.

Robert Gong, senior development chef at the Authentic Food Company, has paired some of his dishes with different ciders.

He says: "By considering the style, flavour and ingredients of each dish, and recommending a cider brand with favourable characteristics, pubs can advise consumers on how to choose the right cider to complement their food."

1. Kashmiri lamb with Magners: Medium- spiced, full-bodied curry requires a cider with depth to hold its own. Magners is well rounded and fruity. The sautéed spinach and onions in this dish add substance, best matched with a refreshing drink.

2. Minted lamb Henry with Brothers pear cider: The mint in this dish offers a fresh, alternative way of serving the traditional lamb Henry. The wholesome flavour and texture of the lamb works especially well with the gentle pear taste, bringing out the best in both food and drink.

3. Aromatic Thai king prawn curry with Henry Western Vintage: The dryness of this cider balances out the sweetness of the curry. The crisp tones of the cider complement the chilli and lemongrass in the curry perfectly, profiling the curry flavours without overpowering them.

Dinner dates

Traditional after-dinner tipples such as Cognac and whisky are also being pushed as dinner partners. Jeanette Edwards, marketing controller at Beam Global UK, says: "Cognac is traditionally seen as an after-dinner drink, but certain marques work really well alongside desserts."

Paired off: Courvoisier VSOP is great paired with chocolate desserts.

Tips: Train staff to suggest Cognac with desserts, add pairing ideas to the dessert menu and make a feature blackboard.

Malt matches

There are lots of different types of whiskies with different flavour profiles. If you don't stock loads of brands, but want to experiment, it might be worth selling tickets to a special whisky-and-food evening before you invest in the bottles.

Diageo has been busy pairing its Classic Malts selection with a whole load of different cuisines, including Spanish, Italian, Indian and Russian.

Former chef and restaurant consultant Richard Whittington says: "Good food is about good taste. It's a delusion - fostered by some sommeliers, Masters of Wine and professional wine writers - to see wine as the only possible partner for good food.

"Just as some wines achieve a perfect marriage with some dishes, while others quarrel from the start, some fine malt whiskies deliver a transcendent partnership with certain foods."

Richard's matches include potted shrimps with Glenkinchie 12-year-old, served in a Champagne flute; liver pâté or game terrine with Cragganmore 12-year-old, served in a Champagne flute; deep-fried oysters in beer batter with Talisker 10-year-old, served in a white wine glass, and crème brûlée or iced bread and butter pudding with seasonal berries with Dalwhinnie 15-year-old frozen (straight out of the freezer) served in a dessert wine glasses, chilled & frosted.

For inspiration visit

Niche market

Susan Nowak explores the growing demand for vintage ales

A niche sector of the beer market that has long excited connoisseurs and collectors is set to win a wider following: vintage ales.

These are brewing aristocrats - the hop equivalent of Champagne, brandy and port. Long-matured, complex tipples that have a rarity and investment value, and make unusual accompaniments to fine food.

We are talking élitist here; the sort of beers that go with posh nosh in upmarket gastropubs and even grace the drinks lists of Michelin-starred restaurants. Beers that call for a sommelier-style knowledge to describe them to diners, but are a talking point that attracts custom.

Many licensees are justly proud of their wine lists, featuring vintage wines with tasting notes. But brewers, too, can produce a vintage.

These beers are designed to be laid down, and improve with keeping. And to compare a "young" vintage ale from 2007 with the same brand brewed five or even 10 years earlier is fascinating.

London brewer Fuller's began producing a boxed Vintage Ale in 1997. Its tasting note reads: "dark in appearance, almost brandy-like, with a hint of fruitiness in the aroma."

More recently, the 2006 used Super Styrian hops "to create a tapestry of rich, spicy flavours - orange, citrus and fruitcake notes are all present."

Vintage ales are often bottle-conditioned. A high abv is essential in order to preserve the beer while it continues to mature - Fuller's is 8.5%.

But what really sets vintage ales apart from the mainstream is that they are brewed only once a year, with a limited number of bottles produced.

When Australian brewery Coopers, founded in 1862 by a Yorkshireman, released its first Extra Strong Vintage Ale in 1998, it sold out in a few days. Now the 2007 vintage, 7.5% abv, is on sale.

"Our entire allocation for the UK was 2,500 cases - and it was all bought by Tesco," said Michael Cook, director of imported beers with Pierhead Purchasing.

He says the 1998 vintage has now matured to a "Port-like finish" that makes it ideal with cheese. In the 2007, I found lots of delicious butterscotch malt, fruitiness and brandy-cask character.

But the 2006 is already softer and smoother, with a vanilla fragrance; clearly on its way to that Port finish. Now the 2007 has begun its journey.

One of the oldest beers still produced is Thomas Hardy's Ale, first brewed in 1968. Now brewed by O'Hanlons, the 2007 beer is dark and vinous, with hints of Marmite and treacle at a mind-boggling 11.7% abv.

Available in Sainsbury's is the Innis & Gunn Limited Edition 7.7% abv beer, aged for 77 days in oak casks - smooth and strong with a whiff of heather, it's a perfect drink for grouse and pheasant.

These powerful, complex beers are brilliant with rich dishes such as venison, rib of beef, wild mushrooms and truffles, smoked duck and exotic spiced food - not forgetting the big cheeses.

If you buy a case you don't have to worry about the "sell by" date. And if you don't sell them all, they appreciate in value.

Said Michael Cook: "A box (24) of Coopers' earliest vintage has appeared on eBay for 600 dollars." In larger Tescos, a bottle of the 2007 costs just £1.99.

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