28 September 2019

Weekend Cooking: The Cider Revival by Jason Wilson

Review of The Cider Revival by Jason WilsonI discovered cider when I lived in the UK (way back in the dark ages). At the time I wasn't much of a beer drinker, and so the first time I went to the pub with my new friends, I was at a loss of what to order. Someone suggested that I try a cider.

Wow! What an eye opener (or would that be taste bud opener?). At that time, hard cider was very hard to come by in the States, and I had no idea that cider could be so dry, crisp, and refreshing. I was hooked from my very first sip.

When I returned to Pennsylvania, with its abundance of apple farms, I was sure I'd be able to find cider. Unfortunately, it was years before commercial cider was available in the stores. When I first spotted that cider in the bottle shop cooler, I was so excited. At last, I could drink my beloved drink.

Sob! What I got was an overly sweet drink, and I could barely finish one bottle. Ugh. I was left to wait for my very occasional trip to Europe or the UK for my cider fix. But slowly, slowly cider began to take off in America. At first I could find some British imports (Hornsby was a favorite) and then, finally, a few domestic brands became available. Nothing matched what I got on tap in the UK, but the producers were getting close.

A good cider is still hard to find, and the ones I show here aren't the best, but, hey, I needed a good photo! I'm no pommelier (a cider expert), but I don't have to be. Jason Wilson, author of The Cider Revival: Dispatches from the Orchard, has all the answers and all the stories.

Domestic cider, local apples, The Cider Revival by Jason WilsonThanks to the Abrams Dinner Party, I'm learning all about the ciders of the northeast. I haven't finished The Cider Revival, but I can tell you I'm fascinated. The first chapter focuses on the Northern Spy, an apple that's fantastic, especially when eaten fresh from a Finger Lakes' orchard. Apple varieties and the areas they're grown in are as important to the taste of cider as the grapes and terroir are to finished wine.

As I said, I can't really review Wilson's The Cider Revival because I'm still reading it, but I'm excited to know I have a chance to taste good cider on this side of the Atlantic. Since any old cheap on-tap cider in Europe and the UK is miles above anything I've bought in bottles around here, I'm looking forward to finishing this book and upping my domestic cider game with some top-shelf brands.

I particularly like this quote, because it captures the majority of Americans' experience with cider:

If you’re like a lot of people, you drank that one cider once, and found it sugary, cloying, one-note, and something to avoid. You may have never drank cider again. This is sad, because that’s like drinking a glass of Yellow Tail or a cheap boxed wine or maybe even a Bartles & Jaymes wine cooler, and then deciding that all wine sucks.
Believe me, good cider is well worth the search.

Wilson writes about apples, growing regions, and history and introduces us to a variety of people involved with all things cider. He takes us from the East Coast to the West Coast, and to the Basque region of Spain; he describes US apples and French apples and more. I'm learning a lot and plan to track down some of the eastern stars in the cider world. By shunning the commercial and going for craft, I just may find those ciders I've been craving since my last trip overseas.

Beauty shot of The Cider Revival by Jason WilsonIf you're a die-hard cider fan you might want to consider a trip to next year's CiderCon (yes, it's a thing). In 2020, the United States Association of Cider Makers will meet in Oakland, where cider lovers, producers, sellers, and buyers can meet and greet. They have workshops, a certification program, and tastings. You just might spot Jason Wilson in attendance.

At the end of the book, Wilson provides lists of good cider bars, good domestic cideries (I found five right here in Pennsylvania!), and notable imports. Let the tasting begin!

Even though I haven't finished reading The Cider Revival by Jason Wilson, I recommend it for anyone who craves European-style ciders or wants to learn more about the growing world of craft ciders. If you don't like beer, a really good cider might be just for you.
Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

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rhapsodyinbooks 9/28/19, 6:08 AM  

I did try hard cider once, but in the U.S., so perhaps I didn't experience the best of it! Still, it was different and interesting!

gluten Free A_Z Blog 9/28/19, 6:24 AM  

I never even knew there was such a thing as alcoholic cider! We always drink the regular cider during apple season here in Pennsylvania.Being gluten free, I can't drink beer. I wonder if I could drink the hard cider. Thanks for an interesting review..

Jackie McGuinness 9/28/19, 8:06 AM  

The loss of beer when John was diagnosed as celiac was the hardest thing for him. We are fortunate that we have a huge selection of cider. He didn't really love most of them as they were too sweet. But we have a pub called Her Father's Cider Bar https://www.herfathers.ca/ and we had some of the best cider there.

BUT now that John has found gluten free beer he is very happy!

bermudaonion 9/28/19, 8:19 AM  

Yes, most of the commercial ciders available are too sweet but we're starting to see a few really good craft ciders here. They are delicious and pair really well with food. I'll have to look for this book.

Mae Travels 9/28/19, 8:28 AM  

A resourceful author seems able to write a whole book on any subject at all. Here's another one that surprises me.

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Tina 9/28/19, 10:09 AM  

Good cider can be hard to find and I'm with you, I loved it in the UK. The ones I have tried are a bit sweet but it's worth the research to try many different types!

The books you received from Abrams are so amazing. I'm hoping to check out that program next year.

Claudia 9/28/19, 10:46 AM  

I love it! And, we're lucky enough to have a good selection where I shop.

Abigail Pearson 9/28/19, 1:59 PM  

I love cider and a cidercon sounds like a lot of fun!

Vicki 9/28/19, 2:55 PM  

I still haven't tried cider, but I'm going to see if there are any cideries near me.

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