Will apple cider be the next gin?

Apple cider is a drink I never think of buying or drinking. There’s no particular reason, I just never think of it … maybe because I don’t know it that well or that I never noticed it in bar’s or on menu’s? Or maybe it is like with regular apple juice, I like it a but I usually only drink it when somebody tells me they have it 🙂  That’s why I was more than happy to learn more about this wonderful product and who better to teach me than the one and only Andy De Brouwer owner of restaurant Les Eleveurs and Belgian top sommelier?!

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Apple cider is basically a low alcoholic sparkling (around 4%) version of apple juice 🙂 . I’m not going to bore you with the whole production process as you can find it back via following link.

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What Andy showed us last week was that although apple cider might not sound like a very “modern”, “hip” or “sexy” thing, it actually is. It is a great base to make cocktails, can be paired with funky appetizers and it is just tasty 🙂 … What do you think about a Strongbow elderflower Scotch whisky longdrink, a frozen Margarita paired with some homemade nachos or a Mojito with Gold Apple? Or is a Negroni with Strongbow red berries paired with a stuffed artichoke more your thing?

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Next to all home-made ingredients Andy used Strongbow apple cider to make his cocktails. I confess that I had never heard of Strongbow before. Strongbow is an English apple cider brand, but then again technically speaking also Belgian. I consider it as a local product as the biggest part of the production happens in Belgium. So I think it is ok to call Strongbow apple cider a local product, right?!

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Strongbow has 3 different types of apple cider:

  • Gold Apple: fresh, fruity flavor with a hints of green apple
  • Red berries: aromatic combination of apple and red fruits
  • Elderflower: subtle aromatic combination of apple and elderflower with a fresh end note of lime

The cocktail that was the biggest surprise to me was the mojito!! What surprised me about Andy’s version was that even though there was no alcohol in it, it tasted exactly the same as the “original” version. No alcohol with the exception of the cider’s alcohol that because of the mixing with other non alcoholic drinks would be 1% maybe…Which basically means you can drink more of these puppies then you could of the original one… so I’ll go for the Apple cider version if I may

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I became a fan and will without any doubt try to make these cocktails at home. And because I like you soooo much I’ll share with you Andy’s Strongbow mojito recipe .

Ingredients for +/- 20 cocktails:

  • 5 cl fake rum
  • Fresh mint (1 bot op 2 l. water)
  • 4 teabags of gunpowder (Chinese greentea)
  • 5 g cardamom bolsters
  • 200 g raisins

Per person

  • 15 cl Strongbow Gold Apple cider
  • ¼ lime
  • 1 branch mint
  • 2 drops Angostura
  • 2 lumps of cane sugar

Preparation:

For the ‘fake rum’:

  • Make an infusion of fresh mint, gunpowder and lightly toasted and crushed cardamom bolsters.
  • Leave to cool (not in the refrigerator) and sieve.
  • Let the raisins swell 24 hours in this fluid.
  • Riddle with a fine sieve, press the grapes with a spoon.
  • Recover the liquid.
  1. Put mint leaves in glass.
  2. Wash lime, cut into quarters and press the juice out of two and put in the glass.
  3. Add two lumps of cane sugar.
  4. Mortar with a mortar to a syrup.
  5. Add the fake rum.
  6. Fill the glass with ice cubes and fill with Strongbow Gold Apple. Stir with a bar spoon.
  7. Finish with 2 drops of Angostura and garnish with fresh mint and a slice of lime.

In case you would like to try to make it yourself,  Strongbow apple cider is available in almost all supermarkets. In case you want to know more good cocktail recipes and combinations with dishes I strongly recommend you the new book on cocktails by my dear friend Andy the Brouwer ‘Cocktail a night’.

cocktail-a-night

Cheers!

Once a quick bite now a gastronomical food concept

Tapas have been part of Spanish culture for many years. Today “tapas” is a food concept that stands for fun, drinks and sharing food with friends.  Back in the 20th century the Andalusian habbit slowly gained more popularity all over Spain , I you might even call it a food revolution that took over Spain  and maybe even the entire world. To think it all started like a little piece of food to go with you glass of wine like olives or a slice of ham??!! Nowadays this has changed into a table full of little plates with which you take a glass of wine 🙂 🙂 Today besides the “traditional” tortilla, patatas bravas, etc..; chef also try to be more creative and you get the feeling you’re eating 3 Michelin starred dishes.

krokets Tapas classic

I have travelled quite a bit in Spain and for me the best “Tapas” Can be found in San Sebastian. In most other places I found that most tapas were deep-fried or very fat, whereas in San Sebastian I found more creative and refined ones. Not that I mind eating a ‘classic’ patatas brava once in a while, but not every day. The world famous Spanish chef Ferrán Adriá  calls the tapas the best Spanish (gastronomical) export product, which is most certainly is. If now people are serving lots of little plates of food or going to a restaurant where they serve little dishes that are to be shared..; everybody always refers to it as “Tapas style”… I find it remarkable that in such a short period of time it gained so much success. I also would be surprised it would become a new word in the dictionaries 🙂 in all languages.

Tapas exist out of 3 essential basic elements: Quality of ingredients, taste and  the ambiance of the location. Although it must be said that the “social aspect” like good company, etc… of Tapas experience is becoming the most important. A few weeks ago I was invited in Brussels to celebrate the Day of the Tapas. For this celebration Michelin star chef Iván Cerdeño (Carmen de Montesión ). What he brought was the classics in a revisited version… I can only say that what he served was again great example of the top level of Spanish gastronomy!!

Ivan Cerdeno tAPAS 2 Tapas

I know it seems strange that an Italian writes about Spanish food, but I’m a big Tapas (or Spanish cuisine for that matter) lover and I’m not afraid to say it 🙂 !!!  It are also our Spanish friends like the Roca brothers  (El celler the can Roca) and before them the Ferrán brothers (El Bulli) that changed the entire world of Gastronomy! Let’s not forget that!! Spanish kitchen today stands for innovation and refinement.

tapas el bulli

If you would like to know some spots where I enjoyed eating Tapas all over Spain, please following link

 

10 shades of bitter

Not so long ago the University of Leuven has done a test about bitterness of food and drinks. What’s the bitterest a grapefruit, chocolate or maybe a Gin & Tonic? With sweet things we can easily distinguish if one thing is sweeter than the other, with bitter it is a different story? Or isn’t it? For years people stopped (or almost) eating/drinking bitter products, with a result that people were not used to the taste of it anymore and saying what was more bitter something impossible . The last few years however there has been a massive change in all that as most people are more aware what they eat/drink and want to eat/drink. It also seems that every year the popular ‘summer’ drink become more and more bitter 🙂 BUT even now people are getting more used to eating/drinking bitter only 5 out of 10 people can define which product is bitterer than the other… If you want to know if you know your bitter products and their scale you can do the test with help of the bellow ‘Bitterness scale’ Indicator

Bitterness scale

 

I’m not really a bitterness fan (so also not a GnT fan), but maybe I should just be eating/drinking more bitter things to ‘educate’ my taste buds bitterness sensors better 🙂 (what a sentence 🙂 )and then I’ll be part of the 50% of people who can distinguish bitterness correct