“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Drink Up Thy Zider

Something amazing happened to me the other day. Something you may not think was all that interesting or stunning, but when one discovers an entirely new flavour one is compelled to say that it is somewhat of a revelation. Such was the case on Saturday when I came home to find that Laura (who had been with my sis to the Smallhythe Apple Day) had purchased a present for me in the form of a carton of Blushing Old Wife. This is a cider made in the village of Old Wives Lees near Canterbury, A brilliantly named beverage from an interestingly named village. So what's so great about it? Well, two things.

  1. It's made with raspberries as well as apples. Not just raspberry juice blended with cider (as some products may be) but made with apples and raspberries together.
  2. The resulting cider is then left to mature in oaken barrels which had previously been used at the Bruichladdich whisky distillery on the island of Islay in Bonnie Scotland. 
So what you get is a fruity, sweet, whiskyish tasting cider. And here I must pause to explain another one of those lovely cultural differences for which the Brits and Yanks are so noted.

See, in most parts of the USA, 'cider' is just a synonym for apple juice. So if you are in Oregon, say, and someone offers you some apple cider, it will NOT, repeat NOT get you rat-arsed. It's just juice. Why this is, I cannot say. It is a most perplexing conundrum.

Anyway, back to the cider. The Blushing Old Wife is the fruitier version of (wait for it) Rough Old Wife cider, made at Cork Farm and you can see the website at http://www.rougholdwife.com/. Fantastic stuff and the fact that it comes in a quart milk jug, just right for popping in the door of the fridge, is even more reason to love it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

An (English) Apple A Day

It's OK folks, I am still here. I haven't forgotten you. I haven't been very inspired lately and I've had a lot of stuff to do with my Transition Town Project, so all I can say is a big fat hairy SORRY for leaving you all hanging. So, where were we? Ah, that's right...

This, mes amis,  is...

 the famous Cox's Orange Pippin!

So what is the difference between a Cox's and any other apple? Well, how silly. You might as well ask what's the difference between Tesco Value Bitter and a pint of Boondoggle? Because this is no ordinary apple. 
Cox's Orange Pippin is an apple cultivar first grown in 1825, at Colnbrook in Buckinghamshire, England, by the retired brewer and horticulturist Richard Cox. Though the origin of the cultivar is unknown, the Ribston Pippin seems a likely candidate. The variety was introduced for sale by the 1850s by Mr. Charles Turner, and grown commercially from the 1860s, particularly in the Vale of Evesham in Worcestershire, and later in Kent. A number of crosses and sports from the Cox's have been discovered over subsequent years, and these retain "Cox" in their names, e.g., Crimson Cox, King Cox, Queen Cox.
When shaken, the seeds make a rattling sound as they are only loosely held in the apple flesh, whereas other apples have their seeds contained as part of the apple flesh.
According to the Institute of Food Research, Cox's Orange Pippin accounts for over 50% of the UK acreage of dessert apples.
Cox is highly regarded due to its excellent flavour. The flavour and texture of the variety changes from complex acidic and crunchy in early September to more mellow and softer after storage. However it can be difficult to grow in many environments and tends to be susceptible to diseases such as scab, mildew and canker. As a result, apple breeders have hybridized Cox with other varieties to improve yield without too much loss of flavour.

Two characteristics tend to be apparent in the Pippin to a greater or lesser extent. Firstly the relatively pronounced and complex "aromatic" flavour which elevates it above most other varieties. Secondly, the striking and attractive orange-red colouring.

It is the range and complexity of flavours which makes Cox's Orange Pippin so appealing to enthusiasts of the "English" style of apple. This is a variety for the connoisseur, who can delight in the appreciation of the remarkable range of subtle flavours - pear, melon, freshly-squeezed Florida orange juice, and mango are all evident in a good example.  Almost all other apples taste one-dimensional alongside a good Cox's Orange Pippin.

On the BBC website, Cox's are paired with lobster and veal... http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/rosevealwithlobstera_91248

And despite being almost unwatchably simperingly daft, Sophie Dahl has a cracking crumble recipe. http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/toffeeapplecrumble_93626

So what's the new food?

Name This Food!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I was thinking the other day, probably out loud, about drinking. Specifically, alcoholic beverages. I was actually thinking about the nature of inebriation and the various stages thereof. I am sure there have been hundreds of things written about this topic before, but I have never read what I am about to say.

There comes a point after a couple of drinks when a person feels a nice buzz. You're still in control, you know what you are doing and what you are talking about but you just feel... nice. However, bitter experience has taught you that this feeling will eventually fade and you'll go back to feeling your normal, humdrum ordinary self. Now, this may be a wonderful feeling to be yourself, sober. But I doubt it. Most of us, I am sure, feel fairly dull and drab most of the time. We do not walk around all day feeling like Mr. Motivator. But I digress.

So, back to what I was saying... we're at this point where we're feeling a bit mellow, and we think how nice this feeling is, but we are all the time aware that we are not going to feel that way for long, so we drink more. This is where the problems start. If only some clever boffin could invent some device that could calculate at what speed we would need to continue drinking in order to maintain the happy feeling we have without getting silly-drunk, he'd be sitting on a goldmine. Because silly-drunk leads to stupid-drunk, slobbering drunk and eventually blind-drunk. And this is not good.

I like a drink as much as the next guy, but I hate feeling like I'm talking too loud and starting to totter. Not that I'm worried about hangovers, mind. I have never had one, I'm happy to say. Had plenty of mornings where I hadn't been drinking the night before and woken up feeling like a sack of sludge tied up with string, with no real reasonable explanation as to why.

So please, if you're out there, unemployed-science-whiz guy, invent an iPhone app that would regulate our drinking in order to maintain our pleasant buzz. I'm sure all the clubbers out there would go for it in a big way.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...