Do you remember the moment you had a drink perfectly match up with a plate of food? For me, it was a plate of lasagne and a Nero D’avola red - and it changed my life. It was like both had come alive. For the first time, I was tasting flavours I didn’t know existed. For anyone who has experienced this, you will know what I mean, for anyone who hasn’t – you will know when it happens. It’s magical, and it makes you appreciate food and alcohol from a brand new perspective.
The thing that always gets me though, is that wine has long been thought of as food’s natural pairing, while cider falls along the wayside.
This is flawed, basic and just plain wrong. Cider pairs just as well with food, and in Australia’s hot climate it’s often the more refreshing option. The trick of course, is knowing what to pair it with. Chef James Rigato told Imbibe Magazine, to think of cider like an ingredient.
“If someone says endive, you’re not going to pair it with anything bitter. You have to find out where’s the acid, the fat, the smoke and how to balance it out.
“With spicy food, bitter greens, funky cheeses and certain charcuterie, sweet cider can be really enjoyable,” he said.
I have found this trick works, so without further ado, here are some of my favourite matches.
Creamy dishes: A tart and sparkling cider can help cut through the richness of creamy dishes. The brilliant thing here is that creamy encompasses a wide range of meals; from pastas like carbonara, to the ultimate comfort food, four cheese pasta – to creamy soups like potato and leek, to mushroom and chicken pie. There’s no limit to the potential.
Cheese: Who doesn’t love a cheese platter! Creamy cheeses like Camembert and Brie make for brilliant pairings with cider, because once again it cuts through their richness. Other great pairings include blue cheese, and semi-hard cheeses like Gruyère, Beaufort and Appenzeller. You can also pair a cider with goat cheese, as long as the cider you have is on the lighter and drier end of the spectrum. Any cheese-based dish like cauliflower cheese, macaroni cheese, and cheese soufflé will also work well with cider, because the salty balances the sweet.
Roast pork: One of my all-time favourites! You know how pork works with apple sauce? Well it’s the exact same concept as cider – just make sure you also get some crackling. For no other reason than it’s delicious.
Ham and cold cuts: Hot or cold, cider works extremely well with pork products like ham off the bone, patés, terrines and rillettes. With Christmas coming up, why not give it a try yourself?
Curry: Fun fact; ciders based on sweet apples cut through spice. When pairing cider and curry, look for creamy options or the “fruitier” spices. A few of my favourite pairings are; green curry with coconut milk, chicken tikka which uses spices such as ginger and cumin, coconut and tamarind fish curry, and if you’re feeling really bold, a spicy rogan josh.