First, let me just say, working in a brewery for over 6 years, I love craft beer. As any of our Private Chefs will tell you, pairing beer with food is a joy and often works better than wine pairings. Beer is versatile, shares a lot of the same characteristics as food, and has gotten much more complex since my light beer drinking college days. And if you haven’t visited Asheville yet, let me tell you that you won’t be able to walk 50 feet without seeing another amazing brewery. Each of Ashevilles breweries have their own charming character which adds to the excitement of brewery hopping. That being said, I can’t help but feel ciders should be getting much more attention.
This will be my first Fall as a new Asheville resident and I couldn’t be more excited. The Blue Ridge Mountains are gorgeous and I can’t wait to see the changing of colors. But as a Private Chef, what makes me even more excited than the Asheville mountains, are the apples. Sure you can get different apples year round, but nothing beats local apples with the Fall weather. Being allergic to raw apples, I’ll take them any other way I can get them. And my current favorite is a cider from Urban Orchard. They source their apples from nearby Hendersonville, NC and Food & Wine magazine has named them “Best place to drink cider in America 2017.”
There seem to be some misconceptions about ciders. First being that they’re too sweet. But this is far from true as just like wine, there are many dry ciders to choose from. This mostly stems from the big brand bottled ciders you’ll find in your liquor/beer stores. They can be much more complex than your bottled mainstream ciders. Secondly, ciders pair exceptionally well with food. Some chefs have a tough time with the idea of pairing ciders and food. For me as a Chef, I find it easy to pair ciders like I would pair apples in any dish. We all know a great roasted pork or fatty duck breast goes great with apples, acidity and any sweetness. And third, most ciders ARE gluten free, (although some have been experimenting with hops, ask your bartender) and my stomach appreciates a vacation from all of Ashevilles great beers.
So this year, if the monotony of Pumpkin Spice offerings has you down, start exploring your local Asheville ciders. There will be plenty of apples to ferment your own, or book one of our Private Chefs for your own personal cider and food pairings.