The revolution of Cider has only hit The City within the last four years – certainly before we were captured by the craft beer revolution. Magners seemed the extent to our refined tastes, until Kiwi Monteith’s hit our palates. Then it was pear cider. And then the biliously alluring Rekorderling, with its many rainbow flavours, suddenly took large bites out of Australia. From there, the ciders just couldn’t seem to stop flowing. Now, we are assaulted by a million and one different ciders of every hue, to the point we have City bars - from West End's Lock'n'Load Bistro to Stones Corner's Shady Palms Cafe & Bar - specialising in this wondrous apple wine. And while Tasmania’s Cascade had Apple Isle (and never a better sparkling apple juice will we ever meet), Australian ciders were really starting to spread like a Southern blight - and for good reason.
Australia was made for cider. There really is nothing better than sitting on the back deck, cider in hand, contemplating the woes of the world under the Australian scorching sun. Unless it’s the obvious beer. But not everyone is into drinking saccharified starch and their especial fermented sugars. Cider loves everyone indiscriminately, male, female and specific non-gender while keeping that girlish figure… well girlish. And cider smells sweet and clean and aromatic – like an apple. As dear ole uncoupled Gwen told Oprah, “they're wholesome .. and I just thought it sounded so lovely and … clean!” Who are we to argue with the queen of roughage?
Batlow Apples are famed throughout the land as the premium apple-growing region of Australia. And as an indication of their attention to details, every Batlow Apple is photographed 30 times to grade and detect blemishes. So it’s only natural that Australia’s premium apple region should also produce Australia’s premium cider.
With three and a half Batlow Apples to a bottle (at half an apple taller than your average smurf) and no sugar – because 3.5 apples are sweet enough - this cider is locally crafted in every sense of the word. From the get go, the apples are picked and pressed in Batlow, transported to the cidery, where they are fermented, clean filtered and bottled. There are no artificials, pasteurization, added sugar or concentrates: just the goodness of nature’s globules.
And such was the craft cider education, care of the evening’s host, Rich Coombes. A trip through the processes of growing, plucking, transporting, pressing, fermenting, filtering and bottling of Batlow Apple cider and everything in between was bought to life through the Batlow Cider Academy, upstairs from Archive.
From the deck, cider in hand, contemplating the woes of the world under the brightness of the Queensland moon seemed only a natural consequence.
Kicking things off with the Batlow Premium apple cider, a chilled salad of Moreton bay bug served with salmon roe, orange mayonnaise and – you guessed it – the holy presence of apple was royally dished up. Banish the thought of apple overload: just like bacon, there is no such thing as too much apple (too many burpees perhaps, but not apple).
And as such, the pressed pork belly with seared scallops and pancetta with celeriac cream was a comfort food dream. Tender and effete, the pork glistened from the fork, while the lightly branded and briny tastes of the scallops, enveloped in the creaminess of the mashed turnip-rooted celery, added to the juiciness of the dish. The pancetta added a crispy, salted texture to this otherwise luscious main, the Batlow Cloudy cider heavily augmenting the succulence.
To finish, a warm blueberry pie with Batlow Anglais and homemade vanilla bean ice cream bought any remnants of the appetite to a complete and utter standstill. Another Batlow Cloudy cider, this time enhanced by the kick of a shot of Sailor Jerry’s spiced rum was an utter revelation. Upstaging the traditional boilermaker, this dreamy concoction was a dutiful bravo to a night well done.
Such was this apple inspired feast, carefully curated by Head Chef Tim Wrigley and hosted by Batlow Cider man Rich Coombes; this degustation and craft cider education proved quite the experience, stimulating the palate and the imagination. To think, so much gained from the humble apple; no wonder it is likewise considered the mystical forbidden fruit and the symbol of enlightenment. We left Eden? Indeed not. Eden is there with each savoured taste of nature’s premium harvest, be it a crispy bite from the supposedly forbidden fruit, or a swallow of gloriously crafted cider.
Photo Credit: Lady Lex