We are lucky to have Casie Wiginton, a Certified Cider Professional, as part of our team. (Yes, that CCP is a thing...and to boot, Casie is also a Certified Cheese Professional. That’s a CCP squared!) I reached out to ask her to write this week’s section on ciders. Take it away Casie!
As the brisk breezes of fall roll in they bring with them not only the comfort of sweater weather and hot soup, but they also signal the beginning of cider season! In the shop currently we carry several hard ciders that are not only enjoyable on their own, but are very cheese and all-round food friendly. But first, here are some fun Cider Facts! photo by @mlanephoto
Did you know?
• Modern day apples (as we know them) originated in Kazakhstan, working their way through Central Asia all the way to Mesopotamia and then eventually landing in Europe.
• The strong tradition of cider came to the UK by way of the William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy in 1066.
• When we think of apples, we generally think of two kinds; red or green, but in fact there are an innumerable amount of apple varietals because a new type is made with every new apple tree!
• Every apple has five seeds in it and if you were to plant each of those seeds next to each other, the apples that would grow on each tree would be different for the tree next to it and all would be different from the parent apple. That is because apples (like people!) are heterozygous, meaning that they need two sets of genetic information to reproduce and each offspring is genetically unique from the parent.
• The only way to propagate any particular varietal is to take a branch from a tree that is already producing fruit and graft it on to a young sapling.
• During Prohibition the production of hard cider was made illegal so many farmers stopped grafting cider apples because they no longer had a market for it. Even more so, many apple orchards were raided by the US governments and strong supporters of the Temperance movement and their cider apple trees were burnt down; many heritage apple varietals were lost during that time. That is why most American cider producers use dessert apples, rather than cider apples to ferment their tasty brew!
• There are 4 main categories of apples:
• Sharp (high acid)
• Sweet (high sugar)
• Bittershap (high tannin and high acid)
• Bittersweet (high tannin and sugar)
• Most ciders are made with a blend of these apples, depending on what flavor profile the cidermake is aiming for.
Ciders in the Shop
Texas Keeper Heirloom- Using exclusively apples that have been hand-grafted since as early as the 1600, Heirloom is the beloved Fall seasonal from Texas Keeper Ciders down in South Austin. Lightly carbonated and aged with medium toasted new French oak, this dry cider is light, clean, slightly toasty, and mildly tannic with balanced acidity. Perfect for blanket wrapped campfire hangouts and roasted marshmallows.
Texas Keeper Goldrush- This single-varietal cider has just a touch of sweetness to it to balance out the vibrant and lively acidity that the Goldrush apple brings to the table. Crisp and tart with a slightly creamy finish (thanks to just a touch of malolactic fermentation), it reminds me of a green jolly rancher that spent a little time with a lemon meringue pie. Not only is this cider quaffable and food friendly, it also makes a fun substitute for sparkling wine or tonic in cocktails!
Sideria Izeta Iz- This Basque cider is a classic representation of it's style. Made with a blend of brightly acidic and moderately tannic apples native to the Basque region, this cider checks both sweet and savory boxes. This cider is a wild ride! It starts out crisp and bright like a fresh green apple and then wanders somewhere into fresh cut Spring grass territory, to then pass through the olive-brine backlands, and finally finishes in a place that harkens apple cider vinegar tonics. Pair this Little Lovely with some conservas or a high fat sheep's milk cheese like Ossau-Iraty to feel like you're chanting Txotx! in a Basque cider hall surrounded by a throng of new found friends (and not like you've just logged off your 9th Zoom meeting this week, crunched in the only non-backlit coroner of your kitchen). photo by @thecurdherder
Seasonal Cheese Spotlight - Rush Creek Reserve
One of my personal favorite fall/winter seasonal cheeses has arrived and is in the case: Rush Creek Reserve! Released each winter by Andy Hatch and only made from the fall/winter, rich, fatty hay-fed milk of his proprietary herd of crossbred dairy cows, Rush Creek has limited availability nationwide. Taking inspiration from Vacherin Mont d’Or, this is a raw milk cheese with a spoonable texture. In fact, it’s wrapped in bark just to hold itself together (sort of like our 2020!). We sell these by the each. To enjoy it, cut the top off and dip into it - almost like a personal fondue pot but without even needing to be heated. Like a liquid version of pork belly… Just dip your spoon/baguette/salami/carrot right into it, sniff it, put it in your mouth, breath out, close your eyes, and delight in cheese heaven. Oh yeah, and swallow. It’s an experience not to be missed. This cheese has been featured in the New York Times, profiled in cheese industry mags like Cheese Connoisseur, and admired in every cheese blogger’s feed. Rush Creek Reserve is a cheese not to be missed and deserves to be its own cheese plate. Get it while you can (for pickup or shipping)! photo via Uplands Cheese
(And for those who keep emailing me about Black Betty, here’s your reward for reading this far. It should be in our case by the end of this week! You’ll know first! Expect an announcement in next week’s newsletter.)
(Virtual) Tasting Classes Coming Up
“We just took our FIFTH online cheese class! My stepfather is 80 and my mom is 74 and the pandemic has been very rough on their spirits, even though they are very positive and optimistic. I am living with them during this time and try to find ways to lift their spirits. About two months ago I signed us up for a cheese class and now it's the highlight of the month (our goal is to take 1-2 a month). Every time we sign up, they put the date on the calendar and talk about it excitedly. Then they save their notes and talk about the cheese afterwards. They love it so much (and I do, too)! My stepfather even made us individually sized cheese boards for classes. Thank you, Lisa” #AntonellisInYourWords
We estimate that we’ve led over 13,000 folks in virtual tastings. THANK YOU! Whether you have yet to join us - or have made us a weekly tradition - we hope you’ll find something exciting coming up below. All are virtual with curbside pickups of cheese plates (or option for local delivery). Deadline to purchase tickets is midnight the day before an event. Want to see our full schedule, including November? You can search by class topic here or by date here (scroll down and click on the date). Questions? Check out our most frequently asked questions here.
• Wed 11/4 - Soft Cheese: Rich, Gooey, Delicious
• Fri 11/6 - Cheese & Preserves Pairing
• Sat 11/7 - An Antonelli’s Date Night
• Sun 11/8 - Cheese & Honey Pairing
• Tue 11/10 - Prosciutto, Salami, and Cheese...Oh My!
• Wed 11/11 - Cheese & Chocolate featuring ALL NEW Chocolates (with The Antonellis)
• Tue 11/17 - Cheese & Conservas Tinned Fish - FIRST TIME offering
• Thu 11/19 - Cheese & Pickles Pairing
Like everything else this year, the 2020 holidays are going to be abnormal. Shipping supplies are limited, mail is an issue, sourcing is tricky... In short, nothing is the same as in year’s past. I wouldn’t normally rush you (nor push you!), but the sooner you get your orders in this year, the better we can serve you. (After all, who isn’t ready to put 2020 behind us?! Just kidding! But we appreciate all efforts to help us this holiday season - our usual busy time of the year. We are remaining close to walk-in traffic for the safety of our team and needing support in all other ways. Thank you!)
Preorder your Thanksgiving Boxes today! Some of you have made us part of your family traditions for the past TEN YEARS! Why stop now?! Whether you’re traveling or staying cooped up at home, we promise that enjoying a spread of artisan cheeses, meats, and pairings is one way to show gratitude for our farmers, dairymen and women, and good food makers. Order for pickup here. Order for shipping here. (Shipping deadline of Mon 11/23 at 7am.) Note: We have a limited quantity available!
Our gifts start at $35, we offer special bulk gifting options, and by far the most requested item and our best “experience” is the “Cheese Class in a Box” for $125. We offer FREE SHIPPING in Texas for any gifts over $75 (pretax). Otherwise, shipping is $20 in Texas and $40 outside of Texas anywhere in the continental USA.
We’ve been creating artisan cheese trays for a decade now. What makes our boards a little different? We craft our trays in our health-inspected kitchen. All items on our trays are made by folks we know and love (ie no bulk, industrially-sourced cheeses from big box stores). We always build our trays the morning they are enjoyed (ie no pre-cut pieces). Sometimes, that means our team shows up at 4am, just to make sure your cheese tastes the best it can. Our trays first and foremost feature the best cheese and meat we can source. Want in on the action? Check out all our cheese tray options here.
Private Virtual Tastings
We’ve teamed up with individuals for special occasions like anniversaries and milestone birthdays, with companies to offer teambuilding appreciation events, and with nonprofits alike to help us all still cope with and celebrate through this pandemic. You need a group of at least 12 for a private party (at $40pp). We’ll arrange all the details - whether you want to purchase in bulk for your guests or have each buy their own plate. Folks can pick up via contactless curbside or we have a shipping box available as well. Private Party details here.
How You Can Help Us Stay In Biz
• Place an online order or phone order with no contact curbside delivery to your trunk.
• Order for delivery through Favor Fleet (rates vary).
• Buy Tickets to a Virtual Cheese Tasting Class; pick up the cheese plate curbside or add on delivery for a fee.
• Order a Cheese Tray or Raclette Night at Home online.
• Schedule a Cheesemonger Live virtual appointment to look through our case for curbside pickup.
• Book a Private Virtual Tasting class. In these isolating times, we're looking for ways to connect and build community.
From Anywhere in the United States:
• To ship via UPS, order online and choose from our newly-added cheese/meat/add-on offerings.
• Know someone that can use a cheese-y pick me up, ship a gift box care package.
• Purchase a gift card for future use.
• Join our monthly cheese club.
• Take our Cheese Tasting in a Box virtual class. (not a live event; prerecorded)
• Send our social distancing care kit.
• Schedule a virtual cheesemonger appointment to discuss what you might like best and take your order for shipment
We offer FREE SHIPPING in Texas on orders over $75 (price per item, pre-tax).