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Tuesday, November 29

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Drink Sun Dec 13 2009

Essence of Apples (+Alcohol): Ice Cider from Quebec

ice ciderAround this time last year, my husband and I visited Montreal, the northernmost culinary paradise on this continent. We ate and drank our way through the city during our regrettably short stay. Montreal is a city that's proud of its terroir. So proud that the city is inundated with innumerable forms of local bounty, from vegetables to wines to jams to craft beers. The city even has a little store, Le Marche de Saveurs, that sells Quebecois goodies.

It was at this marche that I discovered ice cider--through a family-owned cider mill operator who had set up a little tasting table. Like most ice cider that's produced in Quebec, the birthplace of ice cider, his operation is a small orchard with a mill, he said, handing us tiny plastic cups of amber-colored liquor. As he explained it, the apples are left on the branches until after the frost. The fruits freeze in the arctic chill, which concentrates the naturally occurring sugar, as well as the apples' flavor. Once picked, the frozen apples are cold-fermented for months.

The resulting liquor tastes as if it were the very essence of the apple. The sweetness is much more pronounced than in normal hard cider; the flavor is more complex than that of hard cider, with tart apple, floral honey, and a slight hint of toasty hay. It really does pack a lot in a small bottle--which shouldn't be surprising, since it takes 80 apples to fill one twelve-ounce bottle. The flavors vary depending on the brand, the apple species used, the year, etc., much like in wine, but the two brands I've had so far were fairly comparable in alcoholic content (about 10 to 12%), residual sugar and the powerful apple flavors. It's a nice after-dinner dessert drink on its own. Pairing it with nutty cheese seems to be a standard recommendation. I could also see it used in sorbet, or splashed on a vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.

In Chicago, I've seen (and bought) this brand of ice cider at Sam's (pictured above). With the takeover of Sam's by Binny's, I was afraid that ice cider may be dropped from the inventory, but so far, they seem to be keeping this on the list. At about $30 a bottle, it would make an unusual holiday gift for those who enjoy ice wine and the like, too.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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Editor: Robyn Nisi, rn@gapersblock.com
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