Hopped Up Eugene April 2-8
Square Mile Ciders; food and cider pairings for a weekend at home.
Square Mile Cider? Never heard of them until I went perusing a local grocery store for some cider to pair with my weekend menu last Friday. I was looking for something different than the usual cider line up we have been drinking for the past year, so when I noticed the green Spur & Vine “Hopped Apple Cider” six pack, my interest was piqued and I immediately grabbed it. Upon getting home, I realized some sneaker had replaced three of the Hopped bottles for Square Mile’s classic The Original. Can’t complain really, trying both sounded like a good idea to me too.
In my opinion, it is a rare meal that doesn’t pair well with a hard cider. Nearly everyone will enjoy a cider, where not all would enjoy a super hoppy IPA, or a heavy Cabernet. This makes ciders an easy pick to pair with two dinners over a weekend where the plan was to not leave the house. What did we make you ask?
Saturday Night Farmer’s Board
3 sausage links – for this we used Sabatino’s Chicken Sausage with smoked mozzarella and artichokes
1 cup homemade ricotta cheese
1/2 cup garlic chive pesto (combine 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1/2 lemon juice and zest, 1/2 bunch of garlic chives in food processor and combine until smooth. You may need add some water for the consistency you prefer. A few basil leaves or mint is also a good optional addition.)
Slice up your baguette, and plate the ricotta and pesto in small bowls on a large cutting board. Slice your zucchini at a diagonal to about 1/4″ thick, coat with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill these and the sausages to a nice sear on each side. On the last turn, put the sliced bread on the grill to heat it up. Line up the zucchini, bread and sausage on the board with the cheese and pesto. You can choose to cut the sausage or not.
Some of our most favorite meals are simple, quick to prepare and eaten standing around the kitchen while talking. Of these, this is the best. There is nothing like smearing some pesto and ricotta on a piece of bread and choosing a piece of squash or sausage to top it off with. Both of Square Mile’s Ciders paired well with this meal. Casual, yet complex and full of flavor. The traditional cider, bright and sweet, combined well with the strong flavors of the sausage and pesto. Spur & Vine’s hoppy fragrance and complex flavor complimented the homemade ricotta and bread so well that I could have survived all weekend with these three things alone.
Sunday Evening Beef Pot Pie
1 lbs beef stew meat
1 bin winter chanterelle mushrooms
4 shallots peeled and diced
2 carrots peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
2 stocks celery diced
1 large potato peeled and diced
2 cups red wine (any will do)
1 cup beef broth
1 pie dough recipe (do not double)
Salt & Pepper
9×12 baking dish or similar
Coat your stew meat with a healthy dose of salt and pepper and sizzle in some olive oil until cooked through in a large pot. Add in your diced shallot, carrot and celery. Saute until softened. Pour in one cup of red wine and simmer until liquid is reduced to half. Add in the peas, potatoes and mushrooms, last cup of red wine and cup of beef broth. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked thoroughly and the liquid is reduced down by 1/3-1/2. You will need to make sure you have enough liquid to cover all of the fixings, but not so much that there is anything left over when you cover with pie crust.
Place the filling into your dish, roll out your pie crust and place on top of the dish, pressing around the sides of the dish to anchor it. Poke several holes in the top. Bake at 350 until the crust is a nice golden brown.
Plate the pot pie with a nice salad using that left over ricotta and a lemon/olive oil dressing. Sit down for a traditional Sunday dinner with a nice week-ending family meal. This dish is heavy with bold contrasts. The depth of the red wine broth having been simmered down with flavors of garlicky shallot, sweet carrots and earthy mushrooms are music in your mouth. Flaky crust and bites of tender stew meat leave a person well satisfied after a lazy weekend.
Hands down, my husband and I agree that the Spur & Vine Cider won the taste test with this dish. Only slightly sweet, yet strong in flavor, drinking this cider along side the richness of this pot pie is pure pleasure. Hopped up in all the right ways, a person smells the hops and only mildly tastes them, making this cider one of my favorites I’ve drank this year. And there have been many. Neither the cider or the pie falls by the wayside or competes with one another for domination in your mouth. I think Spur & Vine could be the “gateway drug” for those who do not like Oregon IPA’s, leading them gently into loving that strong flavor like the rest of us.
Let’s talk aroma here for a minute. A house filled with scents of cooking and baking, culminating in a steaming dish on the table filling your nose with savory beef. An ice cold glass of Spur & Vine Cider that smells of both a hoppy IPA and cider at the same time. Your nose questions it, but agrees with your mouth. It is a good combination.
To be sure, Square Mile is a company to watch and support. Like their website says, their “cider pays homage to the fortitude and perseverance of the original pioneers.” The beautiful photos on their website tell a visual story of the Pacific Northwest, and their ciders express the same sentiment with a bounty of reinvigorated flavor.