Food Matters: A Royal toast with Pimm's cup, hard cider crops up in Central Texas
Hard cider crops up in central texas
Hard cider was one of the earliest alcoholic beverages consumed in America, yet according to the North American Cider Map Project, current cider production is largely restricted to the Northeastern and Northwestern coasts of the U.S., with only a few stragglers in the Midwest and now, finally, one in Texas.
Argus Cidery - originally based in Leander, but currently moving to Dripping Springs - has released Bandera Brut, its first sparkling hard apple cider made from Texas apples.
"In America as well as other countries, apples just don't get the same treatment as a medium such as grapes," says Argus owner and winemaker Wes Mickel. "Our idea was to simply apply that same love and respect to the best apple juice we could get our hands on, and make the best cider we possibly could, with no exceptions."
The biggest challenge of producing cider in Texas is not the quality of the apples, but rather the lack of apple producers in the state. The Brut is composed of a mixture of Texas Gala, Jonathan, Crispin, Early Fuji and Cameo apples, all of which are grown in the Texas Hill Country. "They are much different, variety wise, and we are able to make local cider out of apple blends that you will not find in the Hudson River Valley, West County England, or even Normandy."
The final product is a sparkling hard cider so dry and effusively bubbly that it more closely resembles a champagne than other commercially available hard ciders (such as Woodchuck, Ace or Strongbow).
You can find the cider at the Whip In, Antonelli's Cheese Shop, Twin Liquors, Chris Liquor, Fabi + Rosi and, soon, at Whole Foods Market downtown. Bottles can also be purchased online at www.arguscidery.com .
- Emma Janzen
Musical skillet makes kitchen sing
Everybody in Texas needs a cast iron skillet - how else are you going to fry chicken and make cornbread? - and the Tennessee-based Lodge Cast Iron has recently released one that will perk up Austinites' ears: a small guitar-shaped skillet that is the perfect size for making biscuits for two. Or for hanging next to the hollow-bodied beauties already in your living room. $14.95, lodgemfg.com .
Openings, closings and coming soon
• Set to open May 7: Contigo, with South Texas ranch-inspired bar food and an emphasis on whiskey and tequila, plus 12 beer taps in an open-air setting. 2027 Anchor Lane. www.contigotexas.com/austin .
• On the way: A second Austin location of the Dickey's Barbecue Pit chain next to Tarka Indian Kitchen in the 5700 block of Brodie Lane. The first location is at 5350 Burnet Road. www.dickeys.com
- Mike Sutter
Food and wine briefs
• On Sunday, explore more than 15 community gardens across the city on the second annual Austin Community Garden Tour. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., take a free self-guided tour of the gardens, and at 6 p.m., meet up for a potluck and panel discussion on community gardening at 5604 Manor Road that will include City Council members Chris Riley and Laura Morrison. For more information and a map of the gardens, go to www.communitygardensaustin.org .
• Cafe Josie (1200 W. Sixth St.) will host a Wine Me Dine dinner from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday , with five courses of Spanish food and wine, including tortilla Española with lump crab and calamari stuffed with chorizo. $69. Reservations required at 322-9226 or email@example.com.
• Asti Trattoria (408-C E. 43rd St.) will host a seven-course Supper Club dinner featuring Parmigiano Reggiano cheese at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday . $75, plus $35 for wine pairings. Reservations required at 451-1218.
• Opal Divine's Penn Field (3601 S. Congress Ave.) will host its American Whiskey Festival from 7 to 10 p.m. May 5. $30, includes bourbon and whiskey samples plus hors d'oeuvres, cheeses and smoked meats. 707-0237, www.opaldivines.com .
• Vince Young Steakhouse (301 San Jacinto Blvd.) will celebrate the Kentucky Derby with its own Derby Party from 2 to 6 p.m. May 7. The menu will highlight Derby dishes such as Kentucky Browns, fried green tomatoes and Southern-style chicken, served with mint juleps. Tickets purchased before Sunday are $50 per person, $75 per couple. At the door, the cost will be $65/$100. Reservations and tickets at 457-8325.
- M.S., Addie Broyles
A Royal toast with Pimm's Cup
There's a royal wedding across the pond Friday . The least we in the colonies can do is toast our former overlords with a prim and proper Pimm's Cup cocktail, starring that enigmatic spirit made from gin, liqueurs and fruit.
8 oz. Pimm's No. 1 Cup
24 oz. chilled lemon-lime soda
Add mint, cucumber, orange and strawberry. Mix in a pitcher filled with ice. Serves 8.
Fabric bags add beauty, reduce waste
Ready to ditch your kids' plastic snack bags for something more environmentally friendly?
Wanderland, an eco-friendly gift shop (3419 N. Lamar Blvd. 371.9929, www.wanderlandshops.com ) which carries kid toys and gear among many other things, might be just the ticket.
Turns out they carry SnackTaxis - brightly colored fabric bags, lined with nylon to keep moisture in the sack. The velcro closures are a snap for the kids to use. There are two sizes, one large enough for a sandwich ($9) and a smaller one ($7) for crackers, fruit, cereal or other treats. The reusable bags are machine washable and free of led, phthalates and BPA. The makers estimate that each bag replaces about 1,000 plastic baggies. The designs change with fabric availability, since Snack Taxis (www.snacktaxi.com) are made by hand in Massachusetts.
As a gift to myself? A new coffee mug reminding me to "breathe in, breathe out."
- Tara A. Trower
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