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The Cider Cellar

Cellar Full of Cider

Once upon a time, I built a wine cellar. In order to make decent wine from the grape vines in my back yard, I was advised to practice on other fruit. I practiced on apples. Now my wine cellar’s really a cider cellar. Perhaps cider/charcuterie cellar would be most appropriate. If I call it a wine cellar, it’s only because I’m lying or getting old and am forgetting what is in fact stashed down there. It’s cider. Apple ciders of various blends/batches. Pear ciders of various blends/batches. A couple types of Pommeau [an apple and apple brandy desert wine]. And if you look hard through the bins, you will find some actual grape-based wine. If you were to turn around from this view of the west wall of bins, you’d see kegs. Full of bubbly cider. Awaiting an epic party. Above them hangs odds and sods of dry cured meats. Refreshing that meat stash is on my to-do list.

Edmonton is an apple [and pear] city, and we just haven’t figured it out yet. Maybe I’m reading too much into things or it’s just the circles I spin in, but cider seems to be slowly creeping into our psyche. Maybe it’s just me. I’m starting to think ‘coq au cidre’ instead of ‘coq au vin’. Starting to pair every pork dish with some kind of apple booze. Give me cheese, I now think ‘pear cider’ instead of ‘pinot gris’ [which I still love, btw]. Is part of it frugality? Partly, especially indirectly in that it’s so abundant that dumping a litre into a braise doesn’t phase me, whereas dumping a $20 bottle into the dish does. As a result it creeps into your daily life. But there is also a dominant thread of simple beauty around the harnessing of what ‘where we live’ offers. I don’t think that bit will ever get old.

Cellar full of Cider

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Episode 59 – Beef Workshop

Pork workshop [Ep 50] went so well that there wasn’t much question about whether there would be more. This time around: beef. The kill was an old cow whose new destiny laid in Jeff Senger’s family’s freezer, while the cow we cut was a beauty of an organic cow from a local farmer. So the day: kill, skin & gut, break down into primals, cut into retail cuts, afternoon of charcuterie, followed by dinner and wine. Epic days, they are. And yes, we ate thinly sliced raw heart sandwiches for lunch.

Had lots of positive feedback about the pork butchery music track by the AwesomeHots, so this one features a shiny new track of theirs: Wayfaring Stranger. I love the vibe – really well tracked piece – and it gives this edit a somber side that made some of the gorier footage work in editing. If it’s too gory for you, blame Daniel Klein over at the Perennial Plate – he advised I go for it. Yeah, that’s a massive passing of the buck. Fact is, this is still tame relative to what goes down behind the scenes of a fast-food hamburger, say. Daniel’s work is extremely cool, btw, if you haven’t checked out his work, do. Here.

Just fyi, the trial of workshops this season was more successful than anticipated, but since my time doesn’t allow me to pursue it alone, I’ve teamed up with a bunch of rad people to start a company called Shovel and Fork. We’re essentially trying to do some good by offering folks a chance to engage with food in ways they wouldn’t normally get a crack at. These workshops will be a part of that. Should be a fun gig.

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Episode 56 – Pig Day

Pig Day. This was my 5th annual pig day – the one day a year we spend putting up all the pork we’ll eat for the entire year. If we run out, one waits until the next pig arrives. This site is long enough in the tooth to have documented the 1st annual Pig Day. I’m sure it will document many more.

This one was particularly memorable. Twitter made me aware of rock-star-in-hiding Elyse Chatterton, a Master Butcher from the UK with some serious meat cutting skills. A half bottle of wine made me brave enough to invite her. After that, a number of invitations went out to friends, and we all of a sudden had a crew of 12 and 10 sides of Tamworth for 2012′s Pig Day – including the farmers that raised the pigs. A full day of sharing, cutting beautiful pork, hard work, eating, drinking, with the air wafting with wood smoke and conversation. Not sure there’s more one can ask for.

The video features Elyse talking through how she’s accustomed to breaking down a pork, UK-style, and Shannon Ruzicka speaking to how the pigs are raised. And yes there was some roast tying race action. And yes, she won with ease.