To anyone who knows me, it won’t be a surprise to hear that when Heather from Bristol Bloggers invited me to an event she’d organised with Thatchers Cider, I jumped at the opportunity! I love cider, and I always remember fondly how excited I was upon arriving in Britain eight years ago, to discover that you could buy the golden refreshing elixir on tap! Back home in France, you reserve yourself the joy of le cidre mostly in Brittany while scoffing down crêpes and galettes!
I went to a cider tasting a few years ago at the legendary Bristol Cider Shop when they were still located at the Christmas Steps, and what a delight to discover the seemingly never ending variety of tastes that cider offers. Needless to say I was excited by the perspective of reiterating the experience.
I had but one slight worry though, as the food pairing was to be organised at Pasture, a temple for meat lovers recently opened near St Mary Redcliffe. As a vegetarian, I was a wee bit anxious…
As I joined other guests for the evening, we were welcomed by Thatchers’ chief cider maker Richard Johnson, and Sam Eliott from Pasture. Richard offered an insight into the four generation family business that started in 1904, and yes before you ask, the team still tastes the cider every Friday, just like they do in the ad.
It was funny to hear that at first, William John Thatcher’s cider was given to his farm workers as part of their wages. Over the years, the business has flourished into an impressive operation and I couldn’t quite believe how vast the array of apples grown on the ever expanding grounds around Myrtle Farm is! 500 acres of apple orchard where 25 varieties are grown and an Exhibition Orchard where 458 different varieties can be found.
That evening, we were lucky enough to try nine of Thatchers’ delicious ciders which master butcher extraordinaire Sam Elliott, the owner of Pasture had, paired up with some tasty food. As a veggie I happily tucked into the original meat-free menu that he had concocted.
We started with the Family Reserve (11%), a delicious sparkling apple wine, followed by Katy (7.4%) which with the smallest amount of tannin is the first one to ripen, the cloudy Thatchers Haze (4.5%), the lovely and dry Thatchers Vintage,(7.4%) Thatchers Redstreak (8.4%) that won best Sparkling Cider in the World Cider Awards, Thatchers Old Rascal (4.5%), the light and fruity Summer Vintage (7.4%), the classic Thatchers Gold (4.8%) and finally the Redwood (6%), blended from a selected range of bittersweet and dessert apples.
On the veggie side, this cider extravaganza was accompanied by some really tasty food. Tempura Jalapeno with Lime and Cream Cheese with Katy, Forgotten Onions en Croute and Summer Squash to go with the Haze, some delicious Truffle Mac & Cheese Croquettes with the Vintage, Spiced Aubergine Fritter with the Red streak, Smoked Beetroot Tartare with Goat Curd (my fave) to complement the Old Rascal and Hazelnut Eclairs to wrap things up with the Summer Vintage.
Obviously, Pasture prides itself on its quality meat, but this pairing showed they can pack quite a punch when it comes to meat-free menus and I ought to pay Sam and his team another visit to see what else they have in store for vegetarians!
A couple of weeks after this feast, I went on a massive walk along the Strawberry Line and had the joy to see the Thatchers orchards (in Sandford – Hot Fuzz fans alert!) for myself on a scorcher of a day and I enjoyed a lovely pint (or two) of Old Rascal in neighbouring Axbridge. I might start a bit of a yearly pilgrimage type trip. Who’s in?
Massive thanks to Penny Asdair PR, Heather Cowper at Bristol Bloggers, Pasture and Thatchers for having us. As ever, all opinions are my own.