Boy oh boy - knocking back delicious local cheese bites and washing them down with delightful local cider is something we New Yorkers should do much more often. It's good for the soul, good for the local economy and just plain tastes good. The Hudson Valley Cider & Cheese event in Hudson on June 4 gave us our most recent opportunity. Zena and I got the VIP tickets and cruised in early to an airy space with freshly set up tables arranged beautifully with some of the best stuff on earth.
The cheeses were also a gorgeous part of the mix - great spring weather, great cheese, great cider and interesting people who choose to try these delicate and risky crafts! I predict that you will see more cider tasting events that are akin to our blossoming craft beer tastings - get out there and try one this year.
Basilica Hudson is big, so it was nice not to have to push our way through crowds. Basilica is determined to promote lots of good foods and drinks that are gaining ground in the Valley. All was very civilized and I can't think of a better way to cop a buzz on a warm spring afternoon. One of the delightful parts of this tasting is that it wasn't a mob scene. Some beer tastings can get that way, but this was way laid back and there was plenty of time and space to talk with producers. I think the location had a lot to do with the vibe. It's apparent that a lot more people could take an interest in ciders and begin to understand them as the varied and subtle beverages that they are. Bravo to Basilica for taking on the promotion of these excellent ciders. We were treated to everything from quite heavy and sweet Angry Orchard fare to the citrus-y, bright and energetic Sundog Cider, to the light, dry, airy fairy wispy Stone Bridge pear.
I proudly carried home one of the growlers on the left filled to the brim with Stone Bridge pear cider. These folks use apples and pears from their orchard and produce dry, light, delicate ciders that I'm sure will go well with foods of many varieties. I was so grateful for the choice the organizers made to match up cheeses with these beautiful fruit flavors.
I know...they don't look like mom and pop, but most, if not all of the producers in this carefully selected group are couples and families who are making their magnificent foods and drinks in small batches. Most sell locally. Many cider producers are using local apples from stock that has been around the Hudson Valley for generations. Some are fooling around with stock from Europe and taking advantage of the carefully cultivated varieties that the Europeans have been working on for centuries. Most of them have web sites and we happen to have a few discriminating shops like Cheese Traveler, Honest Weight Food Coop, Capital Wine & Spirits and more that sell the products locally.
Our friends at Nine Pin Cider in Albany arrange tastings in their space on North Broadway, and I recommend that you hustle yourself over there every chance you get in order to keep on top of what New York State is producing.
It's time to stop saying "I don't like cider" because you tasted something you didn't like ten years ago. It's a new day here in New York and there's a very good chance you'll find something you love.
Don't miss out on the opportunity to taste New York's finest, whether you go to tastings, or search for these amazing foods in our local shops.
Doc's Draft Cider table, where Doc and all the best Gods and Goddesses were hanging out on Saturday.