Event Review: 2012 Portland Cidermakers Dinner
April 12, 2012
Last Wednesday, April 4, 2012, my husband and I attending the Portland Cidermakers Dinner at Clarklewis, hosted by the Northwest Cider Association. My review is going to be a little spotty for two reasons. The first one is that I wasn’t particularly feeling well that evening, and I ended up waking up with hives and a fever the next day from an allergic reaction to some medication. Secondly, there was a lot there, and I wasn’t exactly feeling comfortable taking notes. I just wanted to relax and talk to people.
The evening started with appetizers and cider with a meet and greet of cidermakers and in the region, including (see map):
- 2 Towns Ciderhouse
- Blue Mountain Cider
- Carlton Ciderworks
- EZ Orchards Cider
- Finnegan Cider
- Finnriver Cider
- Snowdrift Cider Company
- Tieton Ciderworks
- Wandering Aengus Ciderworks
- and the newest one to the area, Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider.
When it came time for the actual dinners, we had assigned tables, to which we sat next to James Gould of Carlton Ciderworks. We were a little worried about how this event might be like the only other food and alcohol pairing dinner experience we have ever attended, which was the Pelican Pub and Brewery’s Mushroom Fall Brewer’s Dinner Weekend. That was a wonderful meal, but the portions were tiny and took 40 minutes per course, leaving us hungry and drunk. Clarklewis had things much more under control. For starters, they were closed to the general public that evening, so it was just our cidermaker’s party there. Our courses were served family style an in clumps. That is to say, we were usually given two plates at a time to consume. We did find the salad to not be as much as we wanted, but when you are given one leg of duck, one pork chop, two types of pasta, cake, and a profiteroles, one seems to be enough especially when consumed in about 2 hours or so. The cider pours were also much lighter (Pelican was doing full 12 oz servings), so combined with larger portions closer together, we weren’t absolutely drunk at the end of the night. Granted, I did not finish all my cider or food due to not feeling well.
First Course: Endive and wild watercress salad with shaved fennel, Oregon black truffle dressing and Parmesan (that I wish we got more of). Also given a duck confit with sweet spring onions, potato croquettes and foie gras butter. The cider pairings was Tieton Frost, an iced cider, and Finnriver Sparkling Pear. The Frost, being an iced cider, was very sweet, but I have actually found that sweet ciders and wines go very well with salads, especially if there is much acid from vinegar or lemon juice involved.
Second Course: Two pastas. The first was as strozzapreti with radicchio, sweet gorgonzola and walnuts, to which my gag reflex was not triggered by the gorgonzola, so they did a good job blending it in. The second pasta, which most people at our table liked better, was the lumachine with wild shrimp, leeks, basil tips and lemon. The two ciders offered actually had a definite “better” pairing. The Tieton Perry went better with the shrimp, and the Finnriver Dry Hopped Cider, which was sweeter in taste, went better with the gorgonzola.
Entrée: We each got a spit-roasted chicken over applewood with creamy polenta, heirloom carrots, pea shoots, wildflower honey and cider glaze and one hearth-roasted pork shoulder with Bluebird Farm farro, hedgehog mushrooms, collard raab and tallegio cream. The pork was better, and I didn’t finish all of the chicken as I was starting to get full. The two ciders offered was EZ Orchards 2010 Cidre and the 2 Towns Incider. EZ Cider is my personal favorite cider, so I didn’t finish the 2 Towns, either.
Dessert: We were each given a small square of heirloom carrot cake and a chocolate profiterole. The profiterole has full of cream, and a little caramel, so that was my favorite, and I didn’t finish the carrot cake. At that point in the night, wasn’t feeling terribly great and I kind of felt like neither the 2010 Finnegan Cider and Wandering Aengus Wickson Single Varietal did all that well as a pairing. I’m sorry, but chocolate and cider don’t actually pair up all that well, and the carrot cake had a little too much spice to make a decent pairing. My husband, though, had forgotten how much he liked the Wickson cider.
It was an excellent night, and I would do it again next year. Hopefully, I won’t be feeling ill next time.