Fall Cider

I promise this will be the last post on beverages for awhile but last night we had a cookout at my house (after attending the nearby Maryland Renaissance Festival) and opened up the hard cider from Albemarle Ciderworks. It was just as wonderful as I remember it from the tasting I had in their tasting room.

Hard cider is best made from heritage varieties of apples and can be very unique (and delicious). The transformation of the apple industry and its move to only a small homogeneous selection of sweet apples is interesting and explained very well by Michael Pollan in The Botany of Desire. Cideries like Albemarle Ciderworks are bringing back American varieties of apples that were used by Jefferson and the founding fathers to make America’s beverage of choice, cider. And I love Mr. Jefferson.  So, cider that was good enough for him, is certainly good enough for me.
The other thing I love about cider is that it is perfect for fall and often inspires festivals. Consider attending some apple harvest festivals this season, like those at Albermarle Ciderworks.  ?

Nelson County: More Breweries than Stoplights

For me, trips to central Virginia often end up an ode to the University and a celebration of the food and beverages produced in the Commonwealth.  Not only is VA producing wonderful wine (as described in my previous post), but many breweries are popping up as well.  I went to meet a new friend and Sustainability Coordinator for UVA Dining at Devil’s Backbone and was thrilled with their beer, although a bit intimidated by the size of the tasting.

What was most surprising, however, was the number of breweries we passed on the way to Devil’s Backbone.  Rt. 151 is filling up with breweries- it was so exciting to see.  I also learned that while there are now four breweries in Nelson County, there is still only one stoplight!

I was thrilled to get the chance to talk about local and sustainable food with an incredible woman, Kendall Singleton who is working for UVA Dining.  We were able to discuss the successes and challenges in promoting environmental stewardship at institutional dining halls and operations.

I also visited some lovely chickens perched in downtown Charlottesville:

VA, beer, sustainable food, and happiness!

Central VA Wine

There is nothing I like better than a trip to Charlottesville, VA and the surrounding area of central VA. This summer I took a wonderful trip and visited some of my favorite wineries and some new ones as well.  With nearly 200 wineries, VA is a wonderful place to explore wine.

Here was the wine tour:

Grapes growing at Veritas on the porch

Veritas wines, yum!

Stinson wines, new but delicious

Outside White Hall

Inside Glass House, very unique with tons of tropical plants

Rain storm at Glass House

After the rain, saying goodbye

Erdbeerbowle: German Strawberry Punch

I almost forgot, one of the other favorites from Labor Day was my friend’s strawberry punch called Erdbeerbowle (from Germany). Here is what she says on how to make it and according to her, it is simple!

Erdbeerbowle: German Strawberry Punch (per Miriam)

What You Need
– About 2 boxes of strawberries
– Sugar
– Brandy (optional)
– 1 bottle white wine
– 1 bottle of champagne

What You Do
1. Slice or halve the strawberries and place them in a container that is large enough so the berries are just one layer.
2. Sprinkle a thin layer of sugar over the berries. Less sugar if the berries are really sweet (my mom hardly uses any sugar at all!) and up to like a 1/4 cup if they are not so sweet. It’s up to taste– but don’t fret about this! (NOTE: You can also add a shot or so of brandy at this step, if you like, recommendation would be cointreau.)
3. Put strawberries in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours
4. Add a bottle of white wine
5. Refrigerate for at least 2 more hours
6. Right before you serve, add a bottle of champagne
7. Some people garnish with mint leaves or lemon peels

With strawberries+sugar+wine+champagne, you really can’t go wrong. If it comes out too sweet just add more champagne. My friend says that her grandparents make it with 1 bottle wine, 1 bottle champagne, and 1 bottle seltzer water for a more refreshing summer punch.

Last note, you can make this the night before you need it. Doesn’t matter if the strawberries sit in the sugar all night, and they can also soak in the white wine for well over 2 hours, if need be. Just make sure to add the champagne immediately before serving.

Thanks Miriam! 🙂