How fine cider and a Dacia Duster is helping us through the coronacoaster

Throughout lockdowns 1 and 2.0, deliveries to Katherine Street skyrocketed.

Knocks at the doors can be heard up and down the street throughout the day. Looking back, we ourselves have had all sorts. Children’s paints, ergonomic laptop holders and eco-nappies by the pallet load.

Most deliveries were workaday, essential goods to keep the household moving whilst avoiding the crowds of retail parks and supermarkets. Others were more joyful, and perhaps most of all the weekly Dacia driven care package from Saltaire’s smallest and best watering hole, the Cap and Collar. 

Before the coronacoaster compelled us all into new experiences, we were creatures of beery habit, heading straight for a pint of whatever looked good from Wishbone or Northern Monk. Now though, we were tempted by Phil’s expanded range of fine and craft ciders from around the UK (mostly) and overseas. Sharing bottles with huge depth and range, perfect for pairing with food and full of artisan knowledge and creative experimentation. We were hooked and now look forward to a time in the future where we can go on an orchard tour holiday, if there is such a thing.

Before pubs hunkered down for a third lockdown back when ministers were debating the substantive materiality of the scotch egg, I suggested to Phil we do something to celebrate this new wing of his offering. Something to encourage more people to give it a go and consider cider, particularly with food, as part of their next Cap and Collar care package.

So, to a socially distanced cider/food pairing for which Phil presented three contrasting drinks.

First up, trail blazers Little Pomona and their Table Cider, a real “gateway drink” for the uninitiated. Fresh, juicy and released seasonally in small batches, Table Cider (7.3 abv) is very adaptable and perfect for pairing with all sorts. So, ideal for a takeout night, tapas dinner or the canape stage of a celebration. For our tasting, a nod to the Herefordshire roots of Little Pomona in a savoury cheese tart filled with Monkland’s Little Hereford, a well-rounded hard cheddar, robust enough for a mix of nutmeg and cayenne in the wholemeal pastry case.

Little Hereford tart with nutmeg and cayenne

Now, on to something heartier to match a more substantial drink. Wilding Cider are so confident about their complex, highly tannic apple blend that they used it for the name, Chisel Jersey, Dabinett and Porter’s Perfection (7.8abv). Drawing on the cider’s process of ageing in ex red wine casks from a Portuguese natural wine maker, I attempted a Bifana (Lisbon pork sandwich). Purists keep it simple, but I indulged all the varying neighbourhood supplements. A crusty roll filled with long-marinated pork leg, confit onion, sweet mustard, coriander and piri-piri.  

Bifana sandwich feat. confit onion, mustard, coriander and piri-piri.

The punchy street food sarnie held its own against the ripe, leathery depth and long sour finish of the cider. Enjoyed at room temperature, this cider could handle even more richness – think game birds and stew.

Finally, something sweet and another barrel-based experiment with Starvecrow Fine Cider’s Bourbon 2018 (5.5abv). With the American oak of the co-fermentation and ageing process in mind come slices of glazed apple galette. The pale golden drink begins with fresh citrus, moves through vanilla and smoke to sour apple before the finish of gentle whiskey. The balance is excellent and takes the bourbon idea well beyond gimmickry.

Glazed apple Gallette

The tasting confirms that fine cider is as much the perfect partner for food as we first thought during the lengthy lockdowns of 2020. 

Phil, as anyone who has visited his little pub knows, is the quintessential modern landlord. Welcoming, knowledgeable and generous with tips and tricks for finding the perfect tipple for every visitor. Just fire him a question if you’re at all uncertain of where to start. 

Cap and Collar webshop has a rolling offering of cider from the UK’s most exciting and unusual orchards.

Home deliveries on Weds, Thurs, Fri and Sat. Order before 4:30pm for delivery between 5-8pm. £15 minimum order for free delivery within 3 miles of BD18 4SJ.


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