Foodie Penpals

A little post on ukcider is required about Foodie Penpals.

If you are looking for the foodie penpals post for November it’s been posted over on the Organic Boxes blog.

There isn’t anything about cider in it, so it would seem gratuitous to even mention foodie penpals here until such time as there is an element of cider or perry involved, which could take a little time, what with the weight of glass bottles to take into consideration when deciding which items to include in a small packet to be sent by standard parcel post.

Foodie Pen Pals Box Reveal – November 2012 | Organic Boxes

Foodie Pen Pals Box Reveal – November 2012 | Organic Boxes


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Bhel Puri and Cider Tap Euston

Bhel Puri or Bhel Poori

Today is my day off and I’m heading for the back streets behind Euston Station where I recently staked out a selection of cheap and cheerful South Indian vegetarian restaurants known as ‘Bhel Puri’ houses. There used to be these kind of Indian and Sri Lankan snack offerings available here in East London but as the populations and fashions shift about they seemed to get replaced by Masala Dosa houses instead, which are lovely and great value for money, but I miss the specifically sweet and sour flavour of the chaat dishes and little pani puris that never seem to be quite the same when from the Chennai style of restaurant, at least that’s what my memory tells me, and today I will find out for sure by sampling a full buffet style meal from whichever looks like the best from the street.

Euston Cider Tap

I’ll let you know how I got on later, as well as how I get on at the Euston Cider Tap where I’m expecting to reaquaint myself with some top quality real cider and perry, or maybe try something I’ve never come across before.

The Euston Cider Tap is London’s first dedicated cider house, located in a classic gate house building outside Euston Station, just opposite the Euston Tap, a twin building that I’m told sells beer – if course I’ve never been in that one.


Well this was the result:  We had a lovely vegetarian buffet meal in the Diwana Bhel Poori House, which my research had led me to believe is the one of the longer established and therefore more likely to be authentic Bhel Puri houses in the Drummond Street area. The range of dishes laid out for lunch was extensive and they all looked appetising, fresh and tasty. There were lots of salads, vegetable curries, breads, rice, little fried snacks, legumes, dhal, and also hummous, chutneys, fruit and desserts. The tofu in coconut curry  and the cauliflower, carrot and broad bean curries were rich and tasty, but none of it particularly hot in the chilli sense. The flavours seemed to be a mixture of traditional British vegetarian, Thai and Pakistani. Very much a London fusion, with the absence of anything including tamarind, rice crispies, pani puri and extruded gram flour paste  leaving me still wondering what happened to the Bhel Puri  style I used to know from Green Street in the Nineties.  So it was a very enjoyable meal, and great value at under £20 for two people with salt lassi but still not the authentic Bhel puri sweet and sour snack sensation I’m yearning for. Next time we’ll try another one nearby, but I wouldn’t mind going back to Diwana some time as well, probably on a Monday to Thursday when the lunch will be slightly less busy. We arrived early when it was still quiet but by the time we left at half past one the tables were ful and  they were queueing up to get to the buffet.

So what about the Cider Tap then? Well that was a big disappointment  because it was closed at 2.00 o’clock ona  Friday lunchtime!  There wasn’t any notice outside to suggest what the opening hours are meant to be either, so I poked my head inside the Euston Tap beer pub opposite and asked about the Cider Tap to be told it would be open at Three pm. It’s not a good sign is it? If you can’t expect the cider bar to be open at a reasonable time then you might not bother to make your way over there another time, and slowly but surely the momentum builds up to close it  or change it over to selling beer due to lack of interest. Well let’s hope that’s not what happens.



We went over to the Bree Louise North London pub instead and I enjoyed some Gwynt y Ddraig pyder and another half of Black Dragon, both excellent drinks but then didn’t fancy anything else much from the rest of the smallish  selection on offer – Orchard Pig, something strawberry and a single Millwhites.

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Killerton Cider and Apple Weekend

Killerton Cider and Apple Day Event

On Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st October 2012, Killerton National Trust Estate is hosting a National Apple Day celebration at the estate in Broadclyst, near Exeter, Devon.

>>Cider festivals and Events , October

The cider and apple weekend celebrates Killerton’s 50 acres of orchards which grow nearly 100 varieties of old English apple, including the Killerton Sweet and Killerton Sharp which are unique and originate from the 2,400 acre farming estate.

Killerton Cider

Killerton Cider

Over the two day event visitors can witness Killerton’s 200 year old giant hand-cranked cider press in action, have a go at harvesting apples for next seasons cider and apple juice and buy the estate’s cider at the Killerton Cider Bar. The outdoor bar will be serving Killerton’s own award-winning medium dry cider by the glass and bottle. Cider-lovers can also enjoy free tasters and a special apple weekend offer.

Both Killerton’s cider and apple juice won a 2012 silver Taste of the West award and their cider continues to win the National Trust Fine Farm Food Award which recognises the very best produce from National Trust farms and estates. Michelin Star Chef Michael Caines featured Killerton’s cider in his cookery demos at the Exeter Food and Drink Festival this year.

Staff, volunteers and the local community work tirelessly to help harvest the apples and press juice and produced over 5,500 litres of cider for the estate last year. Profits from the sale of the apple juice and cider are invested back into conserving Killerton’s landscape and historic buildings.

The Killerton Kitchen food tent will be serving up hog roast with homemade apple sauce, mulled cider and apple juice and there will be locally made artisan Killerton Cider Bread, apple cake, Killerton estate produce, jams and chutneys for sale. Food lovers will be able to sit back in the orchard and enjoy live music, an apple-juggling street entertainer and a medieval Mummers Play to bless the orchard.

Families are invited to follow the orchard discovery trail to explore all the stalls, orchard conservation displays, play traditional village fete games and see Killerton’s200 year old cider press.

Live demonstrations include the traditional craft of barrel-making by one of the UKs last remaining Coopers, woodturning using Killerton’s apple wood, cider-pressing and an apple ID expert will be on hand on the Sunday to give advice on cider apples. Experts will also be selling and giving advice on apple trees and cider-making equipment.

Cider Press for apple juice pressing

Cider Press for apple juice pressing

Helen Trebble from Killerton’s Countryside Team said:

At Killerton we are passionate about local produce and protecting our orchards. We look forward to extending our National Apple Day event to a full weekend this year. Traditional countryside skills and old English apple varieties are in decline and our event will highlight the importance of conserving them for the landscape and wildlife. We hope local families and food lovers will join us to celebrate our old Devon customs, local food and drink and the coming of autumn!

For more details visit

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Commemorative Olympic Ciders?

Attention has been drawn to a certain Yorkshire brewery making a specially named “Medal Pursuit” Ale.

Yorkshire brewery’s Olympic Medal Pursuit

So it got us wondering if there are any Olympic themed commemorative ciders or perry planned or on sale already?

For example another  Northern beer monger, Northumberland Brewery is plying “Ale’lympic Gold”.

Is this the sort of thing that can help small craft cidermakers to market their full juice quality cider and perry or is it best left up to the badge makers and tickers of the beer world?

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Rochford Cider Festival Essex

Rochford Cider festival this year takes place at the lovely old pub that is the Marlborough Head, Rochford, Essex, SS4 1AX on Friday 6th July 2012 Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th July 2012.

There wil be at least 9 perries and 16 ciders including some local ciders from Essex.

Last years festival had the following ciders/perries:


Gwatkins Medium Sweet
Hecks Kingston Black Medium
Hunt Medium Sweet
Lyne Down Medium DryBroadoak Bristol Port
Buffoon’s Ribcracker Dry (Canewdon, Essex)
Carters (Boxted, Essex)
Crossmans Medium, Crossmans Sweet
Orchards Medium
Paglesham Punch Dry (Paglesham, Essex)
Ross-on-Wye Medium
Westcroft Dry
Westcroft Medium
Wilkins Medium Dry
Wilkins Sweet


Broadoak Sweet
Days Cottage Medium
Gwatkins Sweet
Hecks Medium Sweet
Newton Court Dry
Oliver Medium Dry
Ross – on – Wye Medium
Severn Sider Sweet
Swallow Field Medium Sweet

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Bramley Apples and Bramley Apple Tree Pruning

The subject of making cider from Bramley apples and how to set about pruning Bramley apple trees keeps coming up. Here’s a recent video from Hermitage Farm which bemoans the lack of current demand for Bramley apples. It’s perhaps surprising, since Bramleys are the best known and frequently the only known variety of cooking apples in the UK, but it must be the whole concept of cooking with apples which is falling into disuse heaven forbid.

Hermitage Farm‘s Bramley Apples

Here we are, five miles north of Hereford, in the middle of the organic Bramley apple harvest and the sad thing is that the bottom has dropped out of the Bramley apple market in the UK.

We are seeing Bramley apple trees being grubbed out, but what we need is a high profile celebrity chef to re-educate the British public about how to use Bramley cooking apples.

It has to be said though, that the French don’t even have a word for “cooking apples” there are many French varieties of apples and you can either eat them or cook with them. Or make cider with them of course!

Some advice about pruning Bramley Apple trees and grafting:

If you have a large Bramley apple tree, maybe up to 70 years old and it’s taking up a lot of space where you might prefer to have several other different varieties of apple trees growing, then you might want to consider grafting or top working the old Bramley tree after a severe prune but there are limitations to what can be done in such circumstances. For example it may seem a good idea to graft several different types of scions onto the same family tree or stock, but this can cause problems with differentiating growth rates of the various grafts, and also necessitate removing as many as possible of the original Bramley buds when they come through in spring, which is hardly practical on a large tree. A very large very old tree may present some challenges and you certainly
should leave ‘nurse branches’ but it is achievable, and if the tree is
lively you may be surprised how strongly the scions grow way.

Top working or grafting is not so difficult really, but the timing of the various prunes is actually quite crucial.

You need to cut the desired type of scion wood in late winter one season, then store it carefully, and do the grafting onto the old Bramley apple tree sometime between bud burst and blossom time. It’s well worth practicing first on some less valuable trees in order to make mistakes, learn, and then get the right cuts that work for your orchard.

Bramley Apple Tree

Bramley Apple Tree

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Eversheds Cider

Just wanted to let you know of a new cider producer in the Bedfordshire village of Odell (next to the village of Harrold – home of the Harrold Calvados Society) called Eversheds Cider. Don’t know much more about it, other than having tried their “Tempting Fete” cider and one other cider of theirs in the village pub.

By Trevor.

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