Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Nine Pin cider dinner at One Six Five

Nine Pin Cider Dinner 001Tonight marked the arrival of not one, but two new players in the Capital District crafted beverages scene. One Six Five in Delmar hosted Albany’s brand new Nine Pin Cider for a four course gourmet dinner. This was my first time attending a cider dinner, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well the food and the cider paired together.

Not being a cider connoisseur, I don’t really have a good frame of reference when it comes to describing or critiquing cider. That’s not to say I’m a complete newbie, either. I find most ciders to be decent, but Nine Pin’s flagship Original Cider is quite excellent. It’s nice to see it on tap at so many local bars and restaurants. My friends at beverage distributor Remarkable Liquids – Jeremy Irving and Jared Kingsley – tell me Nine Pin has had sales to astonish. I can see why, as it’s a perfect balance of sweet apple juice flavor and slight dry tartness. It’s sparkling, but not overly fizzy, and is highly drinkable and refreshing even though it’s rather heavy at 6.7% ABV.Nine Pin Cider Dinner 006
As for the dinner itself, well, it was delicious of course. One Six Five is something of a hidden gem in the local food and drink scene. Though it’s located at Normanside Country Club, it’s open to the public and has a fairly relaxed atmosphere as a restaurant, while still being fancy enough to serve as an event space. That’s where the dinner was held – and it was apropos for the evening as the menu, prepared by Chef Ken Ruud, was definitely of the upper echelon foodie hierarchy (but again I’m no connoisseur).Nine Pin Cider Dinner 005
First course: Baby Arugula, Speck, Manchego, Maple Gelée, Gypsy Toast; paired with Nine Pin Original Cider

Something of a breakfast-like course as the gypsy toast and the “speck” were essentially French toast and bacon. The plate was coated in a mapley syrup, and the gelatin was so cute it almost seem too artful to eat (almost). The Nine Pin Original Cider definitely complemented this course with its sweet fruity complexion and dry finish as to prevent it from becoming cloying.
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Second course: Pan Roasted Escolar, Preserved Lemon, Caper Berry, Fennel Pollen, White Wine, Butter; paired with Nine Pin Oak Aged Dry Cider

The Escolar was perfectly succulent without any fish character. The fennel was creamy and made for a perfect side. As for the cider, it was a tad mild, but significantly dry to balance out the richness from the food. I detected a hint of smoke as well, which was really interesting. I think everyone at the table said they liked this course the best. I will have to try dishes like this more often.Nine Pin Cider Dinner 010
Third course: Black Tea Spiced Duck Breast, Black Garlic, Dried Cherries, Thai Basil; paired with Nine Pin Sour Cherry & Sumac Berry Cider.

This course was really impressive. I’ve had duck before, but have found it to be usually a little too fatty to enjoy. Here, it was akin to filet mignon with just the right amount of fat, with a tender, but still firm, texture. The dressing was perfect and the cherries were a nice garnish. The cherry and sumac berry cider complemented it perfectly. Distinct fruity flavor and sweetness, but a little dry on the end. It actually reminded me of black raspberry ice cream if that makes sense. I would definitely drink this cider often if it were readily available.Nine Pin Cider Dinner 016
Fourth course: Blood Orange Ginger Bavarois, Hazelnut Shortbread; paired with Nine Pin Ginger & Orange peel Cider.

Dessert at events like this is often chocolate-based, so it was quite interesting to see a light, fruity offering. The cream was sweet, but not too rich, with a subtle ginger spice. The orange flavor was accentuated by the ginger and orange peel cider. I actually got a warming sensation in my throat after each swig. The cider was a bit on the drier side, but that ginger character made it memorable.Nine Pin Cider Dinner 007
While a fifth course would’ve been nice, I did appreciate the fact that after the dinner was over I didn’t feel stuffed and bloated as I’ve often felt at many beer dinners. Additionally, the cider was decanted in relatively small pours (which were refilled by request), so that I wasn’t drunk at the end of the night, either. The fact the $60 price was all inclusive made it a good value, as well.

This was One Six Five’s first beer cider dinner, and it looks to be the first of many as a Samuel Adams beer dinner is in the works for June. I’m sure I’ll see you there.

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