Monday, October 3, 2022

Cider Week New York: Moosewood Restaurant's Black Diamond Cider Pairing Dinner

We’re now a few days into Cider Week New York! Cider activities are highlighting what’s awesome about my favorite beverage in every region of the state. Check them out and hopefully you can find one near you!

And in particular, I’d like to highlight a free event I’m supporting on Tuesday October 4th: Tasting and Tomes at Mann Library! Visit us on Cornell’s campus to taste apples and fresh cider, explore our collection of cider related books new and old and learn about all things cider happening at Cornell! We’ll be around 11am-2pm.

Here’s how I started my cider week. I want to share my experience at Moosewood’s pairing dinner with Black Diamond Cider. Our guides for the evening were Ian Merwin, founder of Black Diamond Cider and Pomologist Emeritus at Cornell University, and Aron Kelly, Moosewood’s General Manager. The format was a 4-course vegetarian dinner prepared by Moosewood Chef Tim Mooney: each course paired with something special from Black Diamond Cider.I was particularly excited to find something vegetarian not as a substitution but by design and I’m a big fan of Black Diamond Ciders.

And if you're not familiar with Moosewood Restaurant, I recommend learning more:

My previous reviews of Black Diamond Ciders are plentiful, and they include:

My #1 cider of 2021 Black is Gold (a collaboration with Redbyrd Orchard Cider):

Black Diamond Cider's 2018 Rosé:

Shin Hollow:


Geneva Tremlett’s:

Somerset Jersey:



Porter’s Pommeau:



I recommend visiting Black Diamond Cidery online here to learn more about all of the ciders:

We started with a Curried Pumpkin Soup with toasted pepitas and pickled mustard seeds. This was paired with Black Diamond’s 2008 Perry. Though it’s called a Perry, it is a pear-apple blend, making it a pear cider. Though I loved all of the ciders of the evening, the first one was my favorite! A good perry is something to write home about, and this pear cider captures so much of what can be great about the beverage. I loved the lively bubbles, grapefruit citrus notes, softness and high acid.  

 I had some trepidation because of the pickled mustard seeds. Yes, they sound intriguing, but here’s a confession, I am usually passionately unfond of pickled things. It’s the rare exception that works for me. Miraculously, these were perfect. The soup was heavy, creamy, and only gently spiced. It needed the pepitas and the salty acid bite of the pickled mustard seeds. Yum!

I knew we’d have a salad as part of our meal just because Moosewood makes such wonderfully deluxe salads. This was a particularly seasonal offering: a Dinosaur Kale salad with slow roasted plums, toasted walnuts, roasted Delicata squash, crumbled blue cheese, and a buttermilk vinaigrette. It was paired with the 2019 Rosé. If you read my review of the 2018 Rose, I have to note that this one is created entirely differently. It uses plums as one of the elements to give the cider its signature hue. I love the idea of plums as a point of continuity for this pairing since they are in the cider and the salad. It's a lightful easy cider, utterly delightful and acid driven. The Rosé is semi-dry but so fruity. 

Butternut Squash Lasagna made our entree. I expected a cream sauce based lasagna as many autumnal lasagnas swap out a tomato sauce for a Roux-based sauce, but I was delighted by my rich and hearty red sauce vegetarian lasagna. It had caramelized fennel, Remembrance Farm baby kale, smoked mozzarella, butternut squash ricotta, asiago, garlic, Cabernet tomato, basil, and Parigiano Reggiano. I will remember the umami and satisfaction of that lasagna for years. It paired with Ian’s favorite of his ciders (at least as he described it that evening) the 2020 Golden Russet/Porter’s Perfection Varietal cider. 

The Golden Russet/Porter’s Perfection upped the body and alcohol with an ABV of 10%. I appreciate that this cider has acidity, tannins, structure, and body. It's dry by the numbers but it still gives off an essence of nectar or floral sweetness. Ian says that comes from the Golden Russet apples. It’s a very special cider that just tastes golden, mature, and mellow to me. I loved it with the exceptionally concentrated tomato sauce of the lasagna. Cider and tomatoes can be so fantastic together!

At this point, even after having half of my lasagna packed for later, I was stuffed! And yet I wanted to taste the final pairing.

It was an individual apple bundt cake with lemon ricotta and drizzled with cider caramel. I knew it would be paired with Black Diamond’s Pommeau. The cake appeared in a decadent moat of sauces. It makes my mouth water to think back on it. Pommeau was a delightfully appropriate pairing because of its intensity, sweetness, and higher ABV. Most cider would not be able to be tasted alongside such a rich and sweet dessert, but pommeau is a mixture of cider spirits, fresh cider, and wonderful structure from oak barrel aging. All of these factors made it something extra special with this creamy fabulous apple cake. 

The whole meal was extraordinary thanks to the wonderful food preparation and outstanding pairings from Black Diamond. What a great way to start my Cider Week New York!