Another week, another city it seems like. On sunday 3/06, we organized a fine event in our shop for World Cider Day and got some last minute stock enlargement by going to Cider Festival in Rotterdam, but that is not all we did. Being the buzzing and intriguing city it is, we met some local food producers and connoisseurs.
Our first stop was with Sasker, the person behind the food production company Manenwolf. I was happy to finally meet Sasker because of the interesting products he makes: Fire Cider, Pickelsalt, Mustard Caviar, Kvass, … He designs products with other companies too and explained a bit more about the great circular economy plans he has for the future. He’s working on repurposing vegetables and fruit from the harbor, but when a small delivery is 1,5 ton it becomes more difficult. He’s now experimenting with preservation in vinigar to work on it later. He gave us some samples, eager to test this all out!
A city visit without a brewer, is not a real Fermenthings visit. So thanks to OR Coffee we got in touch with Tsjomme, one of the founders of the Brewery. He showed us the small brewing installation for experimentation and explained that the bigger batches where made at De Molen (remember that Cold Drip Coffee Porter,mmmmm) The brewery was in fact the first resident of Fenix Food Hall, a wonderful bottom up story that i will tell you more about later.
Before diving into the ciders we received some interesting tasters from Kaapse Brouwers. They know their craft and are mixing up different styles while holding a constant great taste. Hiden behind a small door you can also check out their bottleshop with a top selection of crat breweries.
Thanks Tsjomme for the great samples, will let you know what we think about those later! He will be in Brussels together with the chef of their restaurant Kaapse Maria at Ermitage in a couple of weeks. Don’t miss out!
While sipping on our beers, Tsjomme told us how Fenix Food Hall became one of Rotterdams most beloved atractions. It all started with Kaapse Brouwers finding this big open space for their brewery and having more ambition then putting a pooltable in the vacant space. So he started talking with some friends / producers about settling multiple production facilities in it. Before he knew it there was a baker and a cheese maker there and later a cidershop, butcher, … The nicest story was when they presented the project to futur residents of the neighborhood (that was in full construction) and the next meeting one of the neighbors came with a plan of starting a coffee roasting project and became one of the top roasters of the region! Next to the ‘Markthal’ building, this feels as a real and alive place. Chapeau for the guts to open such a nice place!
And so we arrived at our destination: the cider festival. Thanks to shops as Cider Cider, a real dynamic was created around craft cider in the netherlands and the festival shows there is a lot of interest for it. Producers from over the whole world are coming to show their newest and most exciting products. We tasted a few of them and came home with what was left!
- Bulwack (Canada)
First stop was with a Cider maker we had earlier contact with. He is one of the only 100% apple cider producer in Canada and had a wonderful classic cider to taste on kask. The taste was refreshing, dry enough and well balanced. When we served it to our clients on Sunday, almost our whole stock was sold! A new classic is born we think.
- De Vergeten Appel (Netherlands)This small local producer has an interesting project: he collects his apple from private propreties and small farms that don’t recolt their apples anymore. Most of them are from the classical Dutch varieties. Both of the products he produces are worth the detour.
- Hoxton (England)We tried the sixpointsix and remind us of the Whisky aged Thristly Cross a bit. Nice complex flavor and a higher alcohol percentage. When you have a look at their website, you know they have the right spirit:
At Cidersmiths we believe in three principles, it’s what makes great cider…
- Good cider is never made from concentrate, only from juice because it tastes way better. Fact.
- Knowing where our apples come from, what varieties are they, how are they grown?
- Cider should be made in a sustainable way that leaves our beautiful countryside just as we found it.
This is what cider should be about!
- Hills ( Australia)We didn’t expect to find ciders from downunder, but where nicely surprised by Hills Ciders. They had a pear and an apple cider. The pear was still sweet, but had a wonderful aftertaste that made it more complex then it looked at first sight. They explained that cider had taken over the beer industry as the to go drink on an evening out. When will this happen in a European country?
- RAM (Netherlands)RAM stands for Rotterdamse Appel Maatschappij and is a new project by a couple of young guys developing the local cider scene. A quite sour and dry cider that wants to become part of the Rotterdams old bar scene, not the hip trendy bars. I like that spirit, and that whillingness to create something specificly for the local people.
- La Sidra (Spain)
La Sidra wasn’t a producer, but the organization behind local spanish ciders from Asturia. They explain the craft, way of pouring and cultural heritage surrounding the local ciders. it’s a complete other world that like our geuze styles needs a specific pallet training to fully appreciate these ciders. We are looking at participating at their event from 28-30 September to learn more about it.
- Doggerland Craft Cider (Netherlands)Doggerland has somewhat of the same concept as De Vergeten Appel, but here you can donate your own apples through their website and they will blend it together. They experiment with ginger and honey wich both are really nice. I think we will hear a lot about them in the futur!
- Finnbirra (Ireland)
This was the biggest discovery, this Irish producer mixes experimentation with control over their classical line of production. We fell in love with the rhubarb-apple cider, but found the cucumber-apple cider also quit interesting. Hopefully we find soon a way to import these ciders to Belgium!
- Abavas (latvia)We came accross this cider maker before through Cideris and just went crazy when we tasted the rhubarb sparkling wine. So we where really happy that we could meet them in person at the festival. They first started out as a wine maker, but because it was taking so long, they went to experiment with cider. Now they have 4 varieties of cider that are simply excellent. They are well known in their country (served at most official events of the prime minister) but still unknown in the rest of Europe. So come taste them before everybody at our shop!Local Guide EvaAfter our tasting session we met Eva, a great foodgeek that i met previously online on Instagram, she worked before at Fenix Food Hall and shared some awesome meat and cheeses with us before taking us on a tour of the city. Unfortunately we didn’t have lots of time. but still had a blast at the spots she show us. This is definitly only the first time she will show us around!
- TropicanaEarlier in the day Sasker from Manenwolf talked about it. It is a desaffected tropical swimmingpool where he does some experimentations. There is also a restaurant, mushroom grower, coffee roaster and brewer in the space. What’s awesome is that they still use the structure of the old building. Impressive and quite inspiring!
- Ricetables (Javaans-Surrinaams )
And our final stop of the day was at Rijsttafel, a nice little surrinamian restaurant near Fenix Food Hall. We don’t have any of this cuisine in Brussels so it was nice to get introduced to a mixture of African, Indian and South American cuisine. I took the Roti, a classic dish you have to eat with your hands. The spicy custard and home made sticky ketchup where awesome. Overall a great experience.