MFDF: The Moss Cider Project at Common

26 Sep

Having had to delay my Manchester Food and Drink Festival (MFDF) binge until after the opening weekend, I couldn’t have picked a better way to start than at The Moss Cider Project and Common cheese and cider evening, held Tuesday night down at hipster headquarters on Edge Street. Headlining two of my all-time top five favourite things to ingest, it was always going to be a joyous occasion, made even more special by the fact that the night’s starring cider is locally produced and the result of a terribly worthy initiative to boot.

The Moss Cider Project

Concocted by Dan Hasler back in 2010, The Moss Cider Project takes apples (both grown and scrumped)* from donators in Moss Side and beyond to press for cider or juice. Donators receive back 50% of their juiced or fermented fruit to enjoy, and the project sells the remainder to feed profits back into the local community, bringing people together and delivering a delicious product off the back of it. Beautiful in its simplicity, and happily putting home-grown cider on the agenda to counter Manchester’s age old tradition of brewing beer, it’s an idea and an evening I was more than happy to put my (increasingly considerable) weight behind.  

Coming off the back off a successful evening with Port Street Beer House, the project’s MFDF cheese and cider evening promised a mix of the local brew and other traditional ciders, all independently made and matched with a local cheese. Treating my flat mate Aoife after a five month hiatus in India, the apple candy floss and La Cantina raspberry cider (bizarrely made by an Italian in Huddersfield) upon arrival resulted in the evening starting off all arse above tit, but after five more brews and damn near a truckle worth of cheese, who’s fussed?

Apple Candy Floss

La Cantina Raspberry Cider

We were treated to a 7.4% classic cider from Healey’s down in Cornwall. Oak-matured and golden in colour, it had undertones of sweet sherry and was super easy to snarf, whereas the 8% Brook Apple Farm Perry, lime-hued and cloudy in colour, took the palate a little more getting used to due to a medicinal quality, but eventually yielded pear drops much to my eternally youthful palate’s delight.* Some of the ciders were a tad too bitter, including a softer sounding 6% Nooks Yard of musty whiff which took an age to drink, but at the ciders got softer, the cheeses got stronger, meaning each pairing pressed your taste buds into working harder.

The Moss Cider Project Tasting Notes

Crumbly, short and salty, the Chorlton Cheshire Cheese from Malpas delivered a truly regional experience, whilst an oak-ash mottled goat’s cheese from Gloucestershire was a really special treat, pairing beautifully with an apple and figgy diggy jam from local favourite Clippy’s, another apple aficionado from the North West. Less delightful was the wild garlic yarg from Lynher Dairy in Truro, overwhelmingly bitter in taste and almost jelly like in texture, lovingly described by our table mate Will as being ‘about as firm as Vince Cable’.

Healey’s Classic Oak Matured Cider paired with Wild Garlic Yarg

Whatever the rap cider gets, for all the homogenised commercially-whored ciders of park bench fame, there are a hundred more independently produced tipples, and with all the cider apple varieties, blends and artisan production methods available, it’s rare you’ll get a mediocre cup. With the real ale revival hitting its stride, seeing more supermarket shelf space dedicated to the category than ever before, surely traditional cider, as another English sup of some serious heritage, deserves a place at the table?

It’s one of the most chilled out, refreshing and easy to quaff drinks, and now it’s brewed on our back doorstep, what’s not to get behind? The Moss Cider Project have now sourced land to plant their own orchards, but still need your apples, cider variety or no, to keep the project going, and are more than happy for you to pop down and crack open a communal bottle of cider on a Saturday afternoon, with last year’s crop offering a tart, sweet, if slightly watery experience. If mucking in doesn’t take your fancy however, there’s always the events, and for the generous portions and pure passion on show, at just £10 a head, how do you like them apples? (Soz).

* It’s not a word but roll with it. Please…

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