Hot ingredient to try this month: Hard cider

Alcoholic apple wine has a long history in Canada. Here are some notable dishes we had the pleasure of tasting.

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Apple and apple cider in glass bottle, Feb 13, p24
Photo by Istockphoto

For homesteaders, hard cider was a prized source of vitamin C throughout the winter. Today, from the Annapolis Valley to Vancouver Island, a new generation of craft cider makers are reviving traditional techniques—and we’re taking advantage!

Cider Braised Pork Belly, Feb 13, p24
Photo by Greg Aspa

The Bistro at Merridale, Cobble Hill, B.C., 1230 Merridale Rd.

Merridale is capitalizing on the resurgence of Old World-style alcoholic ciders, crafted in small batches.

The chef: Benni Kelly’s menu embraces Merridale’s ciders and apple brandies and nods to his passion for Italian cuisine.

The dish: Cider Braised Pork Belly with Merri Berri Agrodulce. Pork stewed in dry cider is served with a sweet-and-sour sauce, also made of cider and juices of wild B.C. berries.

Lemeac restaurant interior, Feb 13, p24

Leméac, Montreal, 1045 Laurier Ave. O.

Outremont’s upscale patrons gather here for the perfect mix of city chic and rural simplicity.

The chef: Marie-Pier Morin serves seasonal country faves, echoing the Parisian ideal of the urbane restaurant.

The dish: Blood Pudding with Cider Sauce. Morin’s boudin noir is a rustic, dark mound of rich earthiness, cut with Quebec artisanal cider and nestled on celery-root purée.

Chilled lobster salad and apples, Feb 13, p24

Auberge du Pommier, Toronto, 4150 Yonge St.

Auberge du Pommier, meaning “inn of the apple tree,” is built around a pair of woodcutters’ cottages.

The chef: Marc St. Jacques is a Belgian-born, Canadian-raised phenomenon who has spent much of his career cooking for the American super-chef Michael Mina.

The dish: Chilled Lobster Salad with Apple Mille-Feuille, Celery Rémoulade and Late Harvest Apple Cider Vinegar. Late-harvest fruits give a sweetness to the vinegar and a lift to the meaty lobster.

Apple cider donuts, Feb 13, p24

Hearth, New York City, 403 E. 12th St. 

This East Village resto is known for its family-style fine dining.

The chef: Marco Canora climbed the ranks of the N.Y.C. food scene and worked for Top Chef star Tom Colicchio at Gramercy Tavern.

The dish: Apple Cider Donuts with Apple Compote and Maple Cream. On a menu that changes daily, this is the only item that repeats. Spiced apple cider and apple purée are mixed into the dough for a soft, moist cake under a crispy crust.

Try five of our recipes with cider:

Hot cider toddy

Roast pork loin with bacon-cider gravy

Pork tenderloin with cider-thyme jus

Merry mulled cider

Honey tree cocktail