Pairing Cider with Crisps isn’t something I’ve thought about much, well not until Rachel Hendry (J’adore le plonk) wrote a stonking article about wines to pair with crisps [Ed: on the excellent new the glug, here]. I immediately demanded that Adam / James / the Cider Review Team write an article to match, but specifically for cider and ended up walking away having been persuaded to write it myself!
I warn you that this is not going to be as beautifully written, nor will it be a tale of a new found lockdown hobby of pairing crisps with cider. That said, during the first lockdown I did begin a somewhat long overdue journey deeper into the world of cider and perry so, hopefully, I’ll be able to write this with some authority of what goes well together.
Down to business then, are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin.
Nice n Spicy NikNaks and Nightingale Cider’s Night Bird (440ml can) (would also work with Sweet Chilli)
Nightingale’s Night Bird is the perfect accompaniment for spicy(ish) crisps. It’s made from desert and culinary apple varieties (a blend of Falstaff, Cox, Jonagold and Bramley) you get a fragrant, light and ultimately very refreshing cider. There’s a hint of pear drops and a slight sourness on the finish which really work with the spicy niknaks. Spicy nik naks are not my favourite nik nak but here they create the perfect match between savoury and (medium) sweet (cider). Grab a bag of nice n spicy niknaks a cold can from the fridge for the perfect umami party.
Quavers and Henney’s Dry Cider (500ml bottle)
Henney’s Dry cider is often overlooked, but it really is a great cider. It’s widely available in a lot of super markets and is one of the standout ciders that you can pick up whilst doing your weekly shop (aside from Pulpt who are now in Tesco).
It’s a whole juice cider (a blend of Ashton Bitter, HMJ, Michelin, Dabinett, Yarlington Mill, & Tremletts Bitter). Full apple on the nose which translates to the palate, hints of caramel and a weird but really pleasant pineapple-y undertone. It’s the pineapple-y undertone that makes it work so well with Quavers . We all know cheese and cider are great together (there’s a whole other article there) [Ed: cheese and cider pairings are a permanently banned subject on CR – prepared to be entirely close-minded about this] but cheese and pineapple are a also a classic combination. Cheese, cider, hint of pineapple – this is a modern-day classic. Give it a bash.
Torres Extra Virgin Olive oil crisps and Ross on Wye Bulmer’s Norman (500ml bottle)
If you didn’t already know, I’m a massive fan of single variety Bulmer’s Norman cider. It’s a variety that makes such a wonderful cider that’s often overlooked, I don’t think I’ll ever understand this but it’s fine – a case of all the more for me. The bottle of Bulmer’s Norman from Ross on Wye Cider Perry Co that I’m drinking whilst writing this is far from straightforward. There’s a lot going on in the glass, it’s bold, tannic and beautifully oaked. [Ed: NB the 500ml, linked, is unoaked] In my mind, the Bulmer’s Norman apple should be revered as one of the very best apples for cider making – I’d go as far to say that an SVC Bulmer’s Norman is better than a Kingston Black SVC and maybe even better than a Dabinett SVC – lots of you won’t agree with me and that’s ok – taste is after all a subjective thing. Anyway, buy a bottle and have a think about how good it is as you drink it and whilst you’re at it buy a bag of naughty crisps (Torres Extra Virgin Olive Oil Crisps) to enjoy with it. Like an SVC Bulmer’s Norman, these crisps are simple, understated but ultimately the most exquisite crisp on sale in the world today. Put them together with a glass of Bulmer’s Norman and they’ll complement each other beautifully.
Walker’s Smokey Bacon crisps and Smith Hayne 2018 Vintage Special Reserve
I was always jealous of other kids in the playground if they had Smokey Bacon crisps. Crisps really weren’t a thing in our house and if we had them, they’d be ready salted hula hoops or Kwik Save’s own brand ready salted No Frills crisps. Smokey Bacon Crisps were a real delicacy for 7 year old me and I still love them to this day. They’re a classic flavour that have a really wonderful lingering flavour. I’ve paired them with the wonderful Smith Hayne 2018 Vintage Special Reserve – it’s the classic pork and apple combo. [Ed: not much of the 2018 Special Reserve left in the wild – I’ve linked to Fram Ferment in the header above, but if you can’t find it, the 2019 Reserve should do a similar job!] The keeved cider in the bottle gives a sweetness that works brilliantly with Smokey Bacon crisps. It’s the perfect pairing. The only thing that’s bad about it is when it’s all gone but FEAR NOT!!! This is a cider that is only available in 750ml so buy a couple of bags of smokey bacon to enjoy with it and settle in for the evening.
Dry Roasted Peanuts and Bushel + Peck The Colonel (500ml bottle)
Ok, technically not a crisp but a commonly found bar snack and one that I thought was perfectly matched to the wonders of Bushel + Pecks the Colonel. Made with Ashmead Colonel apples, this really is an incredible drink. The dryness of the nuts is washed away with this beautiful cider. The trouble is, the nuts really do generate a bit of a thirst so you could end up glugging the cider a bit too quickly and making a bit of a mess of yourself. Be warned.
Pickled egg & Co-op Salt and Vinegar and Ross on Wye Foxwhelp (500ml bottle)
Finally, as some of you might have seen, when I took this piece on, I also took on a challenge from Chris Russell-Smith (Aka the Whinging Pomme). The challenge was to pair a Foxwhelp SVC with THE MOST salt and vinegary crisps known to man (Co-op’s Sea Salt & Chardonnay Wine Vinegar Crisps). I stupidly took the challenge a bit further and added a pickled egg – probably not my finest moment.
If you’ve never eaten a pickled egg, they are a somewhat of a delicacy / acquired taste. I smashed the crisps in the bag before opening and then popped the egg in before giving it a jolly good shake so that when I took the egg out it was covered in little bits of the crisps. I took rather a large bite and washed it down with the Ross on Wye Cider Perry Co Foxwhelp – WHOOOOSH, there’s so much going on here, my eyes were watering and my head felt like it was about to implode! It’s INCREDIBLE!!!! My brow sweating, my lips tingling and my cheeks touched in the middle before passing through each other to another mind boggling dimension. The Foxwhelp cider from Ross is an incredible bottle. I don’t think I’ve encountered Foxwhelp that comes close to it. Cheek-suckingly sharp but incredibly juicy – it’s the cider equivalent of a sour beer.
Some of you may think my pairings are weird, wrong or a bit grim. That’s the fun thing about pairing food and drink. We’re not all going to like the same things. Not everyone is going to like Foxwhelp and extremely salty salt and vinegar crisps. Some of you might baulk at the ide of pairing a cider as fine as the Smith Haynes 2018 Special Reserve with Smokey Bacon crisps and that’s ok. If we all liked the same things the world would be a very boring place indeed.