SLO Creek Farm's Cider
It is fall, and apples are on my mind. Maybe that’s because I’m looking at a flat of about 10 pounds of fresh-picked Braeburn apples currently sitting on my kitchen counter, beckoning me to transform them into pies, turnovers, and canned goods (If I ascertain the know-how, maybe even hard cider). This bounty can only be from the fabulous SLO Creek Farms, and so is the frosty jug of crisp, sweet, and perfectly tart apple cider I’ve been gulping down like a madwoman. Visit the U-pick stand and bite into many apple varieties on hand, say hi to farm dog Axil, and check out the operation’s sweet community garden, raw food classes, and hayrides. No time for such fun? Swing by a local farmer’s market (locations at slocreekfarms.com) and pick up their smashing organic cider. I’ve been pouring mine into cocktails, mixing it with rose (don’t tell anyone!), and sipping it in lieu of orange juice in the morning. Everyone knows that crisp is the new tang!
• About $7 per half gallon; 6455 Monte Road, SLO.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock of sadness, you probably already know that gin—once considered the old timey, less fun sister of vodka—has made a comeback. Yep, this old gal is letting her hair down and having some fun, kids! You’ll now find handcrafted botanical, bodacious gins mixed with fresh juices, infused with zests, and poured into funky recipes of all kinds. My general beef with it—that it can sometimes taste medicinal and smell strongly of pine tree air freshener—has been squashed. Who should take credit for this epic change of heart? Why, Re:Find, local purveyors of vodka and (might I add, very tasty) gin. The Paso Robles-based producer recently wowed me with a small shot of the stuff, and it was extremely pleasant. Made from their high quality vodka base—which is crafted from wine grapes—the booze is bolstered by the magic of glycerol. Let me explain: That’s the stuff that forms the “legs” on your wine glass and imparts a sweet quality and velvety mouth feel. Why wouldn’t you want that in your hard A? Infused with juniper berry, coriander, orris root, lemon, and orange peel, I found Re:Find’s gin to be rounder, sweeter, and milder than others I’ve tried, with no harsh burn or angry finish. In other words, this gin is—you guessed it!—refined.
• Re:Find Gin is only available in restaurants and liquor shops across the state or through the company’s gin club sign-up (visit refinddistillery.com for more information); 2725 Adelaida Road, Paso Robles.
Flavor columnist Hayley Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.