In Canada, no one pours more cider than Her Father’s Cider Bar + Kitchen. The Toronto-based cider-centric bar and eatery opened last May with 60 seats for the cider-loving public. Upon entry, the restaurant reveals a massive cider cooler for retail purchases, but the magic happens behind the counter where Her Father’s serves up cider three ways: in the glass, from the shaker and on the plate.
Tenured Ontario chef Ryan Barclay aptly sought for the menu’s inspiration in Spain, France and the United Kingdom, while zeroing in on Canadian craft cider. In this beyond-easy recipe for mussels, Chef Barclay enhances West Coast harvested bivalves with cider.
“Cooking with cider is a much better pairing for seafood rather than the commonly used white wine,” Barclay explains. “Apple pairs very well with things like mussels, cod, halibut, etc.”
In this dish featuring mussels from British Columbia’s Saltspring Island Mussels, the chef also uses a B.C.-made product: the Ginger Apple cider from Lonetree Cider. The dry and slightly spicy cider brings forward its two billed flavors to match with the profile of the plate. “The flavor of the [cider] inspired me,” Barclay says. “It’s dry enough — which is exactly what you want for cooking seafood — and the ginger flavor allowed for the dish to open up with a little heat from the chili.”
Far from basic, Barclay says the addition of butter in the dish balances the dryness and acidity of cider, while the ginger flavors meld with both the apple and the mussels. Naturally, he recommends pairing with the same cider to complement all of the hard-working ingredients.
Mussels in Cider
Serves 2 as entree, 4 as appetizer
1 small shallot, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 pounds Saltspring Island Mussels, rinsed, clean and beards removed
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 red chile, sliced
1 can (355ml) Lonetree Cider Ginger Apple
1/4 bunch curly parsley, finely chop
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
Sea salt, to taste
In a stock pot, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-low heat and add the shallot and garlic, stirring consistently for 2 minutes until fragrant. Add in the mussels, celery, chile and cider. Adjust heat to high and cover the pot with a lid. The mussels will open when they are cooked, after about 5 minutes. Once cooked, add in the remaining ingredients and stir to incorporate. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes longer. Serve in bowls with slices of baguette.