Originally a wine bar known as Six Plates, Durham North Carolina’s Black Twig Cider House had much to live up to upon transitioning into the cider world.
“We wanted to show the beauty of cider,” explains owner Mattie Beason of Black Twig’s journey from wine bar to cider house, adding that while wine can be daunting, the cider world is “smaller than the wine world” and much more tight-knit and approachable. “Its easy to keep up with it,” says Beason.
And keep up with it they did. It didn’t take long before the cider house became a place of expertise, showcasing bottles from around the world, including Spanish, French and English scrumpys. “We went from having 15 ciders in-house to carrying over 90 bottles and having six taps,” says Beason proudly.
In addition to drinking cider, food pairings are also key. While the cider house tends to specialize in local sausages with various tantalizing toppings, Beason shared one of his favorite refreshing recipes with us: a spring asparagus salad with cider parsley vinaigrette.
Cider vinaigrette? Alluring no doubt. According to Beason, a Spanish cider with bright acidity best complements the salad greens. He recommends either Isastegi or Trabanco, the latter being more apple-centric and fruit forward; both have similar profiles and would be ideal ciders for the salad, Beason says. Perfect as a main course or side salad, this is one for the cookbooks.
Spring Asparagus Salad with Cider Parsley Vinaigrette
For Spring Asparagus Salad:
Asparagus, blanched and sliced in rings (6 spears per serving)
Roasted beet, sliced
Crispy parmesan chips
Porcini dusted almonds
Cider Parsley Vinaigrette (recipe to follow)
For Cider Parsley Vinaigrette:
1/3 C local honey
½ medium shallot, minced
½ clove garlic, minced
1 C Spanish cider, Isastegi or Trabanco
1 ½ teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 ½ – 3 C Blended oil (olive oil with grapeseed or a light olive oil), to taste
1 ½ tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
Put all except oil and parsley in blender and puree until smooth. Slowly drizzle in oil to emulsify until the blender is almost full. Thin with water if needed; adjust salt and then stir in parsley.