Saturday 23 June 2012

Merrydown Vintage Cider review

When I was asked if I'd like to review some Merrydown Vintage Cider, I literally snorted with laughter. Not because of the product - it's not only lovely stuff, it also shares my Sussex roots - but because it reminded me of an unforgettable night in Swansea Student Union Bar many moons ago. It was a Wednesday night, which meant it was games night, sponsored by a different beer or cider brand every week. This fateful night was sponsored by Merrydown and we had to come up with an anagram using the letters of Merrydown Vintage Cider. By a stroke of sheer genius, we came up with the winning entry - Wet 'nd Creamy Groin Divers !! By an even bigger stroke of genius, when we went to claim our prize (a pint of Merrydown for each member of the team), our shameless team leader told them there were 15 of us in our team instead of 5 so we all ended up with three pints each !! 

I have to admit, I hadn't drunk Merrydown for years though, so I was keen to see if it was as lovely as I remembered it. Well, in a nutshell, it was. It has a lovely crisp appley flavour and hits the perfect balance between sweetness and sharpness. Back in my student days, some of the girls used to drink Merrydown & Black so feel free to add a shot of blackcurrant cordial if you feel it needs some extra sweetness.

It needs to be be really chilled for maximum refreshment value - now that I've rediscovered it, I'll definitely be buying more for accompanying summer picnics and barbecues. The screwcap makes it much easier than faffing about with a corkscrew opening wine bottles. French Madhouse Daddy Mike was also very impressed to learn that it is a combination of crisp eating apples fermented with yeast from the Champagne-Ardenne region. Ooh là là !

Although I do use cider in a few recipes, particularly Pork & Apple Braised in Cider and Coq au Cidre, I'm never really sure what it goes with. Merrydown to the rescue ! They sent me through this lovely recipe to share with you. I have to admit, I haven't tried it yet and I was quite surprised by the combination of cider and seafood so I'll be intrigued to see how it turns out.

Seafood pies with leeks and Merrydown cider

Serves 4

For the filling :
250g Icelandic cod fillet, skinned
250g haddock fillet, skinned
100ml vegetable stock
300ml Merrydown Vintage Dry Cider
250g fresh mixed seafood or prawns
2½ tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
25g softened butter
50g plain flour
20g fresh parsley, finely chopped

For the topping :
500g waxy potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
2 leeks, thinly sliced

Method :

Place the fish fillets in a pan, add the stock and cider, and bring to a very gentle simmer. Poach for 5 minutes, then remove the fish with a slotted spoon. Reserve the poaching liquid. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Flake the drained fish into 4 x 500ml individual pie dishes (or use a 2-litre square ovenproof dish) and mix with the seafood or prawns.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a pan and fry the onion for 3–4 minutes over a low heat to soften. Pour in the poaching liquid. In a small bowl, mix the butter and flour together to form a smooth paste. Add this to the hot liquid, a little at a time, whisking constantly until the paste is completely incorporated and the sauce is thick and smooth. Stir in the parsley, then divide the sauce evenly between the pie dishes.

For the topping, rinse the potato slices in cold water to remove excess starch. Drain and pat dry with kitchen paper. Place the potato slices over the fish, scattering the sliced leeks evenly among them as you go. Drizzle the remaining oil over the potatoes and bake for about 35 minutes, until they are golden and soft.

With celebrations in full swing this summer for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympic Games, Merrydown are jumping on the "all things quintessentially British" bandwagon to celebrate their 65th birthday in style with a fabulous on pack promotion based on our Great British Village Traditions. From street party kits and county show tickets to gardening equipment and cooler bags, this selection of prizes will ensure your summer celebrations are memorable ones. With so many prizes to be won and a one in ten chance of winning, make sure you pick up a bottle of Merrydown Cider on your next shopping trip to try your luck!

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £2.55 for 750ml

for more information :
Disclosure : I received two bottles of Merrydown in order to write an honest review.   

Other reviews you may be interested in :

 Epicure Wine Reductions 
Freixenet Cava review and recipe suggestions
Camitz Sparkling Vodka


  1. Wild days, Cheryl! :) I'm not a cider drinker myself, but I buy it occasionally to cook chicken in cider and cream with chives, saw that recipe in the States many years ago, and it is lovely.

    1. Ooh I love the sound of that - definitely one that I'll be trying :)


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