When people find out that I’m from Maine, the first question is always, “Do you miss it?”

I used to answer that I miss “the people,” because I left all of my family and friends behind, and no amount of sunshine and Mediterranean climate can replace people.

Nearly 17 years later, it’s much deeper than people. My top 10 misses:

  1. Living on spring-fed Allen Pond, where my kids swam in the summer and skated in the winter.
  2. Maple trees with sap buckets in the spring, which my neighbor Ronnie Ward had tapped. He’d collect the sap and then cooked it for days-on-end ~ I think I remember it takes eight days of cooking until the white liquid was reduced to a dark amber maple syrup. That was done in his yard, and I was his neighbor… watching, then buying.
  3. Maple trees in the fall that were ablaze just everywhere with red and orange. Oak trees were illuminated in yellow. And with aspens, you could almost see through the leaves, because they were so translucently well lit.
  4. The coast: Bar Harbor, Popham Beach, Reid State Park, and Camden, Maine.
  5. Monument Square and the Old Port in Portland, Maine.
  6. Proximity to Boston, the city that one of my great grandfathers founded (Reverend William Blackstone).
  7. Proximity to Salem, another town where I have ancestors. (Yes, John Clarke was there during the trials, and I pray for his soul. I’m one of his great granddaughters ~ seven generations removed ~ and I would have been one of those women.)
  8. Harvard (legacy) Bowdoin (lots of legacy), Bates (in my home town ~ I spent a lot of time on that campus), and Colby (my great grandfather Governor William T. Haines made land available for the college to be built).
  9. Luigi’s Pizza… and pastrami to die-for… East Coast is the only way it should be made and served. Love the fat, okay?!
  10. Apple picking with my kids, walking through an orchard, picking and tasting tart, crispy fruit, as the juices just dripped down our chins. Apple pies were the end result.

Ah, the apples… Farnum Hill Cider just made my autumn, and led to my reflecting on what I now really miss about New England.

I was asked by Corrie Martin of Farnum Hill if I’d be interested in receiving samples of their hard cider. Are you kidding me? Bring it on. If anyone in California was going to “get it,” I might be one of those people, because anything New England is so much a part of my fabric.

When Farnum Hill ciders arrived, I took the two bottles from the container, and noted the following:

  1. Farnum Hill Semi-Dry (sparkling): 7% alcohol
  2. Farnum Hill Kingston Black Cider Reserve (still): 8.5% alcohol

These weren’t going to be over-the-top alcoholic beverages, so I knew ahead of time to not be comparing apples to grapes… And that’s how they delivered… It was truly a very different experience, but one that I really enjoyed. I can easily see these beverages being served as an aperitif during our upcoming holiday meals.

I recommend the following cheeses, based on a wine and cheese tasting that I experienced earlier this year at Charles Creek Vineyards. (This link to CCV takes you to that tasting, so you can read about the cheeses’ descriptions and flavors, and actually see what the cheeses look like.

  1. Farnum Hill Semi-Dry (sparkling): Soft cheeses; like a Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor or a Bellwether Carmody
  2. Farnum Hill Kingston Black Cider Reserve (still): Hearty cheeses; like a Cypress Grove Purple Haze, Vella Dry Jack, or a Matos St. George

Traditional Ciders from True Cider Apples is what Farnum Hill is all about. They’re dry and complex wines that are very enjoyable. I have to admit that they need to be thought of as an acquired taste at first, because you have to rein in your own palate to begin to taste them for what they truly are… not what you expect them to be. Compared to tasting traditional wine, they have unusual flavors, at first.

I’m now very used to at least 13 percent alcohol, so I tasted very thoughtfully, at first, like one does when first going into the ocean in the spring… I took time to get used to the unknown. It didn’t take me long, though, to enjoy what these delicious apples had to offer, and I immediately began to think of what would be great to pair with them.

Farnum Hill grows true cider apples of English, French, and American origin. According to their Website:

Peculiar-tasting when fresh, cider apples produce gorgeous aromas, flavors and sensations after pressing, fermenting, and blending by the respectful cidermaker. The English and European varieties that flourish here attain highly concentrated flavors in this extreme New Hampshire climate.

Currently where to buy:

New England:

  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Vermont

Beyond New England:

  • Illinois
  • Oregon

If you’re a wholesaler, you may want to consider expanding Farnum Hill’s national distribution. Give them a ringy-ding at (603) 448-1511 or email, info@farnumhillciders.com.

Farnum Hill Ciders are going to grace many a holiday table, complementing many delicious meals. I totally enjoyed these ciders for what they were, apples gently fermented and produced by a New England source, Farnum Hill of Lebanon, New Hampshire, where they “Live Free, or Die.” I can also see them as great summer sippers.

It’s now up to you to think up other uses!