We did not know there was such a thing as National Calvados Week, but now we do and so do you. Coming to London (and Manchester, Edinburgh and Liverpool) from October 18th -24th 2015, it promises to introduce the French spirit to a whole new audience through specially created cocktail and food menus, as well as tastings and food pairings. Over 100 bars, shops, supermarkets and off-licences will take part. The celebration coincides with the apple harvest in Normandy, the key ingredient of calvados.
Calvados has traditionally been drunk as a digestif or as ‘le trou Normand’ (the Norman hole), a small drink to re-awaken the appetite between courses. But, National Calvados Week, the brain child of the good people of Pére Magloire, the leading calvados brand in the world, is trying to shake off the old fuddy-duddy image the drink has and show off what you can do with it behind the bar and in the kitchen.
We were invited to the press preview night where we learned all there is to know about calvados. First mentioned in 1553, calvados can only be produced from apples from Normandy and, like cognac and armagnac, it is subject to very strict regulations. Apples are crushed and fermented for 6-8 weeks to make cider (1000kg of apples = 750 litres), the dry cider is then distilled to make ‘eau de vie’ and from this common starting point, there are two routes to go down: single distillation using a column still produces a drink that still has the distinct apple flavour and a fresher, cleaner taste; double distillation in a copper pot still tastes more like a cognac. Both are matured in oak barrels for at least 2 years (VS) or 4 years (VSOP) and 6 years (XO). There is also the Calvados Pays d’Auge, which can only be produced from apples from a very specific region within Normandy. This will always be double distilled in a copper still.
Pére Magloire dates back to the 1820’s when Gervais Magloire became an inn keeper in Cagney, a village on the main road between Paris and Normandy and started to produce his own calvados. Due to the high quality, it soon became famous and its reputation spread across the whole of France.
We were also given the chance to go to a sneak preview of the food you can expect at 155 Bar & Kitchen – The Vinyl Lounge in Clerkenwell where chef Tom Luck had paired three different kinds of calvados from Pére Magloire with a specially created menu that also used the spirit as an ingredient.
Starter: Baked Oysters with a Calvados VSOP and Cream Reduction,Brioche
Main course: Glazed pork Belly, Calvados 12 Year Old Jelly, Baked Apple Puree, celeriac, heritage carrots, crackling, jus
Dessert: Pressed Apples, Puff Pastry, Caramel, Vanilla Ice Cream
Have a look at the website and see where you can part take in the festivities, whether you have calvados infused meal or just a cocktail (the Pére Magloire Delicious Sour comes highly recommended).
Fact: calvados is the regimental drink of the Royal Canadian Hussars since the D-Day invasions.