Update August 2015 Unfortunately, Comptoir du Cidre closed its doors. However, you can enjoy their cidre and steak at Markthalle 9’s Street Food Thursday!
Last Friday I cycled up to Prenzlauer Berg to indulge in a night of ciders and cheese happening at Comptoir du Cidre in cooperation with Brie et ses amis, an online-shop for cheese. Wait what!? An online shop for cheese? What has become of this world, you ask? But if you put your doubts aside, my friend, you’re in for a treat. Because this cider and cheese feast is delicious.
Comptoir du Cidre is a bar for all kinds of artisanal ciders, from light and fruity pear varieties to heavy, liqueur-like aperitifs. Sidney Kristiansen, who was born in Canada and now lives in the Normandy and in Berlin, opened this cosy spot end of last summer together with his sister Leila, to bring some of the cider-filled l’art de vivre to our grey city. You might already know them from different street food markets where they tested their idea. And it indeed was one of those, where I tasted something “Kristiansen” for the first time. Two years ago I previewed the about-to-start Street Food Thursday and Leila served a beautiful potato tarte tatin.
Brie et ses Amis‘ name I’ve heard before but never trusted the cheese-online-shop idea much, however, when Sidney invited me to the night of cheese and cider, I couldn’t resist… And I wasn’t disappointed, Paula Kirchenbauer, the Berlin-cheese-expert of Brie et ses Amis, brought some of the nicest cheeses, combined them skillfully on dainty plates and served them with home-made, lightly toasted bread. There were two choices, a plate from Ile-de-France (Paris) with a beautifully melting Brie de Meaux, a very creamy Gratte-paille (my favorite) and thin shaves of a Crottin de Chavignol goat’s cheese. And a plate from the Auvergne with a rich Saint-Nectaire, that tasted like a rainy day in the forest, a mild Fourme d’Ambert and a Gaperon.
Brie et ses Amis’ is the brainchild of Paula and her siblings. Coming from a family with generations of cheese experience, they source their cheese from small artisanal farms all over France. I am still not sure whether cheese has to be ordered online and delivered to your door (with ice-packs), but their cheese is phenomenal. I really enjoyed Paula’s polite suggestions, her explanations and of course the extra helpings of some of our favorites, and I am sure she’ll grant you the same service when you order one of her plates, cheese subscriptions (!) or a la carte selections.
While enjoying the cheese, Sidney treated us to several ciders, like the Cuvée Arsène, with an unusual maceration (the apples are left to leach flavors and colorings into the must) of seven days instead of eight hours creating an even more intense apple-aroma while still being really light at 3,5%, and a more intense Reserve, that was aged in Calvados-oak-casks. We finished with Pommeau de Normandie, a liqueur wine made from a mix of freshly pressed apple juice and Calvados and oak-cask aged for 1,5 or 10 years and coming with an intense 17%.
While we were there, we also tasted three different butters from Normandy (one pure, one with lemon and the third with intense algae) as well as the much praised 65 hours cider steak. While most folks come for the meat, we found the cheese far more revelatory, and a better complement to the wonderfully different ciders. Our last course was a glass of the Pommeau de Normandie with their delicious Marquise au Chocolat, a very soft and creamy chocolate terrine.
The next night of Fromage et Cidre will happen on March 20th, again with two plates of wonderful cheeses chosen by Paula and accompanied by lovely cider chosen by Sidney. For 8 Euro you’ll receive a plate of cheese and a glass of cider.