Day 1 of my Birthday Celebrations at the Oblivion Tap Room proved to be a discovery of cider and cheese in an unexpected location.
I was singing to the tune of 12 days of Christmas…
“On the first day of birthday celebrations, my Lady Crafter friends gave to me… a taste of cider and cheese!”
If you’re curious what this 12 Days of Birthdays is all about, check out my post on The Cure for The Birthday Blues and the Fun Events in Orlando that inspired it.
I’ve had more than my share of wine and cheese pairings in my life but Cider and Cheese was a first. I’ve only tried the occasional holiday cider which could basically be described as a super sweet, slightly alcoholic version of apple juice. Not a fan. I am also not a beer drinker. However, the optimist in me firmly believes that I just haven’t found my favorite one to love yet. I am open to continue the search. Enter The Orlando Lady Crafters, a group of ladies that love craft beer and participate in tastings around town, who invited me to this event and promised to show me the way. It’s good to have a guide when you are discovering new foods and drinks and these ladies are pros. Plus, I love how they have created a group with one common goal: to enjoy good company, conversation and their favorite crafty beverage. I think everyone should be a part of a group that gets together to enjoy life!
When I arrived at the Oblivion Tap Room, what could be affectionately described as a hole in the wall on East Colonial Drive, I would have never expected the type of tasting experience that awaited me. They say never judge a book by its cover and in this case, never judge a restaurant by location and looks alone. It’s a sure way to miss out on the good things in life. The place looks like a cleaned-up version of a biker bar. Not a hard-core biker but certainly that vibe. Red walls, graffiti, pool table in the corner, chalkboard on bathroom stalls for you to doodle on during your down time (pun intended!), skulls, tattoos and lots of character all around. I love character in a restaurant. It tells me the people that run it have personality. They are not following the norms of what is expected or afraid to be themselves. I like that. This place has personality in spades!
The cheese presentation was beautiful – again not what I expected. It offered four good sized portions of each cheese beautifully garnished with crisp green grapes, dried apricots, cranberries, candied pecans, honey (more on that later) and whole grain crackers. The four ciders were brought out one at a time while Krista, one of the managers, introduced and told us a little about each each pairing she so carefully selected. The cost was $25 per person which I thought was very reasonable.
Cider and Cheese Taste One
Moody Blue Cheese and The Anvil Sonoma Cider from Healdsburg, CA
The Roth Moody Blue Cheese from Wisconsin was creamy, tangy and had a wonderful smoky flavor that paired beautifully with the crisp and slightly smoky finish of the cider. We all agreed this cheese would be fantastic stuffed in a burger or topping a steak. It was certainly one of my favorites of the night. It had just as much character as this place. Now let’s talk cider. I learned you taste cider like you do wine. You smell it first then you taste. The Anvil from Sonoma was aromatic with hints of pear. Just for good measure the makers added bourbon flavor and lightly aged it in bourbon barrels to give it that smoky finish. It reminded me of a Fume Blanc as it was light bodied, crisp, lively and smoky. The cider was 6% alcohol and a small bottle is on the menu for $7.
Cider and Cheese Taste Two
Herb de Humboldt Cheese & Cidre Bouche Brut de Normandie Cider from France
The Herb de Humboldt Chevre is hand-mixed with Herbs de Provence. The taste was fresh & tangy, simple yet refined, with the herbs providing a very pleasant earthiness. If you like goat cheese taken to a higher level, this is a winner. I enjoyed it slowly with the crackers as I didn’t want it to end. The Cidre Bouche Brut de Normandie from Domaine Familial Louis Dupont was a medium bodied cider with a dry, slightly yeasty finish. I liked the strong aromas of cooked apples and honey. This pairing was my favorite of the night. It has 4.5% alcohol content. A 375ml bottle was $17.50 on the menu. I guess you could say I have expensive taste!
Cider and Cheese Taste Three
Kaltbach Gruyere and Doc’s Draft Hard Pear Cider from Warwick, New York
The Kaltbach Gruyere is a classic hard Swiss cheese. If you have never tried dipping cheese in honey then you are missing out. Once I started dipping this cheese in the honey I couldn’t stop. It has a sharp flavor with a hint of nuttiness but not salty. Eating it with the honey and the candied pecans was amazing. The Doc’s Draft Hard Pear Cider from Warwick Valley Wine Company is a traditional cider crafted with apples and pears. I got the aromas of ripe pear right away as if I was standing in an orchard. The taste was light and very crisp with a dry finish. I was not a fan of the slightly medicinal finish I got from it, yet I love how everyone’s tastes are different, because others around me loved it. I guess my palate isn’t used to it. This is Advanced Cider 2.0 and I’m still in the beginner class. But I’m learning!
Cider and Cheese Taste Four
Purple Haze and Lazy Lemon McKenzie’s Hard Cider from West Seneca, NY
The Purple Haze cheese (not the beer as I first thought) is made by one of America’s best known artisan cheese-makers, Cypress Grove Chevre from California. Why is it called Purple Haze you may ask? Well, let me tell you. Because it is a beautiful creamy goat cheese blended with lavender and wild fennel pollen. Yes, I said Lavender! Oh this cheese has so many tasty possibilities! It would be amazing in a salad with berries or stuffed in dates. You can guess by now that I liked this cheese very much, right? The cider was McKenzie’s Lazy Lemon Hard Cider and it was a perfect pairing as the tangy lemony notes of the cider complemented the lavender notes in the cheese. The nose was full of citrus like you had just cut a bunch of lemons and limes. The taste was tart without an acidic bite, zesty and refreshing with 6% alcohol. I can see this as a perfect summer drink and it was my second favorite pairing of the evening. It is $5 for a small bottle.
Oblivion Tap Room has over 70 ciders on hand – three pages on the menu! If you like cider or want to learn about cider this is the place to go. The staff was very knowledgeable and friendly. If beer is more your liking, they have 40 taps constantly rotating, plus they offer mini beers so you can try more than one and create your own flights. The menu offers a variety of bar food, sandwiches and creative burgers made of a 1/2 lb house-blend of brisket, short rib and chuck patty served on fresh bread from local favorite Olde Hearth Bread Company with your choice of seasonings and toppings. I ordered their Sweet Potato Wedges with a killer Sriracha sauce. My neighbor ordered a burger that looked so tasty I almost stole a bite while she wasn’t looking. Their menu is a bit irreverent like their style. I loved their note “good things take time” as all their dishes are made fresh and that, as they say, takes time. They offer billiards and steel tip darts for free and a huge selection of beers to keep you busy. This place is definitely worth a visit if you are in East Orlando or worth a drive if you are not.
Thank you Orlando Lady Crafters for a great evening! Day 1 of Birthday Celebrations at Oblivion Tap Room was a fantastic start to my 12 Days of Birthday Celebrations and a sure way to cure the birthday blues!
Stay tuned for Day 2 as I enjoy Dinner & Movie at a place where you don’t have to sacrifice good quality food and a nice glass of wine or cocktail to watch the latest blockbuster. Check out my Cure for the Birthday Blues and share with your friends.
Oblivion Tap Room
5101 E Colonial Drive
Orlando FL 32803