My Edmonds Restaurant News: At its core, handcrafted hard cider a delicious business

Core Hero founder Steve Kaiser applies a few drops of cranberry juice on a refractometer to measure the Brix or sugar level.
Core Hero founder Steve Kaiser applies a few drops of cranberry juice on a refractometer to measure the Brix or sugar level.

According to its Edmonds founder, Steve Kaiser, Core Hero Hard Cider is “probably the smallest commercial cidery in Washington state.”

Just how small? Kaiser puts it this way: “Core Hero is only sold in stores that I can stock and service on my lunch hour.”

This is the story of Core Hero. An offer of free apples from an orchard Wenatchee over 15 years ago led to the production of a handcrafted hard cider on the shelves at local grocery stores.

That first batch of apples yielded enough juice for 10 different trial batches of cider. Friends and family were willing to taste test the batches. A carbonated apple cranberry cider was the hands-down favorite.

Life events put Steve’s cider production on hold. Employment at a local cidery, and at Silver Lake Winery, provided experience, that aided in the final creation of his own company.

Steve’s hobby became serious. He took himself to cider school in Mount Vernon, Wash. He studied with an international cider expert from England, Peter Mitchell. Several months later he applied for a winery license, which was the first of many steps toward launching Core Hero Hard Cider.

Core Heroes apples.
Core Hero apples.

Apples are sourced from “local” Washington growers and fruit in his small Edmonds orchard. Steve owns land on Lopez and is nurturing a stand of 50 older varieties that are tart, with high tannin — smaller fruit, dry farmed to concentrate the juices into intense flavor. Think “crab apples.”

Ditto the cranberries in his cider. The round red berries come from a dry-farm cranberry operation in Grayland, Wash. and are so sweet you can pop a handful into your mouth and not pucker. Fruit crops grown via water deprivation have much higher Brix. Brix is the relative density scale used in sugar and wine-making industries, and indicates the percent of cane sugar (sucrose) by weight (grams per 100). High Brix fruit makes Core Hero Hard Cider taste fantastic.

Cider, like wine and beer, is considered “food” and Steve became interested in pairing his cider with foods after tasting the chemistry of flavors when chocolate or cheese was paired with wines. He then advanced to cooking with hard cider. “I soon discovered that my apple cinnamon hard cider worked very well in many recipes I tried.” He shared a recipe for pork tenderloin:

Cider pork roast.
Cider pork roast.

Apple Cider Glazed Pork Tenderloin
1-1/2 pounds pork tenderloin (with no brine added)
1 bottle (15.9 oz) of Core Hero Hard Cider apple cinnamon or similar handcrafted apple cinnamon hard cider
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp brown sugar
4 whole cloves, crumbled
½ tsp salt
Black pepper
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tbsp sesame seed oil for searing pork

1. Mix the marinade ingredients (everything except the sesame seed oil) in a bowl
2. Place marinade and pork in a container and refrigerate up to 24 hours
1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees
2. Heat sesame seed oil in a skillet over medium high heat
3. Remove pork from marinade (reserve marinade) and place in skillet. Sear until golden brown all over
4. Transfer skillet to the oven and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads 145 F degrees using a meat thermometer
5. Remove pork from skillet, place on a plate and cover loosely with foil to rest while you make the sauce
6. Pour reserved marinade into the skillet used for searing the pork and bring to a boil. While stirring, continue to boil the marinade until it becomes syrupy
7. Remove skillet from the stove, roll roasted pork in the sauce then remove and slice. Serve remaining sauce on the side for dribbling onto the pork

Kaiser says his “mental gears have been whirring.” He’d love to partner with a local restaurant and host taste events to showcase Core Hero Hard Cider paired with cheeses. Additional recipes are in the works; a pan-seared salmon with reduction of apple cranberry hard cider.

The name Core Hero intrigued me. I asked Steve to fill in the details.

Core Hero cider.
Core Hero cider.

“The Core Hero name resulted from brainstorming with friends and family, and checking existing trademarks,” he explained. Steve said certain cider attributes meant the name would represent something true to the cider. “The cider has a hand-crafted, full-bodied flavor so it couldn’t have a wimpy name.”

“I will sometimes have a drink (beer, wine or cider) as a reward to myself for physical activity.” Steve sees himself as a “hero who deserves a reward for the accomplishment.”

Steve mentioned several individuals whom I’d call heroes. People played a part to bring about the successful launch of his product line.

Steve himself is a hero. He persisted in his passion to produce a handcrafted, minimally processed cider using local fruit.

His application for a license to produce cider got lost down in Olympia. U.S. Senator Patty Murray became a hero in this story, as she was able to get his application back on track.

In summer of 2015, Steve launched his product at the Edmonds Farmers Market. Encouraged by responses from local shoppers, he approached local retailers. As of August 2016, shoppers of legal age may purchase Core Hero at the Whole Foods Lynnwood location, PCC in both Edmonds and Bothell, or the QFC location here in Edmonds.

If you shop for some cider during the lunch hour, you just might meet Steve Kaiser.

noodlehut-openGreat News: Everett’s Noodle Hut has reopened in Edmonds! Many folks are happy their favorite Thai restaurant is back, even if they have to drive to 8418 Bowdoin Way, at Five Corners, to finally get their “Pad See Ew, five-star spicy fix.” Word is out on sites like Yelp. Customers from the former location in Everett phone in their desired dishes. A steady stream of “to-go” orders went out the door while we dined.

Owner Sinisone Sinhbandith says, “Thai street food is what we do.” Her big smile embodies the message of the sign on the wall above our table. “Be the Reason Someone Smiles Today.” She smiled as she poured tea and handed us our menus. Ah, the tea…Her own recipe, a blend of green, Jasmine and Pandu.

Fried turnip cake.
Fried turnip cake.

We started off with fried turnip as an appetizer. Crisped squares of lightly browned turnip, sat atop fresh bean sprouts and a stir fry of egg and green onion. Homemade tangy, slightly sweet sauce was wiped clean as we finished the plate. Yum!

This small restaurant has four tables. Sinsinone takes the orders, helps with take-out orders; she cashiers, clears tables, serves tea, water and fields phone calls for take-out. In the kitchen, Prapassara Sattha joins Sinsinone at the stove to create works of art that taste as delicious as they are beautiful. An older gentleman helps out too, but the two women run the show.

Tom Yum
Tom Yum

Since this is a small operation, dishes are prepared to order and substitutions are no problem. My veggie-loving hubby wanted tofu instead of meat in his Old Fashioned Tom Yum. No problem. Was it OK to have meat broth? Or would he prefer veggie broth too? What about seafood in the dish? What more can I say? Wow. His bowl of soup was delicious, and not the “usual” recipe he is often served in his favorite spots in Seattle. Rice noodles, whole slices of turnips, fish balls, and toasted peanuts mingled in a fragrant, citrusy broth, that “tasted better and the flavor developed more, with every spoonful.”

Pad See Ew
Pad See Ew

I’d chosen my favorite fat noodle fix, er… I mean my favorite Thai dish, Pad See Ew. I requested mixed vegetables. Three stars were perfect for spiciness. An artful decoration of carrots, greens tops of the Chinese broccoli, still emerald in color, and crisp crunchy bamboo shoots, decorated a bowl full of melt-in-the mouth, tender, wide noodles.

Crab-fried rice.
Crab-fried rice.

A sign on the wall caught my eye — Crab Fried Rice. Had to try that too and oh my, what a delight. Real crab, fluffs of tender egg, bright colored peas and veggies and the just-tooth-tender rise had the perfect bit of oil glistening on each mouthful.

Sinsinone came by the table to inquire about our meal, to which we responded we loved every bite. I asked her what that white balls in the Tom Yum noodle soup were fish balls. She said, “Yes.” She continued “If you come here, it’s food like in Thailand; you order this noodle, it comes with fish ball.”

We left with smiles on our faces and look forward to the next visit at this very authentic Thai spot. I hear dessert is in the works — mango sticky rice.

Celebrate the holidays with 190 Sunset’s new Happy Hour Menu and Santa breakfast.

190 Sunset lobster macaroni and cheese
190 Sunset Lobster Mac and Cheese

A dozen new drinks – a dozen new menu items! (Click on this link for menus). 190 Sunset has special items on the new menu like Lobster Mac and Cheese — lobster tail meat, house-made cheese sauce, penne pasta, Gruyere cheese-bread crumb topping, or Blackened Salmon Tacos with mango-pineapple habanero pico, shredded lettuce and a dollop of sour cream, wrapped in warm corn tortillas. The Pineapple Express libation keeps that tropical taste going with pineapple-infused vodka, crème de cassis, pineapple juice and orange bitters and orange peel. Happy hour menu is available Monday through Friday, 4-6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close every day.

A little elf whispered in my ear that Santa Claus will be breakfasting at 190 Sunset on Saturday, Dec. 17. Owner Tom Budinick confirmed this and says lots of fun for families is in store. A Waffle Bar, a hot chocolate station, and a gingerbread cookie-decorating station will keep the kids occupied so that mom and dad can enjoy a holiday Mimosa.

Check the 190 Sunset website for updates regarding the exact times to meet and greet with Santa.

More to come in the New Year…

tn_newthai-lyn“Thai Food is Coming!” So says a sign in the window at B Thai Cuisine, located at 196th Street Southwest and 68th Avenue West in Lynnwood.

And there is more news: The former location of The Eatery Works, 7533 Olympic View Drive, is sporting a sign that says “Coming Soon Aggie’s BBQ.”

Enjoy the holidays. Celebrate with good food and good friends, in our wonderful restaurants.

— Kathy Passage

Kathy Passage Hi ResA specialty gourmet food broker for over 30 years, Kathy Passage has in-depth knowledge on food and the special qualities of ingredients used in the exquisite products she helped bring to market. Kathy brings this unique perspective from the “other side of the plate” to writing about the food and restaurant scene in Edmonds.

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