Settings that support local community have become more valuable than ever. As we walk around the Dane County Farmer’s Market, we notice and appreciate all of the local farmers and business folk that come together to provide their very best product. We cherish their food because it was produced and harvested with love and care, and because we feel connected to a central and communal source that is supporting a local business. By acknowledging this, we can emphasize the importance and value of coming together and encouraging each other in the home we call Madison, WI.
This “farm to table” philosophy is a staple for John Biondi and Deirdre Birmingham, the founders and proprietors of the Cider Farm on 8216 Watts Rd, Madison, Wisconsin. As I listened to them and their employees talk about their business, I was able to learn the time, labor, and passion that they pour into their farm and tap room.
The Cider Farm is an organic cider tasting room. Though they do serve delicious small plates, food is not their focus; their plates aim to complement their complex and refreshing ciders.
While their food is locally sourced from other farms, let us first focus on their cider.
Not Your Average Cider
The connotations of cider in Wisconsin often include cool weather, spices, and falling leaves. But this is not your average apple cider, nor is it the 6-pack big name brands, such as Angry Orchard or Cider Boys. The Cider Farm grows their apples organically in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. Unlike big brands, the Cider Farm uses traditional English and French apples to make their cider. These apple trees were not commercially available in the U.S when John and Dierdre first started, so they traveled overseas to choose the varieties they wanted.
In addition, these apples have tannins in them, which are bitter, naturally occurring compounds that exist within many plant tissues, such as wine grapes. And just as one would not eat wine grapes, you would not eat one of these apples either! The tannins make them bitter, much like a crab apple, yet they also give the cider complexity, just as a wine grape does for wine. The Cider Farm acknowledges that even though buying or growing table apples would have been easier, they are “seeking the best ingredients”, and making their “ciders worth the time invested in them”. They pride themselves in offering “cider refreshment with wine complexity”.
From Farm to Table
Though food is not necessarily their focus, the Cider Farm still boasts about their delicious plates that pair with their ciders. They serve food all day, every day, with brunch specials on Sunday. In addition, the food they prepare is sourced locally and organically, just as their ciders are. John and Dierdre also pride themselves on using sustainably grown ingredients, and often feature dishes using produce that are in season. As a result, their menu changes from time to time to stay in tune with seasonal ingredients. They also enjoy supporting other farmers and businesses like themselves. The Cider Farm features food from several other local businesses, such as Seven Seeds Farm, Madison Sourdough, and Uplands Cheese. This creates a tight network and community of farmers and business folk that support each other and their passions. Their collaboration with Hooks Cheese lead them to a delicious cheese and cider pairing, drawing in foodies, families and bystanders alike to sit and share a meal with each other.
In the Cider Farm’s tasting room, one can feel the sense of community John and Dierdre aim to bring. From the welcoming staff, to the friendly patrons, you are bound to hear stories about the farm, their apples, and how their dream became a journey. In a world where food can be shipped thousands of miles each day, we can feel connected to our roots at the Cider Farm. Our fertile Wisconsin land and Madison pride has given us a unique gem that highlights the intersections of community, passion, and organic food and drink.