I had the great fortune to be invited to Threadbare Cider’s blogger brunch this morning, and it was the perfect “filling” to the work “sandwich” I experienced this weekend. I worked late last night and tonight we had the largest and craziest event I’ve ever seen, so a cider brunch in the middle of it all was a fantastic idea.
Threadbare is owned by the same folks as Wigle Whiskey, and I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ve loved me some Wigle over the years. The name comes from a story about Johnny Appleseed, and you should absolutely stop by and take a tour to get the full effect, but let’s just say I was surprised there was a Pittsburgh connection to the story and now the name and business make total sense. However, the team at Threadbare can tell the story way better than I can remember it, so go see them. They’re good people.
Upon entering Threadbare, I was presented with my choice of cocktails. I chose a bloody mary, mostly because I was curious to experience a cider-based bloody. I was apprehensive at first – in my head, tomato juice, clam juice, and cider absolutely do not go together – but no kidding, it was amazing. I was glad I tried it, and I sucked it right down. While I waited for the other bloggers to arrive, I looked around a bit. The space itself is rather unique, and very modern. We were treated to a video of the construction while we were there, and I didn’t realize just how much work had been done on the place – it looked pretty intense. But it looks great now – lots of stainless steel and wood and some really neat wallpaper that looks like it was painted.
We got a tour of the place before we sat down to eat, and on the tour we got to sample the ciders that Threadbare has been producing. I *think* the first one we tried was their Dry cider, which almost had a white wine type of quality to it. I imagine it would be great in cocktails; it was rather unobtrusive. After the Dry cider, we tried the Farmhouse cider (I may have the two confused; it was hours ago, but it feels like days ago after the night of bartending). The Farmhouse cider was still very dry – I believe Meredith, one of the owners and also one of our tour guides, said that their sweeter cider still only has about 1/6 of the sugar of the lowest-sugar mass-produced cider on the market. That was nice to hear, because one of the reasons Angry Orchard and the rest of the mass-market ciders kind of wear on me is because they’re too sweet. I get the feeling I could drink this stuff throughout the course of the day and not get sick of it. We got to see the cool laboratory area before we moved on to the last cider, which we found in the room where all the cider was “cooking.” The last cider was their Wild cider and it was my absolute favorite by far. It’s unfiltered, so it looked kind of murky, and it tasted completely different from the other two ciders. It was slightly sweeter, in my opinion, and tasted… funkier… but in a really good way. One of the other bloggers went back for seconds (and then thirds) of this one, and I was so tempted to snag the last one, but I had to be semi-coherent for work in the afternoon so I didn’t. Unfortunately for me, the Wild cider isn’t sold in bottles (yet), so I guess I’ll have to be back. 😉
We eventually made our way back upstairs to the dining room area, where we were presented with some appetizers. We started off with the cheese board (called “The Curd” on the menu) and the pickled vegetables (“The Brine”). The cheese was delicious (because cheese, duh), but I was most impressed by the pickled cauliflower (soooooo good) and the crackers, ironically. I hope I’m not misstating this (again, long day), but the crackers are made from the leftover grains from making the Wigle spirits. They’re salty, but not too salty, and they have a very unique taste to them. As someone remarked while we were eating, Wigle should package the crackers and sell them; they were that good. We also got to try a Dutch Baby Pancake, which was a first for me. It’s listed as a brunch special on the menu, and it was topped with lemon, whipped cream, and nutmeg. It was different, but it wasn’t my absolute favorite thing on the menu. That honor is reserved for…
Pizza! Three different types of traditional pizzas were brought out for our table, along with two gluten-free polenta pizzas. The first one I tried (upper left) was the Threadbare Hash, which had potatoes, peppers, onions, mozzarella, sausage, and scrambled egg on it. The second (upper right) was the Cabbage pizza, which was topped with scrambled egg, shiitake aioli, and katsuobushi (dried tuna flakes). The Cabbage pizza looked really cool when it came out – the heat from the pizza caused the katsuobushi to “wave” (check it out, it’s a real thing!), which in turn caused all the bloggers (including me) to create Boomerang videos of it. I’m not smart enough to figure out how to make my blog pictures move, so just trust me – it looked cool. The polenta pizzas were okay, but they’re not really my thing. The polenta was a little too thick for my taste (instead of a crispy pizza crust, it made for a thick chewy crust), but the flavor was good. If I had to avoid gluten, I’d appreciate the alternative. My favorite of the pizzas, though, was by far the Kale pizza. I know. I KNOW. But let me tell you, this was unlike any pizza I’ve ever had. The kale was crispy on top, the egg was sunny side up (which normally I don’t like, but it worked on this!), and there was tomato sauce and mozzarella, but the best part was the cumin oil. The cumin oil imparted a light spiciness to the pizza that I wasn’t expecting and it tasted amazing – it was just the right amount to make me wonder what I was tasting without hitting me over the head with it. I kind of wish I’d doubled up on the kale, because it made me a happy kid.
I had to leave for work after the pizza was served, and I left with a very full, happy belly. All of the food was tasty, and the cocktails were delicious. Add onto that the beautiful new space, the friendly staff, the reasonable prices, and the fact that you’re supporting a family-owned and operated local business, and there are lots of reasons why you should check out Threadbare Cider for brunch. Hopefully I’ll get back there soon, and with any luck I won’t have to leave early to go to work! 🙂