WALLINGFORD — Nancy Hutton, a town resident, brought her whole family out Saturday morning for Irish breakfast at the New England Cider Company on North Industrial Plains Road to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
Her in-laws came in from Massachusetts, and friends, who are fellow Friday night regulars at cider company, joined them as well.
“Everyone is so super friendly and so welcoming. It feels like family the minute you come in. It feels cozy,” Hutton said.
That’s the best way to describe the St. Patrick’s Day brunch at the cider company — cozy.
With Irish music playing in the background, and a full spread of Irish food catered by Lyman Orchards, about 40 people hunkered over their plates, sipped their ciders, and just generally enjoyed a moment out with each other. Hutton’s family wore green and went up for seconds. A group of young women tried different ciders and chatted amiably. A little girl sat with her family and happily ate her breakfast. Couples at the bar talked.
Co-owner Miguel Galarraga cultivated a calm, family friendly atmosphere for the event. More tangibly, he created a special-themed cider to help with the good cheer. The concoction is a mix of cider, currents, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme — hence the name Scarborough Fair, a reference to the Simon and Garfunkel song.
“It’s just something a little different. I was looking up typical ingredients in Irish foods,” Galarraga said of his inspiration for the small batch.
He starts with his basic English cider, which takes two months to ferment. He then makes extracts using the herbs. Once that’s done, he mixes the amounts of the extracts — a little more of this, a little less of that — to come up with the right flavor.
“It’s really catered to my taste, but I am also catering to the customers too, so it is a little sweeter,” he said.
You can’t have a proper St. Patrick’s Day party without corned beef. Ben Gaffney, the food and beverage manager at Lyman Orchards, decided to change the usual recipe. Everyone boils corned beef, he said.
“They boil it because you have to cook out all the salt,” he said.
He decided to smoke the corned beef for four hours and then slow roast the meat for another 12 hours.
“It gives it a charred crust and brings up the flavors in the meat. Everything is better smoked,” Gaffney said. “When you boil it, you cook out all the fat that has the flavor.”
Accompany the corned beef with Shepard’s pie, cherry wood smoked bacon, Irish sausage, cabbage and potatoes, and you have the makings of proper Irish breakfast repast.
“You have to take a nap afterwards,” Gaffney said.
St. Patrick’s Day at this moment in this place in Wallingford was a place to celebrate culture, whether yours or not, and to be with the people you care about.
“It’s something everyone can get on board with,” Galarraga said. “As they say, everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.”