Inside this flaky crust is a 500 year old heirloom french apple called Calville Blanc d’ Hiver which is grown nearby in Paso Robles, CA at Windrose Farms and available at my local farmers market for a few short weeks in the fall. It was grown on the Monticello estate of Thomas Jefferson in the 1700’s and has a higher Vitamin C content than an orange! How do I know this?
I went to “Apple Chat” yesterday at Fieldtrip LA, a local cafe/restaurant that sits literally next door to the Sunday Hollywood Farmers Market, and is a project of SEE LA, Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles, whose mission is to build sustainable food systems and promote social and cultural activities that benefit both low-to-moderate income residents of Los Angeles while also supporting California small- and mid-sized farms and local small businesses.
I learned of this place via one of my Instagram friends, the wonderful Pennsylvania raised pastry chef Sarah Schreckengaust Lange, who is pastry chef there and also at Ladies Gunboat Society at Flores, another first rate restaurant in Los Angeles. We first trekked out to Hollywood last weekend for pastries at 6:30 a.m. when they open to feed the farmers, followed by a walk around the farmer’s market, then returned at 8 to split a nice hot breakfast of “croque monster” sandwich that featured a homemade english muffin, “amish” chinese sausage, poached eggs, cheese and other umami goodness.
Here are some iPhone shots of our morning there last week.
I cannot wait to try their dinners — the menu features only porridges, and includes varieties from all different ethnic traditions. Amazing!
Back to apples. This past weekend Fieldtrip LA hosted an “Apple Chat” wherein Windrose Farms’ Amanda Broder-Hahn prepared nearly 20 varieties of apples, both roasted and raw, for our tasting comparisons, as well as a biographical education on each apple, and Sarah provided some amazing apple pastries including that apple tart, a shortbread cookie with apple butter, a gluten free apple muffin, and a sour cream apple crumb poundcake. It was a small gathering of my kinda people, food geeks, and it was 1.5 hours of pure enjoyment.
I learned so much about apples it was almost overwhelming. There are so many different varieties of apples, and many are “happy accidents,” that is, they are a byproduct of accidental or volunteer cross pollination between different trees.
But many, like the “Roxbury Russet,” do not know who their true parents are!
Each apple not only tastes quite different raw in terms of moisture content, crispness, chalkiness, mealiness, tartness, sweetness, levels of complexity, etc., but also tastes so much different than it’s roasted counterpart. Apples that were not very delicious raw turned out to be the best roasted ones. What accounts for the differences? The climate, how the apples were farmed (dry or irrigated), when they were harvested, whether it is early or late in their harvest calendar (and therefore how “mature” they are), the soil, and on and on. Totally fascinating. I think my favorites were the Roxbury Russet, roasted, as well as the Calville Blanc and the Cameo. I much preferred all of the apples roasted to raw. And let me tell you, instead of making apple sauce, just core your apples and roast them, then smash with a potato smasher or a fork — DELICIOUS!
Have a wonderful rest of your weekend!