After participating in yet another Apple Fest in Lincoln Square this year, one would think I have had my fair share of apples. Rather, I have a new found appreciation and respect for the fall fruit after watching our amazing chefs and assistants knock out over 300 Apple Pies this year. That’s over 100 more than last year!
This year, we went through 28 cases of beautiful Granny Smith apples, hundreds of pounds of flour and sugar, countless cast iron skillets, all over a four day stretch that challenges even the hardiest bakers. I could not be more proud of our team who rose to the challenge: from our retail team who manned the store while others slung pie at a staggering rate, to our dishwashers who had to clean most of the 300+ skillets, to our pie production team who worked tirelessly rolling, crimping and baking. All that being said, I’m not here to just give you stats about how great Apple Fest was, but how amazing apples are this year.
I heard all during Apple Fest that the pies this year were the best tasting to date, and even though our team performed flawlessly, I have to give some credit to the apples themselves. This year has been outstanding for apples, no matter what type is your favorite. As I mentioned earlier, we use Granny Smiths for our famous Apple Pies, but you can’t go wrong no matter what variety you choose this year. The great tasting apples of 2013 are not limited to one region either. Our Granny Smiths came from the great state of Washington this year, but there are fabulous local apples right here in the Midwest.
The day after Apple Fest, I was recovering comfortably out in the burbs when my mother came in with a bag of Honey Crisp Apples she just got from a local orchard. Admittedly, that was the last food item I wanted to see, but I sampled one of the fresh apples and I was blown away at how good it was. The natural sugars of the fruit gave the sensation of eating a bowl of candy verses a healthy fruit. Needless to say, I ended up having a few more that day.
A few days later, I took advantage of a day off and drive to my family’s cabin in Door County, Wisconsin. Once there I stopped at a well-known orchard called Seaquist Family Orchard. Seaquist has a wide array of apples to try; I counted well over 10 different varieties, and they were all fantastic! I asked one of the Seaquist family members, why apples were so good this year, especially the Honey Crisp. He said it was simply the way the weather had been during the spring and summer, the right combination of heat and moisture. Whatever the reason, I’m glad it happened because these apples are better than I can ever remember. I encourage everyone to get out and give some local apples a try. Usually, I’d recommend a recipe at this point in a blog, but I think the apples are good enough on their own. Sometimes it’s best to just enjoy the simplicity of a darn near perfect piece of food.
What’s your favorite variety of apple?