Spent a warm summer afternoon in Sebastapol at the Gravenstein Apple Fair on Sunday. A friend joined me on the promise that there would be an apple fritter warm and golden for her. More on that later.
The fair was really a slice of Americana I thought with all sorts of crafts people including a woman who made magnets in every shape of fruit and vegetable. There was also plenty of tasting to do. But first I needed to do some field fact finding on the Gravenstein as a reconnaissance effort for the Picnic Hounds.
What is this Gravenstein...well after talking to several farmers and their wives--I just couldn't seem to find anyone in an official capacity such as the Apple Blossom Queen or King so I got talky with folks.
Here's a few brief facts before I get to the core of my post--the food....
*The Gravenstein reportedly originated in Germany in the gardens of the Duke Augustenberg,
Castle Graefenstein, Schleswig-Holstein.
*Perfect for baking apple it is red in
coloring on yellow skin its does bruise rather easily but its taste is moderately tart.
*This heritage pomme is not widely found--NW California, the Portland area and Nova Scotia--
and has just been placed The season is short--about 3 weeks.
*The Grav (as those in the know say) has just been awarded a spot on Slow Food's Ark of Taste to ensure it's preservation.
*One half of the U.S. crop is eaten fresh, one-fifth is made into vinegar, juice, jelly and
apple butter and one-sixth is canned for pies and applesauce.
Other notable tastings included ACE Cider of Sonoma who makes one of the best local hard ciders around. Also the Singing Pig Food Co out of Elk Grove offered tastings of dips made with their dip mixes. My favorite is the Wild Board Habanero Dip a wild mix of chipolte peppers and habanero--it's got a nice little kick. There's no MSG in these dry mixes. They also have this apple pie butter which is the consistency somewhere between jam and jelly. It would be excellent on toast.
So the highlight of the eating at the fair for me was the fritters. And here's the thing there was two types of fritters. One was what I thought was traditional--more like a morning pastry in a way--dark carmel brown with diced cooked apples gooey on top and a coating of powdered sugar. Then we came upon another "fritter" tent run by some very organized ladies who were more than mum about their batter recipe. They essentially core the apple, cut them into half circles, dip in the secret recipe batter fry 'em up nice and crispy but tender and sift powered sugar on top. A much neater fritter in my book. So the lesson learned was there's more than one way to fry a fritter.
Upon leaving the fair I got swept up in the excitement of the fair and bought a homemade pie and a 10# bag of apples from Dutton Ranch. "Keep them in the fridge, okay?. They'll keep about 10 days longer." She was very sincere and caring about her apples. I cradled them like a newborn back to the car.
Between now and the picnic this Hound needs to get into the kitchen to dig up recipes for applesauce, pies and fritters. There's a contest to be won!