Monday, October 8, 2012

Fall Fun Part One: Apples

My last post was about my latest trip down the Catawba on a kayak.  I knew I had to get out on the river, because Saturday was beautiful—sunny with highs in the low 80s—and on Sunday, the weather was definitely closing in.

Truth be told, I was a little bummed that we couldn’t schedule our first autumn outing for Saturday’s good weather.  Not only were we expecting a steep drop in temperature Sunday, but heading up into the mountains would subtract another five or ten degrees.  But Miss Chef--who as you may remember quit the restaurant job and should be home nights and weekends—had agreed to work Saturday night for Chef Luca.  (She’s actually worked the last three weekends, so I’m not sure what the point of quitting was…)

Last year, we enjoyed a fantastic outing at Skytop Orchard, with views like this:

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This year?  Visibility was just a little lower…

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It still made for some interesting, atomspheric photos.

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Miss Chef really wanted Cameos, but all the cameo trees we saw were picked over.  So we decided we were going to get a peck from the store, and just pick a little of what was available in the orchard, for the fun of it.

By the way, in spite of the emptiness of these photos, the place was crowded!  It was a bit odd, because the trees are so low and bushy that once you’re in a row, you can’t really see beyond it.  So we were surrounded by voices but couldn’t actually see anyone.

After passing row after row of picked-through trees—granny smith, mutsu, fuji, golden delicious—we found the Arkansas blacks.

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These are a gorgeous, deep red.  Some of them looked more like giant plums than apples.  They taste pretty good, too!

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I am always amazed at the amount of fruit that is lost to windfall.  (Or tourist fall, as the case may be…)

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Since there are only two of us, we tried to restrain ourselves, and stopped before we filled our basket all the way.  We ended up with granny smiths, Arkansas blacks and some fujis.  Then it was the long slog back up the steep hill to the main store area, to pay and to pick out the rest of our purchases.

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Now can you tell how crowded it was?

We had to make two separate purchases, since the car was a bit of a walk (uphill, naturally), and apples are heavy.  First we had the 10 lbs or so of what we had picked, then another peck of cameos, and two ginormous bags for Chef Adam at the restaurant.   Don’t worry, there were plenty of apples left.

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Our second trip was with six and a half gallons of cider (I’ll explain later).  Fortunately, as we came back to the store, I kept my eyes open for one of the twenty wagons on site, and we were able to wheel our second load up the hill, puff puff.  Did I mention that my arms and shoulders were a bit sore from my previous day’s paddling?

Finally, everything was loaded in the car and we were able to reward ourselves!  One more time back to the store, where I sent Miss Chef to stand in the long line for donuts while I went to fetch some refreshing cider.

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Hmm, no, it was definitely not slushie weather.  I got some hot cider, which kept us pacified as we stood in line for about 20 minutes for those hot, fresh apple cider donuts.  I kept laughing at myself, because earlier in the store, when we were picking out giant bags of apples, I saw a couple walk by with a stack of several dozen.  “I didn’t know you could buy them like that…” I said aloud.  Miss Chef took one look at me and said “Easy, girl.”  She actually looked a little nervous.

All of which is to say that I was too excited about the donuts to take pictures of them.  But I did take a picture of the line behind us when there were about five groups still in front of us.

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Yeah, they were that good.

And then there was this girl, who was learning she liked apples.  I wonder if she got a taste of donut, too?  I bet she did!

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Oh, and the unnecessarily large amount of cider?  It’s brewing right now into hard cider.  Have a listen!

Sorry the lighting’s a bit crappy.  But I hope you can recognize the bucket!  Wort has been heartily welcomed by all, and is nearly consumed by now.  This batch of hard cider should be ready for Thanksgiving, then it will be time for the next Wort to move in.


  1. Hard cider! Brilliant!
    Holy cow, what a line. But those black apples look delish. We rarely have fog (too dry here), so I enjoyed seeing yours.

    1. Miss Chef was going to leave the camera in the car; I'm glad I grabbed it.

  2. The dogs expression is awesome. We had that same heavy fog on Sunday up on Beech Mountain.

    1. Damn, that dog was cute! This weekend is supposed to be gorgeous--huzzah!

  3. Boris! Check the LAB-OR-A-TORY!!!! Something is brewing!

    Apple Madness!!! I've got a fuji apple tree in my back yard that has about twelve apples on it this year. I stand underneath it waiting for the harvest to fall.

    Love that dog's eyebrow. BTW the nice meal included a bang-up green bean salad. If Miss Chef has not made one for you yet, you need to have a talk with her, Missy.

    1. You are very patient, standing and waiting, rather than climbing the branches to get at them apples. On the other hand...I've learned this year the meaning of tart, unripe apples. Yeesh!

      Thanks for that minute peek into your fabulous meal. Miss Chef does make some great haricots verts as we call them, with a butter sauce. Not sure if we've had a salad with them, though....

  4. I have always wanted to go to an apple orchard ... now I must go!!

    1. It's a great way to celebrate fall.

  5. Gorgeous pictures! Love the pup :)


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