Saturday, November 29, 2008

Taking Stock, Stocking Up

By Thanksgiving week, the trees are bare and most growers have packed it in. A few will be open until Christmas.

Even though it is the end of November, there are good Macs, Macouns, and Empires in the supermarkets. By stocking up on some of the late varieties I can have varied choices through the end of the year.

I had to travel to in Greenfield, about 90 miles west of my home, last Monday, so I took the opportunity to make some end-of-season visits.

First stop was Phil's in Harvard (map), for some unpasteurized cider. Phil presses two varieties, a blend and a varietal, and was offering samples of both. I preferred the cider made from McIntosh apples, but unfortunately Phil only had the blend for sale that day. I took half a gallon. (Update: It is really good stuff!)

A good 40 minutes further west I came to the Red Apple Farm in Phillipston. Red Apple came every week to Lexington's farmers' market, which closed for the season on Halloween. They always had something interesting--Red Gravenstein or Puritan or the apple they called Yellow Newton Pippin--so I was glad of the chance to visit their orchard. I bought some Baldwins, some Golden Russets, and, very much not least, some Arkansas Blacks.

The Blacks are apples I have been wanting to taste since a friend from Atlanta first described them to me four years ago. I was surprised to find them growing in New England at all.

I also got a half-gallon of Red Apple's unpasteurized blend. Cider freezes well.

Red Apple looks like one of those orchards with a lot going on in season. I saw signs for hayrides and the store had fudge and cider donuts and jellies and all manner of country-store stuff.

In Greenfield itself I stopped a the People's Pint, a local brew pub, and bought a bottle of a seasonal drink called Slippery Slope. This is made with malt and cider (and honey, sort of a mead) in the style of something called an English "Braggert." I'm looking forward to trying this.

Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, was the last day for the urban farmers' markets. I bought a bag of Blushing Goldens, still crunchy despite some bottom-of-the-barrel bruises.

So. The planet tilts and the year grows cold, and the trees are bare, and it's dark at 4:30. But we're not done. I've still got some untasted varieties in my fridge and some unfinished reviews to post. I've got cider and Baldwins and Arkansas Blacks, also Blushing Goldens and Macouns while they last, plus this Braggart thing to try out some cold night.

And whatever else serendipity sends my way.

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