Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Piñata - Ambrosia Smackdown

I've had two new varieties this month, both yummy, artfully marketed, and trucked in from the West Coast. So, who is the fairest of them all?

The two apples have similar colors, a red tinged with pink and orange over greenish yellow, for an orange effect. But Piñata's blush is more extensive and also variegated, with attractive flamelike streaks. Ambrosia is perhaps slightly more ribbed with lobed chins at the base. Piñata has larger lenticels. To my eye, Piñata is the more striking of the two, though Ambrosia is shaplier.

The apples have similar aromas, but Ambrosia has a bit of pear and berries, while Piñata is spicier, something I hadn't noticed in my previous tasting.

The photos I published with the separate Ambrosia and Piñata reviews are more representative than today's of the two together. I was I was planning a second photo shoot but then--I ate the apples. (Oh well.) Here's what that was like.

The Piñata is noticeably the crisper of the two, a shade finer grained, and with stronger flavors all around. It is both sweeter and--something I would not have thought without a direct comparison--tarter than Ambrosia, which in turn is more delicate, with a little banana flavor along with a very pure sugar quality and a hint of vanilla, also a whiff of something floral.

The Piñata brings those rich flavors I identified in my earlier review, honey, melon, and pineapple, as well as a suggestion of coconut. The sweetness is still so great as to detract from the overall effect, at least for me, but it does not mask the fact that there are interesting things going on with this apple.

It's nice to find such variation between apples at this time of year, when choices are so often limited. However, as a tasting pair they are mismatched. Piñata's richness and intensity ought to highlight Ambrosia's delicacy, but instead overwhelm it. I found myself using Ambrosia as a palate cleanser to scour the excess sweetness in Piñata's wake, the better to return to a study of P's interesting flavors. That's not exactly a good use, or a fair one.

For these samples, Piñata clearly had the better texture, crunchier and more satisfying. Maybe that is generally accurate, or maybe my Ambrosia had just been sitting in the supermarket a few days longer.


  1. My local QFC had a batch of Pinatas and I bought one, as well as a couple Ambrosias. One of my problems with apples in general is that I seem to have a narrow texture/density window; too soft and mealy is repulsive and too dense and crisp makes my teeth recoil from the sensation. The Ambrosia hits the sweet spot on this continuum for me, but the Pinata was too dense for my liking. The Pinata experience for me was like eating really suculent and sweet wood. Yea it's succulent and sweet, but you know, wood. OTOH, the Ambrosias are starting to move toward the too mealy end of my window as the season passes.

  2. I like both of these varieties very much. I hope your supply of Ambrosias lasts. They are hard to find out here, and the Piñatas are done as best as I can tell, coming from only one orchard in the U.S.

    If you find Piñatas ligneous, best stay away altogether from Arkansas Black!


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