Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Eat like a pirate

I grew up, pre–video console, loving board games of all kinds. Roll the dice. Spin the spinner. Take a card. Collect $200. Advance around the game board, tap tap tap.

One such that has not survived into the present day was Milton Bradley's Pirate and Traveler. It was really two different games in one.

You begin as a trader, gaining points for visiting different cities as you crisscross the globe. Halfway through the game, though, you become a pirate, cruising the seas to steal points from others, and to reach a safe haven (located north of Greenland) with your own pirate booty.

From the rules:

The first Traveler completing his tenth journey cries PIRATES ALL!... All Travelers immediately become Pirates....

For apple lovers, November marks a shift that is no less profound. In October we enjoyed the riot of apples at markets and orchards, stocking up on favorites and maybe trying some new varieties. Fruit is everywhere and the harvest is good.

But Halloween, the heart of Autumn, brings a very different prospect. The trees are picked bare, the markets folded for the year, and winter is near. Time to become a hoarder, a keeper. A pirate.

Pirates all!

This year's harvest was exceptional for its breadth. I won me much plunder. Here's what my treasure chest holds.

I've got about a half-dozen each of Ashmead's Kernel and Pomme Gris, two exceptional russets. I've got nearly a dozen of Cox's Orange Pippin (yo ho ho), and incidentally also four Ribstons, which ought to be interesting to eat with the Cox's.

Rare plunder! Two or three each of Blue Pearmain and American Beauty, and three or four, give or take, of Westfield Seek-No-Further (yes! I found a local source), Fameuse, and Chestnut Crabapple.

There are eight Suncrisps that I look forward to eating a bit later in the year.

I also have left one or two of Black Oxford, Creston, Calville Blanc, Topaz, Sheepnose, Gold Rush, Early Spy, King David, Lyscom, Melrouge, Granite Beauty, and Sister of Fortune, remnants of tastings and impulse buys. There are also several still-untasted heirlooms. Oh, and a Hudson's Golden Gem.

More booty: Two tart Rhode Island Greenings for cooking, and a couple of Macouns. And a few other things.

It's not entirely too late to add to the the hoard, either. I just finished my last Golden Russet and may snag a few more, and I will be cruising for some Blushing Golden to round out my apple diet.

Avast, me bucko, what's in your treasure chest?


  1. I hope to add a few more to my haul before the snow flies but right now I have 1 1/2 bushels of melrouge in the garage along with a 1/2 bushel of Bonnie's Best. Left in the fridge is a half peck each of Pinova and Golden Russet. Other various apples in the fridge include:
    Cox Orange Pippin
    Roxbury Russet
    Arkansas Black
    Zabergau Reinette

    Maybe a few more here and there - think there is a half peck in the garage of Red Del. - yuck -and Honeygold from the orchard I help at.

    My apple surprises of the year:

    Best new apple : The Lady apple - tiny apple bursting with a chewing and juicy well balanced flavor.

    Most unusual: Pink pearl - milky peel and pink flesh that is super sweet/tart and delicious.

    The spitter of the year award goes to.....The Sheepnose....See the review here on the site!

  2. Matt, that is quite a haul! I also forgot my small bag of Ananas Reinette, and probably a few other things. Not a terribly organized pirate here.

    I have never had a Lady that was "bursting...with flavor" but then I've never had one fresh from the grower either. By chance there were some at Farmers Market yesterday and on the strength of your comment I bought a few to try. We'll see!

  3. The Lady Apple I had was just picked off tree - it was chewy, sweet and aromatic. I cannot remember the flavors as I was at Door Creek Orchard here in Wisconsin and he grows lots of different heirloom cultivars. I get into his barn shop and the smells and tastes are amazing.

    I suppose it is like any other apple, it's qualities vary depending on when and where it was grown, when it was picked and also the weather.

    Last year Macouns were amazing in Southern Wisconsin. This year they didn't seem to do well. We had a very mild summer and the Macouns did not develop much flavor. Many of them were spitters this year and that's saying something for such a fine tasting apple usually! I hope your Api (Lady) apples are tasty! I read that some folks use them for decoration on wreaths. They wouldn't last long on wreath at my house.


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