San Francisco often feels like it has an absence of seasons. I only sense fall is coming because apples appear at the farmer’s markets. Apples are ending up in my kitchen ready to go under the knife for pies, cobblers and crisps. The meeting of apples, sugar, cinnamon and butter is one of the best things happening in my oven.
With no disrespect to some of the apples we grow in California, our apples are just okay. All apples are not equal. Certain things grow best in certain places where the climate is just right and the soil is ideal. There are some pretty good apples from places like Vermont and New Hampshire. You can cheat in March. That is when it’s fall in New Zealand and you can even buy some decent apples in the supermarket. Once in a while you might even find an organic apple from Washington State that has some flavor (most are bland industrial apples). But to truly experience the apple at its best, it is usually from Western New York.
Western New York is where the bitter cold winter and the hot humid summer team up to create the best apples. In New York City they think everything beyond Queens is “Upstate New York.” But far beyond Upstate and their weekend homes, on the edge of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie is another place. It’s Western New York and it is where the best apples come from. New Mexico has green chilis, Northern California has wine grapes, Maine has lobster and Western New York grows the premium apples. If you’ve had them, you know….