Orange flush of fruit, aromatic of pear or melon, alive in maritime, ye apple of my eye…
The fleeting ripeness of fruit at this time of the year feels like an undertow… subtly, yet unmistakably, at work in my subconscious. What brought it to the surface this weekend was one of the Hillsdale market vendors from Stephens Farm in Grand Island holding forth on his seemingly countless and somewhat odd-looking varieties of pears, strawberries, peaches and blueberries whose availability, I was told, could now be counted in days, not weeks.
These fruits have a subtle intoxication in appearance, a curious lure that casts a line into my insecurity. I notice in myself a tendency to be attracted to that which I know and would like to know more about instead of automatically seeking the unknown. Not fond of writing that, but there it is.
When you’re selling things, salesmanship is in order. The farmer’s subtlety ended but his point was reinforced as he continuously handed me slices of pears, plums and apples, and one was more intriguing and delicious than another. Amazing layers of sweetness. The table grapes, some with tiny seeds, some seedless, were nectar.
One of the great things about the markets is that you never know where the experience will take you. And being pushed gently but steadily away from my storied comfort zone was another benefit.
I’m told the apples I bought, Cox’s Orange Pippin, first grown in England in 1825, will elevate whatever I decide to make to an art form. So I’m now on the hunt for a venue that will perfectly showcase what, in a good year, could be the benchmark for flavor in apples. Brown Butter Apple Tart? Apple Tart with Caramel Sauce? Apple Frangipane Tart? The results in an upcoming post.
Here’s to pastry as art.