I'm a fan of farmers. The importance of what they do cannot be overstated, and I was fortunate to work with, and learn from, many of them during the years I spent in the cattle industry. Working in Alberta has given me far fewer opportunities to become acquainted with fruit growers though, and so I was delighted to expand my knowledge and my palate when I was invited to an event hosted by the BC Tree Fruits Association at Home Tasting Room.
February is Apple Month, and from cocktails to canapés, both savoury and sweet, each item on the menu had that one ingredient in common. The versatility of apples was evident in the variety of foods and beverages served. Among the items we sampled were:
- an apple and beet stack with marinated cucumber.
- an apple and organic smoked cheddar tartlet.
- an apple and Noble Farms duck confit pastilla; and
- a sous vide Broek Acres pork belly with smoked apple foam.
I enjoyed them all, but particular favourites were the tartlet and the pastilla.
Apples and cheddar are an obvious pairing, but there was bacon in the tartlet too, and I was surprised to find I liked that combination.
The pastilla was also surprising. Again, the more obvious pairing is apples with pork (evidenced at this event by the pork belly) but its combination with duck worked really well, and this was as good as those I've had in Moroccan restaurants (though in those venues, they often go by 'bestilla').
If you'd like to try cooking with apples at your home, there are numerous recipes available on the BC Tree Fruits website. If you'd rather someone else cook them for you at Home Tasting Room, Chef Rogers has been featuring apple amuse bouches for Apple Month, and will resume doing so next week (after the completion of their Valentine's menus).
Recent food movements have shown us the importance of supporting local agriculture. Since we in Alberta don't enjoy a climate conducive to growing a lot of fruit, I'm advocating that we support our nearest neighbours that do. If you're of the same mind, look for the BC Tree Fruits logo when purchasing your produce, and check out the resources on their website, from the aforementioned recipes (including those for canning and preserving) to health and nutrition information, and a "Artful Apple" contest for children that promotes healthy eating.