... keeps the doctor away, and with a smear of peanut butter or hazelnut spread, Ontario apples are not only nutritious but a delicious treat. My absolute favourite fruit, the iconic apple is associated with knowledge, back to school, good health and other influences including Isaac Newton, Apple products and New York – a powerful fruit, with powerful attributes.
A few weeks ago, we visited the apple orchards at Nature's Bounty in Port Perry, Ontario, courtesy of Ontario Apple Growers. An hour's drive north of Toronto, we spent a drizzly Saturday with fellow foodies touring the farm, and rows and rows of Ontario apple trees.
Greeted by owners Cathy and her husband Marvin, they bought their farm as a young couple and began planting apple trees in 1980. Today, they produce over 20 different varieties of apples on approximately 14,000 trees – and that's not all they grow. Pumpkins, squash and ornamental corn, plus they rear a flock of 40 sheep that roam the rolling green pastures, accompanied by a mother and daughter Llama team of Llana and Lilly, who are watchful for potential predators.
We spent the morning meeting awesome bloggers, eating fruit directly off trees and learning about the different apple types including my favourite gala apple and Phil's new favourite the russet apple.
After apple picking, we bundled into the barn where sparkling cider and lunch was served using local ingredients and an all about apples menu. To start we had a curried willow tree pumpkin and cortland soup. While the soup was dairy free and vegan, it was creamy, silky and zingy from the curry served with an apple slice and pumpkin seeds.
Our main course included a salad and sandwich combo. Salad: willowtree greens and Ontario quinoa waldorf salad with roasted royal gala apples, ontario grapes, walnuts and a honey crisp apple vinaigrette. Sandwich: fall spice rubbed Malcolm farm pork belly sandwich, slow roasted on fresh ciabatta with homemade mustard, fresh spy apples, Ontario radishes and roasted willow tree garlic aioli. The pork belly was cooked to perfection – sweet, salty and butter in my mouth with crispy edges.
And dessert didn't fall flat. A honey crisp apple sorbet with strawberry apple cider reduction and a candied crab apple (picked that morning). Even with frigid fall air, the punchy and tart sorbet soothed the palate and balanced out the sweetness of the candied caramel. And a stickler for presentation, come on – how beautiful is this dessert.
After lunch, we filled a bag of self picked apples and spent a few moments scoping out pumpkins and squash and gourds (oh, my). From chic white pumpkins, to two-toned gourds, to blue doll pumpkins, we had more than enough treats for Thanksgiving weekend.
Thank you again Ontario Apple Growers and Food Bloggers of Canada for inviting us on this #onappleaday, and special thanks to Cathy and Marvin for inviting us into their home and onto their farm. Our day at the farm was relaxing, informative and delicious – the perfect way to start the fall season.