October 1, 2008

Apples and Starfish

At Salt Spring Island's Apple Festival. This past weekend we headed down to Vancouver and took the ferry across to Salt Spring Island- home to celebrities and farmers alike, towns named Vesuvius and Ganges, the most 'green' approach to living that I've ever seen in Canada, and to top it off – one of the BEST farmers' markets and an amazing apple festival showcasing over 300 types of apples!

I'm a bit of an apple freak (if you haven’t already drawn that conclusion)- eating a few apples every day throughout the autumn and as far into winter as possible- my entire life has been spent living near apples. Firstly near the Annapolis valley in Nova Scotia, then in the Okanagan valley of British Columbia, followed by 7 years in southern England- home of 'Scrumpy' cider and hundreds of heritage varieties, so it’s no surprise that we would travel 8 hours over mountains and ocean to attend the largest apple festival in Western Canada.

The one day apple event not only included many heritage varieties brought over in the late 1800's from far-flung places like Holland, England and Germany (including great apples for making cider!), but also showcased many new varieties - some of which were developed in my home town in the Okanagan valley. Apples with fetching names like Washington Strawberry, Gravenstein, Lodi and Pitmaston Pineapple couldn't help but draw attention from thousands of attendees.

The festival was a great opportunity to sample some incredible apples and local food (especially the seafood!), travel around the island from orchard to orchard and meet the farmers who loved to talk about the growing process, to buy generally unknown varieties and to have the chance to inspect an amazing cider press made of steel and oak- of great inspiration to a non-beer drinker who hopes to make her own cider this fall if she can get the equipment together in time!

I didn't pick up any recipes per say from Salt Spring, and we ate out the whole time (the seafood chowder was amazing!), so instead of publishing a recipe I'll leave you with some pictures of the apples, the cider press (who knows- you may want to replicate this too), and the beautiful island. Watch out for those doilies!

Happy picking this harvest season!

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