One of our favorite events, and the one that kicks off fall for us, is Portland Nursery's Gourmet Apple Tasting. It happens over two weekends in mid-October and this year they have over 40 varieties of apples to taste, from Ambrosia to Winter Banana. There are old standbys like Red Delicious, Granny Smith and Jonagold, and more unusual ones like Ginger Golden, Honeycrisp and Rubinette. Their 19th annual festival also features over a dozen varieties of pears and Asian pears to taste, as well as live music from several local bands and products from local beekeepers and berry producers.
The best part is that, in addition to being able to taste all of these apples, you can also go under the big tent in the yard and buy nearly all of them out of big orchard bins for only 79 cents a pound. Though it was difficult to choose, we narrowed it down to Rubinette, Mutsu and Honey Crisp. Our good taste was confirmed when the Honeycrisp was described in the New York Times on Sunday as "the iPod of apples." Whatever that means.
I've already made an apple pie with the Mutsus, an apple crisp with the Honeycrisp. (Get it, Honeycrisp Crisp? Ha!) I'm not sure about the Rubinettes, but maybe a tarte tatin. I may even have to go back this week and get some more for applesauce! You can download your own copy of our family's crisp recipe here.
Not that it's all about the raw fruit, mind you. They also have delicious apple strudel (a la mode or plain) and baked apples. Here's my mom ensconced on a comfy haybale enjoying her a la mode version. So go early, avoid the lines and get some strudel for breakfast with coffee from their stand!
Details: 19th Annual Gourmet Apple Tasting at Portland Nursery; Fri-Sun.,
10 am-4 pm, Oct. 13-15 & Oct. 20-22, 2006; 5050 SE Stark St.; Phone 503-231-5050.