Upstream from the Russian River lie the warm hills of Sebastopol. Right now the orchards are laden with Gravenstein apples. As the morning dew burns off, afternoon breezes bear an aroma of apples into town. The Gravenstein apple is lauded by many as the best apple for its balance of sweet and tart flavor. They have a green-and-red-striped look and flesh that turns a slight blush after the first bite. Granddaddy Botanist Luther Burbank called it the "only apple you'll need all year." But alas they don't last that long. Their short stems make them prone to falling from the bough. And that's not the only reason it is a coveted pome: the acreage devoted to them is dwindling due to encroaching vineyards. To preserve its heritage, Slow Food has placed it in the U.S. Ark of Taste.
Sebastopol's 2008 Gravenstein Apple Fair - an apple expo with farm life demos, entertainment and, of course, apple pie baking and eating contests - falls on August 9 & 10. Stories will be told from the early 20th century when thousands of orchards turned Gravensteins into sauce, cider, and brandy that fortified the nation.
This week the FruitGuys are featuring organic Gravenstein Apples from Sebastopol’s Kozlowski Farms. (1940's photo on the left of Carmen Kozlowski, the Founder of the farm.) Her daughter Carol Kozlowski will be featuring her Gravenstein Apple Raisin & Cream Bread Pudding in the Chef demonstration at the Gravenstein Apple fair. There are many ways this apple can be enjoyed, but it is the first bite of the first apple of the entire season that is the best.