Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Apples


The first apple tree we planted in Mailhos was a Vedette de Bearn, more than eight years ago. This Vedette has decided for the first time to give us fruit but the delay is completely due to my own simple ignorance. When looking up the catalogue of ancient and local fruit tree varieties, I loved the description of the Vigoureux plants without ever questioning its true meaning.



To me Vigoureux was vigourous. Vigoureux would grow fast and strong and give mountains of fruit... fast! We bought over fifty examples  of ancient-variety, Vigoureux fruit trees; plums, peaches, pears, cherries and of course apples and we`re still waiting for some to flower in Spring.  I only began to understand last winter, when ordering another batch of young trees, that Vigoureux just means that they will thrive in poor, measly soils where not even a dandelion would bear to take root. No mention of a bounty! So here in Mailhos in the extra humus-rich, clay soil I`ve ended up with 6 metre tall and leafy plum trees that have been ignorantly fed tons of horse poo every winter which only added metres more to their height, a profusion of green leaves and not a fruit in sight.


But this year, wonder of wonders, I had spring blossoms and then despite scab, canker and mildew, I had my very first apples!



Every morning before breakfast I`m gathering windfalls in my pyjamas pockets before the chickens wake but after such a long delay I have forgotten which varieties I planted where. All I know is that the mossy-green variety in front of the greenhouse are sweet, foamy and uninteresting, while the apples on the trees furthest west are aromatic and crunchy. To the east they are golden and astringent yet sugary and those on the driveway are the sweetest and crispiest and taste of nutmeg.



Over the month of September I have spent days studying veterinary homeopathy in the Basque country to eventually cure our Bearnaise of any chronic ailments. Granny cow will be treated for behavioural issues this week which include making too free use of her large horns. Iffy will receive a dose of Phosphorous 15ch to counter her irrational fear of me while Isis a  needs a little Aloe Socortrina 9ch to ease a sore tummy from too much nitrogen rich grass. The results of my alchemy will soon be revealed....


Meanwhile my apples accompanied a soft hand-made and generously seasoned black pudding for lunch...

Black Pudding and Sage Caramelised Apples

Enough for 2

2 french Black Pudding or Boudin
2 sharp and sweet Apples
50g Butter
1 tsp Sugar
10 Sage leaves
2 tbsps Creme Fraiche
100ml Calvados
Zest of one Lemon
Freshly ground Pepper

Fry the black puddings separately over a medium heat for 10 minutes on each side.
Core the apples and cut into 8 pieces leaving the skin on,  Melt the butter in a thick based frying pan and add the sugar. Once the butter is foaming, add the apple pieces and cook until golden and caramelised on each side. Remove and keep warm,
Add the sage leaves to the butter and fry until crispy, Remove and keep warm, Pour in the calvados and scrape any delicious brown bits from the base of the pan with a wooden spoon, Stir in the creme fraiche and lemon zest and remove from the heat.
Arrange the apples on a plate, pouring the sauce over them. Top with the crispy sage leaves and the black pudding.