Romancing the apple: Fruitful event offers taste

annual affair: 40 unique varieties, like the tiny Wickson Crab, stimulated palates and awareness

rboone@theolympian.comOctober 22, 2012 

Historic Rignall Hall on the Steamboat Island peninsula, which once hosted Nirvana and the Melvins in concert, was the site for a different kind of affair Sunday – the Apple Affair, which showcases rare and unique apple varieties for visitors to taste and purchase.

About 40 varieties were on display this year, the event’s ninth, including apples from throughout the U.S. and abroad.

A box of each variety was set on a row of tables and included a description of the apple and a plate of sliced samples.

Visitors then worked the room from noon to 4 p.m., tasting each and then either filling a bag or a box to take home.

The apples were sold for $2.25 a pound, said Jeannine Anderson, co-owner of Madrona Grove Fruit Stand, also on the Steamboat Island peninsula.

Anderson and co-owner Michael Manos purchase fruit for their stand from various places in Eastern Washington, including Feil Orchards in Wenatchee, a century-old apple orchard that specializes in unique varieties.

The fruit stand operates June through September and then ends with the apple affair, a “natural extension of the season,” Anderson said.

The apple varieties included Maigold of Switzerland; Northern Spy of New York; Shizuka of Japan; Ambrosia of southern British Columbia; the Kandil Sinap of Turkey; and the Calville Blanc d’Hiver of Normandy, France, an apple said to be good for cooking.

Some were sweet, some were tart and one, Wickson Crab, was tiny and known for its high sugar content, Manos said.

Leah Polhemus and Marla Conwell, both of Olympia, sampled all the apples, then sat down to enjoy some apple crisp with ice cream. Both said their favorite variety was the Suncrisp, a cross between Golden Delicious, Cortland and Cox Orange Pippin apples, offering the perfect mixture of sweet and tart flavors.

“It’s like a firecracker,” Conwell said about the burst of flavors.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 @rolf_boone

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