Ancient Apples

Autumn has arrived in Carmel Valley!  We are preparing for one of our favorite seasons, where the leaves fall from the trees and the last fruits ripen. One of those soon stepping into the spotlight is heirloom apples. There have been passionate fans and growers of apples for generations. For example, The Apples of New York, published in 1905, lists hundreds of varieties, with full descriptions and illustrations of the fruit documented. One looks at all these age-old heirloom varieties with their wildly differing shapes and colors, stripes and spots and unfamiliar names, and wonders, where did they go?apples Mostly, they died out, the victims of changes of taste and mass marketing. But some fine apples remain, which is why we must support antique-apple orchardists, who continue to grow and propagate the heirloom apples varieties, and who might even ship them to us to taste or to grow in our own gardens.  We are fortunate to work with one such enthusiast, Freddy Menge, who dedicates his time and energy into these old fashioned flavors.  His parade of apples is just beginning and will continue over the coming months.  The list below is the short list of apples we are looking to.


This is the gourmet culinary apple of France, excellent for tarts.  Distinctive in appearance: a large size fruit, yellow skin with light red flush.  Flesh is tender, sweet, spicy, and flavorful, with a banana like aroma.  This apple has more vitamin C than an orange.  Mentioned by Le Lectier, procurer for Louis XIII in 1627 and continues to be served in fine Parisian restaurants.


Said to be Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apple.  High in flavor and quality, the fruit is great off the tree but flavor radically improves with storage.  Large apple with crisp, yellow skin covered with inconspicuous red striped and russet freckles. The yellow flesh is rich, firm, aromatic, and complex in flavor; a perfect balance between sharp and sweet.


Albert Etter bred this red-fleshed apple in Northern California in the 1920’s.  The apple is yellow-clear with hint of pink appearing through the skin.  This is the brightest of the red fleshed varieties, with the color being “neon.”  The thick skin hides a flesh that is tart and flavorful, with some astringency.


Suntan is a handsome late dessert apple, rich, sweet, with plenty of pineapple-like acidity and very aromatic.  Suntan apple was raised in 1956 at East Malling Research Station, Kent, UK. It is medium/large sized apple with a regular flat-round shape. It has an attractive autumnal color: Flushed bright orange red on golden yellow with short, broken dark red stripes and russet patches. Deep cream flesh, rich and sweet, very aromatic and with lots of pineapple-like acidity. May be rather sharp when first picked and is best stored and eaten in December or later.


Golden Russet is an attractive golden yellow russet apple. Also known as the Golden Russet of Western New York, this is an old American variety. Medium sized, round-conical fruit. Bright golden yellow background skin color partially covered with a light brown russet. Cream colored, firm textured flesh. Sweet with a honeyed taste.

McCall Motorworks Revival 2013

McCall Motorworks RecapCar week has come and gone! This past week, we welcomed thousands of car enthusiasts, collectors and beautiful, historic cars to the peninsula. One of the highlights was the McCall Motorworks Revival at the Monterey Jet Center on Wednesday night. Our troop of cooks, servers and bartenders were on hand for last night’s event, which saw plenty of folks arrive at the Jet Center in private aircraft, while some of the world’s finest automakers showed off their latest and greatest products.McCall Motorworks Dessert Aston Martin was heavily represented, while a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, in Tuxedo Black and with French Racing Blue accents, captured the crowd’s attention. Meanwhile, the classic cars were numerous, with a Ferrari 275 GTB, a 1967 Ford GT40, Steve McQueen’s old Jaguar XK-SS and more than a few Aston Martin DB5s.

Plenty of champagne and Bernardus wine was served alongside, hors d’oeuvres, dinner buffet and a late night dessert bar for the more than 2,500 guests.


Honeybees_01Honeybees pollinate faster than other insects, and play a large role in propagating apple, almond, blueberry and other important crops. In the past few years, the bee population has noticeably declined owing to a combination of factors: mites, chemical insecticides, cell phone waves and the stress of moving across the country, or from country to country. Although Chef Cal has decided to take on the challenge of raising 60,000 bees in his backyard, some of us may need easier options to support the bee population.

Easy Ideas to Help Our Honeybees
Bees are your biggest natural ally in the vegetable garden. Let’s try to encourage their livelihood!

Do not use chemical pesticides. Try to use more targeted, organic solutions to particular pests in the vegetable garden and around the home. If you use chemical, broad spectrum pesticides then remember it will kill bees as well. Try to find ways to deter pests instead of something to kill them.

Honeybees_02Plant flowers that attract bees. A bee’s vision is in ultra-violet colors, so plant flowers that are yellow, blue, or red. The top 5 honey bee flowers are borage, echium, goldenrod, melissa/lemon balm and phacelia. Plant the flowers in clumps to make it easier for the bees to recognize, and make sure they are in a sunny spot.

Let your veggies bolt. If at all possible, allow a few leafy vegetables in your home garden to “bolt,” or go to seed, after harvest. Seeding plants are a bee’s best chance to stock up on food before the colder months. Unlike their wasp and yellow jacket cousins, which die out each winter, real bees slow down and wait for spring. Making sure their larder is stocked will help them snap back once the weather warms.

Support local beekeepers. Buy local honey – it supports your local hardworking bees and offers you tremendous health benefits. You’re helping a beekeeper save and manage one of the most important and at-threat ecosystems on the planet.

Share the experience with the next generation. Teaching children the interdependence of living creatures is something which will stay with them forever.