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Gravenstein Apple Fair

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Just a note to remind folks that the Gravenstein Apple Fair is coming up on August 11th and 12th at Ragle Ranch Park in Sebastopol. It's a fundraiser for the Sonoma County Farm Trails organization and funds the wonderful Farm Trails map. We've always had a good time at this little fair and will be going up -- not sure which day yet. Anyone else going?

Here's a link to info about the fair:

Link: http://www.farmtrails.org/html/graven...

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  1. a
    Alexandra Eisler

    See you there Saturday and thanks for the link!

    1. Not sure if I'll be there or not, but a word of advice to newcomers. Be sure to go early in the day and have good maps with you for alternate routings, e.g., approaching from the coast (west). Hwy 12 westbound will be deadstopped on the route to the fair grounds, and Hwy 101 (to the east) will be stop and go in both directions after Noon. It will be well worth it once you arrive.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        If I'm just looking for great Gravenstein's, any suggestions. No crowds, except maybe a Farmers Market like happening. I visit the area 4-5 times a year on business, poor me, and have been reading the posts about the apples. When is the best, best, best harvest, for applesause fixins?

        1. re: Ginger Wolf
          m
          Melanie Wong

          Andy's Produce north of Sebastopol on Hwy 116 (Grasvenstein Highway) can be good. There are a number of stands between Sebastopol and Graton. The Sebastopol Farmers Market is on sundays.

          Caitlin, what say you about green vs. yellow for sauce?

          1. re: Melanie Wong
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            Caitlin McGrath

            I think my mom, applesauce maker extordinaire, usually goes for the yellow with a touch of red at the crown.

            I don't know who she gets them from now; for years she got them from the same farm, but the proprietress either became too elderly and frail to run the place or actually passed away a couple of years ago, so she had to find a new source.

            1. re: Caitlin McGrath
              m
              Melanie Wong

              The other thing to remember about Gravensteins is that the season is early and relatively short. They'll be gone by Labor Day and the apples don't store well.

      2. Used to go often; really liked it. What caused us to stop, I think, was that we went more and more organic and it didn't!

        Being a late not an early person, I've always tended to get there for the last hour or so and had no problems with traffic.

        I too appreciate the link.

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          dixieday@aol.com

          Anyone else entering the apple-pie-baking contest? Just bring $2 and your pie, plus the recipe, and get to the fair before 11 a.m. to enter your pie. Although I don't know how they'll enforce this, the entry form states that pies MUST be made with Sonoma County apples (you can usually find DeVoto Orchard apples from Sonoma county at the Embarcadero farmers' market, as well as at Real Foods.) There's an adult category as well as a youth (under 18) category. Boy, that's the job I want--apple pie judge!

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            Andrew Raskin

            I will also be there on Saturday, though probably just the early afternoon. My band is playing in the city Sat night so have to get back. I'll be there with my friend Andy and his kids, so if you yell "Andy" around two guys with two kids and two guys turn around, one of 'em is me.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Andrew Raskin
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              Melanie Wong

              Andy, how can we find out where and when your band is playing?

              1. re: Melanie Wong
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                Andrew Raskin

                Well, I'm not supposed to promote anything on Chowhound, but since you asked, you can sign up at http://www.topica.com/lists/stymie for our email newsletter. Upcoming gigs are this Sat (8/11) at Slim's (short set beg around 9:30) and next sat (8/18) at Red Devil Lounge.

                1. re: Andrew Raskin

                  Andy--we're slightly more permissive with longtime posters who've added as much to the discussion as you have (and Melanie DID ask).

                  I know that I don't need to tell you this, but for the sake of those reading along: we would not permit any sort of regular repeat of this sort of thing, even from a great poster like you.

                  ciao

                  1. re: Andrew Raskin

                    Thanks, and sorry. Shoulda taken that to e-mail.

                    Maybe see you you tomorrow at the apple fair.

              2. So, did anyone go to the Apple Fair? I did, and had a blast. It was incredibly cute and mellow. And my entry in the pie-baking contest won grand champion! I was thrilled and amazed. So I'll be back next year as a judge.

                7 Replies
                1. re: Dixieday

                  Wow, Dixie, congratulations! Tell us about the Pie!
                  Pat

                  1. re: pat hammond

                    Well, I'm still amazed, since it was the first time I'd ever entered that kind of contest. The entry form said only Sonoma County apples could be used, so I went to Real Foods (which lists the provenance of all their produce) and got some organic Gravensteins from DeVoto Orchards, in Sonoma. I picked up some tricks from Rose Levy Bernbaum's Pie and Pastry Bible. Normally, I find this book makes everything way too complicated and scientific, but she did have a good hint about keeping your filling non-soggy. You mix your sliced apples with sugar and spices, then let them sit for 30 minutes, which pulls a lot of excess liquid out of the apples. Then you drain off the liquid and boilit down to a syrup. Pour the syrup back into the apples, add cornstarch, and voila. A juicy filling that doesn't turn the bottom crust to mush. As for crust, I tried her flaky all-butter crust, made with pastry flour, a little bit of baking soda, and a tablespoon of cider vinegar along with the ice water. It was super-flaky adn delicious, but IMPOSSIBLE to work with--it went from a cold lump to a sticky, mushy mass in about a minute, stuck constantly to the counter, the rolling pin, everything. I thought it might be the all-butterness, so I subbed in 1/3 veg shortening for the contest pie. Still difficult, though not as bad. I now think the culprit was the pastry flour--perhaps so low in gluten/protein that it wouldn't stretch/cohere like normal dough. I'm going to try the all-butter version again with all-purpose. Another neat trick: cut in 2/3 of the butter (refrigerated) into flour til looks like coarse meal, then cut in last third of butter (frozen in cubes) just until pea-sized. Combination seems to help achieve good tender-flaky ratio. Whew! Probably more than you needed to know. Happy baking! (If you want actual recipe, email me and I'll send it along.)

                    1. re: Dixieday

                      Dixie: So, your grand prize winning pie actually was made with the diffcult-to-work-with pastry! I concur with your idea about using all purpose flour. How was it judged? A certain percentage toward apple texture, flavor, crust? I hack around at making pies and like a really "short" crust. I'd love the recipe, since you offered, but I'll bet a lot of others around here would too! I never "knew" a grand prize winner of anything before!

                      I went our State fair recently and saw some of the prize winning tomatoes. Mine put the lot to shame but I didn't enter. Don't even know how to enter! This is my first garden in probably 30 years. Beginner's luck. pat

                      1. re: Dixieday
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                        Caitlin McGrath

                        Great post, Dixie. I'll have to remember the syrup trick. When I was growing up and my mom didn't *just* do applesauce with her Gravensteins, we'd make apple cakes and apple pie fillings to freeze. She'd mix up the filling, put in a foil-lined pie plate, and freeze, then we'd bag the pie plate-shaped apples--still wrapped in foil--and throw them back in the freezer for later use.

                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                          Fwiw, the apple fair initiated an applesauce contest this year. Maybe we'll see you out here for next year's?

                          1. re: Melanie Wong
                            c
                            Caitlin McGrath

                            Melanie, my mom's the family applesauce expert, and the Bay Are resident--and I'll definitely let her know about the contest for next year!

                    2. re: Dixieday

                      Congratulations! You said you wanted to be the apple pie judge, and you did it the hard way by winning this year's contest.

                      It was good to meet you. What else did you knosh on? I had the bratwurst from Little Hofbrau, Grandma's apple fritters which are only made at the fair once a year (run by volunteers from the local Freemason lodge and affiliates), and apple/raspberry cider from Kozlowski Farms. Not exactly light, delicate food. I thought of Andy Raskin when I saw the Philly cheesesteak booth... did you notice the Chinese people making them that were yelling at each other in Cantonese?