On Sunday, we went to the 17th Annual UBC Apple Festival for a surprisingly educational and enjoyable afternoon. Set at the UBC Botanical Garden, this popular two day event is a celebration of apples, featuring over 60 varieties of apples to taste and purchase (including trees). Being my first visit to this festival, I was so distracted by the apple tasting section, where eager visitors like me and Eric were given 30 minutes to receive small slices of each variety from helpful volunteers, that all 30,000 pounds of apples were sold out before I even had a chance to make it to the selling area.
Nonetheless, the highlight was discovering the diversity of apples available and learning about their characteristics. Just reading the names of some varieties, like Winter Banana, Glockenapfel, or Belle de Booskop, was entertaining. I managed to get my hands on a 68 page booklet filled with encyclopedic descriptions and classifications of all the apples featured at the festival, such as which apples to use in salads since they do not brown when cut, or which apples hold their shape best when cooked. My personal apple taste leans towards sweet-tart dessert apple varieties, crisp and juicy, like Honeycrisp, Jubilee or Rubinette.
Since I left the festival empty-handed, Braeburn apples from a local market were the next best option for the obligatory apple pie which I had to bake. Pies are fairly easy to make but deceivingly difficult to make well. Growing up, my pie experimentation with subsequent successes and failures led me to become curious about how to improve my technique and troubleshoot problems like excessive runniness to my filling or wet bottom crusts. This obsession with the perfect pie essentially fueled my natural desire to learn more about pastry and baking. Ironically, the very first item produced in my pastry school class was apple pie! It was as though the pastry gods were smiling down upon me in some small way.
Meanwhile, I am quite satisfied with my Braeburn apple pie, à la mode of course with home made French vanilla ice cream since I had leftover cream in the fridge. These apples kept their shape very well and the crust was light and flakey. Classic comfort food.